The Government’s statement announcing that Notre Dame pupils will, after all, start school in the old
building next week confirms the Government’s failure to deliver on their promise to open the new school
in September this year and their total lack of planning. The Minister’s u-turn from asserting it will be
ready to “it will be ready when its ready” is now fast becoming a source of ridicule.
As evidence of the shoddiness of the planning, it is useful to briefly set out the recent chronology of
events surrounding this issue as follows:
(i) as recently as July the Minister talked exclusively about a September opening date with no
mention being made of the possibility of delays;
(ii) by 20th August (with a mere 14 days left for the start of the new school year) and for the first
time he warned of the possibility of delays and contingency planning;
(iii) on 24th August it was revealed by GBC that part of that planning entailed extending the
summer holiday to allow the new building to be finished;
(iv) 5 days later, on 29th August, the announcement is made that term time will after all begin as
scheduled, albeit in the old school building.
The above chronology illustrates the mess that the Government has got itself into. The sad thing here is
that it has got hundreds of pupils, their families and teachers in a mess with them too.
The Government cannot argue that they have found themselves in this predicament for any lack of
warnings from the Opposition. The GSD has long been concerned about the inevitable consequences of
rushing a project like this with very little planning.
It is unforgivable that the Minister should now cite the relocation of the Laguna Youth Club and last
winter’s severe storms as reasons for the delay. These excuses simply do not wash. If they are to be
believed he must have known that the project would be delayed in July when the storms had already
occurred and the Club’s relocation was in progress. Why did he therefore not refer to it in his speech and
more importantly plan for it at the time?
Armed with this knowledge why were teachers asked to pack classrooms before the school term ended in
June? The fact is that the Government ignored the inevitability of delays and asked teachers to pack their
classrooms before the summer break only to now ask them to return with the prospect of having to reallocate
to the new school in the same school year.
Had the old Notre Dame school building been left intact, the Opposition would have fully supported the
Government’s decision to delay a transfer until an appropriate term break in the future, in order to ensure
the new school was fully functional before effecting the transfer. The Minister is now suggesting a
transition during term time even though he stated in Parliament earlier this year that “we certainly cannot
move children in the middle of term time”.
It is clear that the Government has taken an ostrich approach to this whole affair and that our school
children, their teachers and their parents are now having to face the consequences of its sheer
The fact is that the current location is inadequate as an education establishment given that the area
remains a construction site. This has been admitted in a recent statement by the Minister who refers to
‘logistical arrangements’ still being worked on. The lunch hall has been demolished and construction has
already taken place on what appears to be two thirds of the old Notre Dame playground.
Other pertinent questions that the Government has to address are:
* Where will the children exercise and play?
* Have the evacuation routes been jeopardised? Have all other health & safety issues been addressed?
* Will the outreach programme for St Martin’s school students suffer too?
* Will the Government rush through completion and snagging for the sake of mitigating their
The whole episode reflects sadly on the Government and only heightens our concern in respect of the
other school projects.