Minister for Education & Skills, Jan O’Sullivan Visits St. Molaga’s SNS

June 26, 2015 0

St. Molaga’s Senior N.S. were delighted to have a visit from the Minister for Education & Skills, Jan O’Sullivan on Wednesday, 24th June. The Minister and Brendan Ryan, T.D. were interested in visiting the school as St. Molaga’s are one of the few schools in the country with more prefab classrooms than permanent classrooms in a main building.

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Brendan Ryan TD, Pauline Costello, School Principal and Jan O’Sullivan, Minister for Education & Skills

The Minister and Brendan Ryan met with the teachers, Board of Management and Parents’ Association first and then with the Student Council who told her all about the work they do in St Molaga’s. Minister O’Sullivan was especially impressed by their Bully Buddy idea and thought it should be in every school! They also talked to her about the prefabs and how badly we need a new school building.

Then Ms Costello showed Minister O’Sullivan around the prefabs. They visited Ms O’Brien’s fourth class and Mr Cloherty’s fifth class. After that, it was off to the hall to hear the choir sing. The visitors especially enjoyed the new verses that the choir added to “My Favourite Things”!

The verse and chorus outlined the need for a new school building to replace the current prefabs. St. Molaga’s have 8 classrooms in the main building but have 12 prefabs which cater for 14 teachers and 52% of the school pupil enrolment.

minister_visits_st_molagas_sns_24jun15_2Background to visit:

St. Molaga’s S.N.S. opened on the 1st September 1987. The new school moved from St. Peter & Paul’s Senior N.S. in Chapel St. where it had shared a building with St. Peter & Paul’s Infant school. The school was built for eight mainstream classes.

St. Molaga’s now has an enrollment of 448 pupils in 16 mainstream classes and two special classes for pupils with Specific Learning Disabilities (S.L.D.). The school currently has 24 teaching staff including Principal and five S.N.A staff who support nine pupils with special educational needs.

In 1999 the Board of Management applied for a school extension to cater for growing enrolments and in 2000 accepted the erection of prefabricated classrooms as a solution to increased pupil numbers. The first prefabs were occupied in 2001 and prefabs were added on a yearly basis until 2006 when the 12th prefab was occupied.

The school now faces challenges in relation to the temporary classrooms, some of which are 15 years old.

  •  232 pupils or 52% of the pupils enrolled attend school in prefab classrooms.
  • 56% of teaching staff work in the prefab classrooms
  • Pupils and teachers accommodated in the prefabs are in effect isolated from the main building. This has implications for pupils, teachers and parents:
    • Pupils must leave their classrooms and walk in all weathers to/from learning support classes, to the offices, to PE hall for PE lessons/games, for choir rehearsals, concerts/plays, visiting speakers etc. There are obvious health and safety concerns for pupils in this.
    • All office services and telephone contact in the school is from the office.
    • Interactive whiteboards used in the main building are unsuitable for installation in the pre-fabs.
    • Some of the classrooms are too small to cope with our pupil/teacher ratio.
    • The classrooms are unsuited to some active learning activities as movement of a number of pupils causes the floors to shake and sound travels easily from room to room.
  • The prefabs do not retain heat due to poor insulation so in severely cold weather are liable to be colder than the recommended temperature. The water tanks which are stored on the roof of the prefabs cannot be adequately insulated so has to prevent freezing. We have increased the insulation on all pipes coming from these tanks.
  • Heating costs for the prefabs are extremely high due to our reliance on electricity and the inadequate heating from the storage heaters/convector heaters.
  • During heavy downpours, windows leak and water pours onto electrical sockets/heaters during school time. Remedial works have taken place on these windows but windows in the prefabs are liable to leak at any time.
  • Floors have had to be replaced due to weak areas in the flooring, inside exterior doors.

The prefabricated classrooms were erected as a temporary measure to facilitate the growth in the school population since 2000. 16 years on this temporary solution to an accommodation crisis seems like an inadequate, unacceptable answer to the school’s accommodation needs in the 21st century.

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