I propose to take Questions Nos. 205 to 209, inclusive, together.
In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level.
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). 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 through either planned capacity increases in existing schools or additional accommodation or extensions to existing schools.
As the Deputy will be aware, my Department's review of provision at post-primary level across the school planning areas in the South Kildare area is now complete.
My Department is satisfied that the needs in the area can be met through the replacement and expansion of the existing Curragh Post-Primary School with a new 1,000 pupil school building. It is intended that the expansion of the existing Curragh Post-Primary school, a multi-denominational Community College under the patronage of Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB), will also cater for demand arising in the adjoining Newbridge and Kildare school planning areas. There is existing capacity in the Curragh Post-Primary school pending delivery of the new school building.
A new site will be required for the school and the Department has commenced the site identification process. Due to commercial sensitivities surrounding site acquisitions in general, I cannot comment further at this point in the process, though I can assure the Deputy that my Department will make every effort to progress the matter. In line with protocols for the use of State property assets my Department has written to the Department of Defence regarding the school site requirement and will engage with that Department further in this regard in the coming weeks.
Some initial engagement had taken place in relation to the potential for Educate Together to become a Trustee Partner for the school in a similar arrangement to those implemented elsewhere (e.g. Clonturk Community College with City of Dublin Education and Training Board (CDETB) as patron of the school and Educate Together as a Trustee Partner). I understand that it is intended that there will be further engagement on this matter shortly.