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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 6 Oct 2015

Vol. 891 No. 3

Other Questions

Question No. 126 replied to with Written Answers.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Jonathan O'Brien


127. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if she is aware that parents in County Cork are finding it difficult to access mainstream secondary school places for their children with autism, in view of the unavailability of resources at a school (details supplied) in County Cork; and if she will set out her plans to rectify the lack of mainstream places for children with autism as a matter of urgency. [33939/15]

Is the Minister aware of the issues relating to access to mainstream education for pupils with autism in Cork city - as opposed to County Cork, as stated in the question?

I thank Deputy O'Brien for his question. The National Council for Special Education, through its network of local special educational needs organisers, is responsible for processing applications from primary and post-primary schools for special educational needs supports, including the establishment of special classes in various geographical areas as required. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.

The NCSE has advised that it is aware of a growing need for post-primary provision for pupils with special educational needs in Cork and is actively liaising with schools in the area. I have been advised that the NCSE has not been informed by the schools in question of all of the issues raised by the Deputy. Clearly, if a school has concerns about the availability of supports for children with autism, the matter should be raised with the NCSE in the first instance. I have asked the NCSE to establish the position on the matter for me and to provide an update for the Deputy accordingly.

I thank the Minister for not naming the school, although I gave her the information - that would be unfair. I have raised the matter because I was talking to the parents of a young child who will go to secondary school next year.

The primary school he attends offers excellent services, but the secondary school they hope to enrol him in has, unfortunately, told them that it will not be able to take him, not because it cannot provide the resource hours but because it does not have a base room for children with autism. The school has a great reputation for dealing with children with autism, but because of a lack of resources, a growing population and the demand for places in post-primary mainstream schools for children with special educational needs, particularly autism, the need for base rooms in Cork is growing. If a school does not have room where pupils can have a timeout, it is reluctant to take such students. That is the current situation. Resource hours are not the issue; rather, the lack of rooms is preventing schools from taking the number of students they would like to take.

It is useful to have that information because I will not name the school. However, the information I have is that the NCSE is not aware of issues relating to the availability of a home room or resource hours in the school. We need to let it know that that appears to be the issue. There are now 625 special classes in mainstream schools nationwide for children with autism, 95 of which are for early intervention, 378 of which are in primary schools and 152 of which are in post-primary schools. There are 14 post-primary classes in Cork city, two of which opened this year. The Deputy has reported difficulties with a particular school. We need to advise the NCSE of the issue and it is to be hoped it can be resolved.

The information I have concerns schools within the city boundaries. There are only four places available for children with autism. This does not involve the allocation of resource hours, because I recognise that the Department will provide them where they are needed. As the Minister knows, for students with autism, the availability of a timeout, home room or base room - whatever way it is described - can be critical to whether a student can enrol in a school. It is my understanding that only four spaces are available in one school for those students who need them. The other two schools that provide such rooms can no longer enrol students because they have reached their quota and no longer have spaces available.

I refer to demographic changes, which were discussed earlier. It is difficult to try to identify the increased need for such rooms because we do not know how many students will have special educational needs in five years' time. Does the capital programme have a separate budget that has identified a need for resource or home rooms in particular schools? Will they be provided or will it be a case of everyone fighting for the same pot?

My information is that the other two schools that have autism units are full. With regard to the capital programme, as far as I know it does not contain a specific category of expenditure for the rooms to which the Deputy referred. Such rooms would be included in the general allocation. However, the intention is that that should not be an obstacle. Where autism units or special classes attached to schools are required, they should be provided. Generally, the Department actively seeks out schools that will take an autism unit and assist them in whatever way it can. It should not be an obstacle and perhaps we need to clarify that that is the problem in the school to which the Deputy referred.

School Accommodation Provision

Charlie McConalogue


128. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a decision on a preferred site for new school (details supplied) in County Donegal will be made; the reason for the delay in securing a site; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33955/15]

When will a decision on a preferred new site for a three-school college campus, Crana College, in Buncrana, County Donegal, be made? What is the reason for the delay in securing a site? Will the Minister update us on the progress in this regard?

As the Deputy is aware, technical inspection of a significant number of potential site options for the school accommodation to which he referred has been conducted by officials from my Department, working with officials from Donegal County Council. My officials are currently considering the findings of the assessment and, with the assistance of the local authority, are clarifying technical issues raised with a view to ensuring that a preferred site option can be advanced as soon as possible.

The Deputy will appreciate the importance of a thorough appraisal of site options in order to ensure the achievement of value for money. The complexity of the issues associated with the development of the site options under consideration, combined with competing demands on the Department's resources has meant that the appraisal has not been finalised. Once all options have been fully appraised, the officials will advance the acquisition of a preferred site for the school accommodation.

As the Minister of State and the Minister know, the proposed Crana College campus in Buncrana is to facilitate three schools. These include Crana College secondary school, which has more than 500 students and more than 11 prefabs onsite. It is not possible to turn these prefabs into permanent accommodation because the site does not have the capacity for further development. There is also Buncrana Gaelscoil, which was established in 1999 and has gone from strength to strength. At present it is accommodated in Buncrana Youth Club and has more than 180 students. The other school is Coláiste Chineál Eoghain, which is the only second level Gaelscoil in Donegal and which is housed in Tullarvan Mill.

Two days from today, it will be exactly a year since I raised this issue on the floor of the Dáil and the Minister, Deputy O'Sullivan, responded to me. The response I received from her on that day was more positive than what I received today. It is bad enough when a project stands still but it is worse when it seems to go backwards. This time a year ago the Minister, Deputy O'Sullivan, indicated to me it was her feedback and information that a site had been identified. Today, one year later, we are, according to the Minister of State's response, still assessing numerous sites. We need to progress this quickly. It is unacceptable that it is simply not moving forward. Will the Minister of State update me in his response as to why it has gone no further forward and when we can expect to see a site purchased so we can start to progress the project?

To be clear, a significant number of potential site options were identified by the local authority. It is the duty of the local authority to provide site options. The Department has investigated all of them as technical assessments were required. Most of the sites involve complex issues. It is often the case that a preferred site is identified but this changes after other options are examined. This is quite likely what has happened here.

It is a slow process. I have met some of the parents involved and it is important that we get the right site which will not have planning problems down the line and will not be delayed elsewhere. Funding was not there to build a school in the current five year plan because it was not deemed a priority area given demographic demand. Assessment for the next construction plan is under way and demographics in every area are being examined. The Deputy has said how important it is. The unit in the Department of Education and Skills is examining it and will make recommendations on the key priority areas. Separate and prior to this, work must be done to identify the best site, which takes time.

The Deputy asked how long the process will take. As I stated, it is complex and subject to completion of successful negotiation and conveyancing processes. Given the complexities involved it is not possible to give a definite timeframe for the completion of the acquisition. The officials will endeavour to bring the process to a conclusion as soon as possible. Everyone wants to pick a site so planning can continue. There will be no delay after a site is picked. It is important to get it right.

The process is no more complex than what the Minister of State and the Department are making it. In his response, the Minister of State said it is going slowly but the reason for this is how it has been handled. The Department asked Donegal Education and Training Board, ETB, to identify possible sites and recommend one. When this process concluded, the Department decided to start all over again and asked Donegal County Council to do the job instead. This is the fault of the Minister of State. It is his doing and his lack of organisation which has led to these delays and to it being complex. If the Department, the Minister of State and the Minister had their act together on this then whoever they wanted involved should have been so from the outset, such as Donegal County Council and the education and training board doing parallel assessments. While doing its assessment, Donegal ETB worked very closely with Donegal County Council but the Minister of State went back to the start. It is the Department, the Minister, the Minister of State and the Government who are stalling the project. We need to see it progressed.

Unfortunately, time is running out for this Government to demonstrate the required leadership because it only has three or four months left. The staff, students and parents of these three schools are suffering the daily frustration of working on sites that are not purpose-built schools.

From today, we would like to see real progress, with work completed at a preferred identified site. We want the Department to purchase such a site in order that the project can progress rather than go backwards, as we have seen, unfortunately, over the past 12 months.

With regard to the time involved, we have heard other questions about policy, time and planning matters as well. It is important that the right site is picked. Previous Administrations did not do that correctly, so it is right for the county council to be fully involved in picking the site.

Of course. No site is being picked.

I will not apologise for that. We put that reform in place and that is the way it should always have been. That was not always the case. When the site is picked, it will be the right site. That means it will not get delayed at other stages and we will be able to access the site with the correct infrastructure. It will be the right site for all the stakeholders. I have seen with previous Administrations how sites were picked for the wrong reasons. They were left for ten or 15 years, stuck in planning and so on, and that is not the way to do business. It is right that Donegal County Council has a leading role in picking this site with the Department. The right site will be picked and developed.

As I have said, we appraise the demographics of all these areas and prioritise schools according to urgency. That is how we have corrected the approach to urgency in providing spaces for children who want to attend primary school. The mess was left behind by other Administrations but we have corrected it. We now have a proper way of doing the planning element. It might be a little slow in the early stages but we eventually catch up when the right site is picked.

It is going nowhere.

Bullying in Schools

Bernard Durkan


129. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which her Department continues to monitor the level of school bullying at primary and second level schools; if particular issues have arisen which may benefit from specific attention; if traditional methods of dealing with the issue continue to be effective; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33936/15]

This relates to the extent and scale of school bullying and the degree to which existing procedures are adequate in dealing with the issue.

The Deputy will be aware that my Department published new anti-bullying procedures for all primary and post-primary schools at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year. The procedures are designed to give direction and guidance to school authorities and personnel in preventing and tackling school-based bullying behaviour among pupils. They include specific requirements on the use of prevention and education strategies and the consistent investigation, follow-up and recording of bullying behaviour. There is no requirement that schools report incidents of bullying behaviour to my Department. However, the procedures for schools include important new oversight arrangements that involve the school principal reporting regularly to the board of management and a requirement for the board to undertake an annual review of the school's anti-bullying policy and its implementation. Confirmation that the annual review has been completed must be provided to the parents' association and published on the school website.

Has the Minister had the opportunity to study the result of the reforms introduced and the effect they have had? Would it not be desirable to have schools report to the Department fairly regularly, with particular reference to the incidence of bullying in the respective schools?

We have been following up on finding out how parents and pupils feel about the anti-bullying procedures in schools. The information tells us there is a high degree of confidence among both parents and children with respect to what schools are doing to have a positive anti-bullying climate and responding where there are incidents of bullying. We monitor it in that way. For example, 98% of parents of primary school children and 93% of parents of post-primary school children are satisfied that their children feel safe in school. The response from students is somewhat similar to those percentages. We are aware there may be a small minority of schools that are still struggling to have good anti-bullying policies and responses. We must watch those, and we can use the school inspectorate and other ways to follow up. Generally speaking, the responsibility in how schools do their business goes through the board of management and principal. We have oversight with general procedures but, as I mentioned, we do not require them to report directly to us.

I thank the Minister. I return to the original theme of that question, namely, whether it might be desirable to have the schools report directly to the Department to ensure a universal application of the rules. Have any comparisons been made between the number of incidents reported in each of the past three or four years with a view to measuring the number of incidents after the new regulations were introduced? How many tragic incidents have occurred in schools which are deemed to have resulted from school bullying? Has a particular strategy been developed to address that issue?

The inspectorate has an important role here, as it visits schools, and the whole-school evaluation process includes procedures relating to bullying, so we have those measures in place. I do not have specific statistics for what incidents of bullying we would be made aware of. I can come back to the Deputy on that if there are specific figures. It is one of those areas we need to monitor constantly because we have to ensure that what is in place in such areas is effective with regard to new issues like cyberbullying, for example. The information we have is that bullying is bullying, irrespective of the medium, and the same kind of preventative measures and interventions work as much for cyberbullying as for the more traditional forms of bullying of which we would be aware. It is an area we must monitor constantly. I will come back to the Deputy on the specifics of numbers.

I will allow a brief supplementary question from Deputy Jonathan O'Brien.

I fully endorse what Deputy Durkan has said in respect of mandatory reporting. That is an important element that needs to be implemented in order that we can get a more accurate picture of the types of bullying and the age groups, cohorts and different incidents. When the Minister published the guidelines, one of the recommendations was to review those guidelines after two years to see if there was a need to introduce legislation. Has that review taken place and has the Minister considered making bullying policy a legislative matter?

Having the questions to parents and pupils is part of assessing the effectiveness of what is in place. I do not think the assessment of the guidelines has been completed, but I can get some timelines on that for the Deputy.

The Deputy who tabled Question No. 130 is not here.

Question No. 130 replied to with Written Answers.

State Examinations Reviews

Jonathan O'Brien


131. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the implementation of junior cycle reforms. [33940/15]

I am happy to wait for the Minister's response.

Since coming into office, I have engaged extensively with all education stakeholders on junior cycle reform, including negotiating with the leadership of the two teacher trade unions. In August, my Department published Framework for Junior Cycle 2015, which sets out the wide-ranging and necessary reforms to the junior cycle. Our purpose is to deliver a modernised curriculum across all subjects and to improve the learner experience significantly through high-quality classroom-based assessment and improved examinations.

I am determined to press ahead to ensure our schools properly meet the learning needs of students. I welcome the very clear endorsement of TUI members and I hope the ASTI will advance its process of clarification without delay in order that a resolution on its side can be achieved. In the meantime, we will proceed with implementation of an extensive programme of high-quality continuing professional development to upskill teachers in the new curriculum and assessment arrangements.

We are going back over a previous question by Deputy McConalogue. The issue, as Deputy McConalogue outlined, was that we got off to a bad start. The way the previous Minister went about trying to railroad junior cycle reform was counter-productive. It got people's backs up and there was a loss of trust with the Department. That was unfortunate because nearly all political parties in this Chamber support the concept of junior cycle reform. When the Minister came to office, she tried to rectify some of that and she has done that to a certain degree.

The fact that the TUI is now supportive of it is a recognition of the steps that have been taken by the Department but we still have a situation where one of the main stakeholders is opposed to what is being implemented by the Department. The Minister says she is determined to carry on with the implementation, but how realistic is it to carry on with that if she does not have the co-operation of one of the main stakeholders?

First, the response of the ASTI, despite the fact that there was a rejection by the majority of its members who voted, has been measured in so far as it has indicated that it may be clarification that is required. There may be issues on which its members need more information and I would prefer to give it the space to give them that clarification.

Having said that, it would be unfair on everybody else who is supportive of moving forward if we were to stall the process, and we have already commenced the process for students of English. My response is the correct one in the circumstances, that we will move forward. We will provide the continuing professional development, CPD, for those who are willing to come and have it, and it will be by way of whole school, subject specific seminars, seminars for school leaders, teacher-led CPD, school visits and online resources. There is a variety of ways in which teachers can access that CPD. I hope the ASTI will find that the clarification we are able to give will assist it in terms of dealing with the issue.

I hope the Minister is correct in her assessment that the clarification will be enough to secure the support of the ASTI.

There is a time issue here because we are coming to the end of this Government's term. Whether it is next month or in April, we have a finite amount of time to resolve this. We need to resolve it before we head into a general election because so much work has been put into it that we need to try and address it. We are already rolling out the English syllabus - my daughter is one of those students in first year who will be the first cohort of students to undertake the new junior cycle reform.

I would be cautious in saying that we can go ahead with the CPD for those who were in favour of it and that will buy us time, but it will only buy us a certain amount of time. Eventually, we will have to come to a position where either everyone will be on board or I do not know how feasible it will be for us to carry on with the implementation of it.

Certainly there is a time constraint, and it is not only the general election. Obviously, there are the assessments that must take place in 2016 as well and I am conscious of that aspect. I hope that we will be able to clarify the issues within the timeframe to ensure that there is no concern, in particular, on behalf of the students and their parents.

School Patronage

Charlie McConalogue


132. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress being made in providing a greater choice of school patronage to parents; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33954/15]

This is to ask the Minister the progress being made in providing parents with a greater choice of school patronage. As the Minister will recall, her predecessor, Deputy Quinn, indicated in 2012 that he hoped to see 50% of primary schools change their patronage, starting in that particular year. I am seeking an update in that regard.

The programme for Government gives a commitment to move towards a more pluralist system of patronage for schools. In this context, a forum on patronage and pluralism in the primary sector was established to look at how schools could cater for diversity and ensure an inclusive environment for all their pupils. Work is continuing on implementing the action plan arising from this forum, including advancing the patronage divesting process.

Under this process, which creates greater choice for parents in areas where there is not a demographic need for new school provision, eight new primary schools have opened and work is continuing to advance choices in the other identified areas. However, more needs to be done. I intend to reinvigorate the process to speed up divestment and to that end I intend to meet the Catholic bishops and the other patrons in the coming period.

In addition to divesting, in those areas where there is a demographic need for new schools, the arrangements introduced in 2011 place a strong emphasis on parental choice. Under this process, 20 new primary schools and 17 new post-primary schools have opened. Some 35 of these 37 schools have a multi-denominational ethos.

No doubt we need to encourage greater pluralism in patronage within the primary school system.

If one were starting today, one would not structure it this way, with 95% of schools under church patronage. In trying to achieve progress, it is important we do it in a way that moves things forward and is constructive. Unfortunately, the Government's approach, particularly that of the former Minister, Deputy Quinn, at the outset had the opposite effect. The former Minister outlined that he wanted 1,500 primary schools to change patronage. How many schools have changed patronage under the Government's oversight and stewardship? The Minister said she planned to meet church leaders over the coming weeks and months to try to progress the project and bring new life to it. How does the Minister see it happening and what needs to happen to achieve it?

Contrary to an article in The Irish Times today by Fintan O'Toole, which stated only one school had been divested, eight schools have been divested, namely, Tramore Educate Together national school, ETNS, County Waterford, Trim ETNS, County Meath, Malahide-Portmarnock ETNS, Kinsealy, County Dublin, Newtownwhite ETNS, Ballina, County Mayo, Canalway ETNS, Basin Lane, Dublin 8, Tuam ETNS, County Galway, New Ross ETNS, and Gaelscoil na Laochra, Birr, County Offaly. A significant number of the schools come under the new demographics. It is disappointing, and this is why I want to meet the bishops soon and find out whether there is anything we can do to assist the process and to identify the obstacles and difficulties. Much of the delay is probably due to the attachment people have to their local schools, given that it must be done on a voluntary basis. If there is any way we can assist, I would like to speed up the process.

"Disappointing" is a fair verdict on the progress. However, it is similar to the Government's approach to junior certificate reform and other key reform measures which the Government wanted to achieve. Unfortunately, the way the Government has gone about its business and tried to achieve reform in the education system has been counter-productive. It has been more about headlines and trying to gain a reputation in the media for being pioneering and reforming than about delivering it on the ground to students. The junior certificate reform failed to meet expectations due to the Government's approach. We must breathe new life into it. It is important that there be more plurality in the ethos of primary schools, and I urge the Minister to take up the baton again, with the church leaders, who have indicated that they are open to it, and move forward in a manner that tries to achieve real progress.

The Government is proud of being a reforming Government in education. My predecessor, Deputy Quinn, achieved a high level of reform during his time as Minister. He, like me, has been disappointed with the progress in this area. There has been more reform in education during the past four or five years than in the preceding decades. It is difficult to reform a system that has been developed in a certain way, and even the Deputy acknowledged that we would not start from here. It would be ideal if we could found the system from the beginning, given that it is so denominationally governed in terms of school patronage and this does not reflect the population as it is now. I want to move on it. It will be productive to meet the bishops in particular and the other patrons, and we will try to get some more energy and speed into the process.

The patronage divestment programme is important and we must focus on it continually. It is fundamentally wrong that schools that are oversubscribed and that have a particular religious ethos may discriminate against children who do not share the ethos.

I have met parents whose children are unable to attend their local schools because they have not been baptised and will not make their communion. They are from a different religious background and they are being forced to travel two hours to a school which is not oversubscribed. This could be easily resolved by amending section 7(3)(c) of the Equal Status Act 2000, which allows schools to discriminate against children who do not have a particular ethos. If we are serious about equality and about education, we should remove all the obstacles that prevent children from attending their local schools.

In addition to the equality legislation referred to by the Deputy, there is also a constitutional right to the protection of ethos. We have to operate within that constitutional provision.

The Government could change the Constitution.

That might be for another day.

Another referendum.

It could be considered in the lifetime of a future Government, but we are not proposing any constitutional change during the lifetime of this Government. I do not think there would be time now anyway. It is certainly an issue that will have to be addressed in the future. I hope to have the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2015 on the floor of the House, but as the Deputy has rightly said it is the equality legislation rather than the educational legislation that is the current constraint.

We are doing it for teachers but not for students.

As Deputy Terence Flanagan is not here, we will move on to Question No. 134.

Question No. 133 replied to with Written Answers.

School Accommodation Provision

Michael McGrath


134. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills her plans to address the substandard accommodation at a school (details supplied) in County Cork; if her Department plans to consolidate the infant school within the same site as the remainder of the school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33942/15]

I would like to raise an issue relating to a boys national school, Scoil Mhuire Lourdes, in Carrigaline. I acknowledge that there has been and is going to be a great deal of further investment in the education network in Carrigaline. Scoil Mhuire Lourdes, which is one of the oldest schools in Carrigaline, is split across two campuses. The junior and senior infant classes are on one site in Carrigaline and the rest of the school is on a different site at Ballea Road in the town. The main issue is that the quality of the accommodation is now seriously substandard. A great deal of patch work has been done in recent years. Money has been invested in that work. The school authorities want the school to be consolidated on a single site. I ask the Government to prioritise this project. I look forward to hearing what the Minister of State has to say.

The school referred to by the Deputy is situated on a split campus, with the senior school sharing a campus with another primary school. The school was approved funding under the prefab replacement scheme in 2012, but this funding has not been drawn down. The school authorities submitted an alternative proposal that involved the provision of all the proposed replacement accommodation on the senior school site, thereby rationalising provision from three sites to one. The Department advised the school authorities that it had no objection to their proposal and indicated that it was prepared to include a special needs provision to meet needs in the area. I want to make it clear that the school subsequently advised the Department that it was exploring amalgamation possibilities and the possible need for a new school building in that context. I now understand that the amalgamation option is not being proceeded with. The Department is engaging with the patron of both schools - it is the same patron for both schools - regarding how best to meet their long-term accommodation needs. My understanding is there has been a change of mind on the side of the schools and the Department is trying to determine exactly how it can make long-term provision in this case.

I thank the Minister of State. As he has said, the amalgamation option is now off the table because there has not been full agreement.

It is off the table.

The situation is unsatisfactory, not least because the school is based across two sites. Approximately 100 children between the ages of four and six are on one site. They cannot avail of many of the facilities on the second site because they cannot safely walk to that site. The school has opened a new ASD unit, which is on the site with the junior and senior infants. It is not ideal from the point of view of integrating those children into mainstream education. The most urgent aspect of this matter is the report the school has submitted to the Department raising serious health and safety concerns. In recent years, hundreds of thousands of euro have been spent doing patch work. The school has not drawn down the additional money for replacing prefabs because that is not a proper solution. The amalgamation is now off the table. The school authorities want the school to be on a single site. That should be the desired outcome from the Department's point of view. The Government is spending a great deal of money on a major education campus in Carrigaline involving a new Educate Together school and so forth. That is to be welcomed, but this school needs attention because the current situation is dangerous and is not the optimum situation for parents, staff and pupils.

The Deputy will appreciate that the Department has been very willing to work with what the schools wanted. Intentions have changed on a couple of occasions, which is grand and okay. The Department have been willing to facilitate that at all times. It stood back to allow time for the amalgamation to be developed, but that is not happening now. The facts have changed. I am glad the report is back in. The Department is now working on that basis and is happy to do so. It has tried at all times to cater for this. Money was provided for some solutions in 2012, but there was a change of mind. The Department is ready to work with a solution. I think everyone agrees that a single site would be ideal. The Department would agree with that as well. It is now a question of making it happen. That willingness exists on the Department's side. The matter now seems to be progressing from the school's side as well, which is helpful.

Can this project be considered as part of the forthcoming capital programme, which is due to be announced? The school authorities, board of management, parents and staff all want the school to be consolidated on a single site. The main site on the Ballea Road has the capacity to accommodate that. That is what those involved with the school want. That would include the new ASD classrooms that have been provided. There is great demand for those classrooms, which were badly needed. I know an announcement is due. I ask the Minister of State to examine urgently the case of Scoil Mhuire Lourdes in Carrigaline. I ask him to take a personal interest in the health and safety report that has been submitted, which includes photographs from a professional consultancy firm. It does not make for pretty reading.

Work is ongoing on the new construction plan. I wish I knew what is in it, but I do not. It would be useful for me to know. Every school is being looked at. The demographics are naturally most important when decisions are being made on ensuring accommodation is provided for those who need it. It is a question of meeting extra demand. The last five-year plan did quite well in matching supply to need. I think that has happened. The same logic will be applied to the next plan that will be announced. We hope that will happen in the coming months. The Minister has said that publicly and on the record. All schools, including the school highlighted by Deputy McGrath, are being looked at in that context. They will be prioritised appropriately to ensure the right decisions are made.