Wicklow Sinn Féin TD John Brady has called on the Minister for Education, Norma Foley and the School Planning Unit within the Department of Education to immediately start planning for the future educational needs in Newtownmountkennedy and progress plans to develop a new secondary school there. He made the call as the ongoing crisis regarding secondary school places in the catchment area moves slowly towards a resolution.
Deputy Brady said, “As the school places debacle in Kilcoole and Greystones moves slowly towards a resolution for September serious questions still remain unanswered as to how this crisis wasn’t planned for before it got to crisis point.”
“The main failure of the School Planning Unit within the Department of Education was to plan for the future. Now is the time to start planning for the additional future pressures that there will be for school places. A number of new primary schools have opened in the Newtown catchment area and all these children will require a secondary school place in 8 years’ time.”
“A number of years ago Wicklow County Council zoned 4.718 Hectares at Moneycarroll in Newtown for Community/Education. This was done to cater for the planned population growth in the area. The Department for Education must now start the process of progressing plans to develop a new secondary school on this site to meet the future educational needs within the community.”
“The immediate focus needs to be getting the permanent school for Greystones Community College and the extension for Colaiste Chraobh Abhann built to address the short and midterm needs of the area. In tandem to that it’s imperative that the School Planning Unit starts looking at the needs of the area into the future and not leave it until we have another situation like we do at the moment.”
“An enquiry is needed to investigate how exactly the situation arose in the Greystones/Kilcoole that resulted in up to 100 students without a school place in September and lessons need to be learned from for the future.”
Wicklow Sinn Féin Local Area Rep Muireann Dalton said “The lack of a secondary school in the Newtownmountkennedy area has been an ongoing concern for some years now. The ever-growing population of the Newtownmountkennedy and Ashford areas with no definite plans in places for secondary school places has parents extremely anxious.”
“Now is the time for the department of education to act, the land is there, plans and action need to be put in place now or we will find ourselves in an unpredictable situation in a few years’ time.”