As the Deputy will be aware, in April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the four years from 2019 to 2022, including a new 16 classroom school for Donabate to be established in 2020.
Following a review of the provision of Irish-medium education in the areas where new schools are to be established, on the 3rd September, 2019 I announced that five of the new primary schools being established from 2020-2022 are being designated for Irish-medium education, including the new school for Donabate.
I took this decision after amending criteria which are considered in determining the ethos and language of instruction of new primary schools as part of the patronage processs for new schools. The change is being made following the pilot Online Patronage Process System (OPPS) for primary schools established in September 2019 and engagement by my Department with school patron bodies and other stakeholders.
The five new schools will serve areas of growing populations, where there is no existing Irish-medium primary school or where there is more than one new primary school to be established between 2019 and 2022.
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 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 decision.
The patronage process for new primary schools to be established in 2020, including Donabate, commenced with an invitation for applications from patrons on the 19th November 2019. It is envisaged that the Online Patronage Process System (OPPS) will open shortly for parental preferences. The assessment reports and the NSEG recommendations will be made available on my Department's website.