Thursday, 27 May 2021
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
78. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth if the forecast decline in primary school numbers creates the opportunity to see new community based childcare options co-locating in primary school campuses; and if an agreement will be undertaken with the Department of Education to develop this possibility. [28062/21]
Government policy, including the National Action Plan for School-Age Childcare (2017) and First 5, the Whole-of Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families (2019-2028) recognises that the use of school facilities that have suitable environments for early learning and care and school-age childcare should be maximised where demand exists and where it can be facilitated by the relevant school authority. This is also identified as a commitment in the Programme for Government.
Already, 14 per cent of all early learning and care and school-age childcare services in Ireland operate from school facilities.
The Department of Education have advised that the use of school facilities lies with the relevant school authority in consultation with the property owner and having regard to the needs of the school, staff and students.
The Department of Education policy is to encourage the use of school facilities, where possible, for community, training and education-related activities, including early learning and care and school-age childcare.
To assist schools in considering applications for use of their facilities, the Department of Education in consultation with representatives of schools has drafted guidelines on the use of school property outside of school hours which is available here:
These guidelines are not intended to be exhaustive or prescriptive but are provided to assist schools in considering applications for the use of their facilities.
In line with First 5, the Department of Education plans to conduct a survey of a representative sample of schools on the use of school facilities for early learning and care and school-age childcare services. The results of this survey, which is due to be completed in Quarter 4 2021, will be used to inform a review of the Guidelines on the use of School Buildings outside of School Hours.