As you may have seen, our need for a new school building has made the cover of the current issue of The Malahide Gazette and page 4 of the current Fingal News. We need your help to keep up pressure to ensure we get our new school building.
St. Oliver Plunkett School is the largest Primary School in the country with more than 900 pupils. It depends on ten portakabins for classes for approximately 300 of its children and a further three portakabins for learning support. The problem is these portakabins are old and poorly sealed. They are very draughty and the badly hung doors cannot be shut properly. The portakabins are poorly insulated and are too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. If the doors and windows are left open, the noise from the road and surroundings is too great and interferes with pupils’ ability to concentrate and learn. Children in the portakabins have an increased number of complaints of aches and pains as a result of sitting in draughts. Owing to the fact the portakabins are poorly ventilated, air becomes stagnant very quickly and children find it difficult to focus and concentrate. Low ceilings do not help the situation. There is no sound-proofing in the portakabins which means that noise levels from neighbouring classes are distracting and frustrating. There is poor lighting due to the position of some portakabins and fluorescent lights are on all day all year around and cause headaches and eyestrain for some. Windows have no blinds or covers and children are easily distracted by outside activity, especially when pupils are moving from classes for PE and other activities.
Basic services for the portakabins, such as water, light and heat, are unreliable. In winter it is a common occurrence to suffer a power failure due to over-reliance on electrical heaters in portakabins. Valuable time is lost from the timetable each day at junior yard time or when PE classes take place. At infant dismissal time, noise levels make it impossible for those in classrooms near the road to work as parents gathering at the gate for the 2.30 p.m. early dismissal cause distraction for children. Time is also lost when going to PE, the library or computer room as the portakabins are a good distance from the rest of the building. In inclement weather the children get wet when moving and suffer health problems as a result. The health and safety of children and teachers are compromised every day, and because of tight space and poor ventilation, sickness spreads quickly from one child to another. It has also been asserted that children in portakabins have a higher absentee rate than those in proper classrooms.
Portakabins are a poor environment for children who suffer from asthma, bronchitis or compromised immune systems. Their health is not being helped by an environment where mould and fungus grow on the walls and ceilings. There is a lack of space for hanging coats and in inclement weather wet coats must hang on the backs of children’s chairs, causing their health to suffer. Dust and condensation increase in such conditions and this has obvious health implications. Special needs children cannot be accommodated owing to steps, limited space in bathrooms and insufficient room for special needs assistants. The list goes on. To cut to the quick, on account of the appalling toilet facilities, many children will not use them, leading to urinary and faecal retention. There have been many admissions to Temple Street Hospital for non-specific abdominal pain and increased attendance at local general practitioners who say there is a much higher incidence of respiratory tract infections and medical problems among these children. One child was admitted to Temple Street Hospital recently with pneumonia.
The school is now remedying the defects at a cost of over €30,000 – money which would be better spent on classroom educational resources. For the health and safety of everyone attending the school, we need to lobby our politicians to ensure we get a new school NOW.?To keep upto date with our campaign, become a fan of our Facebook page ‘St Oliver Plunketts Malahide Need a New School NOW’ and suggest it to family and friends. ?We have the best part of 300 fans in less than a week. Let’s try to keep that growth rate over the coming weeks.??I know that sometimes the easiest thing to do when faced with a challenge is to do nothing because the challenge seems insurmountable. This challenge is not. As was relayed to the public representatives this weekend, we are a large, talented and resourceful group of angry parents. We have a strong voice and for the first time in this protracted campaign to get our new school, we are using that voice to make it a reality. We have been heard and we will continue to be heard. Our children are too valuable to us, if not our politicians for us not to be heard. Regards,
Barbara Scanlan & Tara McCarthy
Parents Association News