students and staff of Scoil Aonghusa on a fundraising event
Ninety seven students attending Scoil Aonghusa in Cashel with intellectual,physical and huge complex needs are using a building that is unfit and are crying out for help.
Scoil Aonghusa, caters for the needs of 97 students with moderate severe to profound general learning difficulties with complex medical needs and life limiting conditions,was a school in crisis Dail Eireann was told.
These vulnerable students are the victims of the most shameful neglect and under resourcing of special schools Deputy Michael Lowry told Dail Eireann when he highlighted the sub standard facilities at the Cashel school.
Deputy Lowry said the Scoil Aonghusa commmunity , was appealing to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to intervene and recognise the ongoing crisis it is living with on a daily basis. He called on the Taoiseach to expedite a new building and facilities on the Scoil Aonghusa site.
Deputy Lowry told the Dail that Scoil Aonghusa was built in 1985. Some 80% of the students are non-verbal, 30% are physically disabled and 50% present with varying degrees of aggressive and destructive challenging behaviour, with the ability to cause injury to themselves and others.
"Due to overcrowding, four classrooms have been rented from an adjacent property. Some 19 junior ASD pupils have to be transported on a daily basis from the school to another rented building in the town, which is a mile away. Ten students, who have life-limiting conditions, are sharing a classroom which was built for six. There is no proper PE hall or assembly area. There is one changing facility in the school with a hoist for the needs of eighteen children. There is no longer a dining room because it has been turned into a classroom. The children are eating in their classrooms.
Traffic congestion is a huge issue. The area is an accident waiting to happen. It is chaotic because 27 buses use the only entrance to the school building to enter and exit twice daily. Some 60 staff enters and exits through the same entrance. A box-room is called a doctor's consultation area, but it is simply too small and unfit for purpose. The school is relying on the generosity of staff, parents and friends of the school to fundraise in order to meet the small shortfall from the Department. Parents have told us of their frustration, desperation and sense of isolation due to the fact that their special children cannot access adequate supports and services" said Deputy Lowry.
Taoiseach Leo Vardakar , in response, that Scoil Aonghusa has applied for major capital funding for the provision of 12 new classrooms, a general purpose hall and additional ASD facilities, together with improvements to mechanical and electrical services. The application is currently being considered by the Department of Education and Skills. Arrangements are being made by the Department to carry out a technical site visit in the near future in order to assess the existing accommodation and how best to provide the accommodation required to meet the long-term needs of this particular school