Education | Progress for new or replacement school buildings in north Kildare
To ask the Minister for Education the extent to which new school buildings are required throughout north Kildare, whether replacement or the building of new schools; the progress to date in this regard, and the schedule for the provision of same; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
I wish to advise the Deputy that in order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, including Child Benefit and school enrolment data, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country, including North Kildare, will arise and where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level.
Major new residential developments in a school planning area have the potential to alter demand in that area. In that regard, as part of the annual demographic exercises, my Department engages with each of the local authorities to obtain the up-to-date information on significant new residential development in each area. This is necessary to ensure that schools infrastructure planning is keeping pace with demographic changes.
The most recent analysis undertaken by my Department projects that over 90% of the 314 school planning areas at primary level show decreasing enrolments for the period to 2025 compared with 2021, whereas some 88% of school planning areas at post-primary level are anticipated to have increased enrolments for the period to 2028, with most expected to reach a peak in the next two or three years.
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, be provided through:
- Utilising existing unused capacity within a school or schools,
- Extending the capacity of a school or schools,
- Provision of a new school or schools.
The requirement for additional school places in North Kildare school planning areas is kept under on-going review. New schools are established by my Department on the basis of identified demographic demand in an area, and only after consideration of the capacity of existing schools to absorb the expected school place demand.
My Department is progressing a number of building projects in North Kildare under the National Development Plan. This includes projects at primary and post primary schools, and includes provision for mainstream accommodation as well as for children with special educational needs. These projects include recently completed new school buildings for Maynooth Community College, Maynooth Post Primary School, Naas Community College and Maynooth ETNS. Additionally, a number of further new school buildings and extensions are at construction stage or planned, including for St. Farnan’s Post Primary School, Prosperous; Scoil Dara and Scoil Uí Riada, Kilcock; Maynooth BNS; Celbridge Community School; Scoil Naomh Padraig, Celbridge; St. Raphael’s Special School, Celbridge; Leixlip ETNS; Gaelscoil Ruairí, Maynooth; Mercy Convent Primary School, Naas; Hewetson NS, Clane; St Patrick’s BNS, Clane; Enfield Community College and Gaelcholáiste Mhaigh Nuad.
My Department has a strong track record of delivery of school building projects and this was achieved again in 2022 notwithstanding the wider construction sector environment of high inflation, labour shortages and supply chain issues.
There were over 180 school building projects delivered during 2022 which included accelerated delivery of modular accommodation to support provision for 900 pupils with special education needs.
Circa. 300 school building projects continued in construction at the start of 2023 – the majority of which will be completed in 2023 / early 2024, this includes over 40 new school buildings. All of these projects are helping to support the operation of our schools, are delivered to the highest standards and are very energy efficient.
This strong level of delivery is a key driver of capital pressures in the Department. Over 70% of the NDP allocation for 2023 is needed to cover expenditure on contractual commitments on approximately 300 existing projects at construction carried forward from 2022.
My Department’s Planning and Building Unit is currently assessing its work programme and priorities for 2023 in the context of its available funding. My Department’s published NDP allocation for 2023 is €860 million. Key priorities for my Department’s work programme include continuing strong delivery to support the operation of the school system with particular regard to planning ahead for the 2023/24 school year and beyond and also with particular regard to supporting special needs provision.
High construction inflation remains a continuing feature of the construction sector for 2023. As part of its planning ahead for the remainder of 2023, my Department is engaging with the Department of Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform in relation to capital funding pressures in order to continue to adequately support the operation of the school system with rollout of school building projects to construction in 2023.
I want to reassure the Deputy and the relevant school communities that school building projects that are currently on hold due to capital funding pressures will be progressed and delivered – it is a question of timing. I am well aware of the urgency in getting these projects delivered as quickly as possible. The outcome of our engagement with the Department of Public Expenditure, NDP Delivery and Reform will provide better clarity on the timelines for the progression of these projects. This is a key priority for me.
The current status of all projects are listed on a county by county basis at www.gov.ie. and is updated on a regular basis to reflect their progress through the various stages of the architectural process.
This also lists all school building projects completed under the Large Scale and Additional Accommodation Scheme, in county order, from 2010 to date.
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