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Opening of Glasnevin National School's Extension, Botanic Avenue


I am delighted to be here this afternoon to officially open this new extension for Glasnevin National School. 

Today, we are marking the completion of what has been an ambitious and very successful project for this school.  It is clear however, that it is not just an extension and refurbishment that I am here to open, it is, in fact, virtually a brand new school!  

I am sure that you, the lucky pupils, who have witnessed the transformation of your school, really appreciate your new surrounds.  I know that starting back to school in September is not something you are always over the moon about, but starting back with such beautiful new facilities must have been something to look forward to. 

I would like to congratulate everybody who has been involved in this development from the start.  It is clear from the end result that a serious level of commitment was devoted to this project.    I would like to congratulate the Board of Management, and in particular, your principal, Heather Evans, for driving the development.  Your initiative has secured a very fine school that will enable pupils and teachers alike to work in an inviting and stimulating environment. 

I would also like to pay tribute to the teaching staff for their perseverance throughout the building works.  Your task was not made any easier with your relocation during the building phase.  I am sure you will agree today that you now have a very fine facility to show for your efforts.  The fine craftsmanship and quality of the development is due to the professionalism of the architects, engineers, surveyors and builders involved.  Congratulations to them on a job well done. 

Equally, I know that the parents and local community, especially the Glasnevin Lions’ Club, have long been very supportive of this school.   Your commitment has ensured that future generations of children in this area will be catered for in the best of surrounds.

This major extension and refurbishment work was included as part of the 2004 School Building Programme and I am delighted that the Department of Education and Science contributed €945,000 towards its completion. 

Building on increased investment in recent years, the Government’s decision to provide a €3.4 billion multi-annual capital funding envelope for education over the next five years is proof of our continued commitment to modernising school buildings.  This year alone, over 1,200 primary and post-primary schools will have benefited from funding under the programme.

As we are all aware, Budget Day is almost upon us again.  Just two weeks ago, my colleague, Minister for Finance, Brian Cowen, announced the Estimates for 2006.  This represented the first step in terms of setting out expenditure on public services next year. 

In particular, the Estimates highlighted our ongoing commitment to the provision of quality education for all, in particular at primary level.  As announced as part of the Estimates, there will be 26,000 teaching posts at primary level next year, an increase of 5,000 over the 1997 provision.  In other words, nearly 1 teaching post in 5 did not exist in 1997.  In addition, spending in the primary sector in 2006, will represent an increase of over 170% since 1997, or almost €1.7 billion.

There are now more than 5,000 primary teachers, of which one-fifth are primary teachers, working solely with children with special needs. In addition to this there are nearly 6,000 Special Needs Assistants providing individual support to children with special needs, compared with fewer than 300 in 1997. 

These represent just some of the many developments that will be taking place in terms of primary level education during 2006.  By any measure we have made real and substantial progress in recent years and we will continue to do so into the future.  I look forward to working in ongoing partnership with you in building on our achievements over the coming years.

Once again, my congratulations go to all involved in this very successful project.

Tá súil agam go mbainfidh sibh an-taitneamh as bhur scoil álainn nua!

Thank you.