Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Irish-medium Schools

Education – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:15 pm on 2nd November 2009.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Carmel Hanna Carmel Hanna Social Democratic and Labour Party 2:15 pm, 2nd November 2009

2. asked the Minister of Education to outline the reasons for the delay in appointing a project manager for the building of Irish-medium schools which are on her Department’s capital build scheme, namely (i) Bunscoil an Iúir, Newry; (ii) Gaelscoil Uí Dhochartaigh, Strabane; (iii) Gaelscoil Éadaoin Mhóir in the Derry City Council area; and (vi) Gaelscoil Uí Néill, Coalisland; and to indicate when a project manager will be appointed. (AQO 275/10)

Photo of Caitriona Ruane Caitriona Ruane Sinn Féin

Is bunscoileanna faoi chothabháil stáit iad Bunscoil an Iúir, Gaelscoil Uí Dhochartaigh agus Gaelscoil Uí Néill, a bhfuil cóiríocht shealadach faoi bhun gnáthchaighdeáin acu faoi láthair. Aithníonn mo Roinn, mar sin, an riachtanas le hinfheistíocht caipitil a chur sna scoileanna sin. Tá foirne bainistíochta tionscadail do na scoileanna a gcur ar bun trí mholtaí mo Roinne sa chreat um sheirbhísí gairmiúla.

Bunscoil an Iúir, Gaelscoil Uí Dhochartaigh, Gaelscoil Éadaoin Mhóir and Gaelscoil Uí Néill are grant-maintained primary schools that are housed in temporary and substandard accommodation. My Department has recognised the need for capital investment in those schools, and project management teams are being procured through my Department’s new professional services framework. This is the first occasion on which project management teams have been procured for this sector through that framework. It took considerable time to develop the competition documentation and to decide on the make-up of the evaluation panel.

Several large projects that have been issued through the framework have required considerable input from my Department’s technical advisers. I am pleased to report that the competition documentation will be issued to the market by the Central Procurement Directorate (CPD) this week. Following assessment of the bids, the project management team will be in place by the end of December 2009.

Photo of Carmel Hanna Carmel Hanna Social Democratic and Labour Party

I thank the Minister for her answer. The delay has caused a lot of disappointment. Will the Minister comment on the procurement process, and will she ensure that there are no further delays and that there is a definitive timescale?

Photo of Caitriona Ruane Caitriona Ruane Sinn Féin

As I explained, CPD will issue the competition documentation to the market this week. I reiterate that this is the first time that the method has been used for Irish-language schools, and that is to be welcomed. The time allowed for the competition returns is three weeks, and that will be followed by assessment of the bids by an evaluation panel. It is good that schools that did not get their fair share in the past will now get the buildings that they deserve and need.

Photo of Francie Brolly Francie Brolly Sinn Féin

Go raibh míle maith agat, a Cheann­Comhairle. What criteria are used for the establishment of new schools?

Photo of Caitriona Ruane Caitriona Ruane Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat as an cheist sin. Tá beartas ginearálta ag an Roinn i dtaca le bunú scoileanna úra atá faoi chothabháil stáit.

The Department’s general policy on the establishment of new grant-aided schools is based on a significant demand from parents, which means minimum intakes to each class of 15 pupils in an urban area, defined as Belfast and Derry, and 12 pupils in a rural area.

The Irish-medium sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in the North of Ireland, and it has huge benefits for children who learn bilingually. I pay tribute to Irish-medium schools for the wonderful work that they have done for children in their care.