In his statement to the Assembly, on 26 September 2011, the Minister, John O’Dowd MLA, highlighted the need to move forward with the implementation of
the Sustainable School Policy and the process of strategic planning on an area basis.
The Minister has made it clear that, against the backdrop of an extremely challenging financial landscape in the coming years, progress on reshaping the
structure and pattern of education provision cannot be delayed. This work is at the core of the raising standards agenda which can only be delivered efficiently
and effectively through a network of sustainable schools. Until such times as the ESA is established the Minister has indicated that an area planning process be commenced.
The Area Planning process will result in an effectively planned, sustainable and affordable pattern of schools. This will ensure that we have the right type and size of
schools, in the right places, to meet the needs of our pupils and young people.
As a precursor to, and to inform the wider area approach to, planning the Education and Library Boards and CCMS, working in close conjunction with other sectors were tasked
with undertaking a viability audit of all schools to identify those schools which are evidencing stress now in relation to sustainable enrolment levels, delivery of quality
education and financial viability.
The viability audit identified those schools where action will need to be taken in the short term to protect the education of pupils. It will also support the development
of a detailed area profile based on current and relevant educational information which will be an essential part of the area planning process.
The SELB recognise that the viability audit process is not a static but a dynamic process which will continue to be updated in the light of new information as the area planning
The Viability Audit completed by the Southern Education and Library Board in association with the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools is available by clicking the link below.
Additional information on the Terms of Reference for the Viability Audit and Area Planning is available by clicking on the links below. Also below is the Minister's full speech to
the Assembly on 26 September 2011.