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Department has its head in the sand about Lucan school places

22 March, 2007

Sinn Féin Dublin Mid West general election candidate Joanne Spain has accused the Department of Education of having its head in the sand when it comes to the lack of school places in Lucan. Ms Spain made her comments after receiving a reply to a question she put to the Dept. through her colleague Seán Crowe TD. She put the question in after
being contacted by a number of people struggling to get children into Lucan schools.

Ms Spain said:

"We've known for some time that large class sizes is already an issue in Lucan schools, but even more serious is the fact that some people cannot seem to get their children in to a school at all. People living in the area all their lives are putting down their children's names at birth and still face an anxious wait, while people who move to the area are being forced to leave their children in their old primary schools and deal with lengthy commutes in atrocious traffic each day.

"It was after hearing a particularly distressing example of this latter problem, that I put the question into the Department of Education. The reply I got was completely unsatisfactory. We know that there are more schools in Lucan now, the problem is there are not enough. The Department is insisting that the schools in Lucan have the capacity to deal with all the children there. That is not what I am hearing on the doors and there are individuals ready to go to the Dept. directly about this. Either the Department has its head in the sand about this issue or the schools are not telling the truth about
their capacity. Given the Department's many broken promises and failures in our schools, I'm inclined to believe the schools.

"We need far more investment in education in Lucan to deal with this area's growth. We're still waiting for the Minister to come through on her promise of class-room sizes of 20:1. Currently, students in Lucan and the rest of Dublin Mid West have average class sizes of 28:1. Perhaps, when the Department talks about capacity, what they are
implying is that they want schools to increase their class sizes even further to deal with the demand for school places. When will the Department stop issuing standard responses to these questions and start dealing with the actual issues?"


Ceist Pharlaiminte

Chun an Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíoctha
To ask the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has
been drawn to the lack of school places in Lucan; and the action being
taken to address this situation.

* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 20th March, 2007.
Reference Number: 10164/07


Minister for Education and Science (Mary Hanafin, T.D.)

I am conscious of the fact that Lucan is one of the fastest growing
areas in the Country. In light of this, the Department has expanded
capacity significantly at both primary and post primary level to cater
for existing and newly emerging demands for pupil places.

There are eleven primary schools in the Lucan area including two new
state of the art multi-denominational schools and a new Gaelscoil
which commenced operation in September 2005. These developments
together with a number of extensions to existing schools, the
provision of temporary accommodation and the re-organisation of one
school to enable the enrolment of an additional two junior infant
classes has increased capacity significantly in the area. In addition,
Scoil Mhuire, Archbishop Ryan JNS, St Thomas NS and Scoil Aine were
recently given approval to commence the architectural planning process
for major extensions and are to receive design team appointments
shortly. Through a combination of these measures, the School Planning
Section of the Department is satisfied that, between them, the schools
have adequate accommodation to cater for current demand. The
Department continues to monitor school needs in the Lucan area.

With regard to post primary capacity specifically, a new school for
Coláiste Cois Life was recently completed. This will provide places
for 600 pupils, some 400 additional places relative to its then
existing capacity.

In addition to this, capacity at Coláiste Phádraig was increased by
300 pupil places with the completion of a major extension project at
that school. A further extension project at St. Joseph's College was
completed in 2004. This is deemed sufficient to meet demand from
pupils in its catchment area. In addition, Lucan Community  College is
to receive a design team appointment shortly to provide additional
accommodation to increase its overall capacity to 1000 pupils.

The Deputy will probably be aware that there is considerable vacant
capacity at post primary level in areas adjacent to Lucan. Given that
it is practice, particularly in Dublin, for post-primary students to
travel some distance to attend a post-primary school, it is not
unreasonable that the Department should seek to optimise the use of
existing surplus capacity at post-primary schools in the general
vicinity of Lucan as part of its strategy to address any shortfall for
post- primary places that may emerge.

The Department will continue to monitor the situation in Lucan to
ensure that any future emerging needs are addressed in a timely

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