In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise.
New schools established since 2011 to meet demographic demand are required, in the first instance, to prioritise pupil applications from within the designated school planning area(s) which the school was established to serve. This does not preclude schools from enrolling pupils from outside of the school planning area where they have sufficient places, rather it reflects the need to accommodate in the first instance the demographic for which the school was established.
Aside from the obligation outlined above, the question of enrolment in individual schools 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.
Similar to the process adopted for September 2020 readiness, the Department will shortly be engaging further with patron bodies in advance of identifying specific September 2021 capacity pressure points priorities which will necessitate specific action.
Addressing the increased demands for school places, whilst challenging, is manageable – and is generally achieved through utilisation of existing spare capacity within schools, rental, temporary accommodation or other short term measures pending the delivery of permanent accommodation. Such potential measures will be considered in areas where capacity pressure points are identified.