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. An update in relation to the previous demographic exercises is currently ongoing.
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 a new 8 classroom primary school to be established in 2020, which has been designated as a gaelscoil, to serve the Newcastle_Rathcoole/Saggart school planning area.
I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department approved two temporary classrooms and a Special Education Teaching room for Scoil Chronain National School, Rathcoole in 2018 to provide for additional school places. These additional classes are currently being accommodated in Rathcoole Community Centre pending installation of the temporary classrooms at the school.
The responsibility for this installation has been devolved to the Board of Management. In addition, my Department has recently approved 2 further mainstream classrooms for Scoil Chronain to cater for additional primary school places in Rathcoole for September 2019. The responsibility for the installation of these classrooms has also been devolved to the Board of Management.
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. My Department will also continue to monitor areas where the accommodation of existing schools may need to be expanded in order to meet the needs of the local population.