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Other Questions - Educational Resources

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 762 No. 1

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 14.  Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  his reason for carrying out a pilot inventory of educational resources in just four to six provincial towns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19397/12]

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The programme for Government contains a commitment to ensure a complete inventory of all school buildings and associated structures. This will be a major step forward and help to inform our future planning for schools. My Department is finalising proposals for the development of this inventory to expand on the information being collected and is working closely with the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland on this. It is anticipated that the pilot project will be put out for tender shortly. The pilot study is being concentrated initially on up to six areas. This is so that we can learn from the pilot exercise and evaluate both the methods of data collection and the level of useful detail to be gathered for the inventory. A [91]further roll-out of the inventory exercise can then be considered in the light of the experience gained from the pilot exercise. We are seeking to ensure we get matters right before rolling it out across the entire educational infrastructure.

Deputy Brendan Smith: Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith I thank the Minister for his reply. This pilot scheme applies only to provincial towns that have experienced rapid growth in recent years.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn No, it is a mix.

Deputy Brendan Smith: Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith Is it confined to an inventory of educational resources alone? Why is the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland involved? This exercise is not being carried out solely by the Department.

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn A typical provincial town with a catchment area in which 30,000 to 40,000 people reside may, for historical reasons, have up to seven or eight primary schools and three or four post-primary schools, including a former VEC technical school and a school created from the amalgamation of two schools run by the Christian Brothers and an order of nuns, respectively, possibly a college of further education and, in some cases, an institute of technology. Institutes of technology are certainly to be found in 14 such towns. We do not know, on a horizontal basis, what exactly we possess. We do not know if the science laboratory in one secondary school is up to scratch or if that in another is decrepit. Each school is an island and applies individually for support and resources of one kind or another. What I want to do is obtain an inventory of the educational resources in various towns and identify what we can use to ensure maximum efficiency. If there is a good sports hall in one school or if a GAA club has recently received a grant to build such a hall, I want to know if these facilities can be thrown into the mix.

For many reasons, schools have historically dealt directly with the Department. As a result of the fact that the same curriculum is being taught at primary and secondary level and because there is no longer the same kind of institutional or social rivalry among different teaching orders, we now have an opportunity to ensure we obtain proper value from and utilise the physical resource that exists. However, we must first measure the extent of that resource. That is what the inventory is doing but it is not confined to a particular type of town or to new or expanding areas. In some instances there is probably greater capacity for better utilisation in what might be termed a “stable” town.

Written Answers follow Adjournment.

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