Crossmaglen Gaelscoil included in schools’ £60m upgrade fund

May 14, 2018

St. Patrick’s Primary School and Gaelscoil Phádraig Naofa in Crossmaglen are to benefit from a share in a £60m investment fund aimed at improving facilities in schools across the north, The Examiner has learned.

The rural Gaelscoil is the sole Irish medium primary education provider among the 25 schools chosen to receive the funding from the second round of the School Enhancement Programme, recently announced by the Department of Education.  The money will be used to redevelop areas of the existing property into fit-for-purpose accommodation for the rapidly growing enrolment in St. Patrick’s Primary School and Gaelscoil Phádraig Naofa, Principal Michael Madine revealed.

Welcoming the financial investment, he says the entire school is delighted to have been successfully chosen as a receipient of School Enhancement Programme funding.

Describing the need for improving school facilities to meet its increasing pupil numbers, Mr Madine said: “In the upcoming academic year, the school is losing 34 Year 7 pupils and taking in 82 pupils. Additional teaching accommodation is needed immediately to serve the 480 children on the books next year.  Indeed the problem is exacerbated  as both of our mediums are flourishing and there will be in the region of 160 in our Gaelscoil. The nature of Irish Medium necessitates that the children are taught separately from their peers in English medium.  This obviously requires additional accommodation.”

Having been built almost 60 years ago, Mr Madine said St. Patrick’s current premises does not meet pupils’ needs.

“Our school was built in 1959 and is in poor condition. For whatever reasons, over the years the school missed out on redevelopment work. Classrooms are too small, there is limited ancillary rooms, no library, substandard office accommodation, inadequate toilets, inadequate hall space and dining room facilities, limited car parking and substandard security, heating and sewage systems.”

But despite the “old and weak infrastructure” Mr Madine says St. Patrick’s is “a very good school” and has been growing successfully in recent years.  

“Crossmaglen and south Armagh is a fantastic place to live in. A friendly community immersed in its culture, history and sport. Young parents are very aware of this and with close links heading North and South, many have set up home in the area,” he said.

“However, schools are more than about bricks and mortar, schools are about children and the quality of relationships that exist amongst the school family.  With this new funding we will soon be in a situation where our children, the children of Crossmaglen and the surrounding area, will have a school that they deserve in this 21st century.  A school that will make it easier for us to be at the current edge of education development and still allow us to keep the warmth and Fáilte that all primary schools need in order to be at the centre of their community.”

Thanking the school’s Trustees, Governors, staff, parents and the statutory bodies of Dept of Education, Local Education Authority and Catholic Council for Maintained Schools for their support, he added: “With their input we look forward to, in the not-too-distant future, a large scale redevelopment and refurbishment of the school estate of St Patrick’s PS and our Irish Medium Unit Gaelsoil Phádraig Naofa.”