Following the closure of a section of Ardgillan Community College and the closure of Tyrrelstown Educate Together National School and St Luke’s National School, the Department of Education and Skills is working to provide every support and advice necessary to other schools which were constructed by Western Building Systems.
A dedicated communications team has been established within the Department which includes focal contact points for Principals. All Principals and patrons have been contacted by phone and email and the Department will continue to keep them fully updated on developments.
Over the course of today, arrangements were advanced for structural assessments to be carried out on all school buildings constructed by Western Building Systems using a particular construction method (steel frame, timber infill). The Project Manager is arranging for three teams of contractors to undertake the assessments, advancing tomorrow and continuing over the weekend and during mid-term break. Relevant schools will be informed as soon as a time and date has been confirmed for their assessment.
A structural assessment was carried out yesterday and today in Gaelscoil Teach Giúise in Firhouse which was completed earlier this year. While the final analysis has yet to be completed, nothing has arisen from this assessment that would warrant the closure of the school. The school authorities have been fully informed.
The three buildings affected by closures to date were three storey buildings. Most other schools constructed by Western Building Systems using the same construction method were two or one storey buildings. In some of the schools concerned, Western Building Systems was responsible for constructing one phase of the school rather than the full school building.
Schools, or parts of schools, will be vacated only where it is considered necessary to do so. In the event that structural issues are identified in other schools, it may also be possible to manage those issues through engineering solutions, without the need to close the building.
However, where required, the Department will work with the schools to put contingency accommodation arrangements in place. An interim accommodation team has been established in the Department to look at solutions and consultation has already taken place with local authorities and Education and Training Boards (ETBs).
A meeting between Department officials and Western Building Systems has been scheduled for tomorrow.
The overriding priority of the Department in taking all of the actions outlined is the health and safely of the school pupils and staff.
Minister McHugh added, “I have asked my officials in conjunction with the project managers to advance the structural assessments as quickly as possible, including over the coming weekend. I want to try and get as many of the assessments as possible completed by the end of next week”.
Minister McHugh appealed to local communities to get in touch with their local Principals with any suggestions of interim solutions which can also be passed on to the Department.
At all times the key priority of the Minister and the Department is the safety of pupils and staff.
The Department has published the list of schools constructed by Western Building Systems at the following link: List of Schools built by Western Building Systems