New schools are established by my Department on the basis of identified demographic demand in an area, and only after consideration of the capacity of existing schools to absorb the expected school place demand. Furthermore, such new schools are required to build their enrolments incrementally, with an intake of Junior Infants or First Years each year, in order to mitigate any impact on the enrolments at other schools in the area. As the new school’s enrolment capacity, therefore, increases in tandem with emerging demographic demand, it is not expected that there would be a shift in pupil attendance from existing to newer schools.
Under the National Development Plan (NDP), increased funding has been provided for the school sector capital investment programme. This funding allows for a continued focus on the provision of new permanent school places to keep pace with demographic demand. The main focus of resources over the last decade and for the coming period is on provision of additional capacity to cater for increasing demographics. The second half of the NDP (from 2023 onwards) will see an increasing focus on the upgrade and refurbishment of the existing school stock.
Under the Ireland Project 2040, we will invest €8.4 billion (compared to €4.9 billion in the previous decade) in primary and post primary school buildings.
The immediate priority of my Department is providing new and replacement school places each year, to ensure that every child has a school place.