Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Questions (141)

James Browne


141. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to a 1967 transportation agreement (details supplied) facilitating a specific route serving an open school and a closed school; if he has evidence of the agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14510/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.

There are currently over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually.

School Transport services under the 'Closed School Rule' had their origin in the amalgamation of primary schools in the late 1960s. It was the practice in the case of such amalgamations to provide transport to the amalgamated schools and it is likely that this was conveyed as part of the overall process. Given that there were in excess of 800 schools covered by such amalgamations, and given the time removed since the date of many of these amalgamations, it is not feasible to source individual school records.

A number of changes to the School Transport Scheme were introduced in Budget 2011, which derived from recommendations in the Value for Money Review of the Scheme. These changes encompassed a number of elements and included the cessation of the 'Closed/Central School Rule' at primary level.

In general, children at primary level are now eligible for school transport where they reside not less than 3.2 kilometres from and are attending their nearest national school as determined by the Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

The terms of the Primary School Transport Scheme are applied equitably on a national basis.