Minister for Education Norma Foley TD and Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan TD have today welcomed the publication of the National Development Plan 2021-2030 which provides capital funding of over €4.4bn for investment in school infrastructure during the period 2021 to 2025.
This rolling five-year funding envelope will be updated annually for the period 2026 to 2030 within the Government’s overall NDP funding envelope of €165 billion and will facilitate the continued building of a modern and sustainable school infrastructure.
This investment will build on the good progress being made on adding capacity to cater for demographic changes and provision for children with special educational needs, facilitate an increased focus on the modernisation of existing school stock and help transition the school system for an era of net zero carbon by 2050.
Minister Foley said: “Today’s announcement is further evidence of our strong commitment to investment in our school infrastructure right across Ireland. We are creating modern, welcoming environments in which children can comfortably and safely learn and discover, with facilities that meet their needs, and which support their futures.
“Advance planning and a strong rollout of school building projects is crucial to support the school system and ensure alignment with the Government’s Housing for All plan. This significant investment through the NDP allows us to move forward with certainty on our ambitious plans and deliver high quality building projects, with a real focus on sustainability, for school communities across Ireland.”
Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan TD said: “This next iteration of the National Development Plan delivers important advances for special education by investing in our school buildings and ensuring that more places are available for those who need them. As Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion, I along with my Government colleagues am committed to ensuring that our education system remains open and welcoming to students of all backgrounds and abilities.
“By investing in our school buildings we can ensure that school places and facilities for children with special educational needs are available in greater numbers of communities across the country. Our education system is not based on the principle of one-size-fits-all. Instead, each student’s individual talents and abilities are celebrated and fostered. Our commitment to special education is demonstrated in our increased investment in special education facilities as part of our school building programme. By ensuring the availability of more purpose-built facilities, we can improve long-term planning and the creation of new school places to promote inclusion, empowerment, and full participation in the school community.
“Advancing building projects that enable inclusion is crucial to achieving our goal of supporting every child within our school system to meet their potential. This investment will support building projects that truly meet our students’ needs, and enable modern, inclusive environments in our schools so that children and young people with special educational needs can participate fully.”
During the NDP period 2018-2020, 526 school building projects were completed under the Department of Education’s Large Scale and Additional Accommodation schemes. These projects delivered in excess of 48,000 school places, including permanent accommodation for 229 special classes and additional capacity for 67 classrooms in 14 special schools throughout the country.
Approximately 1,200 school building projects are currently in progress across the various stages of planning, design, tender and construction – most of which are expected to be either under construction or completed in the period 2021 to 2025. These projects, with a monthly status update, are listed on gov.ie
Over 200 of these projects are currently at construction, with most scheduled for completion in 2022. When completed these 200 projects will deliver over 30,000 school places.
As part of the roll out of school building projects, two flagship programmes for delivery on additional capacity and modernisation of schools are:
- the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA)-led devolved Design and Build Programme comprising 20 school building projects, primarily in the Eastern and Midland regions, which will be proceeding to construction over the course of 2022 and 2023, and
- the Department’s Design and Build Programme, which currently involves eight school building projects at construction and a further ten projects at tender stage which are scheduled to proceed to construction in Q1 2022.
The Ministers key priorities for the Department’s building programme during the NDP period 2021 to 2025 are:
- delivering an average of 150 to 200 school building projects annually to provide necessary additional capacity and support the modernisation of existing school facilities including as much as possible future proofing from a climate action perspective.
- proactively catering for the requirements of students with special educational needs with a particular emphasis at post-primary level
- a strengthened focus on refurbishment of existing school stock as part of underpinning the transition of the school system to an era of Net Zero carbon by 2050. This includes a school laboratory build and modernisation programme, a PE build and modernisation programme and the commencement and progression of a deep energy retrofit programme
- continuation of the embedding of digital technologies in teaching, learning and assessment.
As part of delivering on the climate action agenda, the Department of Education is working closely with the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications as part of the Schools Energy Retrofit Pathfinder Programme.
This Pathfinder programme is paving the way for, and informing a much larger national school programme for the energy retrofit of schools built prior to 2008. It is facilitating research on a range of typical retrofit options, which will have been tried and tested. It is providing valuable development information for a solution-driven delivery strategy which will be founded on a solid evidence base that has proven the robustness and scalability of renewable solutions within the schools’ sector.
This collaboration and research is helping to shape the future direction of energy efficiency in schools, and will continue to inform the strategy for the rollout of the Deep Energy Retrofit programme in parallel with continuation of maximising energy performance and renewable energy capability.
During the NDP period 2018-2020, 32 projects were completed under the jointly-funded pathfinder programme with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, testing and demonstrating energy efficiency and decarbonisation retrofit approaches. This year sees six schools undergoing deep retrofit (some on a phased basis) to a Building Energy Rating (BER) of B with renewable heating systems, with 3 additional schools at final design stage for delivery from Q4 this year. Work continues with developing the pathfinder programme for 2022 and 2023.
An extensive consultation process is currently underway on a new Digital Strategy for schools, which is due for publication before the end of 2021. This consultation, and learnings from the recent pandemic will inform the strategy, which will build on the previous Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020. The previous strategy was underpinned by a €210m investment, and the continued investment committed to under the NDP will ensure that the progress made can be advanced and expanded with the provision of appropriate infrastructure and supports for schools over the period of the next Digital Strategy.
Notes to Editors
- Link to capital tracker –https://www.gov.ie/en/collection/f828b-myprojectireland-interactive-map/
- The current status of these projects being delivered is listed on a county by county basis on www.gov.ie and is updated on a monthly basis to reflect their progress through the various stages.
- A copy of the National Development Plan is available at: https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/774e2-national-development-plan-2021-2030/