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Multi-million euro plan to transform Tipperary special needs school

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Multi-million euro plan to transform Tipperary special needs school

The Raise the Roof Scoil Aonghusa Cashel choir

An ambitious multi-million project which will enable the dedicated staff at Scoil Aonghusa, Cashel, to continue providing such an invaluable service to the community for generations to come is taking shape.

Space is at an absolute premium at Scoil Aonghusa, which has a waiting list for pupils,  and  planning permission is about to  be sought for a multi million plan to transform the school with a four/five phase building programme.

Scoil Aonghusa caters for  107 pupils for children with  intellectual disability, challenging behaviour and life limiting conditions with profound disability in a pre school, primary and secondary unit providing a full curriculum with a programme tailor made for each student.

The implementation of the building plan will transform Scoil Aonghusa providing ten new ASD classes, a sports hall and extra pre school ASD rooms. Land beside the school has already been acquired.

How restrictive the site is on an everyday basis  is clearly evident from a visit to the classrooms during which the devotion and desire of the staff stands out as they care, engage and teach the pupils.

What they need to make the lives of the students more comfortable and to equip themselves to make every pupil “the best they can be” is more space.

"We have not one square inch left on this site, we just need the space and urgently need to start to build," said sports programme coordinator Geraldine Ryan Meagher.

Space is at such a premium classrooms that should have one specific function only are doubling up as multi purpose rooms causing frustration for the staff and for the pupils themselves.

The limitations of the existing school site  regarding capacity is highlighted by the fact that every day some of the pupils that arrive at Scoil Aonghusa by bus have to get off that bus and get on another one to bring them to two classrooms in the centre of town a few miles away.

"This is totally unsatisfactory on so many levels. It causes huge disruption for the children. For them to get on and off buses is very difficult and frustrating in itself and the functioning of the school suffers because of the split and the need for some of the pupils to be separated from all the other classes causes huge obstacles and inconvenience on a daily basis," said Geraldine.     

Three years ago a building committee was established comprising of parents, staff and management and they have brought plans to an advanced stage. Government funding will arrive in due course but the Scoil Aonghusa community have to get the project off the ground and embark on a major fundraising campaign.

"There will be a massive effort required because as a community we will have to raise significant funds ourselves. It will cost in the region of €1.5million for each of the phases involved," said Geraldine.