To: The Minister of Education, Cork Education & Training Board (CETB) and Cork County Council. We oppose the CETB planning application in relation to Gaelcholáiste Temporary Acommodation and ancillary siteworks on existing Carrigaline Community School Pla sign now

Re: Proposed Planning Application to position Temporary Gaelcholáiste Portakabins on existing Carrigaline Community School playing pitches adjacent to Church Road, Carrigaline, Co. Cork

To: The Minister of Education, Cork Education & Training Board (CETB) and Cork County Council.

From: Parents Association of Carrigaline Community School -Ni neart go cur le cheile

Introduction:

We understand that Cork Education & Training Board have submitted a planning application to Cork County Council, in relation to the above. This will result in temporary accommodation being positioned on the in-goal line of the existing rugby pitch therefore ruling out its use for rugby until the new Gaelcholáiste has been constructed on Ballinrea Rd. The proposals will also be sited over an existing basketball court and its use will also be ruled out for the duration.

Key points:

1. Mental Health & Well-being:

“We know that the mental health and well-being of our young people is critical to success in school and life. The promotion of well-being and the prevention of suicidal behaviour among young people in Ireland is a major public health concern. Schools play a vital role in the promotion of positive mental health in young people”.

These are not our words but come from an inter-departmental group comprised of members from the Department of Education and Skills, the Health Service Executive and the Department of Health from the publication Well Being in Post-Primary Schools Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention 1

This publication goes on to say “Physical Health is also closely aligned with mental and social health. The delivery of well organised physical education programmes in schools by suitably qualified personnel has potential to develop young people’s resilience to cope with competitive and/or challenging situations. Encouraging young people to participate in extra-curricular sports, music, dance or drama also engages and motivates them to have positive attitudes towards themselves and others and, to grow in confidence.” Also emphasised several times throughout the guidelines is that “Schools also serve to connect young people to their communities through sport”.

2. Loss of critical School Amenity:

Why should a school like Carrigaline Community School be in the position of losing land, land which is primarily used for sporting activities but is also used as a safe recreational/ green space during lunch and break times? For parents who don't want their children leaving the school during these times or who aren't in a position to collect them for lunch, knowing this safe, outdoor haven is available is very comforting. This outdoor space provides an area for social interaction and for children to relax fully in the fresh air, grabbing those important daylight hours to produce the vitamin D their bodies need! Losing these areas means the loss of a unique alternative teaching space for topics from mindfulness and meditation to science topics. Most importantly space for PE lessons and sports will be greatly restricted with the loss of a full sized, fully lined rugby pitch which is also widely used for athletics and soccer as well as a less-used basketball court which could be re-developed. For a school the size of CCS this loss will be a huge blow.

3. CCS Rugby programme and achievements:

There has been an enormous effort in recent years to improve the rugby programme in the school. It’s a well used pitch for lots of sports in the school and indeed for other schools in the area making use of it for away matches when they have no similar facilities themselves. We celebrated recent rugby successes with the U-15’s winning the Munster McCarthy cup in the 2016-2017 season. There have been recent successes with our enthusiastic under 15 team who fielded two teams at Munster rugby blitz when they won 2 of their 3 games. The U-16’s defeated Colaiste na Trionoide Youghal in the Munster King Cup and are in the quarter-finals this season. The U-18s are having a wonderful season and are completing strongly in their league which may result in an appearance at a final blitz in Independence Park. The skills that the pupils have developed have been honed and nurtured on their own home pitch. We should be rewarding such talent and dedication and not belittling it by removing such an asset.

4. Lack of Rugby Pitches in Carrigaline Area:

This is the only full size rugby pitch in Carrigaline town. We know that Carrigaline RFC have an existing lease on pitches in Ballyorban. These pitches are a full 5m outside of Carrigaline and the lease comes to an end in September 2018. The logical way forward would be for Carrigaline RFC to approach CCS to use the pitch for matches at weekends rather than having no home pitch in a town of 15,000 residents. This proposal will be completely shattered by having temporary portakabins from a neighbouring school perched on the edge of the pitch extinguishing its use for rugby.

5. Department of Education & Skills Post Primary Facilities:

CCS up to recently has been the only provider of post primary education for the community of Carrigaline. It has provided an excellent service to the community. The 1150 pupil school is near to capacity in terms of pupils and all available space is needed. While the state-of the art PE gives space particularly during inclement weather, it should not subsume the importance of physical activity out in the open.

Why else would the Department of Education Planning and Building Unit include the following in their TGD-023 Post-primary School Design Guidelines (on building new secondary schools) recommendations that a post-primary school of 800+ students should have 8 courts of size 30m x 17”. While the number of grass pitches isn't specified it does say that the overall development should maximise the potential of the site in relation to for example “allowance for the provision of grass playing pitches where site area and configuration permits”.

So on an ideal site, the above is recommended and yet the CETB and the Minister for Education are willing to take one of our 3 courts and our only full-size pitch! How unjust. Isn't it a completely backward step to reduce available recreational and sporting facilities in a school!

6. Cork County Council:

Cork County Council has a role to play in preserving this recreational/sports area. In its Cork County Development Plan 2014 (3*), the proposed development is in direct conflict with the council’s objective which is to ‘Protect and improve existing areas of public and private open space including sports grounds, or other recreational facilities in accordance with the Council’s Recreation and Amenity Policy and protect such areas from development or change of use’, (Chapter 5).


 

7. Fire Assemby Area for First Years:

Another point to consider is the loss of a fire-assembly area for First Years. These students constitute one of the largest, youngest and most vulnerable groups in the school whose assembly area is located on the lower Basketball court on which portakabins could be placed under this development. This area is some distance from the main built-up environment and car-parks. As history has proven the extent, intensity and speed of a fire is not easily gauged even by professionals in-charge of health and safety precautions The potential for security risks in schools that appear to be more frequent and widespread world-wide should also be accounted for in terms of our need for these spaces. The necessity for a safe space to congregate in in the event of such an emergency extends to being able to safely return pupils, in the care of their teachers in-loco parentis, back to their parents in as orderly fashion as possible for the sake of accountability while at as safe a distance as possible from potential risks.

Conclusion:

We feel that the loss of this rugby pitch and basketball court would be disastrous for CCS and the well-being of our students and staff. We are of the considered opinion that this would only be the first step in possibly merging the adjacent Gaelcholáiste into CCS and producing a critical and unworkable facilities overload to CCS.

Please support the Parents Association of Carrigaline Community School in their efforts to save their ground and have alternative solutions proposed or before you know it they will be suggesting merging both schools!

References:

1* https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Information/Resources-Guidance/Well-Being-in-Post-Primary-Schools-Guidelines-for-Mental-Health-Promotion-and-Suicide-Prevention-2013.pdf

 

2* https://www.education.ie/en/School-Design/Design-Guidance/bu_tgd_023_pdf.pdf

 

3* http://epublications.snap.com.au/ebook/ebook?id=10040632#/92 

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Parents Association Carrigaline Community SchoolBy:
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To: The Minister of Education, Cork Education & Training Board (CETB) and Cork County Council

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Parents Association Carrigaline Community School

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carrigaline, ccs, communityschool, education, mentalhealth, recreationspace, rugby, sport, students

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