No demand 'yet' for new Wexford school says Department of Education

BY DAVID TUCKER

Selskar College wants to move to expand, but Department says demand is not there.
Selskar College wants to move to expand, but Department says demand is not there.

the Department of Education says there is no current demand for another secondary school in Wexford town, although it is keeping the situation under review.

Last week it was revealed that Selksar College has applied to the Department for the green light for a new school on a greenfield site in the town, with principal Eimear Ryan saying she was waiting with bated breath for a response.

'If Selskar College was to get the go ahead it would mean the replacement of an existing school rather than the creation of new one,' said former mayor Cllr George Lawlor, however, he said there was an absolute need for another school in the town, given its growing population.

Asked by this newspaper, what plans there were for more school developments in Wexford, the Department sidestepped the direct question and said 'while the demographic data does not indicate a requirement at this point for a new post-primary school for Wexford, the Department is keeping the demographic data for the area under ongoing review.

This it said would 'take into account updated enrollment data and the impact of planned expansion of capacity in some of the schools in Wexford town and developments in the adjacent areas'.

The Department said it uses a Geographical Information System (GIS) to identify where the pressure for school places will arise.

The GIS uses data from the Central Statistics Office, Ordnance Survey Ireland and the Department of Social Protection, in addition to the Department's own databases. With this information, the Department carries out nationwide demographic analyses at primary and post primary level to determine where additional school accommodation is needed.

A project for Loreto Secondary School is on the Department's Six Year Plan. When completed it will provide for an additional 200 school places approximately, bringing the overall capacity of the school to 900 student places.

A replacement accommodation project for Christian Brothers Schools in Wexford Town will cater for an enrolment of 570 pupils.

All applications for capital funding are considered in the context of competing demands on the Department's budget, it said. Cllr Lawlor said the Department was archaic and suffered from a lack of vision in the way they look at the construction of new facilities and the demand for them. 'Because of the nature of some of the schools and people outside what would be known as the catchment area coming to Wexford there is a need and the projections of the population growwth indicate there is a need for another secondary,' said Cllr Lawlor. 'When you consider that the Department allowed the CBS to build a new school without creating any additional spaces for students, that is an indication of their lack of foresight.. and the Loreto was only increased to 900 places followng the intervention of Brendan Howlin,' he said. 'If we are to solve local needs and attract new people to Wexford there is an absolute need for a new school.'

Wexford People