Seanad debates

Wednesday, 7 February 2024

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

School Accommodation

1:00 pm

Photo of Mary ButlerMary Butler (Waterford, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Senator for raising what is a very important issue for CBS High School, Clonmel. I am familiar with the school. My son taught there for a while so I know the school and its bordering counties.

I thank the Senator on behalf of the Minister for Education, Deputy Foley, for giving me the opportunity to update the House on the current position regarding the additional school accommodation, ASA, scheme project for a new building project for CBS High School, Clonmel, County Tipperary. As the Senator said, the project referred to is a building project to deliver enhanced accommodation at CBS High School, Clonmel. I am pleased to advise that the Department of Education has approved a project to build two special educational tuition, SET, rooms, or general classrooms, two science labs, one preparation room, one design and communication graphics room, one home economics room, one textiles room, one multimedia room, and a two-classroom special educational needs base and ancillary accommodation. In June 2022, superseding approval was given to include one technology room, one preparation area and one project store, in addition to the original brief agreed. In addition, the school was also granted additional funding to amalgamate a summer works project included in the ASA project, which included an upgrade in ventilation works in August 2023.

Responsibility for delivering the project has been devolved to the school authority, which has appointed a design team to design the accommodation being provided and to bring the project through the tender and construction phases. I will outline the project's progress from stage to stage in accordance with the project brief and the Department's design guidelines. The project for CBS High School, Clonmel, County Tipperary, is currently at stage 2a of the process. Stage 2 involves detailed design and statutory approval followed by stage 3, which involves procurement of a contractor and progression to stage 4, construction and completion. Stage 2b includes obtaining all statutory approvals, preparing a set of fully detailed tender documents, and preparing an accurate pre-tender cost plan. At this early juncture in the project, it is not feasible to give an indicative timeline for delivery, which I know the Senator hoped for today. The Department will continue to engage directly with the school in providing assistance and advice to ensure delivery of this important project.

It is of the utmost importance that the final outcome for the project at CBS High School, Clonmel, will be the correct one for both the school authority and the pupils. Equally, neither the Department of Education nor the school is in any doubt about the criticality of the need for this accommodation for the wider school community. It is a very big project, as the Senator and I have outlined. I know how important it is for its 700 pupils and their principal. The early stages of getting things rolling, and I also see this in the Department of Health, can be so frustrating. When the first shovel is turned, however, it moves on very quickly. There is an overall pipeline of some 1,300 projects across the school system. The current status of all projects is listed on a county-by-county basis at, which is updated on a regular basis to reflect project progress through the various stages of capital appraisal, site acquisition, design, tender and construction.

I will let the Minister, Deputy Foley, know that the Senator raised this matter in the House. She was not available to take it herself. I know how important this project is to the Senator, and all the pupils and families who use the high school in Clonmel. It is a school that has a great reputation. We see a school with 700 pupils waiting for this new build, many of whom will have left by the time it is in place. I understand the frustration in that regard.


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