The GSD calls on Government to explain their specific plans for St Martin’s, Bishop Fitzgerald and Governor’s Meadow, to confirm what the costs are and that they have consulted on such plans.
The new Notre Dame school being opened on 4th October sits on the footprint promised to pupils, teachers and parents of St Martin’s school. St Martin’s has quickly outgrown its current facilities and temporary portacabins have been erected. Portacabins, especially those not merged with the main building with appropriate shelter, present challenges for any child and more so when we are talking about children with special learning and sensory needs.
Furthermore, the school bus can no longer turn in the parking area as this area has now been totally taken over by portacabins. The UK guidelines for special needs schools in fact states that school access at a special school should provide easy access facilities for public and private transport to allow drop-offs, access for ambulances and easily accessible, level or ramped pedestrian routes with slip-resistant and well- drained surfaces, without trip hazards and with an accessible stepped route nearby.
Prior to the installation of portacabins transport vehicles and emergency vehicles would have been able to turn around and back up onto the school main entrance to facilitate access to/from the vehicles. This has now been lost and instead vehicles can only enter and reverse, thus making exiting the school particularly risky.
This is a further sign of lack of planning which, as the refurbishment plans unravel, is not an isolated example. Rumours are rife of a temporary relocation of Bishop Fitzgerald and Governor’s Meadow schools to the Rooke site into pre-fabs (without public consultation and again with huge cost implications given the post office/ St John’s ambulance prefabs cost £3.2m). Has Government consulted the teaching Union on these moves?
It seems St Martin’s has lost its priority. The promise made to deliver this school first by 2017 has long been broken and this school is having to put up with temporary measures.