The Seanad today heard a plea for equal support for St Anne’s Secondary school in Tipperary town – the school has 292 students enrolled in the current academic year. Senator Garret Ahearn sought an update on a school application for capital funding for a PE hall, changing rooms, a lift and a dedicated classroom for Technology and Graphics. Access to the School Meals Programme is also being sought by St Anne’s.
The Seanad heard a response from Minister Joe O’Brien on behalf of Norma Foley Minister for Education. Capital funding is under currently pressure to meet the Department objective for every child to have a school place – a decision regarding funding will be made by June 2024.
Minister O’Brien, a Minister of State in the Department of Social Protection says the officials in charge of the School Meals Programme will liaise with the school. Senator Ahearn says 48% of St Anne’s students come from primary schools with DEIS status. St Anne’s does not have DEIS status but should qualify for the School Meals Programme under a second category of being in an area of disadvantage. All five primary schools in the town have DEIS status as does St Ailbes second level school. Such status entitles a school to greater financial and staffing resources and inclusion in the School Meals Programme. Senator Ahearn suggested that the school principal John Cullinane meet with either the Education or Social Protection Minister to outline the school’s case.