Written Answers - School Accommodation.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 700 No. 3

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  16.  Deputy David Stanton  Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe   if he has received applications for permanent accommodation from schools (details supplied) in County Cork; the progress made in relation to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4180/10]

  25.  Deputy David Stanton  Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe   if he will consider developing a joint campus for the construction of two new schools (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4181/10]

Minister for Education and Science (Deputy Batt O’Keeffe): Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  The first school to which the Deputy refers made an application to the Department for a new school in January 2002.

The application was assessed in accordance with the published prioritisation criteria for large scale building projects and assigned a band 1.1 rating.

The second school to which the Deputy refers has not submitted an application for Major Capital Works. The school opened in September 2008 and currently has provisional recognition. Responsibility for the provision of accommodation remains with the school Patron until permanent recognition is granted. In the meantime, my Department grant aids the rental of this accommodation.

The Department is currently in the process of agreeing contracts in relation to a suitable site which is zoned by the Local Authority for Education use in the Midleton Area.

The Department will consider the optimal use of any site purchased to meet the primary school needs of Midleton.

The progression of all large scale building projects, including these projects, from initial design stage through to construction phase will be considered in the context of my Department’s multi-annual School Building and Modernisation Programme. However, in light of current competing demands on the capital budget of the Department, it is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the projects at this time.

  17.  Deputy Seymour Crawford  Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe   if he will be reintroducing the devolved scheme for restructuring and building of small schools; if and when same will start; his views on whether this scheme is good value for money and extremely valuable for pupils, teachers and all concerned in these schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3983/10]

Minister for Education and Science (Deputy Batt O’Keeffe): Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  The Small Schools’ Scheme, which was operated by my Department from 2003 to 2007, was specifically targeted at providing grant aid for the extension and refurbishment of small rural schools.

Over the course of the operation of the scheme, a total of €177m was spent on almost 400 schools throughout the country, leading to a very welcome improvement in the standard of accommodation available in these schools.

Under the Value for Money Framework, the operation of the Small Schools Scheme was reviewed and reported on.

The review was carried out to determine the value to the building programme of the Small Schools Initiative (SSI) and the Permanent Accommodation Initiative (PAI), devolving funding and responsibility on school management authorities (SMAs) to enable them to manage and complete their own building projects.

[689]The review found that the schemes provided value for money for the taxpayer with effective funding control mechanisms. The schemes met accommodation deficits in schools in a satisfactory manner. The review found that devolution of funding and responsibility to SMAs worked well but suggested additional advice and information on their duties be provided to the SMAs.

The majority of the recommendations contained in the review have been implemented resulting in increased administrative efficiencies in the administration of the schemes which allowed almost 400 schools to benefit from funding under the SSS between 2003 and 2007.

In more recent years, the focus of the schools building and modernisation programme has been on major projects to provide new schools and large extensions in areas experiencing a rapid growth in demand for school places.

In these circumstances, no further applications for Small School Scheme funding have been sought. However, the situation will be kept under review by my Department. In the meantime, it is open to small schools to apply for funding under the Permanent Accommodation Scheme and the Summer Works Scheme, which continue to operate.


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