Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Ceisteanna (203, 219)

Gino Kenny

Ceist:

203. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the escalating problem of the lack of school places for children in an area (details supplied) in County Dublin; if a new school will open by 2020 as promised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7739/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

John Curran

Ceist:

219. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to address an educational crisis in view of the increasing number of children in an area (details supplied) who are not able to access the local primary school due to increased housing construction in the area; the timeframe in which this issue will be addressed; if his attention has been drawn to the urgency of the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7898/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 203 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.

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 data 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, including additional residential developments arising from the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF).

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.

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:

- a new 8 classroom primary school to be established in 2020 to serve the Newcastle_Rathcoole/Saggart school planning area; and

- a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school to be established in 2020 to serve the Tallaght and Newcastle_Rathcoole school planning areas as a regional solution.

This announcement follows nationwide, demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country and the 4-year horizon will enable increased lead-in times for planning and delivery of the necessary infrastructure.

It is intended to deliver the two new schools as part of my Department's Design and Build programme in purpose-built accommodation on a shared site at Fortunestown Lane which is in the ownership of Dublin and Dun Laoghaire ETB.

The Capital Programme 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. My Department has approved 3 temporary classrooms for Scoil Chronain NS Rathcoole to cater for immediate needs and these rooms are initially being provided for in Rathcoole Community Centre pending the arrival of 3 temporary classrooms at the school.

My Department is currently in the process of acquiring additional land owned by South Dublin County Council adjoining the site of this school and the additional land offers the potential to enhance current facilities and support future development. There is ongoing engagement with officials from South Dublin County Council on this matter.

The Educational Welfare Services of the Child & Family Agency (EWS) can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The EWS contact details are as follows: the Educational Welfare Services of the Child & Family Agency, Ground Floor, Brunel Building, Heuston South Quarter, Dublin 8 or by telephone at 01 7718815.