Minister for Education Norma Foley TD, and Minister of State for Sport, Physical Education and the Gaeltacht, Thomas Byrne TD, today announced updated Procedures on the use of School Buildings and School Sports Facilities outside of School Hours.


The updated procedures highlight the value and importance of school buildings and school sports facilities being used outside of school hours.


The objective of these procedures is to build on the strong track record of schools opening facilities to local communities so that opportunities for facilitating access are maximised to the greatest extent possible. To encourage the greater use of such facilities, the Department of Education will provide schools with a guarantee that any income from after-school use of their facilities will not affect their State grants, capitation fees or any other form of departmental funding.



To broaden awareness and improve access to the facilities, the department is putting arrangements in place for information on schools willing to make their facilities available outside of school hours (or already doing so) to be available for local communities.


As part of the department’s centennial commemorations in October 2024, a showcase event is planned for schools who are making their facilities available to communities. This showcase event will highlight the impact of schools in local communities.


Minister Foley said:

“Many schools are already making their wonderful facilities available outside of school hours for the benefit of local communities. We want to encourage the use of our school buildings right throughout the week and the calendar year.”


Minister Byrne said:

“I strongly welcome the publication of these updated procedures and encourage their use within schools and local communities. As a Government, we are working to promote lifelong participation in sport and physical activity and maximising the use of school sports facilities, outside of school hours, is one such way of achieving this aim. School sports facilities are a very important resource and maximising their use outside of school life adds greatly to the sustainability of local communities.


The benefits of school buildings and school sports facilities being used outside of school hours include:

• Supporting the social fabric of community life through facilitating access to local facilities,

• Helping serve the need for new community facilities in areas where there has been a strong rollout of residential developments,

• Facilitating the provision of after-school childcare to support working families,

• Reducing potential transport emissions in line with the Government’s Climate Action Plan by giving local people access to local facilities rather than those located further away and

• Supporting an active and healthy lifestyle for communities in line with the Healthy Ireland policy.


The updated procedures have been developed following engagement with stakeholders in the education sector and relevant government departments. The procedures replace the ‘Guidelines on the use of School Buildings outside of School Hours’, which were issued in October 2017.


The updated procedures also clarify the steps necessary to establish a crèche or pre-school within an existing building or on the grounds of a school. While the primary purpose of schools is the provision of primary and post-primary education the department is supportive of the use of available school property by childcare providers if there is space available and it does not interfere with the day-to-day running of the school. Supporting the provision of after-school childcare is very important and is strongly encouraged.


The new procedures have built upon the previous guidelines and emphasise certain requirements including the need for legal arrangements to be put in place, insurance, and that the proposed out-of-school hours activities should not affect the future development of the school. Much of the information in the procedures is now in bullet point format and there are a set of checklists in the appendices to facilitate ease of use.


Schools are reminded to seek the permission of their patron before making school facilities available.