Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Education and Skills
260. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if there is a policy to ensure that all offshore islands with a significant population have a post-primary school; the number of offshore islands with no bridge or causeway to the mainland with a population of over 100; the number of these that have a secondary school; his plans to ensure that schools are set up on the remaining few islands that do not have a secondary school and have a viable population for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3251/20]
In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, the Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, including Child Benefit Data from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and the Department's own school enrolment databases, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. With this information, the Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level.
It is not anticipated that new post-primary schools will be established within the foreseeable future.
All islands in the Gaeltacht have access to a post-primary school. In recognition of the unique challenges facing island schools and in addition to the supports already being provided as part of the Gaeltacht School Recognition Scheme, a specific package of targeted supports has been provided for every island post-primary school from September 2018, as part of the overall implementation of the Policy on Gaeltacht Education. The specific package of additional supports for island post-primary schools include increased teacher allocation for each of the island post-primary schools from its previous allocation of 1 whole-time equivalent post to 1.5 whole-time equivalent posts and an additional ring-fenced budget of €15,000 per annum for each island post-primary school.
The Department of Education and Skills will continue to be represented on the Inter-Departmental Committee for the Development of the Islands, which was established by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in 2019.