Half of primary schools wedged in Galway city and suburbs

TDs Hildegarde Naughton, Noel Grealish and Catherine Connolly at the opening of the recently refurbished Scoil Fhursa, last year an over-subscribed city centre school. Photo: Mike Shaughnessy.

TDs Hildegarde Naughton, Noel Grealish and Catherine Connolly at the opening of the recently refurbished Scoil Fhursa, last year an over-subscribed city centre school. Photo: Mike Shaughnessy.

Just under half of Galway city primary schools were fully subscribed or over-subscribed last year, according to unpublished government figures, although significant capacity remains.

Almost one-in-four city schools had to turn away parents last year seeking places for junior infant children (aged 4 to 5 ) after applications either exceeded available places, or all places were filled with sibling admissions before general applications were opened.

Of the 54 primary schools in the Galway School Planning Area (SPA ), which includes 35 schools in the city centre and 19 across the Headford and Oranmore districts, 23 schools reported they were oversubscribed or fully-subscribed for new pupils. Eight city centre schools were majorly over-subscribed for Junior Infant entry last year, plus one each in Oranmore and Headford.

The most over-subscribed primary schools in the Galway city area SPA were Claregalway Educate Together, Gaelscoil mhic Amhlaigh and St John the Apostle in Knocknacarra, Scoil Íde in Salthill, Scoil na Bhforbacha in Furbo, Scoil Mhuire in Briarhill, Scoil na Fhursa in Nile Lodge, Scoil Naomh Sheosamh near Shrule and Gaelscoil de Hide in Oranmore.

A further 13 city area SPA primary schools were deemed fully-subscribed by the Department of Education in an unpublished school capacity report from early 2023.

Analysis shows 15 primary schools in the city SPA were under-subscribed, while a further 16 schools’ status was recorded as “unknown”.

Although many schools are receiving more applications than spaces, sources in local education planning suggest changing work practices post-Covid and improved communications with the Department of Education in Dublin means schools across the Galway city area SPA should be better placed to cater for local needs in the coming academic year. For city centre schools in particular, more parents working from home in the suburbs rather than commuting into city offices post-Pandemic means urban area principals will be expecting fewer applications.

Last year, the Galway city area SPA had 170 ‘empty’ seats at mainstream Junior Infant entry, and capacity for an extra 22 Special Educational Needs (SEN ) places across the 54 schools. It is thought specialist staffing shortages has created an “illusion” of extra SEN capacity in Department of Education figures, according to one Galway school principal.

Three city centre primary schools were under-subscribed for SEN applications last year, and one school in Oranmore.

The primary schools with the most spare capacity in the Galway city area SPA last year were Scoil Chaitríona in Renmore, and three schools in the Headford district: Bunscoil Naomh Chuana, Scoil Naomh Proinnsias in Kilroe, and Scoil Naisiunta Domhnach Padraig near Caherlistrane.

The most recent Central Statistics Office data shows that there were 53,602 Galwegian children aged under 14-years-old at the 2022 census; over 13,000 in the city, and a further almost 40,600 in County Galway. There are 189 primary schools across County Galway, plus 54 in the Galway city/Headford/Oranmore SPA.

 

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