Doherty calls for resumption of Summer Works Scheme
Speaking in the Seanad this evening Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Senator Pearse Doherty called on Education Minister Mary Hanafin to re-introduce the Summer Works Programme for schools. Senator Doherty said he is aware of many schools in his own constituency which have incurred costs of over €2,000 because they had applied for a grant under the Summer Works Scheme which they will not now receive.
Senator Doherty also called for the capitation grant for primary schools to be brought up to the level of secondary schools.
He said, “In budget 2007 the Summer Works Programme, which provided schools with grants for vital building work to be carried out, was suspended. This is despite the fact that many children throughout the state are being taught in sub standard buildings.
“Under the Summer Works Scheme schools that wished to apply for grants had to hire a consultant to organise the application. The cost of hiring the consultant was covered in the grant. However, schools who have applied to receive a grant this year, without the knowledge that the scheme was to be suspended, now have to cover the costs of hiring the consultant to organise their application in the first place. So not only will schools now not be able to apply for grants for crucial building work but some have actually found themselves in debt due to applying for a grant in the first place.
“I know of a number of schools in my own constituency that are facing fees of over €2,000 because they applied for this grant. This is unacceptable.
“The Minister may claim that this project has been suspended because there is no need for it anymore. However schools have indicated otherwise to me. Such projects include the removal of asbestos from roofs, replacement of leaking roofs, and playground extensions. It also covers the refurbishment of toilets, electrical rewiring and upgrading of heating systems in older buildings. Importantly cavity wall insulation is also covered. It doesn’t take a genius to recognise that the latter are regularly ‘needed’ by schools.
“The suspension of this scheme has added further financial burdens on many schools which are already under sever strain. For many schools it is simply incomprehensible that they could meet these costs themselves and therefore the decision to end this scheme has ensured that our children will continue to be taught in sub standard schools for yet another year at least.
“Primary schools in my constituency have also told me of difficulties they are facing in respect to the capitation grant. This grant is given to schools to cover the basic heating and electrical costs of schools. However the current grant to primary schools is not meeting the need while secondary schools are getting more. This needs to be addressed and I would call on the Minister to ensure that primary schools receive capitation grants at the same levels of secondary schools. After all they pay the same rates for electricity and heating.” ENDS