Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Questions (123)

Catherine Martin


123. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the repair work at a college (details supplied) following the discovery of a safety fault in 2018; if the school is scheduled to reopen with full capacity in September 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22806/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware that last October and November my Department carried out initial structural assessments into 42 schools constructed by a particular contractor. In 22 of these schools precautionary measures were implemented to enable continued safe occupation and part of the school to which the Deputy refers was closed following the identification of significant structural issues.

Following on from the initial assessments, which were based on sample opening up works, my Department initiated a second phase of detailed investigations for the schools on the 18th of January last. This next phase of the programme is focusing initially on the 22 schools that have precautionary measures in place and also at the school to which the Deputy refers, which remains partly closed.

The purpose of these investigations is to determine the type and extent of structural issues in each individual school and, from the technical information gathered by the appointed structural engineers, to design permanent remediation solutions for delivery where these are needed.

In line with the update published by my Department in January, detailed structural investigations have now been completed in all of the 22 schools with precautionary measures in place and at the school in question.

The school referred to is different from the schools with precautionary measures in place in that the nature and extent of the issues there are such that the building under investigation was required to close. The school remains operational in another building on site.

Detailed investigations have concluded in the closed building and engineers are working to design solutions. When these are known, a programme of works to remediate the building will be put in place for implementation.

When the works programme is available, the details will be first shared at meetings with the Patrons and the schools involved. Arrangements are being put in place, for such meetings with the Patrons and the School Authorities of the 22 schools, including Ardgillan which has been scheduled in June.

This is an Education and Training Board school. Pending the delivery of the remediation work, my Department will ensure, in continued consultation with the ETB, that any interim accommodations needs at the school are met. In this regard, 2 additional temporary classrooms, a woodwork room and prep area together with a disabled access toilet have been approved for September 2019.