Written answers

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Department of Education and Skills

Schools Building Projects

Photo of Bríd SmithBríd Smith (Dublin South Central, People Before Profit Alliance)
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155. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if her Department plans to fund additional primary or secondary facilities in Ballyfermot, specifically on a site (details supplied); and if her Department has had discussions with the developer of the site on the proposed plans; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23811/22]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my 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 and school enrolment data, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise and where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level including in the Ballyfermot_D10 school planning area.

The most recent analysis undertaken by my Department projects that over 76% of the 314 school planning areas at primary level, including the area referred to by the Deputy, have stable or decreasing projected enrolments for the period to 2025, whereas some 88% of the school planning areas at post-primary level are anticipated to have increased enrolments for the period to 2028.

As the Deputy may be aware, at primary level national enrolments peaked in 2018 and are projected to decline by over 120,000 by 2033, as outlined in my Department’s statistical report of November 2021: “Projections of full-time enrolment Primary and Second Level 2021-2040”. In that same report it can be seen that post primary enrolments are forecast to peak in 2024 and then decline thereafter to 2039, by circa 90,000 places. Although these projections do not account for arriving Ukrainian students, it is clear that at a national level there will be increasing levels of capacity within our existing schools infrastructure. While local and regional variations will, of course, be relevant, the use of such capacity - to meet the needs of Ukrainian children in the first instance - will be an important element in my Department’s strategic planning for capital investment in our schools. In this regard, a capacity survey at post-primary level has indicated available capacity of the order of 20,000 school places. There is also very good capacity at primary level given the downward trend in demographics and this will be analysed at an individual school and town/area level when a capacity survey of special schools and primary schools is undertaken at end May/early June 2022.

Where data indicates that there is not sufficient existing capacity to meet school place requirements in an area and that additional provision is required at primary or post primary level, the delivery of such additional provision is dependent on the particular circumstances of each case and may be provided through either one, or a combination of, the following

- Extending the capacity of a school or schools,

- Provision of a new school or schools.

Requirements for additional school accommodation provision across the country, including in the Ballyfermot_D10 school planning area, will continue to be kept under review.

My Department continues to work to advance projects to ensure sufficient places for both mainstream provision and for pupils with special education requirements both for the coming academic year and into the future. My Department has a large pipeline of projects for delivery under the school building programme to cater for current and future educational demands including in the Ballyfermot D10 area. The current status of these approved projects is listed on a county by county basis on www.gov.ie and is regularly updated to reflect their progress through the various stages.

In regards to repurposing an old school site, when a school building becomes vacant as a result of closure, amalgamation or replacement, the future use of the old building is in the first instance a matter for the property owner. When the property owner applies to the Minister for permission to either use the property for community purposes or to sell it, my Department makes an assessment as to whether the property is required for future educational use. If it is concluded that the property has no viable future educational use, my Department permits that it may be used for community or other purposes or may be sold.


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