I propose to take Questions Nos. 410 and 420 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 three new primary schools to be established in Kildare, as follows:
- 8-classroom primary schools to be established in September 2019 to serve the Leixlip school planning area
- 8-classroom primary schools to be established in September 2019 to serve the Maynooth school planning area
- 8-classroom primary schools to be established in September 2021 to serve the Naas school planning area
These announcements follow 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 and their preferred language of the school (Irish or English), 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) website 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 and language of instruction. The patronage process for new schools is overseen by an external independent advisory group, the New Schools Establishment Group (NSEG).
The patronage process for 12 primary schools to be established in 2019, including for the two primary schools to be established in Leixlip and Maynooth, have been completed.
- Leixlip - English-medium school under the patronage of Educate Together
- Maynooth - Irish-medium school under the patronage of An Foras Pátrúnachta.
Updates in relation to further patronage processes, including that for the primary school to be established in Naas in 2021, will be announced on the OPPS website and the Department's website (www.education.ie) in due course.
Additionally, I am pleased to confirm to the Deputy that Gaelcholáiste Maigh Nuad will be established in September 2019 as a multi-denominational Irish-medium Community College under the patronage of Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB).
The Programme for Government commits to increasing the number of multi-/non-denominational schools to 400 such schools by 2030. As the Deputy will be aware, my Department has developed the Schools Reconfiguration for Diversity process which is a new process to deliver on this commitment through patronage transfer, in line with the choices of local parents and school communities.
The Identification Phase is currently underway in 16 areas nationwide. Although none of the 16 initial areas in this pilot roll-out are in Kildare, it is envisaged that a second round of town selections and surveys of pre-school parents will be organised when the outcomes of the initial round of pilot surveys have been assessed and any necessary adjustments made in the Schools Reconfiguration process.
The Schools Reconfiguration process, which involves the transfer of live schools, has the potential to significantly increase patronage diversity in our school system.
In addition to the main provisions of this process, the “early movers” provision of this process enables school communities which have already decided to seek a transfer of patronage (independent of the survey process) to request that their existing patron makes an application to the Minister for a direct transfer of patronage under section 8 of the Education Act. I encourage any school community which is seeking a transfer of patronage to make contact with their school patron in this regard.