Tuesday 28 February 2017

System playing catch-up to families' needs

Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

IT is the simplest of sums: a plethora of new housing estates plus more children equals rising demand for school places.

Gorey in Co Wexford has become the latest example of how the education system continues to play catch-up with the needs of young families in rapidly developing areas.

The signs of an explosion in demand for extra classrooms in Gorey, which has only one post-primary school, have been obvious for years. The population of the town has risen by 50pc to about 8,000 in the past decade.

Some of the town's outlying rural areas have seen even bigger percentage rises.

Elsewhere, Balbriggan was a high-profile flashpoint of inadequate school planning a few years ago when immigrant families in the north-county Dublin town found themselves squeezed out of schools.

It forced the emergency opening of a new primary school.

The house-building boom in Dublin 15 also forced a rushed decision by the Department of Education to open a primary school in the sprawling suburbs west of the capital.

Schools in other areas, mainly in the extended Dublin commuter belt, have felt similar pressures.

In 2007, the Department of Education set up a Developing Areas Unit to try to keep pace with demand by identifying the areas of rapid population growth and fast-tracking school building.

In 2006, the people of Gorey were promised a second post-primary school.

The best guess now is that it won't open before September 2012.

Irish Independent

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