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 demographic 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.
Approximately 40% of extra school places are delivered by extending existing schools.
As the Deputy will be aware, in April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022). The announcement followed nationwide, demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country.
A new 500 pupil post-primary school to be established in Enfield in 2020 was included in the new schools announcement.
In addition the following developments in the south of County Meath may be of interest to the Deputy:
- In 2014, a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school, De Lacy College, was established under the patronage of Louth and Meath ETB to serve the Ashbourne school planning area. The school has a current enrolment of some 400 pupils in the 2018/19 school year.
- A project to provide an extension to St. Peter’s College, Dunboyne to cater for an additional 225 students was recently completed.
- Dunshaughlin post-primary school planning area is catered for by Dunshaughlin Community College. The school operates under the patronage of Louth and Meath Education and Training Board (LMETB) and has a current enrolment in the region of 1,000 pupils. The school is experiencing demand for additional school places and the LMETB is open to assisting in meeting this demand. The ETB has submitted an application for additional accommodation which my Department is currently considering. The outcome will assist my Department in determining the future need in the area. In the meantime, my Department has approved the provision of additional temporary accommodation - 8 general classrooms and 1 science lab - to LMETB to meet the school’s immediate needs.
- An extension project for Ratoath Community College, to provide for a total of 1,300 pupils in the school, is currently in the final stages of being re-tendered.
The requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and will have regard for the increased roll out of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.