Secondary School Places At Crisis Point

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Secondary School Places At Crisis Point

Latest press release from Social Democrat candidate Jennifer Whitmore, issued on Tuesday, January 28th 2020…

Social Democrats General Election candidate for Wicklow, Cllr. Jennifer Whitmore says the availability of secondary school places in Wicklow is at crisis point.

“The number of parents I’ve spoken to at the doors who are worried their children will not get a secondary school place this September is truly alarming” says Whitmore.

“For many there simply isn’t a secondary school that exists in their area. For example, in Newtownmountkennedy despite the rise in the number of families living in new developments, there are no plans for a secondary school to facilitate children now or for primary school children when they eventually need a secondary school place.

“In Kilcoole, Coláiste Chraobh Abhann is at maximum capacity and students have been waiting for a much-needed extension to meet demand in the area. Basic facilities at the school such as toilets and corridors cannot cope with the present number of children. Families continue to come to me distressed about this situation. I have continued calling on the Department to fast track the planned extension to deal with this but to date the Department has not responded with urgency.

“Templecarrig in Greystones which is relatively new, already needs an extension to deal with demand while other secondary schools are still facilitated in temporary accommodation, for example the North Wicklow Educate Together. And whilst the new secondary school proposed for Greystones/Kilcoole will be able to meet much of the demand, there is still uncertainty about whether it will be enough.

“All this signifies a much wider problem across Wicklow of a lack of school places and quality schooling in the county. These issues must be resolved once and for all. Students deserve better but are being failed time and time again by the Government. This is despite the fact we’ve had two Ministers in the county for a number of years and nothing to show for it.

“It’s also unacceptable that this is facing the county when the Department knows what the demand for school places will be in the years ahead. The Department lacks forward planning and have left it to develop into a crisis for families. We know from the 2011 and 2016 Census that there has been an increase of 12.4% in the number of primary school children. Yet this has remained unaddressed. Now parents are in a situation where a few months before school starts in September they don’t know where their children will be going to school.

“Politicians have a role to play here by directing policy to ensure demand is met by engaging in forward planning and matching that demand with available funding. They are asking too much of parents expecting them to navigate and fight their way to finding school places.

“Children should have the right to be educated where they live and families should have the certainty of knowing where their children will be going to school well in advance of them starting” concludes Whitmore.

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