I propose to take Questions Nos. 214 and 219 together.
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 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.
My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking places.
My Department is satisfied that the needs in the area referred to by the Deputy can be met through the replacement and expansion of the existing Curragh Post-Primary school with a new 1,000 pupil school building. It is intended that the expansion of the existing Curragh Post-Primary school, a multi-denominational community college under the patronage of Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB), will also cater for demand arising in the adjoining Newbridge and Kildare school planning areas. There is capacity in the existing Curragh Post-Primary school building pending delivery of the new school building.
A new site will be required for the new school building and my Department has commenced the site identification process. In line with protocols for the use of state property assets, my Department has engaged with the Department of Defence enquiring if that Department is in a position to provide a site that could be suitable. My Department is also in liaison with Kildare County Council as part of this ongoing site identification process. Due to commercial sensitivities surrounding site acquisitions in general, I cannot comment further at this point in the process though I can assure the Deputy that my Department is making every effort to progress the matter.
Updates on all applications on the Department’s School Building Programme and approvals for additional school accommodation ASA), including those in the area referred to by the Deputy, are available on the Department’s website www.education.ie and this information is updated regularly.
My Department is committed to ensuring that every pupil has access to a school place and my Department will continue to monitor areas where the accommodation of existing schools may need to be expanded in order to meet the needs of the local population.