An annual summer scheme held at Lisanally Special School in Armagh will not take place this year due to construction work.
The disappointing news was conveyed to parents in a letter last week with one questioning the timing of the work.
A programme of proposed traffic management works is being undertaken at the school and will consist of three phases of construction work which is expected to be completed over a period of 32 weeks.
This work is being undertaken to improve the traffic management facilities currently in place due to an increase in capacity and requirement for additional provision in recent years.
As a result, the summer scheme has been axed to allow for contractors on site for eight weeks over the summer, with the school saying there was no alternative and that “health and safety of our pupils, parents/guardians and staff is of the utmost importance”.
In a letter to parents, principal Sandra Flynn, wrote: “I realise that this is probably not good news for the pupils who usually attend and you as a family. However, there is no way in which the summer scheme can operate safely.
“As you are aware, school site has changed significantly to accommodate the increased capacity. You will have learned through social media last year of the approval of a new car park for the school, the location of the additional eight modular units.
“The all-weather pitch, which opened at the start of the school year, has necessitated traffic management works being urgently required to ensure the transport can be managed safely.
“Lisanally has operated, since September 2022, with temporary drop off collection arrangements. Increased pupil numbers have required increased staffing numbers alongside more education authority transport / parents transporting children to school.
“The school has been challenged by the safe management of arrival and departure of pupils on a daily basis.
“The Governors welcome that the Education Authority has brought the planned new car park forward under running the traffic management works alongside this so the disruption takes place over one school year and not longer.
“Unfortunately, while we are able to work with the contractors on management of some parts of the project, there’s absolutely no way in which phase three can take place while the school is open to pupils, either for school or summer scheme.”
In response to Armagh I, Ms Flynn added: “Phase three of this work will involve improvement works to the existing car park, construction of a turning circle and drainage connection work.
“To facilitate this phase of the work, the contractor requires full access to the Lisanally School site and this work can only take place when the school site is closed. This phase of work is due to commence at the end of the school term in June 2023, for a period of eight weeks.
“In the interests of health and safety, the school site will not be accessible for pupils during this time. This phase of work will also be important to enable the progression of other phases of the proposed works.
“Regrettably, this will impact on any planned summer scheme as the school site will not be accessible for pupils from the end of the school term in June 2023 for a period of eight weeks and any planned summer scheme cannot operate safely during this time.
“We recognise that pupils and parents/guardians will be disappointed by this, however, the health and safety of our pupils, parents/guardians and staff is of the utmost importance.”