Written answers

Thursday, 2 March 2023

Department of Education and Skills

School Enrolments

Photo of Seán HaugheySeán Haughey (Dublin Bay North, Fianna Fail)
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232. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if the catchment areas of schools coincide with her Department’s school planning areas; the role of feeder primary schools in this context; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10629/23]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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As the Deputy may be aware, in order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data in a way that takes account of the significant local and regional variations in demographic trends and enrolment projections, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas, of which some 40 are in Dublin. 

Using school planning area boundaries within my Department’s Geographic Information System (GIS) allows data within those boundaries, including data for enrolments in schools, child benefit and other relevant data to be added to the mapping information, grouped and analysed.  The GIS records the number of primary and post-primary schools within each planning area, the combined enrolments for all of the schools within each area, including total enrolment and enrolment in each class group, together with child benefit data for the 0-4 age group relevant to the area.

In most areas, school planning areas were based on traditional school catchment areas where all primary schools were assigned to a post-primary feeder area (typically a population centre or town), containing one or more post-primary schools.  With the introduction of Small Areas in Census 2011, these feeder areas were amended to align with Census Small Areas. The current school planning areas take account not only of local groupings of schools, but also of natural boundaries, Census Small Areas and other local conditions.

School planning areas are used in the demographic exercise as a basis for the assessment of areas of growth and to inform recommendations on the establishment of any new schools required in that school planning area.

A Board of Management may find it necessary to prioritise enrolment of children from particular areas or on the basis of some other criterion, including giving priority to applicants who have attended a particular primary school known as a feeder school.  The criteria to be applied by schools in such circumstances and the order of priority are a matter for the schools themselves.


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