I propose to take Questions Nos. 148 to 154, inclusive, together.
In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas. My Department uses a Geographical Information System (GIS) to identify where the pressure for school places across these areas will arise. The GIS uses data from a range of sources, including the Central Statistics Office, Ordnance Survey Ireland, the Department of Social Protection and my Department's own databases. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises at primary and post-primary level to determine where additional school accommodation is needed.
Where demographic data indicates that additional provision is required, the delivery of such additional provision is dependent on the particular circumstances of each case and may, depending on the circumstances, be provided through either one, or a combination of, the following:
- Utilising existing unused capacity within a school or schools,
- Extending the capacity of a school or schools,
- Provision of a new school or schools.
My Department’s Capital Programme continues to address the challenge posed by a rapidly increasing school population. The Capital Investment Programme (2016-2021) details the school projects that are being progressed through the architectural planning process towards tender and construction. The Capital Programme also provides for devolved funding for additional classrooms for schools where an immediate enrolment need has been identified or where an additional teacher has been appointed, details of which are published regularly on my Department’s website: www.education.ie.
As with other school planning areas nationwide, the demographic data for these planning areas are being kept under review by my Department to take account of updated child benefit data and updated enrolment data. It is anticipated that decisions based on the demographic exercises will be announced later in 2017.