Schools Guidance Counsellors

Questions (40, 47)

Michael Moynihan

Question:

40. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide details of the number of guidance hours being provided at individual secondary schools for the current academic year following on from the removal of the ex-quota allocation for guidance counselling in budget 2012; if he is committed to monitoring the hours being provided in each school in future years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11989/13]

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Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

47. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills if, in view of the publication of the New National Guidelines on mental health and suicide prevention in post primary schools, which are designed to provide an enhanced framework to dissimilate information for schools and agencies supporting schools in mental health promotion and suicide prevention, the decision to withdraw the ex-quota allocation for school guidance counsellors undermines these efforts; and if he will reverse the cuts to school guidance counsellors.. [11750/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 40 and 47 together.

The guidelines on mental health promotion and suicide prevention are based on schools taking a co-ordinated whole-school approach to preventing and, where necessary, tackling these issues. This involves building and integrating school self-evaluation processes, implementing the SPHE curriculum, developing the whole-school guidance plan, adopting the NEPS continuum of support, and building effective inter-agency relationships. Schools have autonomy on how best to prioritise their available resources to meet the requirements in relation to guidance and the provision of an appropriate range of subjects to students. This operates at local school level. Therefore, my Department does not have the type of detail requested by the Deputy.

The representative organisations for school principals and management developed a framework that assists schools on how best to manage the provision of guidance from within their staffing allocation. This was a very positive and proactive response to a difficult budget decision. Initial findings of a recent comprehensive survey by the National Centre for Guidance in Education on schools provision for guidance would suggest that even though there has been a cut in the allocation, schools continue to prioritise the guidance programme and within it have increased group work and class-based activity at senior cycle. This approach maximises the amount of time available for those pupils that need one-to-one support.

School Accommodation

Question No. 42 answered with Question No. 14.

Questions (41)

Eamonn Maloney

Question:

41. Deputy Eamonn Maloney asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide an update on the negotiations being conducted with South Dublin County Council on the acquisition of land on which to site a permanent building for a school (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11767/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy will be aware from our recent meeting, South Dublin County Council has identified a site, adjacent to the site where the school to which he refers is in temporary accommodation, which may be suitable to provide a permanent building for this school. As the Deputy will be aware, however, there are a number of issues with this site, including issues relating to access to the site and its restricted size. The proposal is being reviewed within my Department and officials from my Department are liaising with officials from South Dublin County Council in this regard.

Question No. 42 answered with Question No. 14.

School Closures

Question No. 44 answered with Question No. 19.

Questions (43, 91, 92)

Denis Naughten

Question:

43. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress made to date in addressing the specific issues of rural schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11765/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

91. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the concerns of the authorities of a number of smaller, mostly rural denominational schools regarding their future; if he will ensure that all such schools’ needs and traditions are carefully examined and assessed with a view to addressing issues of their concern; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12191/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

92. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which he has had dialogue with the authorities at smaller and denominational rural schools with a view to putting in place structures that have due regard for their ethos and tradition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12192/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 43, 91 and 92 together.

There are many aspects to be considered in regard to small school provision. I assure the Deputies that I am aware of the concerns of the small rural schools and I am cognisant of the importance of schools to rural communities. Given our recent population growth, we will have a much increased enrolment at all levels of education. This is expected to continue in the medium term. Many pupil places are required in areas that currently have no school provision at all. We have schools in areas of stable or declining population with relatively low pupil numbers. Our current configuration of small primary schools is being examined by my Department as part of a value for money review. Among the issues the review will take into account are questions such as availability of diversity of provision, ethos of schools, parental choice, language of instruction, travel distances, transport costs and the impact of schools on dispersed rural communities. The review is at an advanced stage of preparation. I expect to publish it and I look forward to debating its findings at that stage.

Question No. 44 answered with Question No. 19.