Thursday, 17 October 2019

Questions (127)

Noel Grealish


127. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the catchment boundary for a school (details supplied) is so large; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42800/19]

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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.

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.

School planning areas are used in the demographic exercises as a basis for the assessment of areas of growth and to inform recommendations on the establishment of any new schools required in a school planning area(s).

In some instances, while projected growth in a single school planning area may not, of itself, warrant provision of a new school, where the combined demographic increases across a number of adjacent school planning areas indicate sufficient demand for a viable school, a regional solution may be put in place to serve these areas.

As the Deputy will be aware, in April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022), including a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school to be established in 2019 to serve the Galway City and Oranmore school planning areas as a regional solution.

New schools established since 2011 to meet demographic demand are required to prioritise enrolments from within the school planning area(s) 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. 

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.