‘Considerable concern’ over secondary school places in Cork town

A Cork Senator has said there is “considerable concern” in a West Cork town regarding secondary school places for the next academic year.

Speaking in the Seanad earlier this week, Fine Gael TD Tim Lombard raised the need for sufficient secondary school places to be provided for the upcoming academic year at schools in Clonakilty.

Mr Lombard said Clonakilty has two “dynamic secondary schools” providing “top class subject choice” but said there is “considerable concern in the town about academic places for 2023-2024”.

The two post-primary schools in the Clonakilty area are Sacred Heart Secondary School, which is an all-girls school, and Clonakilty Community College, a mixed school.

Mr Lombard said there is a particular concern as to whether there will be sufficient school places for boys looking to attend Clonakilty Community College, as the school is currently the only available option to them in the locality.

According to the school’s website, first-round offers have been emailed to the parents of those students receiving an offer and the deadline to accept is December 15.

After this date, the school said it will review its waiting list.

“We are not sure how long that list is or what is the capability for the list to fit the capacity of the students looking to go to the college.

“There is a unique dynamic in the town regarding the need to make sure boys can get education,” Mr Lombard said, speaking in the Seanad.

“Clarity on school places from here to 2023 is needed in the next few weeks.

“There is concern in Clonakilty about whether the offering will be there for the students.

“I ask for clarity on the length of the waiting list and on the plans, the Department will put in place to make sure every student who applies to go to a school in Clonakilty will have a place made available to them,” he said.

Responding, Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development, Joe O’Brien said that with regard to meeting the current and future accommodation needs of the Clonakilty planning area, both Sacred Heart Secondary School and Clonakilty Community College were approved for funding to carry out various developments.

“Sacred Heart Secondary School currently has a project underway which will provide accommodation for 600 pupils at the school, along with three classrooms for students with special educational needs. This project is currently at stage one.

“Clonakilty Community College recently completed a project which provided for a total enrolment capacity of 650 pupils and two classrooms for students with special education needs,” he said.

The requirement for additional school places is kept under ongoing review, Mr O’Brien said.

“Additionally, the Department [of Education] will continue to liaise with the local authority in respect of its review of development plans with a view to identifying any potential long-term school accommodation requirements.

“I assure the Senator that the Department will continue to work with schools and patrons to ensure there is appropriate provision for all students in Clonakilty for the 2023-2024 school year,” he added.

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