Mayfield Community School
3. (A) “A recent meeting of parents with the principal of Mayfield Community School stated that the Trustees of this school have said that under no circumstances can the Gaelscoil be accommodated in the existing school building or on the grounds.”
(B) “The piece refers to the possible alternative sitting of the Gaelscoil in the Mayfield Community School. This site was assessed and long since rejected by the Department of Education and Science, on a number of grounds, including but not limited to child protection and welfare issues and health and safety concerns.”
(A) The Trustees of the Community School are the Catholic Bishop of Cork and the City of Cork VEC.
I am not aware that there is any decision by the City of Cork VEC Trustees to oppose the Gaelscoil locating on the site of Mayfield Community School. A number of members of the VEC, who are also members of Cork City Council, have been very strongly supportive of maintaining the Tank Field as a public green open space and of examining the possibility of locating the Gaelscoil in the Mayfield Community School. (see point 10 below on VEC and local political support)
Bishop John Buckley is the other trustee and has not indicated his position.
In resorting to the views of the trustees there may also be an implication that the trustees are not subject to the requirement for accountability and responsibility in the use of publicly provided resources. Whatever about the Bishop, this clearly is not the case in relation to the VEC or its officers. The fact still remains that the Mayfield Community School, designed for over 800 pupils now has approximately 300 pupils and is clearly not being used to capacity. Neither are the extensive facilities and the land bank available to the school being utilised to capacity.
(B) The Department of Education and Science only investigated one site in Mayfield Community School, at the Northern side of the school grounds, and it is easy to see why, in that situation, Mayfield Community School would not be regarded as suitable. For instance, it would have provided for a completely separate entrance for the Gaelscoil, exiting on the North Ring Road and this may not have been acceptable to the local authority.
There are other possible sites on the grounds of Mayfield Community School and other locations that do not appear to have been properly investigated. It appears that no on-site studies have been carried out by engineers and architects on the feasibility of putting the Gaelscoil on the site of the Mayfield Community School and, certainly, on the issue of costs, it is clear that collocating on an existing educational site would be cheaper and more beneficial in respect of sharing educational and sports facilities. The records released under FoI shows that other sites, such as Tinkers Cross (see links below), were deemed acceptable and there does not appear to have been a serious evaluation of existing sites within the Mayfield Community School complex.
If it were the policy by the Department of Education and Science not to place the site in Mayfield Community School, it would be a reversal of their earlier stated policy. This rejection would raise serious issues on a number of grounds, namely:
There are precedents in Cork for a Gaelscoil to be accommodated on the grounds of a Community School. In Mahon, the Gaelscoil operates in the grounds of Nagle Community College. In Bantry, a Gaelscoil and a second level school will be built under public private partnership (PPP) on the same campus. Examples also exist elsewhere in the country.
Indeed, the Forward Planning Section of the Department of Education and Science states: “the Department is also open to the concept of multi-campus arrangements e.g. 2/3 primaries side by side or primary and a post primary sharing a site. Both of these arrangements can have the effect of reducing the land take for school development.”
In Mayfield Community School, the current playing pitches and site are not well maintained and the existing school is under-utilised.
What is the justification for spending more public money (over €5 million) on a new facility that removes a valuable community facility, the Tank Field, when the Department of Education and Science’s budget is already under severe pressure? How can this expenditure be justified to other communities around the country who are also seeking facilities and who don’t have other less costly and more effective options open to them?