Senator Dolan raised the issue on available school capacity at primary level in Ballinasloe town and townlands in County Galway & County Roscommon. The immediate need of school transport for Eglish National School to bring children needing a place. The focus by the Department of Education to progress the new build for Scoil An Chroí Naofa to tender stage.
Ballinasloe based Senator Aisling Dolan stated
“ This week in the Seanad I raised the challenges in the Ballinasloe town and surrounding areas for available school places in primary school. We are a growing town with new housing and homes for families planned this year. Our local area plan estimates growth of 2,000 more people and each year parents are stressed trying to ensure places for children. Our last census in 2022 highlights 534 children under Age 4 in the Ballinasloe Urban area and schools are welcoming children into every class.
“Since I was elected a councillor for the Ballinasloe municipal district area in 2019, I have raised issues related to school capacity in the town. A key priority has been to move progress on a new school build for my old girls national school – this was amalgamated with St Grellan’s Boys School to create Scoil An Chroí Naofa… with the promise of a new building 27 years ago. Now we have a brand new design, 16 classrooms to accommodate 300 students and planning approval from Galway County Council however this will take 3 years if we have green lights from the Department all the way. I’m asking for the Minister and Department of Education support together with the Design Team to bring this to the tender to build stage for this DEIS Level 1 school for 300 pupils ”
“I’ve also worked with Minister for Special Education & Inclusion, Josepha Madigan TD on 2 additional classrooms for Creagh National School and I look forward to welcoming the Minister to Ballinasloe in November. Creagh NS now has 440 pupils but there is still a wait list. St Teresa’s Special School will also be able to expand into 2 additional classrooms bringing additional accommodation there for children with complex to severe special needs to 4 classrooms.”
“Where are children going to go? Principals and Educational Welfare Officers in the area have highlighted serious concerns. I’m calling on the Department of Education to urgently develop a plan bringing together principals in the area, Education Welfare Officers and Galway County Council to ensure capacity for families living in the Ballinasloe and surrounding areas”
The Fine Gael Senator continued
“I also raised the issue for children today in Ballinasloe. Currently there is an immediate need for the Department of Education to review school transport options to bring 23 children to Eglish National School in Ahascragh as capacity is full in schools in town. And not just in the town but schools in Killure, Aughrim, Clontuskert in Co Galway and Newtown in Creagh and Moore in Co. Roscommon have all indicated at capacity for this year. These are disadvantaged families where the mothers do not drive and there are issues in terms of school attendance managing multiple pick up & drop offs.”
Senator Aisling Dolan said in summary
“Minister Madigan indicated in her response that the country is divided into 314 school planning areas with 17 primary schools in the Ballinasloe School Planning Area (SPA). This system from the Department of Education uses school enrolments, child benefit records and information on residential development which is used to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. It should be very clear as has been the case over the past number of years that there is pressure in the Ballinasloe area.
“I appreciate Minister Madigan’s commitment that no child is left without a place. The Home Tuition option is not a simple option for families when there is such a shortage of teachers to act as tutors. I’m calling for an urgent review bringing together key Department of Education Officials together with Educational Welfare Officers, Galway County Council and school principals together to review how our town can plan for the next 6 months ahead as well as 5 years.”