For Written Answer on : 17/01/2024
Question Number(s): 462 Question Reference(s): 56302/23
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Education further to Parliamentary Question No. 14 of 17 October 2023, to provide an update on the review of the guidelines for the use of school buildings outside of school hours; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
I wish to thank the Deputy for the opportunity to give an update on the review of my Department’s ‘Guidelines on the Use of School Buildings Outside of School Hours’. My Department supports and encourages the use of school buildings for community and recreational purposes, where feasible, and this has remained a core feature of the new Guidelines (or Procedures as they are now called).
My Department first published the Guidelines on the use of School Buildings outside of School Hours in October 2017. The purpose of these guidelines was to provide guidance to schools in relation to their current arrangements for the use of school buildings outside of school hours. The Guidelines outline the various scenarios and informs where consent of the Department of Education is required.
The process of reviewing the 2017 Guidelines for the Use of School Buildings outside of School Hours is now nearing completion.
As the Deputy is aware, part of the review included a school survey to inform the updating of the existing Guidelines. The survey was issued to patron bodies of a sample of selected primary and post-primary schools for distribution. The survey invited schools to share their views on topics including: whether and how their school facilities are currently used by organisations other than the school, future plans for the use of school buildings and any current barriers encountered regarding the use of school buildings after hours. The responses to the survey were returned and analysed and have informed the review. Since the survey, further engagement has taken place with the stakeholders, patron bodies and other government Departments on the Procedures.
It is expected that the new Procedures will be published shortly and all schools will be notified of the changes.