Written answers

Thursday, 8 February 2024

Department of Education and Skills

Schools Building Projects

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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207. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if she will give an update in relation to the development of upgrading/provision of new schools at primary and second level in Naas, County Kildare; the degree to which plans are in hand to cater for the expanding population with particular reference to September 2024; the extent to which a solution has been found to facilitate the continuation of works on site at a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6023/24]

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 uses a Geographical Information System (or GIS) 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. In addition, Project Ireland 2040 population and housing targets inform the Department’s projections of school place requirements.

Having considered the projected requirements in each school planning area, including Naas, my Department then makes an assessment of the existing capacity and identifies any requirement for additional provision. Additional provision is made as necessary, where the existing capacity is insufficient for future needs.

My Department is aware of pressures for school places in Naas. A critical next step for the Department is to establish the actual number of additional first year places required for 2024 in order for an appropriate solution to be put in place. In that context, schools in a number of areas of enrolment pressure, including Naas, have been requested to share data on applications for admissions. This data has been received by my officials and is currently being analysed with a view to establishing the actual requirement for places. Preliminary assessments indicate that duplications of applications, and applications from outside the local area, are contributing to enrolment pressures in the town.

My Department is working to clarify the actual requirement for additional school places and to identify particular further capacity requirements for 2024 and forthcoming years. My Department will engage with schools and patrons to put any required solutions in place - beyond those that are already in train - to ensure sufficient school places to meet the needs of students in the area.

My Department has invested significantly in schools in County Kildare over recent years. Under the National Development Plan, a total of almost €250m has been invested in schools in County Kildare over the last five years. This investment has focused on provision of additional capacity to cater for its increasing population and there are further significant projects in our pipeline including for the Naas area.

These projects include recently completed new school buildings in Naas. Additionally, a number of further new school buildings and extensions are at construction or planned in Naas School Planning Area.

The Capital Programme details the school projects that are being progressed under Project Ireland 2040. The current status of large-scale projects being delivered under Project Ireland 2040, may be viewed on my Department's website at, www.gov.ie and this information is updated regularly. In addition, a list of large-scale projects completed from 2010 to date may also be viewed on the website.

The project to which the Deputy refers has been devolved to the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) for delivery as part of a programme of school building projects. This school is in the bundle referred to as ‘Project Boyne’

The project is currently at Stage 2b of the architectural planning process. The planning permission for the project was granted by Kildare County Council in Quarter 1 2023.

When Stage 2b has been approved, the next stage is tendering for a contractor and then onwards to construction. At this stage in the delivery process, it is not possible to give a date for its completion. The NDFA will be engaging directly with the school authority to keep it informed of progress.

I can assure the Deputy that the Department will continue to work with schools and patrons to ensure that there is appropriate provision for all students in Naas and across the county for the 2024/25 school year and into the future.


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