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 information 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.
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, in April 2018 the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022), including the school to which the Deputy refers.
New schools established since 2011 to meet demographic demand are required, in the first instance, to prioritise pupil applications from within the designated school planning area(s) which the school was established to serve. This does not preclude schools from enrolling pupils from outside of the designated school planning area where they have sufficient places.
Patronage of the new school was awarded to Educate Together. The delivery of the interim accommodation for the school to which the Deputy refers on its permanent site is contingent on receiving planning permission from the Local Authority.
Notification of the initial Decision to Grant was received by my Department on 14th November, however there are another 4 weeks to wait before the final grant of the decision issues. On confirmation of the Final Grant, accommodation to facilitate both the primary and post-primary schools for the school planning area referred to by the Deputy will be installed on the permanent site.
Thereafter, a planning application for the permanent school will be submitted. Until confirmation of planning permission is received and a timeline for the permanent project is agreed it is not possible for the school to increase its enrolment intake beyond the current intake level.
The requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and in particular will have regard for the increased rollout of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.