General Information on School Accommodation
While much progress has been made on modernising school buildings over the past number of years, INTO continues to stress that adequate investment needs to be maintained to compensate for decades of underspending in this area. The level of demand is such that, even though progress has been made with many projects, some schools have been waiting for a number of years for funding for new buildings, additional accommodation and/or refurbishment.
Currently priority for capital funding from DES is given to new and existing schools serving rapidly developing areas. Birth rates are soaring. The current demographic position requires a contiuation of the school building programme to meet projected demand for school places.
The five year building plan announced in 2011 will come to an end in 2016 and a new programme (2016 to 2021) will commence. Annual programmes run in conjunction with the longer term programmes. Details are available on www.education.ie under School Building and Design.
Information on the current status of projects is posted on the DES website and is updated on a regular basis.
Role of Planning and Building Unit – Department of Education and Skills
The Planning and Building Unit is responsible for planning education accommodation provision and managing the capital funding allocated by the Government each year for upgrading, replacing and expanding school and third level college buildings and infrastructure. This includes the purchase of sites, provision of new buildings, (including furnishing and equipping) and extending and refurbishing existing buildings.
For further information contact The Planning and Building Unit, Department of Education and Skills, Portlaoise Road, Tullamore, Co Offaly or visit www.education.ie.
A Freephone no. for queries regarding Small Schools Scheme, Permanent Accommodation Scheme or Summer Works Scheme is usually made available on application forms for these schemes.
Information available from School Planning/Building section of DES website
The following information is available from the School Planning/Building section of www.education.ie.
- Details of the DES Building Programme.
- Details of grants available for building projects.
- Contact details for Planning and Building Unit.
- Application Forms for grant aid.
- Information regarding devolved schemes.
- Criteria in relation to prioritisation of school building projects.
- Information regarding advertisement and tendering of school building projects.
- Details of Grant Scheme for Minor Works.
- Design Guidance.
- Technical guidance documents.
- Information regarding recognition of new primary schools.
Following consultations with INTO and the other education partners in relation to prioritisation criteria for building projects to ensure that they have the optimum precision and are fully tuned to meeting priority accommodation needs, prioritisation bands were agreed with DES and published on the DES Website.
Asbestos Remediation Programme
In 1999, the DES commissioned the Office of Public Works (OPW) to undertake a survey of all schools to ascertain the position relating to asbestos containing materials (ACMs). Every school authority was issued with a written report of the results of this survey outlining the locatoin of asbestos materials, if any, in their school./ This report should be on the school's helath and safety fiule.
Prior to the commencement of any building/demolition/refurbishment works it is essential that, once appointed, the project supervisor/project consultant reviews the school's health and safety file to establish if asbestos is present. Where a school has a specific asbestos issue, it can apply under the Emergency Works Programme for funding. An information article on asbestos was publshed in the June 2015 issue of InTouch.
If a building project is planned for your school it is important that this survey has been carried out beforehand.
Management of Asbestos
A Code of Practice for Management of Asbestos Materials in Schools has been published by the Office of Public Works.
See this link for more information.
Radon Remediation Programme
In 1998 the DES commissioned the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) to conduct a survey of radon levels in all primary and post-primary schools. The objective of the survey was to assess the distribution of radon in Irish schools and to identify those requiring remedial work to reduce radon exposure and children and staff. A workplace Reference Level of 400 Bq/m3 is set down in national legislation. However, in the case of schools, the RPII recommended that, wherever possible, radon concentrations should be reduced to below 200 Bq/m3. The programme is 100% funded by the DES.
Radon can enter a school from the ground through small cracks in floors and through gaps around pipes or cables. Schools in some parts of the country are more likely to have a radon problem - see interactive map at epa.ie/radiation/radonmap.
The Department of Education currently fund radon testing work and any remediation work required. See www.education.ie.
Management of Mould
As part of ongoing Health and Safety management in schools the State Claims Agency commissioned a survey of mould in a sample of school buildings. The primary purpose of the survey was to quantify the extent of building contamination by mould and to recommend appropriate action. Using the survey findings, the State Claims Agency prepared guidelines for school management authorities, principals and school maintenance/clearning staff. These guidelines and more information regarding the removal of mould is available here. See also Circular 0088/2006 for more details.
Energy Rating Certificate
Since January 1st 2009 all non-domestic buildings being constructed, rented or sold require a Building Energy Rating Certificate which is based on the building's potential energy performance assuming standard occupancy. Public Buildings are dealt with slightly differently. These buildings require a Display Energy Certificate (DEC) which is based on the operational performance of the building as recorded by meter readings.
The metered performance is then compared to benchmark data for school energy use. This benchmark figure is adjusted for location, hours of use and period of measurement and subsequently converted to primary energy figures. The ratio of the primary energy required by the school to the primary energy required by this benchmark building is the source of the DEC rating.
Full details are available on www.energyineducation.ie
DES Guidelines on the Protection of School Building Services Systems
In Novemeber 2011 the Department of Education and Skills issued guidelines on the protection of school building services systems in cold weather.
Updated: July 2016