The Manx government is considering measures to alleviate capacity issues in the east.

The Education Minister told the House of Keys that her department was looking to review the current admissions policy and out of catchment application process.

It comes as concerns were raised over a lack of capacity in secondary schools in the east.

While Julie Edge said that the secondary schools in the east of the island – Ballakermeen and St Ninian’s high schools – had ‘sufficient capacity’.

She told the House of Keys that pupil populations, particularly in the secondary schools in the area were falling, citing that in 2021 Ballakermeen’s pupil population was 1,700, in 2022 it was 1,669 and the projected number for 2023 is 1,572.

However, she voiced concerns around primary school capacity in the region.

She said: ‘There is an urgent need for a primary school in the east. I have visited the schools in the area and Murray’s Road School [now Scoill yn Jubilee’s junior school] is in need of work or replacements very soon.

‘Henry Bloom Noble School has only been built for five years and already it is at capacity.

‘We are looking at the postgraduate centre behind that and making a business case to increase their capacity by utilising that for the students in year six.’

She said that an infrastructure needs assessment, to decide how all schools should be configured in the east, is under way.

Ms Edge said: ‘It is a policy to look at the east as a whole and make sure that we come forward with the right strategy for infrastructure in the area.

She told the House of Keys that the department is looking closely at the Park Road site, which was allocated for a school, to see where the best place for a new primary school would be in the east.

Ms Edge said: ‘The Park Road site was deemed too small for the two form entry that we needed as it was just a single form entry school, this is why we need to do a full strategic approach.

‘Some of the schools in the estates that were developed in the Braddan area have plenty of capacity.

‘To pop a school up because there is a development is not the right way forward, we need to do this overall strategic review and come up with the right solution.

Other possibilities that she mentioned were adding a wing at Bemahague [St Ninian’s lower school in Onchan], as well as a site at Braddan being earmarked for a new school, which is currently in the planning stages.

She also said that the sixth form sector is a consideration in terms of a regional approach to ensure there is sufficient capacity.

Ms Edge added: ‘The department continues to work closely with our head teachers to come to a longer term solution to resolve the issues around pupil numbers in the east.

‘However, it is acknowledged that this is not a quick fix for this issue.

‘Broader discussions will involve a number of key stakeholders and if necessary, we will go to public consultation prior to any resolution being finished.’