independent

Monday 16 September 2019

Population tsunami for North Wexford

By Fintan Lambe

PRESSURE is going to increase on primary and second level schools in North Wexford in the coming decade.

Most schools in the district got new buildings or extensions if they needed them in the past ten or so years. Several new schools also opened, including Gorey Educate Together and Gorey Gaelscoil at primary level, and Creagh College at second level. Prefabs are a thing of the past in North Wexford, for now.

However, many commentators point to a long-term demographic issue. 'If you look at birth rate statistics and likely growth in North Wexford, we will see pressure building again within a decade,' said Cllr Malcolm Byrne. 'In the 2011 Census, there were 2,022 people living in Gorey town alone under 12 years of age, not to mention the number of children in the hinterland.'

'We need to be prepared for a scenario where the Community School and Creagh College could find themselves under space pressure in the future. This is a potential demographic tsunami,' he warned.

Creagh College has capacity to grow up to cater to 1,000 students while the Community School, the largest in the country, currently hosts around 1,500 students. Gorey Community School Principal Michael Finn, pictured, said the population growth is already making its presence felt. 'We increased our enrolment capacity this year from 240 to 270 in recognition of the huge numbers applying,' he said. 'Even with that, we have 49 on the waiting list.'

He said there are around 19 primary schools in the local area. 'Going down through fifth, fourth, third classes, you can see numbers increasing, to the point where we're certainly not going to be losing numbers any time soon,' he said.

There was a suggestion that the immediate area may need a third secondary school, but Michael said he believed the two existing schools should be able to cope for now. 'We can take 1,500 and Creagh can take 1,000,' he said. 'I certainly feel the two schools will be full soon, but there are a large number of children on our waiting list from outside the area who choose to apply.'

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