County Wexford needs two new secondary schools - Byrne
General Election candidate and councillor Malcolm Byrne says County Wexford will require two additional second level schools over the next decade.
He said that on the basis of existing primary school numbers, up to 2,000 additional second level places will have to be found in the county.
Cllr Byrne called for the immediate sanctioning of a new second-level school in the Wexford town area and believes that demographic pressures will require another new post-primary school in North Wexford.
'All of our second level schools in the County are currently under pressure and demographics point to the situation only worsening in coming years. We either have the the option of significant expansion to existing schools or we start to plan now to cater for the growing demand over the next ten years,' he told this newspaper.
'Census figures and primary school enrolment numbers show that we can expect 2,000 more young people in the 12 to 18 age category over the next decade than there are at present. This is a result of higher birth rates during the noughties. It doesn't take a genius to work out that these children will require school places and we need to plan for that now.'
Cllr Byrne said that the sanctioning of new school for Wexford town must be an immediate priority for any new Education Minister following the General Election.
He pointed out that, according to Department rules, sanctioning of a school must be based on the demographics of the area supporting the need and a new school must not impact negatively on the enrolment of schools in the catchment area.
If the demographics require the establishment of a school, then the process for the selection of the type of school should allow for different patrons/bodies to be considered as the patron of a new school. Most new schools must have the capacity to operate schools in the size range of 800 to 1,000 pupils.
Cllr Byrne was among those attending the recent inaugural meeting of the Concerned Parents for Secondary Education in Wexford which heard that based on the findings of a study commissioned by a sub-committee of Wexford County Council there is currently a shortage of 509 places in Wexford District which will rise annually to over 600 pupils up to 2021.
The meeting called for immediate action, saying that in the short-term temporary accommodation and additional teachers are required. However, there was a clear direction given to government from the meeting that Wexford urgently needs a new secondary school.