Seanad debates

Thursday, 5 November 2020

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

School Accommodation

10:30 am

Photo of Damien EnglishDamien English (Meath West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I am happy to clarify that the Department's aim is to complete the demographic exercise as soon as possible, although I do not have a precise date. It will feed into the capital spending plans for 2021 and beyond. It will also feed into the review of the NDP, in which education features very strongly. I understand that the aim is to have it ready for next year.It will be involved in that process as well. Having been in that Department for a few years, I know how important that piece of work is because is provides the evidence needed to secure the budget the Department needs to invest in schools in the communities.

I have tracked the commitments made over the years, based on that demographic, and they are delivered on. It is the right way to plan and deliver schools, based on evidence and research. The Senator says the school to which she has referred needs approval for a capacity of 1,000 students. The Department has recognised that and when the school was planned in 2016 it was announced that it would eventually be a 1,000-pupil school when at full capacity. It is nowhere near that at this moment in time. It has just over 343 pupils, with accommodation for 750. I am sure the Department will ensure things are developed in time but it is recognised that it will be a 1,000-pupil school. There is no dispute about that because that is what the Department planned for when it announced the school in the first place.


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