Scoil Phadraig Naofa boys and the adjoining St Joseph's girls NS in Mountmellick.
The days of school prefabs have come to an end for many schools in Laois but a new chapter in their use has begun in Mountmellick.
The boys primary school in Mountmellick has added three new prefabs, after getting extra teachers last September but no classrooms to accommodate them.
The need came about after Scoil Phadraig Naofa was granted DEIS disadvantaged status last year, along with the girls school adjoining it St Joseph’s GNS, and Mountmellick Community School.
Among many extra resources from the Department of Education, DEIS status means extra teachers, to enable smaller class sizes and more attention for each pupil.
While the girls school could find space with their recently built extension, in the adjoining boys school, classes had to be held in the GP hall shared by both schools, as well as the local ICA hall across the road.
The Principal is John Murrell.
“We were delighted and very grateful to the ICA for the use of their hall. It’s nearly 50 years since we had a class over there, as the priests house next door used to be the boys school," he said.
“The girls lost their ‘halla’ too as we had to use most of it, so I am delighted that we have our prefabs now, it gives us back our halla too,” he said.
He has been assured that the prefabs are a temporary solution .
“The department have prioritised construction of an extension, and I hope they will start work on that in the next 18 months to two years,” Mr Murrell said.
On Monday January 22, the brand new prefabs opened their doors, for use as two classes and a resource room.
Scoil Phadraig Naofa now has 260 boys and 25 staff. Gaining DEIS status has been a huge benefit the principal said.
“It means class numbers are smaller, so teachers can concentrate more on the needs of children, such as extra strengths or weaknesses, and deal appropriately with them,” he said.
The scheme also means free healthy lunches for every child, and a home school liaison officer.
“We used to talk to the children about bringing healthy lunches, now we are supplying them. The home school officer, our teacher Miriam Geaney, is working with the other schools and offering classes like adult education, Operation Transformation, zumba, and cookery." he said.
“It’s opened up the whole community to the school, and everyone is working well together. That can only benefit children and parents,” Mr Murrell said.