Dáil Éireann - Volume 523 - 11 October, 2000

Written Answers. - Sports Facilities.

297. Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Education and Science the plans he has to develop sport in primary and secondary schools; if, where new schools are proposed, he will liaise with the Department of Tourism, Sport and Recreation to ensure that national lottery funding is made available to provide proper sporting facilities for such developments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21687/00]

Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): The promotion of sport and the development and enhancement of sports facilities in schools is a priority for me and I have already announced a number of initiatives in this area.

As a consequence of increased levels of funding for school accommodation, which this Government has provided since taking up office, [1879] all major capital projects at both primary and second level schools require the provision of adequate sporting facilities. This extends to the provision of both physical education halls/general purpose areas and the provision of hard play areas and, where site conditions allow, playing pitches.

While the nature of sporting facilities provided for second level schools is suited for use by the wider community after school hours, ultimately this is a matter for determination by the management authorities of schools. Similarly, a request to enhance sporting facilities at a school through lottery funding is a matter for individual school authorities in conjunction where necessary with local communities and sporting organisations.

The importance of physical education is highlighted in the revised primary curriculum and in this context I am putting in place new arrangements for promoting sport and physical education in primary schools.

I am providing a new scheme of grants for the development of sports and the promotion of healthy lifestyles in primary schools. At an initial cost of £2 million per annum, the scheme will involve an annual grant of £1,000 for each primary school in a disadvantaged area and £500 for all other primary schools. This grant will be used for coaching, mentoring and equipment. Detailed information on the new scheme will be sent to all primary schools in the coming weeks.

I am also appointing a new national sports co-ordinator for primary schools. The national co-ordinator, assisted by a number of assistant co-ordinators, will have the brief of raising the awareness of sports and healthy lifestyles throughout our schools nationally. I am establishing a national steering group to oversee this project and arrangements are currently under way to put in place an appropriate structure for this project.