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GSD calls for clarity on Govt school plans

Display School Designs 21-02-2018 (Photo John Bugeja) Department Education display the latest designs for Gibraltar's new schools. Minister John Cortes in attendance with Lionel Gomez, Darren Grech and Derek Alman

The GSD has on the Gibraltar Government to explain its specific plans for St Martin’s, Bishop Fitzgerald and Governor’s Meadow.

The Opposition wants the government also to confirm what the costs are of the three schools and that it has carried out a consultation on its plans.

According to the GSD, the new Notre Dame school being opened on October 4 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,” the GSD said.

“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 GSD pointed out that UK guidelines state that special needs schools 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, the GSD said.

“This has now been lost and instead vehicles can only enter and reverse, thus making exiting the school particularly risky,” it added.

“This is a further sign of lack of planning which, as the refurbishment plans unravel, is not an isolated example.”

The GSD added: “Rumours are rife of a temporary relocation of Bishop Fitzgerald and Governor’s Meadow schools to the Rooke site into pre-fabs.”

“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 2016 has long been broken and this school is having to put up with temporary measures.”
The GSD said that if confirmed, the prospect of a temporary move of the schools would be done without public consultation and with “huge cost implications”, adding that the “pre-fabs” for the port office and St John’s Ambulance cost £3.2m.

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