Fianna Fáil TD for Wexford James Browne says he is concerned by the growing difficulty parents are experiencing in securing school places for their children.

Deputy Browne says Wexford faces a serious school places shortfall in the coming years and has called on the Government to bring forward a secondary level school building programme to address the problem.

“Parents living in Wexford town face serious difficulty in securing a place in secondary school for their children. Schools are over capacity and are being forced to use waiting lists to manage demand. This is a serious problem which is leading to increased hardship for parents and their children,” said Deputy Browne.

“A study carried out by the Economic Strategic Policy Committee of Wexford County Council outlines that there is approximately a shortage of over 500 places in the Wexford area. This shortage is expected to grow each year as we have a young population in the area. It’s clear that the education system in Wexford is already under pressure, but the problem is set to become much worse in the years ahead if the Government doesn’t take action.

“The Department of Education continue to deny that there is a problem, but the parents who are finding it difficult to find a school place for their children know otherwise. They are being forced to send their children to schools in New Ross and Enniscorthy. I firmly believe that children should have the opportunity to be educated in their own local communities instead of being forced to commute long distances to schools elsewhere.

“The Government needs to come forward with a comprehensive school building programme to deal with this problem. We can’t afford to wait a few years before deciding to deal with it. The problem is very real here and now and is set to get worse if action is not taken,” said Deputy Browne.

Cllr Lisa McDonald, who has been working with Deputy Browne on the issue, says a co-ordinated effort is needed to increase the number of school places in Wexford.

“Government representatives committed to sorting this matter out but to date there has been little action to actually increase the number of school places in Wexford. Many parents were forced to send their children to schools outside of the District of Wexford to receive an education. This simply isn’t good enough but it will become the norm if we don’t see new schools being built in the town.

“We need to see a co-ordinated effort between TD’s, the Department of Education and school officials to ensure a comprehensive school building programme is brought forward,” concluded Cllr McDonald.