CSSC has set out details in relation to area planning below. Please select relevant section for further details.
CSSC participates in Department of Education (DE) and Education Authority (EA) planning processes for the school's estate through engagement in area planning, representing the interests of the controlled sector.
Mark Baker, Chief Executive, is CSSC’s representative at Area Planning Steering Group
Jayne Millar, Head of Education Support is the representative at Area Planning Working Group, and;
Schools' Support Officers represent CSSC at Area Planning Local Group meetings for Locality North, Locality East and Locality South-West.
The Policy for Sustainable Schools sets out the Department of Education’s vision for education provision and outlines six criteria and associated indicators which provide a framework to support schools in considering their viability.
The six criteria are:
- quality educational experience
- stable enrolment trends
- sound financial position
- strong leadership and management by boards of Governors and Principals
- strong links with the community.
Schools will, through regular and robust self-evaluation, identify areas for development in line with preparing and maintaining a School Development Plan. It is good practice for schools to consider their sustainability in the context of the Sustainable Schools Policy. This will ensure that schools are aware of emerging issues or trends and are able to take relevant action at the earliest opportunity to address patterns pertaining to sustainability.
The Department of Education has developed a User Guide for the Policy for Sustainable Schools. This Policy for Sustainable Schools' guide highlights the main issues that schools need to be familiar with and can be accessed here.
Your Schools' Support Officer is able to discuss and offer support in relation to any questions you may have about your school’s sustainability.
The Department of Education’s Area Planning guidance seeks to provide an overview of Area Planning for those involved in the process to deliver the aims and objectives of the “Schools for the Future – A Policy for Sustainable Schools” (SSP) with particular emphasis on delivering the Ministerial priorities.
The Area Planning Guidance for 2022-2027, includes information on two new processes to support effective Area Planning:
1 - Resetting for Area Planning
2 - Normalising School Admissions and Enrolments Pilot
In August 2021, the Education Minister outlined the Department of Education’s priorities to inform the development of the Strategic Area Plan for 2022-2027. To support this process DE published a Sustainability Baseline Report (SBR) in August 2021 outlining the key issues for consideration for each Local Government District. The SBR includes an analysis of current provision, data on enrolment thresholds and the financial position for schools by management type. Click here to access the Sustainability Baseline Report for your LGD. The SBR for each LGD informed the work of APSG, APWG and APLG in determining priorities under the Area Plan. It has now been updated using the 2021/22 school census data. Click here for the Sustainability Baseline Report 2021/22 Update | Department of Education
The Special Schools Area Planning Framework (October 2021) sets out how the Education Authority proposes to deliver special school provision in Northern Ireland for children and young people with special educational needs. It aims to deliver flexible and agile specialist provision to ensure children and young people with a statement of special educational needs, which recommends placement in a special school, will have access to the most suitable placement which: -
- is available at their nearest suitable special school;
- provides pupils with equitable access to excellent provision and meets the individual needs of the child or young person;
- is either in a single 3-19 school or through collaborative 3-19 provision;
- is responsive to changing educational, physical and medical needs.
The Framework for Specialist Provision in Mainstream Schools (October 2021) seeks to deliver flexible and agile specialist provision to ensure that children and young people with a statement of special educational needs, which recommends placement in a small group setting, will have access to the most appropriate SEN placement which: -
- is available at their nearest suitable mainstream school with specialist provision;
- provides pupils with equitable access to excellent provision which meets the individual needs of the child or young person;
- provides a pathway of provision for all ages and stages of development;
- is responsive to changing educational, physical and medical needs;
- is inclusive, providing opportunities for education alongside mainstream peers.
The framework documents are high level, strategic, documents, which have informed the creation of the five year Special Education Strategic Plan for provision in special schools and specialist provision in mainstream schools.
The Strategic Area Plan and Special Education Strategic Area Plan set out the strategic direction for how the future educational needs of children and young people will be addressed through area solutions, consistent with relevant policies and Ministerial priorities. The Education Authority developed both Strategic Area Plans in partnership with the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools, the Controlled Schools’ Support Council and other sectoral bodies, the Catholic Schools’ Trustee Service, Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta, Governing Bodies Association, Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education and Transferor Representatives’ Council.
While the Strategic Area Plan 2022-2027 – Planning for Sustainable Provision builds upon the work of the first Strategic plan, Providing Pathways (2017-2020 extended to 2022) the Special Education Strategic Plan 2022-27: Planning for Special Education Provision is the first regional plan to focus on creating sustainable special education provision.
The Operational Plans will translate the vision of both Strategic Area Plans into area planning actions which will be explored through short and medium term workstreams. Where previously the Operational Plan was entitled the Annual Action Plan, going forward, as part of the arrangements for a five year strategic plan, actions to deliver the Strategic Area Plan will be outlined in biennial Operational Plans (OP) which will be prepared as follows: -
- OP1 – Years 1 and 2 – 2022 - 2024
- OP2 – Years 3 and 4 – 2024 - 2026
- OP3 – Year 5 – final actions to deliver AP – 2027
The Operational Plan is the outworking of the deliberations of the Area Planning Local Groups and details the key issues and associated actions for each school within the 11 Local Government Districts and will deliver on the:
- Ministerial Priorities including opportunities for innovative and creative working
- Sustainable Schools Policy
- Special Schools Area Planning Framework
- A Framework for Specialist Provision in Mainstream Schools
- Strategic Area Plan 2022-27- Providing for Sustainable Provision
- Special Education Strategic Area Plan 2022-27 - Providing for Special Education Provision.
Schools may feature in the Operational Plan for a number of reasons which include the following:
- sustainability issues – there is a need to consider a reduction in the admissions and enrolment numbers of a school or in some cases discontinuance of provision
- there is a need to increase the admissions and enrolment numbers of a school to meet local need
- the school represents a solution to sustainability issues in the area
- there is a need to establish specialist provision in mainstream schools to meet identified need
- a school may wish to transform to integrated status
- there may be a need to establish new Irish-Medium provision
- there is a need to reconfigure post-16 provision in an area to give pupils equitable access to Entitlement Framework pathways
- a Shared Education solution has been identified to achieve sustainability in an area.
When a controlled school has been identified in the Operational Plan, the Education Authority will initiate consultation with the Board of Governors, staff and parents to explore possible options for the school which may then lead to the publication of a Development Proposal. Your CSSC Schools' Support Officer is available to discuss any aspect of the process.
Your Schools' Support Officer can support your participation in estate planning processes and can be contacted to discuss any questions or concerns you may have in relation to sustainability issues or any development opportunities you may be considering for your school which relate to estate planning.
CSSC Schools' Support Officers attend the Area Planning Local Groups (APLG) where issues for a specific area or proposed actions for a specific school are discussed.
APLG meetings are organised according to the respective Locality Areas - Locality North, Locality East and Locality South-West.
Your Schools' Support Officer can ensure that you are fully informed of the area planning process and what to expect if your school is included in the Operational Plan. CSSC can support you to participate fully in this process and ensure that you are aware of the different opportunities available to make your views known about a specific proposal for your school. CSSC can meet with the Principal and, if requested, the Board of Governors to support schools in this process.
A Development Proposal (DP) is required under Article 14 of the Education and Libraries [NI] Order 1986 before any significant change can be made to a school. The changes proposed must align with the current Strategic Area Plan and Operational Plan for education provision.
The Development Proposal process includes pre-publication consultation, a process which seeks the views of those most directly affected by the draft proposals and will include the Board of Governors, staff, pupils and parents of the named school and also local schools in the area. At pre-publication consultation a draft case for change is published outlining the proposed action and associated area planning impact. This publication typically commences an eight week consultation period. Pre-publication consultation for education provision in the integrated sector may be subject to a shorter timeframe of four weeks due to the relevant legislation.
CSSC recommends that the Board of Governors, staff, parents and other members of the school community respond to the proposals outlined in a draft case for change at pre-publication consultation. These proposals may relate specifically to your school or for a school in the local area. Where there is potential for a proposal to have a detrimental impact on your school community it is important that you make your views known and provide supporting evidence where appropriate. It is equally important to respond if you are in support of the proposal.
CSSC will submit a consultation response at pre-publication stage to the Education Authority (EA) to every proposal that relates to a controlled school and to those proposals which relate to a school in another sector which have the potential to impact on a controlled school or the sector as a whole. Pre-publication consultation is followed by a decision by the proposer as to whether or not to progress to formal publication of the proposal. For controlled schools this decision is made by the EA.
When a Development Proposal (DP) is published, the Department of Education (DE) undertakes a further consultation process. The consultation period will be two months but on occasions may be increased due to extenuating circumstances.
Responses at this stage of the process are submitted to the Department of Education (DE). It is important to respond directly to DE as your response at pre-publication stage will be noted in the pre-publication consultation summary but not represented in detail.
If your school is involved in a process that leads to the publication of a Development Proposal your Schools' Support Officer can advise you of what to expect and how you can support your school community in understanding the process and making their views known. It is equally important to respond in support of a proposal as it is to object to a proposal.
Before submitting a response to DE during the statutory two month consultation CSSC recommends that you consider any new information which may have become available during the pre-publication consultation. If there is no additional information and circumstances have not changed there may be no need to change the content of your pre-publication response but you do need to submit it again at this stage of the process to ensure that your views are considered by DE.
CSSC makes a response, both at pre-publication consultation and following publication of a Development Proposal, to every proposal that relates to a controlled school and also to those proposals which relate to a school in another sector but have the potential to impact on a controlled school or the sector as a whole.
CSSC responses are informed by engagement with the named controlled school and those schools in the local area which may be affected by the Development Proposal.
The Education Minister is responsible for the decision to approve a Development Proposal or otherwise. These are published on the Department of Education’s website together with the DE Official’s submission to the Minister.
If a significant change is necessary for your school a Development Proposal will be required. Such changes may include an increase/decrease in admissions and enrolments, the introduction of specialist provision, changes to post-16 provision or transformation to controlled integrated status or changes to post-16 provision.
Your Schools' Support Officer will be able to consider your school’s requirements, the local context and any other relevant evidence. CSSC representation at Area Planning Local Group meetings facilitates discussion of valid proposals with the managing authority and other sectoral support bodies.
If a proposal for a local school is likely to have a detrimental impact on your school it is essential that the school and its community respond outlining concerns, the anticipated impact on the school, supported with evidence. Your Schools' Support Officer will be able to discuss the proposal with you and offer appropriate advice and guidance which will support you to participate in the consultation process.
If you are in support of a proposal for a local school and have not identified any detrimental impact for your school community, CSSC recommends that you submit a response indicating your support for a proposal which may be beneficial to the children and young people of a neighbouring school.
Schools should note and communicate to governors, staff, parents and members of the school community that a response must be submitted at both pre-publication and formal consultation stage. At pre-publication the response is submitted to and considered by the Education Authority while at formal consultation stage the response is submitted to the Department of Education.