Seanad debates

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

7:00 pm

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Haughey, to the House. I thank him for the opportunity to raise the need for the Minister for Education and Science to outline what progress has been made on the acquisition of sites required by St. Andrew's primary school and Esker Educate Together primary school in Lucan. I would also like the Minister of State to update the House on the progress that has been made between the Department of Education and Science and the Office of Public Works in this regard.

Both of these schools have been waiting a long time for sites to be provided by the Department. Great credit is due to the teachers and the principals for continuing to work in what have been very difficult circumstances. For example, St. Andrew's school, which I visited last week, has 235 children in attendance who have been taught in very overcrowded and cold classrooms. The principal, teachers and staff are doing their very best to assist students in being educated but the situation is difficult for all involved.

Esker Educate Together school opened its doors more recently. A serious shortage of places in west Dublin has led to the recognition of an Educate Together school at Esker in south Lucan to cater for 170 children, which is very important. Educate Together is assisting the Department in meeting the education needs of Lucan. There is an obligation on the Department to recognise the work of Educate Together and to help it get the necessary site for the school to grow and develop fully.

I know the Department has been in discussions with the Office of Public Works and South Dublin County Council in regard to finding sites for these two schools. I look forward to the Minister of State's response on whatever progress has been made in this regard.

Photo of Seán HaugheySeán Haughey (Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Minister of State, Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment; Dublin North Central, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context

I am taking this Adjournment matter on behalf of my colleague, the Minister for Education and Science, Deputy Batt O'Keeffe. I thank the Senator for raising this matter as it provides me with the opportunity to outline to the Seanad the position regarding the acquisition of sites for St. Andrew's primary school and Esker Educate Together primary school in Lucan, County Dublin.

The forward planning section of the Department has carried out a study of the country to identify the areas where, due to demographic changes, there may be a requirement for significant additional school provision at both primary and post-primary levels over the coming years. This study has been conducted using data from the Central Statistics Office, the General Register Office and the Department of Social and Family Affairs in addition to recent schools' enrolment data. The study indicates that the requirement for additional primary provision in years 2010, 2011 and 2012 is likely to be greatest in more than 40 selected locations throughout the country, based on significant changes to the demographics of those areas.

The forward planning section is in the process of carrying out detailed analysis and reports for each of these locations to identify the school accommodation requirements for each area up to and including the school year 2014-15. School accommodation requirements in the Lucan area and its environs will be considered as part of this detailed study of the more than 40 areas identified. It is expected that the report on the Lucan area will be completed in the coming weeks. Any proposed schools building projects in Lucan, arising from the detailed analysis of the area, will be considered in the context of the Department's multi-annual school building and modernisation programme for 2010 and subsequent years.

Turning to the specific schools in question and with particular reference to St. Andrew's national school, I can confirm that the Office of Public Works was asked to source a site for this school. A report was received from the OPW which outlined a number of site options. The Department wrote to South Dublin County Council attaching correspondence it had received from the OPW regarding one of the sites in question. The local authority has responded indicating its favourable views in regard to a proposed location and this is now under consideration.

With regard to Esker Educate Together, this school is sharing a purpose-built facility with another school. It is the Department's intention to accommodate the school permanently in its own accommodation. With this in mind, officials have been in ongoing discussions with the local authority on the matter. Owing to commercial sensitivities attaching to site acquisitions generally, the Senator will appreciate that I am not in a position to comment further on the details of the matter until such time as the acquisitions have been completed.

The further progression of the acquisition of the sites will be considered in the context of the capital budget available to the Department for school buildings generally. I thank the Senator once again for affording me the opportunity to outline to the House the current position in regard to the acquisition of sites for St. Andrew's national school, Lucan, and for Esker Educate Together school, Lucan.