New school to be established in Co Meath on foot of acute shortage of places

Ashbourne parents forced to travel to Louth or Dublin to find schools with spare capacity

Minister for Education Joe McHugh: ‘On foot of local concerns in relation to waiting lists for primary schools, my department reviewed the level of primary provision in Ashbourne.’ Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Minister for Education Joe McHugh: ‘On foot of local concerns in relation to waiting lists for primary schools, my department reviewed the level of primary provision in Ashbourne.’ Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

A new primary school is to be established in Ashbourne, Co Meath, next September to help cope with an acute shortage of places in the area.

Many parents locally say they have been unable to get school places for their children in the area, with some forced to travel to Co Louth or Dublin find schools with spare capacity.

Following a review of provision at primary school level in Ashbourne, Minister for Education Joe McHugh announced on Friday that a new school will be established within months.

The 16-classroom school will be a multi-denominational Community National School, run under the patronage of the State-owned Louth and Meath Education and Training Board.

Mr McHugh said: “I am conscious that Ashbourne is an area of growing demographic demand and additional residential development. On foot of local concerns in relation to waiting lists for primary schools, my department reviewed the level of primary provision in Ashbourne.

“I am satisfied that there is a need for increased capacity in the area and I am pleased to announce that a new Community National School will be established under the patronage of Louth and Meath ETB.”

He said the ETB will begin the process of recruiting a principal for the school and making preparations for the school to open.

The school will initially be based in temporary accommodation, before moving to a department-owned site adjacent to an existing three-school campus in Ashbourne.

Fianna Fáil’s education spokesman Thomas Byrne said he welcomed the announcement but that it was three years too late for many parents.

“Many families have been suffering in silence and have been forced to send their children to school as far away as Termonfeckin, Co Louth or south Dublin,” he said.

“This calls into question the basis of information which the department’s entire forward planning unit is using.”

There are currently five primary schools in the Ashbourne area, including three Catholic school, one multidenominational gaelscoil and an Educate Together school.

In a statement, Mr McHugh said the decision to award patronage to Louth and Meath ETB reflected the recommendation of an advisory group on school patronage.