Concerns have been expressed that Newbridge students do not have sufficient choice when it comes to choosing what type of secondary education they want.
Speaking at the Kildare Area meeting on April 16, Cllr. Fiona O’Loughlin asked council officials if the Department of Education was planning a new secondary school besides the one earmarked for St. Conleths, or an extension to existing schools to serve the needs of Newbridge.
Council officials said there had been no further mention of a new second level school requirement for Newbridge during its meetings with the Department.
The new St. Conleth’s extension is being built by the Education and Training Board (formerly VEC ) beside St. Conleth’s Vocational School on Station Road to meet the lack of second level places in the town.
“I have absolutely no issue about vocational education. I went to a vocational school myself in Rathangan and I received an excellent education but there should be a choice in terms of the different types of education available. There are different needs for different pupils,” she said.
Cllr. O’Loughlin said they were informed there was no need for more schools when they were looking at the Newbridge Development plan but luckily councillors had de cided to zone land for educational use.
In response to a query from the Leinster Leader, the Department said the St. Conleth’s extension will provide over 500 places.
“A new post primary school catering for 1,000 pupils is being established in Naas. An initial phase of the school is scheduled to open in September 2015 with the new school being delivered subsequently,” said a spokesperson.
“A new school catering for 1,000 pupils was constructed under the Public Private Partnership model in Kildare Town and opened in 2011 to facilitate the amalgamation of the three post primary schools in Kildare town (St. Joseph’s Boys’/Presentation Girls’/VEC school). The school provided for in excess of 500 additional student places.
“The Department recognises that parental preference will be exercised in seeking school placements both within their catchment area and beyond. The Department understands that there is capacity currently in St. Conleth’s, Newbridge and Piper’s Hill College. It is open to parents to make direct contact with the schools or with their Patron body, Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB) in this regard,” it concluded.