HL Deb 22 July 2004 vol 664 cc67-8WA
Lord Laird

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by the Lord President on 12 July (WA 116) concerning school funding in Northern Ireland, how many primary and secondary schools seeking funding have been turned down since 1990 because they did not meet the relevant intake criteria; how many were granted funding without meeting the relevant intake criteria; and, in each case, which schools were involved. [HL3819]

Baroness Amos

The department is aware of nine instances of development proposals for new schools turned down because the schools failed to meet the viability criteria—two secondary schools and seven primary schools. Records relating to the establishment of integrated schools prior to 1995 are no longer available.

The schools concerned are listed on the attached Appendix A.

In all but the two most recent cases, the viability criteria was achieved eventually and a subsequent development proposal was successful.

There were only two schools which received funding without strictly meeting the full criteria. An explanation for these is in Appendix B.

Primary Schools
Year turned down School Subsequent proposal
2004 Gaelscoil an Lonnain, Belfast
2004 + Lir Integrated PS, Ballycastle

Year turned down School Subsequent proposal
1998 Gaelscoil Ui Neill, Coalisland Approved from Dec 2000
1996 and 1997 +Oakwood Integrated PS Approved from Dec 1998
1995 Bunscoil an Iuir, Newry Approved from Oct 1996
1995 Bunscoil an tSleibhe Dhuibh Approved from August 1996
1995 Bunscoil Ben Mhadagain Approved from Apr 1997
+ reasons for non-approval in these two cases related to the adverse effect on the enrolments at another nearby school and uncertainty about long-term demand and religious balance.

Secondary Schools
Year turned down School Subsequent proposal
1997 *Strangford Int College Approved from Dec 1998
1997 and 1998 *East Antrim (Ulidia) Int College Approved from Sept 2000
*Although viability was a factor in these schools not being approved, they also were unable initially to demonstrate the "potential to sustain a minimum religious balance of 30:70 within a long-term enrolment of 500".


Schools which received funding without fully meeting the viability criteria

(i) In 1996, Meanscoil Feirste, the only Irish-medium post-primary school in Northern Ireland, was awarded grant-aided status, although it did not achieve the required intake. There was however firm evidence from the school's previous intakes and the growth in the Irish-medium primary school sector that the school would shortly achieve the level of enrolments and that these would be sustainable.

(ii) In 2002, Bunscoil Bheanna Boirche, an existing independent Irish-medium primary school in Castlewellan, was approved for funding with a year-one intake of 10 instead of 12. The decision was taken on the basis that the school had just fallen short of the minimum but had 12 pre-school children in the attached pre-school unit. The school at the time also had a total of 32 children of compulsory school age already attending.