Dáil Éireann - Volume 586 - 25 May, 2004
Written Answers. - School Accommodation.
Mr. Ó Fearghaíl Mr. Ó Fearghaíl
169. Mr. Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will acknowledge that an accommodation crisis exists at primary school level at Newbridge, County Kildare; if his attention has been drawn to the designation of Newbridge as a primary growth centre within the strategic planning guidelines for the greater Dublin area and if a strategy exists within his Department to meet the inevitable high level of demand, not least in local Catholic schools. [15293/04]
Mr. N. Dempsey Mr. N. Dempsey
Mr. N. Dempsey: School planning section is responsible for planning the provision of suitable cost effective accommodation to underpin the delivery of first and second level education. Key functions of the section are ensuring that there are sufficient pupil places available at first and second level schools and that the use of existing accommodation is optimised.
Assessing the need for new or additional educational facilities involves a detailed appraisal of enrolment patterns in all existing schools in an area; an analysis of demographic trends in an area; a review of housing developments and, crucially, a determination regarding the capacity of existing schools to meet demands for new places that may be identified.
The Minister for Education and Science is included among the prescribed authorities to whom local authorities are statutorily obliged to send draft development plans or proposed variations to development plans. These plans are monitored and where necessary meetings with  local authorities are arranged to establish the location, scale and pace of major housing developments and their possible implications for school provision. Where appropriate, the local authority may be requested to reserve a site for educational purposes. In this way, every effort is made to ensure that there is adequate existing provision or, that timely arrangements are made to extend capacity where necessary. Liaison with existing schools is an important part of the process also as the school authorities would usually alert my Department where, in their view, the need for additional accommodation is anticipated.
Officials from the school planning section of my Department recently met with officials from Kildare County Council with regard to monitoring demographic changes and assessing the likely impact of planned new developments in County Kildare. While my officials have no evidence to support a claim of an accommodation crisis in Newbridge, my officials will keep in close contact with the council to monitor ongoing developments in the area.
Dáil Éireann 586 Written Answers. School Accommodation.