I wish to advise the Deputy that 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, including Child Benefit and school enrolment data, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country, including County Kildare, will arise and where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level.
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 annual 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.
The most recent analysis undertaken by my Department projects that over 90% of the 314 school planning areas at primary level show decreasing enrolments for the period to 2025 compared with 2021, whereas some 88% of school planning areas at post-primary level are anticipated to have increased enrolments for the period to 2028, with most expected to reach a peak in the next two or three years.
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, be provided through:
- Utilising existing unused capacity within a school or schools,
- Extending the capacity of a school or schools,
- Provision of a new school or schools.
The requirement for additional school places in County Kildare school planning areas is kept under on-going review. Additionally, my Department will continue to liaise with the local Council in respect of its review of the Development Plan with a view to identifying any potential long-term school accommodation requirements and in this regard will be making a submission to the draft Co. Kildare Development Plan 2023-2029 which is currently at public consultation stage. New schools are established by my Department on the basis of identified demographic demand in an area, and only after consideration of the capacity of existing schools to absorb the expected school place demand.