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Saturday 16 December 2017

Quinn: many more schools must be built

Educate Together given green light

Don Lavery

A STAGGERING increase of nearly 60,000 pupils in the secondary school system in coming years will mean that the Government will need "many new second-level schools" to be built, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn indicated yesterday.

Despite hard-pressed government finances, the new schools should prove to be a boost for the devastated construction industry.

As well as 13 new schools announced in January, it's thought that up to 20 will be needed over the next seven years. Existing post-primary schools will also need major extensions to allow them to take in more pupils.

The extra secondary, community and vocational schools will also need at least 1,000 teachers.

The minister, at the annual general meeting of the multi-denominational group Educate Together in Wexford, revealed that our increasing demographics indicate that we will need "many new second-level schools in the short-to-medium-term".

He said: "The number of post-primary pupils is expected to increase, from 317,400 last autumn, by over 20,000 pupils in the coming six years.

"The figures are even more stark when we take a longer view of projected second- level enrolments to the year 2024, when they are expected to peak at possibly more than 375,000 pupils."

Mr Quinn also announced that Educate Together has won the right to set up and run second-level schools.

Returning to a favourite theme, Mr Quinn said the significant societal changes that had taken place in Ireland had led to increased demand for new forms of multi-denominational and non-denominational schooling.

He told the Educate Together AGM: "You have been seeking to establish second-level schools for a number of years and I can confirm the Government's view that Educate Together meets all the requirements to operate as a patron of a second-level school.

"I am finalising proposals to bring to Cabinet so that I can set about implementing this government commitment shortly," he said.

Sunday Independent

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