Preschool Services

Questions (30)

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

30. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason for his apparent policy of facilitating public primary schools for extensions in respect of early childhood care and education rooms in view of the consequent displacement of a significant number of community and private childcare facilities which exist, many of which have been funded under the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11764/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As already indicated to the Deputy in response to her question on 25th February last, my Department does not have a policy of encouraging schools to set up preschool services in competition with services that have been funded through the EOCP or its successor programme. If the Deputy knows of schools where this has occurred, perhaps she could bring them to my attention.

Student Grant Scheme Reform

Question No. 32 answered with Question No. 19.

Questions (31)

Martin Ferris

Question:

31. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide an update on proposals to include productive assets, such as farmland, as part of the assessment for third level grant eligibility; and if he will respond to the views expressed by the Irish Farmers’ Association which has described the methodology for inputting additional household income based on asset values of €750,000 as completely flawed and a proposal that will arbitrarily discriminate against farm families. [11748/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I have met with the Farmers' representative bodies and I am aware of their concerns. However, no decision has been taken on the treatment of productive farm or other business assets for student grant purposes. The up to date position is that I have received a draft report from the capital assets test implementation group. The report is currently under consideration and I will be consulting further with my Cabinet colleagues in the matter in the coming weeks.

The Deputy will appreciate that, until a collective Cabinet decision has been taken, it is not possible to say what assets may be included in any new means testing arrangements for student grants or to provide a basis for their inclusion. The Deputy can be assured, however, that the objective of a capital assets test is not to exclude any sector from availing of a grant but rather to fairly and equitably target scarce resources at those most in need of one. This means that farmers or, indeed, any other category of person whose income and assets fall below a certain level and cannot afford to send their children to third level would still continue to receive State support – while those who can afford to pay, would have to do so.

Question No. 32 answered with Question No. 19.

Schools Numbers

Question No. 34 answered with Question No. 19.

Questions (33)

Micheál Martin

Question:

33. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of two teacher primary schools that currently have 20 students or less enrolled; the patronage details for these schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11983/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The information requested is set out in the following table.

Number of Two Teacher Primary Schools that have 20 Students or Less Enrolled 2011/2012 (refers to mainstream schools only)

Religion

Number of Schools

CATHOLIC

69

CHURCH OF IRELAND

13

MULTI DENOMINATIONAL

1

PRESBYTERIAN

3

86

Source: National School Annual Census

Question No. 34 answered with Question No. 19.

Schools Numbers

Questions (35)

Michael McGrath

Question:

35. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of two teacher primary schools that currently have 21 or more but less than 26 students enrolled; the patronage details for these schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11985/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The information requested is set out in the following table.

Number of Two Teacher Primary Schools That have between 21 and 25 Students Enrolled 2011/2012 (refers to mainstream schools only)

Religion

Number of Schools

CATHOLIC

42

CHURCH OF IRELAND

8

MULTI DENOMINATIONAL

0

PRESBYTERIAN

2

52

Source: National School Annual Census

Adult Education

Questions (36, 58)

Derek Keating

Question:

36. Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to develop adult education or courses in further education for those who have left school early or those who are changing careers due to the economic crisis; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there are already excellent back to school and or back to college courses available via vocational education committees and community colleges of education (details supplied); if he will consider reviewing his policy and developing a major programme of course development particularly for those who are on the long-term unemployment register or for those who find themselves at home due to various circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12001/13]

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Derek Keating

Question:

58. Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there are already excellent back to school and back to college courses available via vocational education committees and community colleges of education; if he will consider reviewing his policy and developing a major programme of course development particularly for those who are on the long-term unemployment register or for those who find themselves at home due to various circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12002/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 36 and 58 together.

In 2013 my Department will fund up to 430,000 education and training places across the range of provision in the higher education, further education and training sectors. The Government's objective in this area is to raise the educational and skills levels of adult learners, particularly among the unemployed, in areas where employment opportunities are emerging. The Government has introduced a number of initiatives such as MOMENTUM, Springboard and ICT skills to address the specific skills needs of enterprise and to support jobseekers, with emphasis on the long term unemployed and young unemployed people. SOLAS, the new education and training authority will be tasked to develop a clear strategy for the Further Education and Training sector that is consistent with policy in this area to enable informed prioritisation of scarce resources by my Department and its agencies.

I am aware of the wide range of self funded evening classes provided by Voluntary Secondary, Community and Comprehensive and VEC schools across Ireland for adults of all ages. The Action Plan for SOLAS includes a commitment to undertake a review of the nature and extent of self-funded adult education evening classes delivered by VECs.

Schools Administration

Question No. 38 answered with Question No. 22.

Question No. 39 answered with Question No. 19.

Questions (37)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

37. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which he has had discussions with the various boards of management in the context of maintaining the widest possible availability and accommodation for the smaller rural schools of all denominations; the extent to which pooling of resources is likely to be invoked in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11886/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Government recognises that small schools are an important part of the social fabric of rural communities. They will continue to be a feature of our education landscape. In these extremely challenging times, all public servants are being asked to deliver our public services on a reduced level of resources and teachers in small schools cannot be immune from this requirement. How best to sustain provision for widely dispersed and small local communities does present as a particular challenge, especially in any locality where enrolment is declining to single figures. The Government is intent in fostering pluralism in school provision. Supporting small communities including minorities in maintaining their schools is part of that policy.

The value for money review of small primary school provision is at an advanced stage of preparation. I expect to publish the review and I look forward to debating its findings at that stage. My Department and I will continue to engage with the relevant education sector stakeholders in relation to education provision for all areas.

Question No. 38 answered with Question No. 22.
Question No. 39 answered with Question No. 19.