Wednesday, 21 April 2021
Department of Education and Skills
1070. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if she will consider establishing a new second-level school in east County Cork to open in September 2022 in view of the fact that second-level schools in the area are oversubscribed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20266/21]
As the Deputy is aware, 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, including Child Benefit and school enrolment data, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise and where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level.
The most recent analysis undertaken by my Department projects that over 60% of the 314 school planning areas at primary level have stable or decreasing projected enrolments for the period to 2024, whereas some 90% of the school planning areas at post-primary level are anticipated to have increased enrolments for the period to 2027.
The level of demand volume across school planning areas with an increasing net requirement ranges from small to medium increases that are likely to be accommodated by existing schools through to significant projected growth that may require additional provision. This Department’s most recent projections indicate continued increasing demand for post primary school places in East County Cork, particularly in the Midleton_Carrigtwohill school planning area.
Where data indicates that additional provision is required at primary or post primary level, the delivery of such additional provision is dependent on the particular circumstances of each case and may 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.
Similar to the process adopted in advance of the current academic year, my Department is engaging with patron bodies, to identify particular capacity requirements for the forthcoming year(s) which may necessitate action including, where required, the provision of modular accommodation solutions.
I am pleased to advise the Deputy that my Department has recently approved capital funding, under the Additional School Accommodation Scheme, for the provision of specialist permanent additional accommodation to cater for increased needs at the school in question.
As the Deputy is aware, the main focus of resources over the last decade and for the coming period is on the 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. This will include a PE Hall build and modernisation programme to ensure that students in all post-primary schools have access to appropriate facilities to support PE provision. The immediate priority of the Department is providing new and replacement school places each year, to ensure that every child has a school place. The school authority, in question. has been informed that their application for PE Hall facilities will be considered as part of the NDP roll out.
I wish to confirm that my Department previously approved significant funding for the provision of a Special Educational Needs Base inclusive of a Central Activities Space, this project was completed in 2020.