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Area Planning

Area Planning

In April 2017, the Education Authority (EA) published Providing Pathways - Strategic Area Plan for Schools 2017-2020. It is the first ever strategic area plan for Northern Ireland. The plan identifies the challenges for the education system throughout each Local Government District (LGD) area.

The challenges include reducing or increasing the number of available places in schools, matching provision to population trends, addressing school provision which is not sustainable and improving the quality of provision.

In some areas of Northern Ireland there are too many school places for the size of the population, while in other areas, there are not enough places. Area planning aims to establish a network of viable schools that are of the right type, the right size, located in the right place, and have a focus on raising standards.

Therefore, the aim of area planning is to ensure that all pupils have access to a broad and balanced curriculum in sustainable, fit-for-purpose schools.

EA, in partnership with the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools, Controlled Schools’ Support Council, Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta, Governing Bodies Association, Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education, Catholic Schools’ Trustee Service and the Further Education sector publishes an annual action plan to identify area planning solutions within each LGD.

Providing Pathways - Strategic Area Plan for Schools 2017-2020 and the 2017-18 Annual Action Plan can be downloaded at the links below.

Further information on Area Planning can be viewed on the Department of Education's website:

The Sustainable Schools Policy can be viewed on DE’s website:


The Education and Library Boards (ELBs) were dissolved on 31 March 2015. The Education Authority was established on 01 April 2015 and is now responsible for all of the operational functions previously carried out by the five ELBs in accordance with the Education Orders.

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