Tuesday, 26 April 2022
Department of Education and Skills
831. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the current status and estimated timeframe for completion of the planning application for new autism classes in a school (details supplied). [19457/22]
The schools to which the Deputy refers were granted approval for a joint project to construct a 4 Classroom SEN Base under the Additional Accommodation Scheme 2021 and notification of this approval was issued to the school authorities in June 2021. Confirmation of the appointment of the project's Design Team was returned to the Department in October 2021.
Currently the project is at the beginning of the Design Process and surveys are taking place, the results of which will determine how the school and its Design Team progress the project, through the submission of a Stage 1 Design Report to the Department for review.
It is too early in the process to estimate a timeframe for completion of this project.
My Department received this application for Additional School Accommodation for the school referred to by the Deputy on 20 April 2022. My Department is are aware that in particular this area is accommodating a significant number of Ukrainians which has put pressure on surrounding schools to accommodate pupils.
Utilisation of each school’s existing capacity in the most flexible way possible will be key to supporting Ukrainian children who are being enrolled in our schools. The surveys of the school system have generally shown good capacity across the country albeit there may be capacity pressures to be managed in some areas. Contingency arrangements will be put in place to manage these capacity pressures.
It is very important for existing capacity in a town or area to be fully utilised before looking at additional accommodation requirements either via off-site or modular accommodation solutions etc. This will require good cooperation and collaboration between schools supported as necessary through the local Regional Education and Language Teams (REALT) whose primary role is to assist children in finding school places and to support schools to meet the needs of these children as they emerge. Capacity information on the school system is being made available by the Department’s Planning and Building Unit to support and assist the work of the REALT teams.
My Department’s assessment of any applications for additional accommodation will include consideration of whether capacity across all other schools in the town or area is fully utilised.
The application from the school referred to by the Deputy is currently being assessed and my Department will be in communication with the school in this respect shortly.