'Immediate action' must be taken to address shortage of school places

By Mary Dennehy

CALLS have been made for the Minister for Education to take ‘immediate action’ in relation to a shortage of school places in Rathcoole – where 24 children are unable to attend their local primary school this September.

According to figures provided to Deputy John Curran, 117 applications were received by Holy Family National School in Rathcoole for this September.

Rathcoole village 10 1

Rathcoole

Of the 117 applicants, the school only has the capacity to accommodate 93 pupils – in classrooms with 31 children.

Speaking during a debate on the issue in the Dáil, Dublin Mid-West TD John Curran called on the Minister for Education, Joe McHugh, to take ‘immediate action’.

“There is a significant number of families who live in Rathcoole and who have no school places next September for their children”, Deputy Curran said.

“It is not appropriate that families in Rathcoole would have to send their children to Fortunestown, Newcastle, Saggart or Clondalkin for primary school.

“That is not an appropriate solution.

“We must look at extending the existing schools in the area to deal with the current issue for this September.

“However, on account of the rapid population growth in the area, a new primary school must be considered for Rathcoole.”

The Fianna Fail deputy added: “The principal of Holy Family National School, Rathcoole has indicated to me that a significant number of children will not be accommodated this year.

“Some 117 applications were made to the school which has only been able to accommodate 93 pupils in classrooms with 31 children.

“Some 24 families have been left to their own devices to find a school place for their children.

“At the same time, the Gaelscoil, Scoil Chrónáin, has three additional emergency classrooms being provided in Rathcoole Community Centre.

“The local primary schools in Rathcoole have reached capacity and a serious crisis is looming if the Government continues to sit on their hands considering the current housing development in the area and the future planned residential developments.”

Since 2012, three new primary schools have opened in the  surrounding area , Citywest Educate Together National School (ETNS), the Citywest and Saggart Community National School (formerly Scoil Niamh) and Scoil Aoife Community National School.

The development of the new schools also sparked a community-led campaign for a secondary school in the Citywest area – a development which was approved in 2018.

“I have called on the Minister to re-examine the demographics, to provide enhanced capacity at the existing schools in Rathcoole as a matter of urgency and to consider a new primary school in Rathcoole as soon as possible”, Deputy Curran said.

“The population of Rathcoole will need more than what is provided for in the current plan, which is to provide a single stream school in Fortunestown.

“A primary school in Fortunestown is simply too far away from the Rathcoole area.”

New school planned for Fortunestown Lane 

When contacted by The Echo, a spokesperson for the Department of Education said Skills confirmed that a new eight-class primary school is planned for 2020 to serve the Newcastle, Rathcoole, Saggart school planning area. 

 The new school will be in purpose-built accommodation on a site at Fortunestown Lane. 

The spokesperson added: "Ahead of the opening of the new school and to cater for immediate needs, three temporary classrooms have been approved for Scoil Chronain NS in Rathcoole.

"The Department  is currently in the process of acquiring additional land owned by South Dublin County Council next to Scoil Chronain. 

"The additional land offers the potential to enhance current facilities and support future development." 

The spokesperson added: "The requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and in particular will have regard to the impact of the increased rollout of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040." 

 

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