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 an area. In that regard, as part of the demographic exercises, my Department engages with each of the local authorities to obtain up-to-date data on significant new residential developments 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, the Government announced plans in April 2018 for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022) including:
- a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school to be established in 2020 to serve the Tallaght & Newcastle_Rathcoole (Citywest/Saggart) school planning areas as a regional solution; and
- a new 8 classroom primary school to be established in 2020 to serve the Newcastle_Rathcoole (Saggart) school planning areas.
This announcement follows nationwide, demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country. A patronage process is run after it has been decided, based on demographic analysis, that a new school is required. This patronage process is open to all patron bodies and prospective patrons.
Parental preferences for each patron, from parents of children who reside in the school planning areas concerned, together with the extent of diversity currently available in these areas, are key to decisions in relation to the outcome of this process.
The Online Patronage Process System (OPPS) has been developed by my Department to provide objective information to parents and guardians which will allow them to make an informed choice in expressing a preference for their preferred model of patronage for their child’s education.
The patronage process for the new post-primary schools to be established in 2020 is now open for parental preferences and will close on October 4th. Updates in relation to the patronage process for the new primary schools to be established in 2020 will be announced on the OPPS website (https://patronage.education.gov.ie/) and my Department’s website (www.education.ie).
The patronage process for new schools is overseen by an external independent advisory group, the New Schools Establishment Group (NSEG). Following their consideration of my Department’s assessment reports, the NSEG will submit a report with recommendations to me for consideration and final decision. The assessment reports and the NSEG recommendations for all such patronage processes are made available on my Department's website.