Written answers

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Department of Education and Skills

Schools Building Projects

Photo of David StantonDavid Stanton (Cork East, Fine Gael)
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98. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills her Department’s plans to support the establishment of a new second-level school in the east Cork area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22887/22]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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As the Deputy may be aware, for school planning purposes, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and utilises a Geographical Information System to anticipate school place demand. Information from a range of sources, including Child Benefit data, school enrolment data and information on residential development activity is used for this purpose. Additionally, Project Ireland 2040 population and housing targets inform my Department's projections of school place requirements.

Having considered the projected requirements in each school planning area, my Department then makes an assessment of the existing capacity within that particular area and its ability to meet any increased demand.

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.

My Department's projections of post primary school place requirements in East Cork show some continued growth in enrolments in the short- to medium-term across most areas, with most growth anticipated in the Midleton_Carrigtwohill school planning area.

However, in response to projected future need and to enrolment pressures in the area, there has been significant capital investment by my Department at post primary schools in East Cork. A new post primary school, Carrigtwohill Community College, was established in 2016. A project to deliver a new, modern 1,000 pupil school building for that school is underway. Additionally, an extension at St. Colman's Community College, Midleton has been recently completed and a number of other large school building projects are also in train, delivering expanded capacity at St. Aloysius' College in Carrigtwohill, Midleton CBS, St. Mary's High School in Midleton, Pobalscoil na Tríonóide in Youghal, Coláiste an Phiarsaigh in Glanmire, Coláiste Mhuire in Cobh and Carrignafoy Community College Cobh..

While my Department is aware of increasing pressures and demand for additional school places in East Cork, it is important to note that where enrolment pressures arise, it may not be as a result of lack of accommodation but may be driven by the following factors:

- Duplication of applications – pupils have applied for a place to a number of schools in the area

- School of choice – pupils can’t get a place in their preferred school while there are places in other schools in the town/area

- Some towns/areas have single sex schools and while places are available in the school they are not available to all pupils

- External draw – pupils coming from outside the local area

My Department is working to establish the true extent of any capacity issues through ongoing discussions with the relevant school authorities. In that context, similar to the process adopted in advance of the current academic year, my Department is engaging with patron bodies, including patrons of schools in East Cork areas, to identify particular capacity requirements for the forthcoming years which may necessitate further action to that already in train including, where required, the provision of modular accommodation solutions.

As a result of ongoing discussions with patrons in the School Planning Area, St Colman’s College, Midleton has recently offered places for an additional 1styear class group for the 2022/23 school year.

Additionally, my Department will continue to work to advance the planned and current projects in East Cork and to ensure sufficient places for both mainstream provision and for pupils with special education requirements both for the coming academic year and into the future.

Given medium- to long-term projected demographic trends, it is not currently anticipated that there will be a requirement for a further new post primary school in the area, nevertheless, my Department will continue to monitor the situation.

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