22nd May 2018
The INTO today criticised the lack of information from the Department of Education and Skills (DES) on the Summer Works Scheme for primary schools. The union said that the DES must communicate with schools and tell them how they can access funding for badly-needed upgrades.
Speaking before the Seanad in late April, Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, said that €25m funding under the Summer Works scheme for this year will be confined to schools that made an application under the scheme in November 2015. These are schools that were approved for funding but didn’t have works carried out in 2016 or 2017. In many cases, the failure to draw down funding in 2016 and 2017 was due to the Department’s delay in communicating the availability of funding to the schools.
“There is no opportunity for schools that did not apply in 2015, but that now badly need work carried out on boilers, roofs and toilets, to apply for funding for 2018. There hasn’t been any formal communication with schools on this matter or any indication of how these needs will be met,” said Sheila Nunan, INTO General Secretary, “and this is completely unacceptable.”
There are also approximately 700 schools that applied for Summer Works in 2015, for works such as windows, school yard and car park projects, whose applications were not approved. “These schools have been anxiously awaiting news about whether their works can go ahead and will be deeply disappointed that funding has not been made available” said Ms Nunan.
The purpose of the Summer Works scheme is to devolve funding to school authorities to undertake small-scale works which can be carried out mainly during the summer months to avoid disrupting the operations of the school.
The INTO calls on the Minister and his officials to engage with stakeholders, including the INTO, to outline how schools can access funding for necessary upgrades. INTO demands that communication with schools and stakeholders on this issue must improve.