I thank the Deputy for raising this issue. As he is aware, the decision-making authority for any amalgamation is the patron or trustees of the schools, subject to the approval of my Department. Any proposed change involves extensive negotiations at local level and must be well planned and managed in a manner that accommodates the interests of students, parents, teachers and local communities and contributes to an inclusive education system. My Department was not involved in these negotiations.
I can confirm to the Deputy that the report received by my Department, dated 11 July 2019, from Cavan and Monaghan Education and Training Board, which sets out the proposal to amalgamate both schools, was analysed by officials in my Department along with submissions from the groups referred to by the Deputy. In addition to considering the submissions received, officials in my Department’s planning and building unit carried out an analysis of the current enrolment trends, intake patterns, future demographic demands and the current curriculum provision. The outcome of this analysis concluded that the best outcome in the interests of all stakeholders was the approval of a new school building to facilitate the amalgamation of the two existing schools.
The two schools due to amalgamate will continue to operate from the existing school sites until a new school building is provided. It is envisaged that the construction phase for the new amalgamated school will be facilitated with investment available during the second half of the national development plan running from 2018 to 2027.
The new amalgamated school will be built to the highest standards and will be compliant with Part L of the 2017 building regulations. This will also provide the opportunity for the school to have a fully equipped PE hall with a fitness suite as well as accommodation to meet special educational needs at post-primary level in west Cavan.