I propose to take Questions Nos. 210 and 211 together.
As the Deputy will be aware, the Government recently announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022) including two new 8-classroom primary schools to be established in 2019 to serve the Leixlip and Maynooth school planning areas. This announcement follows nationwide, demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country and the 4-year horizon will enable increased lead-in times for planning and delivery of the necessary infrastructure.
A patronage process is run after it has been decided, based on demographic analysis, that a new school is required. This patronage process is open to all patron bodies and prospective patrons. Parental preferences for each patron, from parents of children who reside in the school planning areas concerned, together with the extent of diversity currently available in these areas, are key to decisions in relation to the outcome of this process.
An Online Patronage Process System (OPPS) has been developed by my Department to provide objective information to all parents which will allow them to make an informed choice about their preferred model of patronage for their child’s education. Parental preferences were previously collected based on direct engagement with patron bodies.
The patronage process for new schools is overseen by an external independent advisory group, the New Schools Establishment Group (NSEG). Following their consideration of my Department’s assessment reports, the NSEG will submit a report with recommendations to me for consideration and final decision.
The Online Patronage Process System (OPPS) opened for parental preferences on the 10th December 2018 for 12 primary schools to be established in 2019 and closed on the 15th January 2019. My Department are currently preparing assessment reports for the NSEG and it is anticipated that the successful patrons will be announced in the coming weeks. The assessment reports, including details on the number of parental preferences received for each of the areas and the NSEG recommendations, will be made available on my Department's website.