Education | Contact with relevant school authorities to ensure adequate school places
To ask the Minister for Education the extent to which her Department is in contact with all the relevant school authorities in the north Kildare area to ensure there are adequate school places for all children as required, at all levels, given the demographic trend in this area for the last number of years and with a view to ensuring that no child is left without a school place for the forthcoming academic year in September 2023; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
As the Deputy will 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.
While the Department is aware of increasing pressures and demand for additional school places in the Kildare area, 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
The 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, the Department is engaging with patron bodies and school authorities, including those of schools in the Kildare area, to identify particular capacity requirements for the forthcoming years which may necessitate further action to that already in train. This includes engagement with KWETB and Curragh Community College regarding the provision of additional accommodation at the school to facilitate a significant increase in available first year places.
Additionally, the Department will continue to work to advance the planned and current projects in Kildare 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. This includes the new school building for the Curragh Community College, which will provide 1,000 student places as well as four classrooms for students with special educational needs on a site in Kildare town.”
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