Education | School place shortages in north Kildare
To ask the Minister for Education her immediate plans to deal with the concerning issue school place shortages at all levels in north Kildare; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
As the Deputy will be aware for school planning purposes, the Department of Education divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System (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. Additionally, 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, the 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.
While the Department is aware of increasing pressures and demand for additional school places in North Kildare, 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 – where pupils have applied for a place to a number of schools in the area
– School of choice – where pupils can’t get a place in their preferred school while there are places in other schools in the town or area.
– Some towns or areas have single sex schools and while places are available in the school they are not available to all pupils
– External draw – that is, pupils coming from outside the local area
The Department is working to establish the true extent of any capacity issues across school planning areas, including those in the North Kildare area through ongoing discussions with the relevant school patrons and authorities.
This close engagement will allow the Department to identify at an early stage 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
My Department is already engaging with a number of schools and their patrons with regard to making additional places available in North Kildare for September 2023. There will be further clarity in this respect in the coming weeks.
The requirement for additional school places will continue to be kept under on-going review. Additionally, the Department will continue to liaise with the Local Authority in respect of its review of Development Plans with a view to identifying any potential long-term school accommodation requirements.
The Department will continue to work with schools and patrons to ensure that there is appropriate provision for all students in North Kildare for the 2023/24 school year.
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