I acknowledge the Deputy for his creative approach to this question. In April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years, that is, from 2019 to 2022. The announcement followed nationwide demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future needs for primary and post-primary schools across the country.
Where demographic data indicate 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 options, namely, utilising existing unused capacity within a school or schools, extending the capacity of a school or schools and the provision of a new school or schools.
In addition to the new schools announced, there will be a need for further school accommodation in other areas in the future. Approximately 40% of extra school places are delivered by extending existing schools.
While the announcement did not include a new post-primary school for the Dunshaughlin school planning area, the requirement for new schools will be kept under ongoing review and will have regard for the increased roll-out of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.
My Department undertook a review of the position in respect of primary provision for the Ashbourne school planning area in the latter half of 2018. The Department considers that there is a need for increased capacity in the area in the short term and over the medium to long term, taking account of residential development in the area. The Department’s approach to achieving this in the first instance is through the expansion of existing provision, and engagement is ongoing in this regard. The Department expects this engagement to conclude over the coming weeks.