‘Severe’ lack of school places across south Dublin, says councillorGary Ibbotson 03 Mar 2023
There is a severe lack of school places across south Dublin, says South Dublin County Councillor Francis Timmons.
Timmons says that educational needs in the county are being “fobbed off” and he is “exasperated” trying to campaign for more resources for the area.
Timmons was speaking following correspondence from Minister for Education Norma Foley who said in a letter that “where enrolment pressures arise, it may not be as a result of lack of accommodation.”
Foley said that duplicate applications, a student’s preferred school of choice, and students coming from outside the local area can all contribute to higher strains on school places.
Timmons says that he has been contacted by several parents complaining about the scarcity of available school enrolments.
“One school in Rathcoole has told me they have 70 people on there waiting list,” he says.
“I am finding that people are having to travel further and further to find a school place.
“I have highlighted the needs many times through motions at council meetings and have been constantly fobbed off by responses, or lack of.”
Timmons says that “Newcastle needs a secondary school, St Ronan’s needs a permanent building and to get rid of the prefabs, Clonburris needs autism classrooms, and the department refused land at Kilcarberry for a school.
“It’s pure madness,” he says.
In her letter to Timmons, Minister Foley said that the Department of Education’s “most recent projections for the Newcastle-Rathcoole School Planning Area indicate a slight increase in requirements at post-primary level in the short term followed by a projected reduction in enrolments thereafter.”
Minister Foley says that the two projects currently ongoing, the development of a new Holy Family Community School, and a new building for the Colaiste Pobal Fola school “will cater for the demand for school places for the area.”
However, Timmons says these developments will not do enough to ease the pressure on schools in the county.
“I don’t have children but I do see and hear the needs of so many parents who are highly stressed and worried about their children’s education,” he says.
“I have also spoken to teachers who have extra responsibility put on them particularly with people fleeing from the Ukrainian war and this has impacted their stress.
“We cannot afford to lose any more teachers.”
Timmons says the Government should explore location-based tax reliefs for SNAs and teachers in an effort to make the roles more appealing.
“This is a matter of urgency,” he says.
“Children going to school in their community builds up community and leads to lifelong supports.
“The failure of the Government to listen will led to long term issues.
“I implore the Department of Education to listen and act immediately.
“Education is not just a need, it is a human right.”