Primary School Places Crisis in Fingal
8 March 2018
For Written Answer on : 08/03/2018
Question Number(s): 153 Question Reference(s): 11249/18
Department: Education and Skills
To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if an emergency task force can be set up to include all patronage bodies and senior officials from his Department to tackle the primary school places crisis in Fingal, particularly in Swords and Balbriggan; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
My Department uses a Geographical Information System to identify the areas under increased demographic pressure nationwide. The system uses data from the Central Statistics Office, Ordnance Survey Ireland, the Department of Social Protection and information from my Department’s own databases. With this information, my Department is currently carrying out demographic analyses to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and at post-primary level. It is anticipated that decisions based on these exercises will be announced in the coming weeks.
In relation to the Balbriggan school planning area, my Department’s main responsibility is to ensure that the existing schools in the Balbriggan area can, between them, cater for the demand from within the school planning area in the 2018/19 school year. It is important that school size is monitored and that a balance is preserved among all schools in the school planning area to ensure that one school is not expanding at the expense of another school.
In this regard, my Department will continue to monitor the position in the Balbriggan area, but considers that there is adequate accommodation between the existing primary schools in the Balbriggan area to meet demand.
Regarding the position in the Swords school planning area, my Department has recently contacted all of the primary schools in the Swords area to review their projected enrolments for September 2018. The schools concerned generally commenced their enrolment process for the new junior infants in early January of this year and this process is not yet complete. In that regard, the level of demand for all schools is not available at this point. Each school has issued invitations for enrolment through school notes and local announcements and are currently offering places in line with their respective enrolment policies. My Department will continue to liaise with the schools and their Patrons to keep the matter under review in the coming weeks with a view to putting any necessary arrangements in place to address any accommodation needs.