Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Questions (53)

John Curran

Question:

53. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress made to provide additional primary school places to children in a location (details supplied) who need them for September 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26626/19]

View answer

Oral answers (5 contributions) (Question to Education)

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 demographic data indicate that additional provision is required, the delivery of such additional provision is dependent on the particular circumstances of each case. It may, depending on the circumstances, be provided through either one, or a combination of utilising existing unused capacity within a school or schools, extending the capacity of a school or schools and the provision of a new school or schools.

The Government recently announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years, 2019 to 2022, including a new eight-classroom primary school to be established in 2020 to serve the Newcastle, Rathcoole and Saggart school planning area. This announcement follows nationwide, demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country. The four-year horizon will enable increased lead-in times for planning and delivery of the necessary infrastructure.

My Department approved two temporary classrooms and a special education teaching room for Scoil Chrónáin national school, Rathcoole, in 2018. The additional classes approved in 2018 are currently accommodated in Rathcoole community centre pending installation of the temporary classrooms at the school.

I raised this issue with the Minister previously. Several parents from Rathcoole, County Dublin, whose children go to preschool there have been unable to secure a primary school place for this September in either of the two schools in the village. I am not aware of the full extent of the issue but the Department needs to make inquiries.

The Minister previously indicated in a similar reply that there was to be a new eight-classroom school on Fortunestown Lane to serve the Newcastle, Rathcoole and Saggart area. I respectfully suggest that departmental officials need to revisit that decision. That new school will predominantly serve the population of Saggart and Citywest with little or no additional capacity for Rathcoole. It will have little impact on the population of Rathcoole. Will the Minister review the adequacy of the answer he has given and acknowledge that the new school proposed in Fortunestown Lane will do little to address current needs in Rathcoole?

I appreciate the Deputy’s analysis on this and on the previous occasion he raised this matter. My Department continues to engage with officials at local authority level on housing data and population growth.

My Department has recently approved two further mainstream classrooms for Scoil Chrónáin to cater for additional primary school places in Rathcoole for September 2019. The responsibility for the installation of these classrooms has also been devolved to the board of management.

The requirement for new schools will be kept under ongoing review and, in particular, would have regard to the impact of the increased roll-out of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040. My Department will also continue to monitor areas where the accommodation of existing schools may need to be expanded to meet the needs of the local population.

I thank the Minister for the reply. I still contend that he needs to revisit this issue. The existing schools are at capacity while housing development continues in the Rathcoole area. If a family moves to the area with a child who is eight, nine, or ten years of age, the probability of getting into one of the two schools is zero, because they are full. That is to say nothing of the junior infants. If the Minister does not know the area, Fortunestown is quite a bit away, in the Citywest area. An eight-classroom school in Fortunestown will have little impact on the population in the Rathcoole area. That decision needs to be revisited and an additional school or additional capacity other than the Fortunestown proposal needs to be provided.

We will keep it under review.

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.