For Oral Answer on : 13/05/2021
Question Number(s): 167 Question Reference(s): 24993/21
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Education further to Parliamentary Question No. 86 of 22 April 2021, the number of cases by county in 2019 and 2020 with regard to school transport provision at primary and post-primary levels, respectively in which her Department was satisfied that the nearest school was full and as a result eligibility for school transport was granted to a school that was not the nearest school; the conditions required in order for such a provision to be agreed; the number of such requests currently being considered; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education. In the current school year over 114,100 children, including over 14,700 children with special educational needs, are transported on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country at a cost of over €224.7m in 2020.
The purpose of my Department’s School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school. Under the terms of my Department’s School Transport Scheme, children are eligible for transport where they reside not less than 3.2kms at primary and 4.8kms at post-primary and are attending their nearest School/Education Centre as determined by the Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.
All children who are eligible for school transport and who completed the application and payment process on time have been accommodated on school transport services for the 2020/21 school year where such services are in operation.
Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport on a concessionary basis only and will be facilitated where spare seats are available after eligible children have been accommodated. Where the number of ineligible children exceeds the number of spare seats available Bus Éireann allocates tickets for the spare seats using an agreed selection process.
In cases where the Department is satisfied that the nearest school is full, eligibility for school transport will be determined based on the distance that children reside from their next nearest school having regard to ethos and language.
If a family has further information in regard to the closest school being full they should contact School Transport Section of my Department. Further information in this regard is available on my Department’s website www.education.ie.
Such requests are considered on a case by case basis following documentary evidence being submitted by the family, including:
- The detailed steps taken to enrol the pupil in the nearest and next nearest schools.
- Evidence that an application for enrolment was made within the deadline dates specified by the school.
- A letter from the School Authorities confirming that the school was full at time of enrolment.
The number of cases by county for 2019 and 2020, as requested by the Deputy, is not readily available. School Transport Section of my Department will revert directly to the Deputy with this information when it is available.