Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Ceisteanna (228)

James Browne


228. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to expand secondary school places in Wexford town in view of the fact that parents are having difficulty obtaining a place in a school (details supplied) for September 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49091/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

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 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.

In April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four 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.

While the announcement did not include a new post primary school for Wexford Town (which is located in the Wexford 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.

As part of the Schools Bundle 5, a Public Private Partnership (PPP) project was completed in August 2018 in Wexford Town and can cater for 900 pupils.  I can also confirm to the Deputy that my Department has recently approved an application for a second post-primary provider in the town to provide an additional mainstream classroom and a science laboratory.  This project has been devolved to the school authority to deliver.  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.

My Department’s capital programme prioritises building projects for areas where significant additional school places are required.  Details of the current status of the 7 major school projects (primary and post-primary) in County Wexford that are included on the capital programme may be viewed on my Department’s website www.education.gov.ie.