14. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the demographic review taking place on the need for additional secondary school places in south County Kildare; the progress being made on planned secondary school extensions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14423/18 asked on 29 Mar 2018)
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): As the Deputy may be aware, in order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas. My Department uses a Geographical Information System (GIS) to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. The GIS uses data from a range of sources, including the Central Statistics Office, Ordnance Survey Ireland, the Department of Social Protection and my Department’s own databases. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises at primary and post primary level to determine where additional school accommodation is needed.
Where demographic data indicates that additional provision is required, the delivery of such additional provision is dependent on the particular circumstances of each case and may, depending on the circumstances, 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.
It is anticipated that decisions based on the nationwide demographic exercises will be announced in the coming weeks.
Projects are currently been progressed in respect of four schools in the South Kildare area. A building project for St. Conleth’s Community College is currently on site and the project is expected to be completed in time for the commencement of the academic year in September, 2018. Also, a building project for St Paul’s Secondary School, Monasterevin is currently at Stage 2(b) of the architectural planning process.
In addition, building projects for Athy Community College and Cross & Passion Secondary School, Kilcullen are included in my Department’s Capital Programme. In the context of progressing the building projects, my Department has undertaken site visits to the schools.
The building project for Athy Community College will be devolved to Kildare Wicklow Education Training Board (KWETB) for delivery and it is my Department’s intention to engage with KWETB shortly in this regard.
Additional capacity in the region of 1,700 school places will be provided when projects at these four schools are completed. The provision of these additional places through planned post-primary school extensions is taken into account in the Department’s demographic exercises at post-primary level to determine where additional school accommodation is needed.