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01st Aug 2023

Parents warn that children are spending up to 15 hours travelling to school a week

Concerned parents have set up an action group to warn that children may be forced to travel up to 15 hours each week to school in the upcoming academic year.

The Dublin 8 School Action Programme has said that if the Department of Education refuses to allocate more places for students starting secondary school, they will be facing huge travel issues.

According to group spokeswoman Louise Fitzpatrick, they have been in contact with Education Minister Norma Foley’s department on three different occasions but were told there is “no need for a new school.”

Parents and public representatives in Dublin 8 are now calling on the Department of Education to build a new secondary school to address the lack of places in the local area.

This comes as many youths now face a commute of 15 hours each week to get to and from school, despite other areas in Dublin seeing new schools built in recent years.

The group has also identified a shortfall of 2,135 places by 2026.

They added that this is above the figure of 600 the department says is the threshold for the approval of a new school.

According to a report by Dr Joanne Mancini, of Maynooth University, it was found that last year there was only enough space for 55% of the children leaving primary school in Dublin 8 – with only five schools to facilitate them.

The Department has now told parents that there is an Educate Together secondary school with available places in Sandymount in Dublin 4 available, meaning the commute would be 8.5km each way.

Speaking to the Irish Daily Mail, Fitzpatrick said: “Only 50 per cent of [people in] Dublin 8 have a car, according to the CSO. The children are getting a bus and a Luas to get to school and they could be cycling six to eight kilometres a day, in wind and rain, with heavy books on their backs.

“There have been campaigns on and off for years. This issue has been there for generations. Each generation moves on and then the next one takes over and the problem stays.

“We always knew there weren’t enough places but it was never pointed out so starkly. We want to know why things are so different here than the more affluent suburbs. Norma Foley’s department has been presented with the data on three separate occasions but we’re getting a copy and paste response from her office.”