Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Questions (337)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

337. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of new places that will be required at second level in 2020 by county; the current provision of places; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13267/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department’s publication, Projections of Full-Time Enrolment (July 2018), includes the following information on national enrolments at second level, based on the annual returns of post-primary schools for 2017, and the projected enrolments at second level for the following three academic years.

Year Beginning

Second Level

2017 (final)

357,408

2018

363,495

2019

369,673

2020

377,118

Trends in demand for additional places are not spread evenly across or within counties. For school planning purposes, my Department divides the country into 314 geographic areas known as school planning areas which facilitates the orderly planning of school provision and accommodation needs. In identifying the requirement for additional school places, the 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. Major new residential developments in a school planning area have the potential to alter demand in that area. In that regard, as part of the demographic exercises, my Department engages with each of the local authorities to obtain the up-to-date data on significant new residential development in each area. This is necessary to ensure that schools infrastructure planning is keeping pace with demographic changes as there is a constantly evolving picture with planned new residential development, including additional residential developments arising from the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF).

With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises at primary and post primary level to determine where additional school accommodation is needed.

Where data indicates that additional provision is required, the delivery of such additional provision is dependent on the particular circumstances of each case and may, depending on the circumstances, be provided through either one, or a combination of, the following:

- Utilising existing unused capacity within a school or schools,

- Extending the capacity of a school or schools,

- Provision of a new school or schools.

As the Deputy may be aware, the Government recently announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022), including 26 new schools announced at primary level and 16 new schools announced at post-primary level. 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.

In addition to the new schools announced, there will be a need for further school accommodation in other areas in the future. The requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and in particular will have regard for the increased roll out of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.