Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Questions (117)

Pat Buckley


117. Deputy Pat Buckley asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to develop new primary and second- level schools in Midleton and east County Cork to respond to a growing population of primary school students and longer term projections in population growth for the future. [47882/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

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. For school planning purposes Midleton is located in the Midleton_Carrigtwohill school planning area.

Major new residential developments in a school planning area have the potential to alter demand in that area. In that regard, as part of the demographic exercises, my Department engages with each of the local authorities to obtain the up-to-date information on significant new residential development in each area.  This is necessary to ensure that schools infrastructure planning is keeping pace with demographic changes as there is a constantly evolving picture with planned new residential development.

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.

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), including three new primary schools and one new post-primary school in Cork.

While the 2018 announcement did not include a new school for the Midleton_Carrigtwohill school planning area, the requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and in particular will have regard for the increased rollout of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.

The following new schools were established in recent years in the Midleton_Carrigtwohill school planning area:

- Carrigtwohill Community College, a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school established in 2016 to serve the Midleton_Carrigtwohill school planning area; and

- Scoil Cliodhna Community National School, a new 16 classroom primary school established in 2015 to serve the Midleton_Carrigtwohill school planning area.

Under Project Ireland 2040, my Department continues to make progress to increase the infrastructural capacity in the schools sector, in order to meet demographic and other demands.

The Capital Programme details the school projects that are being progressed under Project Ireland 2040. I wish to advise the Deputy that the current status of large-scale projects being delivered under Project Ireland 2040 may be viewed on my Department's website, and this information is updated regularly. In addition, a list of large-scale projects completed from 2010 to date may also be viewed on the website.   

The Capital Programme also provides for devolved funding for additional classrooms, if required, for schools where an immediate enrolment need has been identified or where an additional teacher has been appointed. Details of schools listed on this programme can be found on my Department's website and this information is also updated regularly.

The building project for Carrigtwohill Campus is being delivered under the Department’s Design and Build Programme. This delivery programme uses a professional external Project Management team to progress the project through the stages of architectural planning, tendering and construction. 

An application for Planning Permission in respect of the works was submitted to the relevant Local Authority in July 2019.  A request for further information was received in August 2019.

The Department's Design and Build Project Management team are actively working on this Request for Further Information (RFI) and a response will be issued as soon as possible.

As with all school projects, the exact timeframe for delivery of the project will be dependent on the grant of planning permission.