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Education | School building programme accommodating both urban and rural schools

To ask the Minister for Education the extent to which the school building programme continues to accommodate all schools in all areas throughout the country, urban and rural without exception; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Under Project Ireland 2040, the education sector will receive a total of approximately €4.4 billion capital investment over the period 2021-2025. This significant investment allows us to move forward with certainty on our ambitious plans and deliver high quality building projects, with a real focus on sustainability, for school communities across Ireland.

The key drivers of capital investment in the schools sector are as follows:

– demographic change, including Special Education Needs Delivery

– alignment with housing provision and national planning at school planning area level,

– construction costs,  

– climate action objectives including deep energy retrofit.

This investment will build on the good progress being made on adding capacity to cater for demographic changes and provision for children with special educational needs. This investment will also facilitate an increased focus on the modernisation of existing school stock and help transition the school system for an era of net zero carbon by 2050.

My Department has a large pipeline of projects for delivery under the school building programme. The main elements of this pipeline currently involve in excess of 1,300 school building projects for delivery under the Department’s Large Scale and Additional Accommodation Scheme. These projects are currently in progress across the various stages of planning, design, tender and construction. Most of which are expected to be either under construction or completed in the period up to 2025.

There are currently in excess of 250 school building projects at construction (on site) with a continuous stream of other projects at or near the tendering stage.

It is envisaged that the Department will deliver between 150-200 school building projects per annum between 2022-2025 period.

During the period 2018 to 2021 691 school building projects were completed under the Large Scale Capital Programme (LSCP) and the Additional School Accommodation Scheme (ASA).  These projects delivered in excess of 64,000 school places.

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, utilising data from a range of sources including information on planned and current residential development, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. My Department is engaging with patron bodies to identify particular capacity requirements for the forthcoming year(s) which may necessitate action.  This engagement is ongoing and is focused on ensuring that the start of the 2022/23 school year operates as smoothly as possible for all schools and their students.

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