Friday, October 09, 2015

'Demographic survey will decide south Kildare school' — TD

A Department of Education National Demographic survey on the need for extra school places will decide whether a new second level school is built in Kildare South in the medium future, writes Brian Byrne.

That's the view of Deputy Martin Heydon, following a meeting of TDs from the constituency with the Minister for Education, Jan O'Sullivan (above), earlier this week.

"There are many factors considered by the department in addressing an areas future education demands," Deputy Heydon told the Diary. "These include those pupils already in primary school, the historic movement of children from feeder schools, as well as factors of increased employment bringing people into the area. Kerry Group's 900 new jobs in Naas, for example, has had an impact on Kilcullen and Newbridge property markets & subsequent education needs. But there are also applications by existing schools for extensions which would provide more places, and these also have to be considered by the department."

In Kilcullen terms, CPC has submitted an application for an extension that would provide for a significant increase in capacity, while there are other applications lodged by existing second level schools in Newbridge. Also, there's room to extend on the campus of Athy Community College.

The Educate Together movement is seeking a new ET second level school in south Kildare, in large degree to provide parents with choice that doesn't involve denominational schools. And the Church of Ireland community also feel they now have the numbers to argue for a new second level school for their ethos in Kildare.

The Department of Education has a responsibility to ensure every child in the country has access to a second level place. At present many students are not able to access the school of their choice due to capacity issues. "While choice is a concern for parents, the department has to take into account the amount of money nationally it has in its school building programme, the competing demands for extra resources and also the length of time it would take for a new school to address the capacity issues. There is no doubt that extensions to existing schools would be a quicker solution to a new build and that too will be considered by the department."

Deputy Heydon notes the recent change to the CPC enrolment policy has been a significant cause for concern for some who are hoping to access the school in the future. "If the department decide against a new school for South Kildare, I will very much be supporting an extension to the Cross and Passion College in Kilcullen."