28 July, 2010 - Tánaiste announces significant reform of the process for recognition of new second-level schools

Tánaiste announces significant reform of the process for recognition of new second-level schools

The Tánaiste and Minister for Education and Skills, Mary Coughlan TD, today announced a significant reform of the process for recognition of new second-level schools.

The new framework to be established by the Tánaiste will involve the setting out of clear criteria against which new second-level school applications are to be assessed and will increase the transparency of decision making, with the establishment of a small expert group to advise on second-level school patronage applications.

The Tánaiste said: 'We are forecasting an increase of over 67,000 post primary pupils in the State by 2024. 

'While this increase would equate to circa 67 new post-primary schools catering for 1,000 pupils each, in practice it is likely that this will result in the expansion of a large number of existing post-primary schools and the establishment of many new schools. 

'Predictions show the population increasing most quickly in the eastern area where there is less likely to be spare classroom capacity.

'The need for clear criteria and increased transparency in decision making on the patronage in these cases arises as there are now a number of patron bodies seeking to establish new schools. 

'It is also right that any prospective patron has clear criteria to consider in making an application. 

'The new framework I am putting in place will address these issues and provide greater clarity into the future, allowing applications to be made where there is demographic need and establishing minimum sizes for such new schools.'

The expert group, to be known as the Second-Level Patronage Advisory Group, will consider applications for new schools and advise the Tánaiste in relation to those applications, having undertaken survey work of parental views and using the criteria to be set down. 

The Tánaiste plans to establish the group in the autumn and seek their input prior to the finalisation of detailed criteria and procedures.

In relation to two schools to be established in the near future, the Tánaiste also announced that the new second-level school in Clonburris, Lucan, will be established as a VEC school formally in partnership with Educate Together. 

The Tánaiste is asking the County Dublin VEC and Educate Together to discuss the approach to achieving this with her Department.

In relation to the new second-level school to be established in Gorey, Co. Wexford, the Tánaiste is now advancing with a process in Gorey where a decision needs to be made by the end of October 2010. 

This will involve a survey, in September, of the views of parents of children in primary schools in the Gorey area and an opportunity for input of parents of children not yet in school. 

This initial work will be undertaken by the Department of Education and Skills and the Tánaiste will consider the outcome of the survey work having regard to the general criteria set out above.

ENDS


Note for Editors:

The following will be used in establishment of the detailed criteria:

  • Whether the demographics of the area support the need for the establishment of the proposed new school;
  • The likely impact that the proposed new school will have on school capacity in the area (other than in an exceptional case where a school is considered to have grown too big);
  • Whether the school model is capable of catering for pupils of all faiths and none;
  • Whether the school can cater by way of an Aonad for pupils desiring tuition through the Irish Language (in areas where there are insufficient numbers for an Irish medium second-level school);
  • Whether the school model offers the broadest comprehensive curriculum possible on a co-educational basis;
  • Whether the school model proposed has the capacity to operate schools in the size range of 800 to 1,000 pupils (a lower threshold of 400 would apply for Gaelcholáistí having regard to the alternative of establishing an Aonad within a school);
  • Whether the school model proposed has capacity for flexible use of the school buildings and facilities to allow for community use in the form of evening classes or use of PE halls and sporting facilities (evening classes may be provided by the school itself or another service provider);
  • The capacity of the proposed school model to protect the State’s investment by guaranteeing the future educational use of school buildings for changing circumstances and demographics;
  • The capacity of the proposed school model to make the most efficient use of teaching resources in times of changing circumstances such as through the availability of a teacher redeployment scheme;
  • Whether the establishment of the proposed school model would not result in a surplus of pupils that would necessitate the establishment of a very small school to cater for them; and
  • Whether the establishment of the proposed school model would result in greater diversity of school provision in the area where there is a demand for such diversity.