Departmental Funding

Questions (80)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

80. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will explore every possible funding option in 2013 for a project (details supplied) in County Kerry; if he will consider the huge social dividend derived from this very worthy project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12039/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department understands that this project is designed to provide health education and drug awareness programmes to children in primary schools. The Department of Education and Skills, through substance abuse prevention education, contributes to the overall aim of Government policy in relation to drugs, which is to provide an effective, integrated response to the problems posed by drug misuse. Substance abuse prevention education is implemented as part of the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curricula. SPHE is mandatory in all primary and post-primary schools up to Junior Certificate level, and is supported by full time support services offering professional development to teachers and advice to schools. The second level support service is operated jointly with the Health Sector. SPHE is designed to help develop students' confidence and self esteem, and promote the skills for living, for responsible decision making, and for mental, physical and emotional health and wellbeing. SPHE includes substance misuse prevention education as an integral part which must be implemented by all schools.

In addition, the Framework for Junior Cycle, published in October 2012, is underpinned by 8 principles one of which is "Wellbeing", Through Wellbeing "the student experience will contribute directly to their physical, mental, emotional and social wellbeing and resilience. Learning takes place in a climate focused on collective wellbeing of school, community and society". In addition the Framework contains 24 Statements of Learning which students should experience. One of these statements aims to ensure that the student "takes action to safeguard and promote his/her wellbeing and that of others". In addition, there are six key skills required for successful learning by students across the curriculum and for learning beyond school. One of the six key skills of Junior Cycle is "Staying Well". In the context of the details outlined above and the significant support which my Department in collaboration with the Department of Health gives to this area, I am not in a position to provide funding for this project.

Further Education and Training Programmes Provision

Questions (81)

Seán Kyne

Question:

81. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider amending current FÁS stipulations which are preventing job-seeking persons who worked in the construction industry but who are not qualified plumbers, from receiving the financial assistance required to undertake up-skilling courses that would permit job-seekers to avail of the opportunities that will arise from the installation of water meters nationally. [12272/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I understand from FÁS that only qualified Plumbers should be responsible for the installation of boundary boxes and water meters. This position was confirmed in a recent meeting between FÁS and Irish Water and subsequently between FÁS and Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). I am informed that this work is specifically covered as part of the Plumbing Apprenticeship, and therefore ensures that qualified Plumbers are confirmed as capable of boundary box/water meter installation. The installation of Valves and Taps is covered in the Plumbing Apprenticeship Phase 2 Module 2 "Domestic Hot and Cold Water Services". The causes and means of prevention of water supply contamination is covered in Phase 6 Module 2 "Advanced Pipework, Water and Wastewater Systems".

Irish Water have stated that boundary box/water meter installation teams will consist of two persons, one responsible for the excavation/reparation of ground works and the other for the installation of the boundary box/water meter. There may of course be 'operative' type work available around site work/preparation for installation etc. In relation to the issue of providing financial assistance to job-seekers looking to avail of up-skilling courses, this would be a matter for the Department of Social Protection in the first instance.

Student Grant Scheme Delays

Questions (82)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

82. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the problems with student grants have 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 crisis will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12116/13]

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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. SUSI is currently contacting applicants who have not completed their application to provide a final opportunity to submit outstanding documentation before the remaining incomplete applications are closed out. The vast majority of students awarded maintenance are already in payment. The remaining 2,070, the majority of whom were recently awarded, 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.

Teachers' Remuneration

Questions (83)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

83. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the outstanding difficulties in relation to the proper remuneration for a person (details supplied) have not yet been resolved; when the person may expect the matter to be resolved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12059/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Following on from the review of allowances in the public service, revised salary scales for teachers were agreed and Circular 008/2013 was published on the 25th January setting out the new scales. My Department are currently adapting the payroll systems to take account of the new scales and to ensure that the correct rate of pay is applied to the relevant teachers. When the developments are completed, all teachers will be paid the correct rate and arrears due, if any, will be paid. My officials have been in contact with the person in question and he is aware of the position in relation to the new scales.

Teachers' Remuneration

Questions (84)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

84. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reasons newly appointed teachers who commenced between the 1 January 2011 and 1 February 2012 and who should be entitled to payment at point four of the relevant pay scale, that is, those who formerly received a qualification allowance, have not yet been paid at the rate specified in their contracts; when he expects the difficulties within the payroll section regarding this matter to be overcome; if he will commit to taking extra steps to ensure the problem is resolved quickly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12061/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Following on from the review of allowances in the public service, revised salary scales for teachers were agreed and Circular 008/2013 was published on 25th January setting out the new scales. These new arrangements affect some teachers appointed since January 2011, depending on their teaching service and registration details. Teachers appointed since February 2012, depending on registration and employment history will be placed on the new agreed scales and qualification and other allowances will not be paid to appointees since the 1st February 2012. My Department is currently adapting the payroll systems to take account of the new scales and to ensure that the correct rate of pay is applied to teachers. When the developments are completed, all teachers will be paid the correct rate and arrears due, if any, will be paid.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

Questions (85)

Niall Collins

Question:

85. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will arrange to have an application for a higher education grant re-examined in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork. [12092/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) has confirmed that the applicant referred to by the Deputy appealed the decision on his grant with regard to the rate of grant awarded and that a letter on the appeal issued on 24th January, 2013. Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down in writing by SUSI and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board. The relevant appeal form will be available on request from SUSI.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

Questions (86)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

86. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will be awarded the special rate of maintenance grant due to a change in their circumstances since their original application or if they will be permitted to reapply; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12098/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) has confirmed that the student referred to by the Deputy, appealed the decision on her grant to the appeals officer in SUSI with regard to the rate of grant awarded and their original decision was upheld. A letter on the appeal issued on 31st January, 2013. The applicant has submitted an appeal to the Student Grants Appeals Board. This appeal is due for consideration at the next sitting of the Student Grants Appeals Board which is scheduled for the 12th March 2013.

School Curriculum

Questions (87)

Nicky McFadden

Question:

87. Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has considered the Certified Public Accountants Ireland Entrepreneurship Report for 2012; his views on the recommendation to introduce entrepreneurship as a subject to the curriculum for primary and secondary students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12130/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I am aware of the Certified Public Accountants Ireland Entrepreneurship Report which was published in 2012. The Primary School curriculum concentrates on the development of core communication skills and literacy and numeracy. The pupils are encouraged to be active and collaborative learners and to use ICT as a cross-curricular tool. The development of these skills provides them with the foundation for lifelong learning and for creating a culture of enterprise.

In October 2012, I published the Framework for Junior Cycle which acknowledges the key role of entrepreneurship. In its principles the Framework highlights the role of "creativity and innovation". There are Statements of Learning which specify what students should know, understand, value and be able to do at the end of junior cycle. A number of the statements are relevant to enterprise but one in particular emphasises that the students "should take initiative, be innovative and develop entrepreneurial skills".

In Senior Cycle, there are opportunities to develop entrepreneurial skills through, for example, the Leaving Certificate Business Studies course or through participation in the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme Links modules and in the Leaving Certificate Applied. For Transition Year students there is the opportunity to participate in the Sean Lemass Awards that include the Transition Year Mini Company and its "Get up and Go" competition and the County/City Enterprise Board "Student Enterprise " Competition. In 2012, almost 10,000 students participated in the Transition Year programme and over 15,000 participated in the Student Enterprise Awards.

I welcome the CPA Report and its recommendation on entrepreneurship. I am committed to our young people developing entrepreneurial skills and a number of initiatives, as noted above, are in place to make this a reality.

Special Educational Needs Services Provision

Questions (88)

Finian McGrath

Question:

88. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if Asperger's syndrome is a recognised disability for resource hours in primary and second level. [12138/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that, in primary schools, teaching supports for pupils with special educational needs are provided in two ways. Under the terms of the General Allocation Model (GAM) of teaching supports, schools are resourced to cater for pupils whose educational psychological assessment places them in the high incidence, or less complex, disability category, including children with mild general learning difficulties. Separately, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) allocates additional resource teaching hours to schools for children who have been assessed within the low incidence, or more complex, category of special need, as defined by my Department's Circular Sp Ed 02/05. In this context, eligibility for low incidence resource hours for children with Asperger's Syndrome is considered under the Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder category.

Schools Building Projects Expenditure

Questions (89)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

89. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which he expects to be in a position to meet requirements of the school building programme as set out by the various school management authorities at primary and second level throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12188/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my priority is to ensure that there is sufficient school accommodation to meet projected pupil enrolment increases into the future. The 5 Year Plan that I announced in March 2012, together with my recent announcement of the 50 school projects which are scheduled for construction in the current year as part of a €2 billion capital investment programme, outlines the major school projects that will commence construction over the duration of the Plan. This information is available on my Department's website www.education.ie.

In addition, my Department will consider applications by schools for funding for additional classrooms, which schools may provide on a permanent basis, where an immediate enrolment need is arising. Under the Rental Prefab Replacement Initiative announced in 2012, almost 200 schools have been offered grants to build permanent accommodation – over a third of all schools who currently rent prefabs. Over €40 million has been allocated for this initiative. Given the current financial constraints within which my Department is operating, the position is that priority is being given to school applications for essential mainstream classroom accommodation. In this regard, the delivery of new schools, together with extension projects to meet the demographic demand, will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years.