25. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which the school building programme already announced is proceeding in line with expectations nationally and throughout County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14457/18 asked on 29 Mar 2018)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): My Department’s Capital Programme (2016-2021) continues to address the challenges posed by the significant bulge in pupil enrolments going through our schools. This has seen a significant expansion in the rate of provision of new school places. The Capital Programme details the school projects that are being progressed through the architectural planning process, including those schools in County Kildare.

We are building more schools and providing more additional school places than ever before. This reflects the priority which this Government is putting on Education. We have doubled the number of school places being provided from 8,900 in 2010 to 18,000 in 2017. We have also increased the number of large scale project completions from 25 in 2010 to 50 in 2016 and 46 in 2017. Since 2011, some 340 major school projects and over 120,000 new and replacement places have been provided.

In addition, there are currently a total of 52 large scale projects under construction while a further 11 major projects with approval to advance to tender and construction are expected to commence on site shortly. A further 22 large scale projects are due to commence tendering over the coming months and are expected to start on site during 2018. That represents a total of 85 projects either under construction or progressing to commence construction in 2018. Over 80% of our school capital allocation has to be expended on the delivery of large scale projects and the additional accommodation scheme.

The Department is managing the school building programme in a manner that ensures that school projects in the architectural process are delivered as quickly as possible. There are a number of factors however such as difficulties with acquiring sites and issues arising in the planning process that have impacted on the pace of progress of projects announced. These issues are in the majority of cases outside the Department’s control. The Department is in ongoing liaison directly with each of these schools in relation to the ongoing progression of their projects in the architectural and planning process.

My Department is satisfied that the €8.4 billion investment in the National Development Plan (2018-2027) is sufficient to deliver the necessary school infrastructure over the next decade.