independent

Saturday 26 May 2018

New 600-student secondary school for Wicklow town

Myles Buchanan

A new secondary school for Wicklow town will open in 2019, once a suitable site has been located.

The Department of Education is set to build 42 new primary and secondary schools over the next four years to ease demand among the public for spaces.

The school planned for Wicklow will have capacity for 600 pupils.

A patronage process will take place this year to establish parental preference for the patronage of the school. A new online patronage process system is being developed, which will allow for more efficient collection and processing of parental preferences.

Cllr Irene Winters feels Wicklow badly needs another secondary school to cope with a growing population.

'The decision for a new school is totally based on demographics. Even with all the schools in Wicklow, we still don't have enough room to accommodate the numbers of students we have.'

Cllr Winters believes there are a number of suitable sites for the new school, including the old Abbey Community College grounds and other lands that aren't zoned for educational purposes

She said: 'They will be sending valuers out to each location to look out for suitable sites.

For the Wicklow school, there is a strong possibility that the old Abbey Community College grounds might be selected. Obviously Gaelscoil Chill Mhantáin is there at the moment, but it is due to move to St Coens NS.

'It could make for an ideal site, though it would require the existing building being knocked down and replaced by a new build. It would be cheaper than developing a green field site with no services,' said Cllr Winters.

'Even if the site isn't zoned education, I don't imagine there would be any trouble rezoning a site along the Wicklow port access or town relief road for educational use. A footbridge is planned from Wicklow Train Station to the port access road which would connect both areas and make it more suitable for a school.'

Cllr John Snell also welcomes the news but has reservations over the lack of details involving the planned school.

'A new school would be a welcome addition but there doesn't seem to be much information about the school. It's unusual to announce a new school and not provide any details about the location. Even the patronage of the school hasn't been decided.

'We are at the pin of our collar regarding space in our schools and I just hope this isn't just a PR stunt with an election in mind. I remember being promised a primary school since the mid-1960's which didn't materialise until St Coens NS last year, so I know all about false promises,' said Cllr Snell.

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