Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Questions (113)

James Lawless


113. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Education and Skills if maps of the current school planning areas are available; and if a copy is available for use by schools. [42477/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

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 relevant to the area.

These school planning areas are mapped on my Department's GIS system and 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.

New schools established since 2011 to meet demographic demand are required to prioritise enrolments from within the school planning area which the school was established to serve. This does not preclude new schools established since 2011 from enrolling pupils from outside of the designated school planning area where it has capacity to do so, rather it reflects the need to accommodate in the first instance the demographic for which the school was established. 

When the patronage process for new schools commences, maps of the relevant school planning areas are made available on my Department's website.

The requirement on new schools established since 2011 to prioritise enrolment from a particular school planning area(s) does not apply to or impact on the majority of existing schools established prior to 2011.

The question of enrolment in individual schools, including the setting of catchment areas, is the responsibility of the Board of Management on behalf of the school Patron and my Department does not seek to intervene in decisions made by schools in such matters.