For Oral Answer on : 24/11/2022
Question Number(s): 79 Question Reference(s): 57642/22
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Education if she is satisfied that there will be sufficient places in secondary schools in east Cork to accommodate student enrolment numbers for 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.
My Department’s projections of post primary school place requirements in East Cork show some continued growth in overall enrolments in the short- to medium-term across most areas, with most growth anticipated in the Midleton_Carrigtwohill school planning area. However, despite projected overall growth, first year place requirements are anticipated to remain generally stable, or to decline slightly.
In response to projected future need and to enrolment pressures in the area, there has been significant capital investment by my Department in post primary schools in East Cork. A new post primary school, Carrigtwohill Community College, was established in 2016. A project to deliver a new, modern 1,000 pupil school building for that school is underway. Additionally, an extension at St. Colman’s Community College, Midleton has been completed recently and a number of other large school building projects are also in train, delivering expanded capacity at St. Aloysius’ College in Carrigtwohill, Midleton CBS, Pobalscoil na Tríonóide in Youghal, Coláiste an Phiarsaigh in Glanmire. Coláiste Mhuire Cobh and Carrignafoy Community College in Cobh. Further provision at St. Colman’s Community College is being advanced and engagement with the school’s patron in respect of a project at St. Mary’s High School in Midleton is also continuing.
While my Department is aware of increasing pressures and demand for additional school places in East Cork, 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
My Department is working to establish the true extent of any capacity issues through ongoing discussions with the relevant school authorities. Engagement with the school authorities and patrons in the Midleton_Carrigtwohill school planning area is underway, with a view to getting the earliest possible clarity on any additional capacity requirements.
My Department is aware that there are 804 first year places available in non fee-charging post primary schools in Midleton_Carrigtwohill for the 2023/24 school year, with a further 743 places available across the Youghal, Glanmire and Cobh school planning areas. My Department’s projections, which are based on primary student numbers, indicate that these available first year places should be sufficient to meet requirements. Nonetheless, Department officials will continue to liaise closely with the schools to monitor the situation as their admissions processes work through.
This close engagement will allow my Department to identify at an early stage, any 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.
Additionally, my Department will continue to work to advance the planned and current projects in East Cork 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.