I propose to take Questions Nos. 220 and 221 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. For school planning purposes Meakstown and Charlestown are located in the Finglas East_Ballymun_Dublin 11 school planning area in which there are currently nine primary schools and one post-primary school.
Using school planning area boundaries within my Department’s Geographic Information System (GIS) allows data within those boundaries, including data for enrolments in schools, child benefit and other relevant data to be added to the mapping information, grouped and analysed. The GIS records the number of primary and post-primary schools within each planning area, the combined enrolments for all of the schools within each area, including total enrolment and enrolment in each class group, together with child benefit data for the 0-4 age group relevant to the area.
Each school planning area, including Finglas East_Ballymun_Dublin11, encompasses a number of areas, including Charlestown and Meakstown in this case. It is not necessary to have an individual school planning area for Charlestown and Meakstown as comprehensive analysis of school requirements must take account of demand across a wider area.
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 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 4 years (2019 to 2022). This announcement follows nationwide, demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country.
In addition to the new schools announced, there may be a need for further school accommodation in other areas in the future which can be addressed through either planned capacity increases in existing schools or additional accommodation or extensions to existing schools. Approximately 40% of extra school places are delivered by extending existing schools.
While the announcement did not include a new school for the Finglas East_Ballymun_Dublin 11 school planning area, 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.
It is open to an individual school to apply for accommodation under the additional accommodation scheme if the school does not have sufficient capacity to meet school places.