Thursday, 30 July 2020
Opening of Schools and Calculated Grades: Statements
That is a matter the Deputy will have to take up elsewhere, as it is beyond my remit.
Regarding works being carried out in schools and being resourced and carried out in time, the Deputy referred to many of the schools having previously applied to the Department for necessary and perhaps emergency works, including minor works, etc., and being refused funding. I am pleased to confirm to the Deputy that the money for the works to be carried out in the next several weeks will be arriving in the schools next week. The money, not just for the works but for the additional aide or individual who will help to prepare each school in August, with the support of the management, will also be arriving in schools. There is, therefore, an absolute commitment that the funding and works that need to be done will be resourced and, as a sign of good faith, that funding will arrive before the end of next week.
Regarding the Deputy's concerns about the timeframe, the minor works grant is a process with which primary schools are familiar. The schools are well used to operating it and know what it involves. Before any announcement was made, principals, deputy principals and management in schools knew exactly where that money had to be spent. Likewise, although it is a new form of funding for second level schools, they also know what needs to be done. I have been greatly heartened by the videos I have seen and the messages that have come in from principals. They are getting down to work and making the adjustments and arrangements that need to be put in place. I am sure the Deputy has also seen many of these messages on social media. They are positive, proactive and demonstrate a worthwhile engagement from all involved in the school sector. Principals are very keen to reopen schools safely and well.