Health and Safety Regulations

Questions (45)

Gerry Adams

Question:

45. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on whether school principals are legally and financially responsible should a student or teacher become ill as a result of the untested pulsed microwave radiation emitted by Wi-Fi equipment; and if a similar liability applies to schools in the 26 counties. [11746/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Under the provisions of the Education Act 1998, the board of management is the body charged with the direct governance of a school. In general, individual school authorities are responsible, in the first instance, under Safety, Health and Welfare at Work legislation for ensuring the safety and welfare of children and others in their care. It is the responsibility of individual school management authorities to have a safety statement in place which should be reviewed on a regular basis.

The Department of Environment, Community and Local Government have specific responsibility with regards health effects of electromagnetic fields. They published a Report of the Expert Group on the Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields in 2007. The report concluded that the weight of scientific evidence currently available shows no adverse short or long-term health effects from exposure to the radiofrequency signals produced by base station transmitters. The report was accepted by the then Government. Accordingly the advice from DCENR is that there is no scientific basis for, or evidence of, adverse health effects in children or adults as a result of exposure to electromagnetic fields.

Third Level Drop-out Rates

Question No. 47 answered with Question No. 40.

Questions (46)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

46. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will list in tabular form, on a county by county basis, the number of students who have dropped out of third level courses in the 2012-13 academic year up until the end of February 2013 and the way these figures compare to the same time last year. [11745/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The most recent report by the HEA entitled 'A study of Progression in Higher Education' is available on the HEA website. The following table from the report illustrates the non-presence rates of new entrants in their second year of study by sector, NFQ level and course duration. New entrants are classified as 'not present' if they do not appear in the statistical returns of that institution in the following academic year. The proportion of new entrants in 2007/08 who were not present one year later was 15% on average across all sectors and NFQ Levels. Prior educational attainment is a very significant factor. The HEA is currently in the process of working on an analysis of retention rates in the universities and institutes of technology. This has only recently become possible due to a full population of SRS (Student Record System) data becoming available for a period spanning five years. The HEA which is responsible for the collection of data on student progression does not have the information requested for the current academic year. Non-Presence Rates for New Entrants by Sector and NFQ Level (2008/09)

Sector

Level

Most Common Points Attained

% Not Present

Level 6

250–300

25%

Level 7

250–300

26%

Level 8

300–350

16%

L8 3 yr duration

300–350

16%

L8 4 yr duration

300–350

16%

L8 4+ yr duration

450–500

10%

Institutes of Technology

All New Entrants

300–350

22%

Level 8

400–450

9%

L8 3 yr duration

350–400

10%

L8 4 yr duration

450–500

9%

Universities

L8 4+ yr duration

550–600

3%

Level 8

450–500

4%

L8 3 yr duration

450–500

2%

Other Colleges

L8 4 yr duration

400–450

7%

All Institutions

Level 8

350–400

11%

All Institutions

All New Entrants

350–400

15%

Question No. 47 answered with Question No. 40.

School Inspection Reports

Question No. 49 answered with Question No. 22.

Questions (48)

Mick Wallace

Question:

48. Deputy Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on whether the inspection system in place for secondary schools is operating in a satisfactory manner; if he is satisfied with the impact they are having on education standards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11888/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I am satisfied that the inspection system in place for post-primary schools is effective and that it is very clearly focussed on school improvement and ensuring that schools deliver effectively for all learners. Reforms to the inspection system have ensured that a range of inspection models is now used to evaluate the work of schools, that a greater focus is placed on the quality and standards of teaching and learning in the classrooms visited, and that schools are visited more frequently by inspectors.

In 2012, for example, inspections were conducted in 81% of all post-primary schools. Through these inspections, inspectors engage school management and teachers in professional dialogue about teaching and learning methods, so that all students attain the appropriate standards. Inspectors directly address with the school the learning outcomes achieved by students. Following inspections, inspectors make robust recommendations where required to direct the school's improvement agenda. I am satisfied that inspection contributes to the continuing improvement of standards achieved in education provision.

Question No. 49 answered with Question No. 22.

Literacy Levels

Questions (50)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

50. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the finding of two studies (details supplied) which showed primary school children in the Six Counties came sixth in numeracy and fifth in literacy, the highest rating of any English speaking country in the world; his views on whether this success can be attributed to the 48% rise in per capita education funding in the North from 1997 and 2007; the lessons his Department can learn from this success; and his further views that similar measures should be implemented to improve standards in the 26 Counties. [11744/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Pupils in Northern Ireland performed very well in PIRLS and TIMSS. The report was published last December. Further study will be needed to establish the reasons for this, and I look forward to the future publication of further analyses. It is notable that Northern Ireland was developing and implementing elements of its Literacy and Numeracy Strategy for some time prior to the development of our own strategy here in the Republic. I wish to acknowledge that Irish 4th class pupils also performed well in tests of reading, mathematics and science. In all three areas, Irish pupils scored significantly above the international average. Many of the elements of our own Literacy and Numeracy Strategy – improving teacher education, reform of the curriculum and better use of assessment – are similar to those in Northern Ireland. This range of measures as they are implemented should enable improvements in our reading and maths standards. We have, I believe, made a good start.

State Examinations Issues

Questions (51)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

51. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Education and Skills the way many leaving certificate students received an exemption from Irish from 2008 to 2012; the number of those students who studied another language other than Irish and English; the stage at which the review of the 12/96 circular announced in 2006 is at; and the efforts made by his Department between 2008 and 2012 to reduce the number of students receiving an exemption from Irish. [11754/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The information requested by the Deputy on students for the Leaving Certificate receiving an exemption from the study of Irish in the years 2008 to 2012 is contained in the following table. For the years 2008 to 2012, the granting of exemptions from the study of Irish at post-primary was provided for in limited circumstances as per the exemption criteria in departmental circular M10/94. This continues to be the position. Under the circular the authority to grant an exemption has been delegated to school authorities. An exemption may only be granted where the student's circumstances comply with the exemption criteria. While work has previously been done in relation to revising the exemptions circular, the issues involved are complex and it is clear that we need to gather more detailed evidence on the manner in which exemptions are sought and granted before issuing a revised circular. As announced towards the end of 2012, my Department will carry out research with a view to comprehensively informing further policy actions in this area.

The number of Leaving Certificate* students in each school year from 2008/09 to 2012/13 receiving an exemption from the study of Irish by reason for exemption in accordance with the criteria in Departmental Circular M10/94

Schools year

Circumstances in which exemption from the study of Irish were granted

No of students granted an Exemption in each school year

No of students receiving exemptions which were also enrolled for at least one Modern European Language#

2012

Students from abroad who have no understanding of English when enrolled

1,182

770

2012

Students whose primary education up to 11 years of age was received in Northern Ireland or outside of Ireland

221

156

2012

Students with a learning disability as provided for in paragraph 1(c ) of the circular

578

321

2012

Students re-enrolling after a period of at least three years abroad

42

31

2012

Total in all categories

2,023

1,278

2011

Students from abroad who have no understanding of English when enrolled

1,109

704

2011

Students whose primary education up to 11 years of age was received in Northern Ireland or outside of Ireland

230

154

2011

Students with a learning disability as provided for in paragraph 1(c ) of the circular

660

379

2011

Students re-enrolling after a period of at least three years abroad

25

17

2011

Total in all categories

2,024

1,254

2010

Students from abroad who have no understanding of English when enrolled

1,675

735

2010

Students whose primary education up to 11 years of age was received in Northern Ireland or outside of Ireland

356

142

2010

Students with a learning disability as provided for in paragraph 1(c ) of the circular

1,153

246

2010

Students re-enrolling after a period of at least three years abroad

53

11

2010

Total in all categories

3,237

1,134

2009

Students from abroad who have no understanding of English when enrolled

1,689

895

2009

Students whose primary education up to 11 years of age was received in Northern Ireland or outside of Ireland

242

155

2009

Students with a learning disability as provided for in paragraph 1(c ) of the circular

533

260

2009

Students re-enrolling after a period of at least three years abroad

18

18

2009

Total in all categories

2,482

1,328

2008

Students from abroad who have no understanding of English when enrolled

1,939

772

2008

Students whose primary education up to 11 years of age was received in Northern Ireland or outside of Ireland

286

251

2008

Students with a learning disability as provided for in paragraph 1(c ) of the circular

442

271

2008

Students re-enrolling after a period of at least three years abroad

27

20

2008

Total in all categories

2,694

1,314

* Leaving Certificate includes student in years 1 and 2 of the established Leaving Certificate, Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP),

Leaving Certificate Applied and those repeating the Leaving Certificate.

# Modern European Language refers to French, German, Spanish and Italian.

The data has been extracted from the October Returns of student enrolled as at the 30th September for each school year as provided by post-primary schools to the Department.

Student Grant Scheme Payments

Questions (52)

Willie O'Dea

Question:

52. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the problems with payments of student grants has been fully resolved; if all students who have been approved for a student grant are now in receipt of payment; when the report of the inquiry into the student grant crisis will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11963/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I understand from Student Universal Support Ireland that they are up to date with processing all complete applications. The current position on processing of grants by SUSI, as at close of business on 3rd March is that 55,921 applications have been processed to completion. As part of the close out strategy for the 2012/13 academic year, SUSI is currently contacting applicants who have not completed their application by submitting the required documentation. SUSI is providing these with a final opportunity to submit the documentation so that applications for 2012/13 can be closed out. Support for students to complete their applications has been put in place.

The majority of the 2,070 students currently awaiting payment will be paid within the next two weeks depending on their submission of bank account details. An external review of SUSI's business processes is currently being undertaken to inform improvements in the system for the 2013/14 academic year. The proposed timeline for completion of the review is March 2013.

Student Loan Scheme

Question No. 54 answered with Question No. 22.

Questions (53)

Seán Fleming

Question:

53. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the suggestion from the IMF in its January report on the bailout programme that a student loan scheme be introduced here within two years. [11977/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The question of introducing fees allied to an income contingent loan scheme has been identified previously, including in the Hunt report, as a means of addressing future funding issues in the sector while retaining free access at the point of entry. A technical report on options for the development of such a scheme was developed by my Department in 2009 and is published on my Department's website.

As the Deputy is aware the Higher Education Authority (HEA) is undertaking a study on the sustainability of the current funding system for higher education. This study was initiated at my request and an initial report has been published. This report makes it clear that immediate work is required to prepare for a longer term approach to a system that can be maintained through a sustainable funding base which will be able to address the continual expansion of the sector while protecting quality of education. The HEA is continuing its work in this area and I will be advised further as this work progresses. The report will help inform the decision-making as to the future funding of the sector.

Question No. 54 answered with Question No. 22.