Education | Addressing which areas are experiencing school place difficulties arising from demographic developments or the use of obsolete buildings
To ask the Minister for Education the most sensitive areas throughout the country currently experiencing school place difficulties arising from demographic developments or the use of obsolete buildings; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
As the Deputy will be aware, for school planning purposes, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and utilises a Geographical Information System to anticipate school place demand. Information from a range of sources, including Child Benefit data, school enrolment data and information on residential development activity is used for this purpose. Additionally, Project Ireland 2040 population and housing targets inform my Department’s projections of school place requirements.
While my Department is aware of pressures and demand for additional school places throughout the country, it is important to note that where enrolment pressures arise, it may not be as a result of lack of accommodation but may be driven by the following factors:
- Duplication of applications – pupils have applied for a place to a number of schools in the area
- School of choice – pupils can’t get a place in their preferred school while there are places in other schools in the town/area
- Some towns/areas have single sex schools and while places are available in the school they are not available to all pupils
- External draw – pupils coming from outside the local area
My Department is working to establish the true extent of any capacity issues across school planning areas through ongoing discussions with the relevant school patrons and authorities.
This close engagement will allow my Department to identify at an early stage particular capacity requirements for the forthcoming years which may necessitate further action to that already in train including, where required, the provision of modular accommodation solutions.
The availability of places is a matter for each individual school in the context of their Admissions legislation. Enrolment data for previous schools years is on available on the Department website. Enrolment data for the 2022/23 school year is currently being finalised.
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