A decade of campaigning and planning for an extension to Barefield National School has borne fruit with last week’s announcement by the Department of Education and Science that the construction phase is due to begin in November.
School principal John Burns said there was a sense of joy and appreciation among those involved with the school and the community at large that finally the green light had been given to advance the project to building stage.
Board of management chairman, Ronan Connolly also welcomed the announcement and praised everybody for their constructive involvement during the long campaign. Both he and Mr Burns expressed their gratitude to everybody who had been involved in bringing the project to fruition.
The announcement last week by the department that the construction phase will commence in November of this year is a tremendous boost for the whole Barefield community.
The extension and refurbishment project, which will create a 16-classroom school, has been the outcome of a decade-long campaign to provide the most up-to-date facilities. The school has grown rapidly in recent years from being a four-teacher school in 1984 to currently having a staff of 38, seven of whom are engaged in extra-curricular activities.
Barefield National School is situated on the outskirts of Ennis on a three-acre site and is conveniently located with easy access to the Limerick-Ennis Bypass.
At the signing of the construction contract at Ballymaley Business Park last week, Mr Burns outlined how the extension will consist of eight new classrooms, five special education teaching rooms, general purpose/sports hall and multi-purpose rooms, stores, offices, separate external store and a new roadside drop-off zone.
The principal also stressed that this development and modernisation programme will benefit the parish and the wider hinterland by providing access to facilities, amenities and opportunities for various sporting, educational, recreational and community organisations.
At present, the school is in the process of consolidating its information technology facilities, with most classrooms using interactive whiteboards. It is envisaged that the new school will have the latest technological equipment in all classrooms. The new facilities will have access to two hard-surface playing areas, one a full-size basketball court as well as access to two playing fields.
“Ultimately, this is a gift to the children in our care and we are absolutely delighted with this news, both for the current and future generations of pupils. All round, this is a good news story and has provided a great uplift, with everybody looking forward to this latest step in the school’s development,” said Mr Burns.
“The parents, teachers and children deserve this opportunity as they have always shown the enthusiasm and goodwill to respond positively, regardless of circumstances. Crucially, they and the whole local community had already shown their commitment and foresight in having the local contribution for this project at the ready when the time arrived,” he concluded.