Overcrowded Tyrone school that was refused extension teaching pupils in canteen

Roan Primary School, Eglish
Roan Primary School, Eglish

Schoolchildren at a popular local Primary School, which has been refused a new extension, are being taught in a dining hall because of overcrowded classrooms.

Roan Primary School is also being forced to teach children in a makeshift mobile classroom after its enrolment swelled by more than 50 percent from 83 pupils to 126.

The desperate measures to cater for the rocketing pupil numbers have been in place since 2008.

Last week, the Department of Education turned down a development proposal, which would have secured proper classrooms for the disadvantaged children and prevented them from being shoehorned into other rooms.

The move has angered Principal Seamus McCreesh, and prompted him to organise a public meeting for concerned parents on Thursday at 7.30pm.

The school was described as ‘outstanding’ in its latest inspection report, and the extension proposal had been recommended by the Southern Education and Library Board, as well as the Education and Training Inspectorate.

Mr McCreesh said that teachers and pupils were ‘at breaking point’.

“We’ve had a surge in pupil numbers due to the large amount of new estates in the Eglish area for the last seven years, and every year we have to apply for an emergency extension to our enrolment numbers.

“With more housing developments planned in the village, the situation is going to get much worse.

“Other primary schools in the area lie along poorly maintained rural roads, and parents are unwilling to go those extra miles.

“To this end, we are holding a public meeting in the school next Thursday evening with the Board of Governors present to work out a way forward, and we invite all concerned parents to attend.”

It is estimated that it would have cost about £160,000 to provide the additional classrooms.

Commenting on his decision to turn down the proposal, Mr O’Dowd said:“While the enrolment at Roan St Patrick’s PS has increased in recent years, there are other maintained primary schools in the area that have high levels of unfilled places and enrolment levels below the Sustainable Schools Policy threshold of 105 pupils.

“Increasing the enrolment at Roan St Patrick’s PS could have a detrimental impact on other nearby schools. Taking all of the evidence into account, and in the absence of a strategic area solution to address the issues at the other schools, I am unable to approve the proposal.”