Educate Together Update

Commencement Debate
29th September, 2015

The need for the Minister for Education and Skills to provide an update with regard to the Department of Education and Skills review of post-primary school places required from 2017 onwards, specifically concerning Newbridge and South Kildare and when it is expected that this review will be completed.

Senator Catherine Noone

Opening Statement

I thank the Senator for raising this matter and I welcome the opportunity to set out the position with regard to my Department’s review of post-primary school places required from 2017 onwards.

Due to unprecedented demographic growth, 27 new primary schools and 26 new post-primary schools have been, or are in the process of being, established from the years 2011 to 2016. The purpose of each of these schools is to meet a specific demographic need within a defined geographic area, that is, to ensure that every child and young person living in a particular area can have access to a physical school place within that area.

My Department uses a Geographical Information System (GIS) to identify where the pressure for school places will arise. The GIS uses data from the Central Statistics Office, Ordnance Survey Ireland and the Department of Social Protection in addition to the Department’s own databases. It also uses data from the local authorities.
With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises at primary and post-primary level to determine where additional school accommodation is needed.

My Department is in the process of concluding a report on the outcome of an exercise to determine where additional post-primary school accommodation will be needed from 2017 onwards. The demographic exercise encompassed all areas of the country, including Newbridge and Kildare.

I will announce the details of the new post-primary schools to be provided nationwide arising from this exercise shortly. Arrangements will also be made to provide additional post-primary accommodation to existing schools where the demographic demand warrants this.

Where new schools are to be established, my Department runs an open patronage determination process to decide who will operate the schools. It is open to all patrons and prospective patrons to apply under this process.

Over €2.2 billion in funding is being invested by my Department under its Five-Year School Capital Investment Plan (2012 -2016). Over €1.5 billion of this is being allocated for the funding of major school building projects. The balance is being used for the additional accommodation scheme, the prefab replacement initiative, the Emergency Works Scheme and the acquisition of sites. Full details of all projects both planned and ongoing, are published on my Department’s website.

Earlier this year, I announced that seven new primary schools will be established in the next two years to meet demographic needs in different areas of the country. Nine new post-primary schools will open over the same period. This includes a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school, Celbridge Community School, which opened in interim accommodation this September 2015. A new 1,000 pupil post-primary school, Maynooth Community College, opened in 2014. Both of these projects are on the Five-Year Plan, as is a replacement school building for the existing Maynooth Post-Primary School.

Planning is underway on the next Five-Year School Capital Investment Plan.

Concluding Statement
I wish to thank the Senator for her comments.
I trust that my comments provide clarity in relation to new school provision. The criteria for the establishment of new schools is available on my Department’s website. All of the documentation in relation to the award of patronage for individual schools is also published on my Department’s website, which includes maps of the areas to be served by the individual new schools.

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