Community pulls together to help save D13 playschool under threat

by Dublin Gazette
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A community is rallying behind the owner of a playschool in Dublin 13, after she found out she may need to close the school or seek a new premises.

Ciara’s Community Playschool currently operates in the grounds of St Francis of Assisi Primary School in Dublin 13.

However, a new building was recently constructed for the school to move into – with no available space for the Playschool.

Ciara Ryan, the owner of the creche, said that the playschool was only told last week that the school will be relocating to the new building in April, and that there would be no room for the playschool.

Parents have tried to arrange a meeting with the Board of Management of the school, but Ryan says that the board weren’t willing to engage in a meeting about the future of the playschool.

Speaking to Dublin Gazette, she said that she couldn’t get solid confirmation of whether or not there would be space on the new grounds for the playschool until recently, despite works having begun some time ago.

She said: “I approached the school eight years ago about setting up a playschool, and they were all for it. I have had kids in this playschool that have gone on to the primary school, some of who are making their First Holy Communions and things soon.

“Whenever I asked if there was room in the new building for the playschool, they just kept saying, ‘Oh we aren’t sure, there might be’, and when I asked when it was opening, I was told ‘Maybe May or June’, but now it’s suddenly April.

“I’m just trying to hold on to the current premises until June, it’d be too difficult for the children or their parents to get them places in other schools mid-year – it’s it’s difficult enough to get them a place in September.

“There’s a huge lack of places in playschools around here, and now I might have to lose mine. It’s incredibly upsetting for me; it’s my playschool, but it’s going to inconvenience so many parents and children as well.

“The Board of Management wouldn’t meet with parents who wanted to talk about this, but now Dublin City Council have come on board to try and help us find somewhere suitable.”

A petition has been set up by local Independent election candidate Niamh McDonald, who told Dublin Gazette that several anxious parents contacted her about trying to save the school.

The petition calls on the Department of Education to allow the playschool to stay open at its current location until the end of the school year in May, and from September to allow the playschool a prefab to continue operating on the same site as the new school building.

McDonald said that there is a huge shortage of playschool and creche places in the Dublin 13 area, with a number of children attending the playschool in addition to a lengthy waiting list.

So far, the petition has more than 650 signatures, with the community widely sharing the petition in the hopes of the school finding a new home or being allowed to remain at the current premises.

In a statement to Dublin Gazette, a Department of Education spokesperson said: “The Department is aware that the privately-owned playschool is currently operating in St Francis of Assisi primary school’s existing accommodation.

“This appears to be an initiative of the primary school and we are not party to this arrangement.

“The Department is constructing a new permanent replacement school for the primary school and the project is nearing completion.

“Our priority is the provision of accommodation for children of schoolgoing age.

“The Department does not have any remit for the provision of a building for this playschool.”

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