MULTI-MILLION euro plans which will see a transformation of Desmond College in Newcastle West have been unveiled.
The Department of Education and Skills has approved €2m of funding for an extension to the 500-student school, in a move hailed as “great news” by principal Vourneen Gavin-Barry.
The extension will see a new construction studies room, mainly to be used for woodworking classes, offices, a resource area, a new communal space, plus specialist accommodation with special educational needs.
The Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board has formally sought planning permission from the City and County Council to knock the prefabricated unit the school has.
In its place, a new special needs unit extension will be built, which will include two classrooms.
There will also be a new communal area for students, and a single-storey extension to the school’s main building, which was completed in the year 2000.
In total, 800 square metres of new teaching spaces are to be provided, while there will also be works to outdoor play areas.
Ms Gavin added: “This will improve the quality of education, and it will improve the teaching and learning experience for all our staff and students. We are thrilled. We would have quite a large number of our students taking practical subjects. While we have one state-of-the-art room for this, another room we use would be in poor condition. It is a prefab.”
Ms Gavin said the accommodation for students with special educational needs will house the school’s classes for autistic youngsters.
”We are very excited to be getting this. I would hope work would start in the summer-time,” she said.
The principal also confirmed it will mean the school will be able to increase its student intake – but declined to specify by how much.
“But for the current students, I suppose it will ensure the classrooms they are using are of the equivalent standard to our main building. It will be about quality,” she said.
Ms Gavin said the ‘central activity space’ which is proposed as part of the plans will be an area where the whole school can congregate, and where work can be displayed.
She added: “The idea is in a big school, the spaces where we can bring a school community are important. You find an awful lot of new builds did not think of this when they were planning. So this will be a great area for us to use.”
Meanwhile, the board of management at Hazelwood College in Dromcollogher has secured conditional planning permission for a new two-storey school building at the rear of the existing school.
The extension will comprise of a home economics suite, a new science laboratory, five new classrooms, three support classrooms, and a number of other facilities including pastoral care offices.
The new development will be built on the current outdoor hard-court area, with a replacement facility built in its place at the western end of the campus.
It is hoped that the new building will be completed in advance of the academic year starting September 2017.
Limerick City and County Council gave the proposal the go-ahead subject to seven conditions.
These include a stipulation that work can only take place on the site between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday, and only up to 4pm on Saturdays, Sunday and public holidays.