Student Grant Scheme Appeals

Questions (219)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

219. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will list in tabular form the number of appeals that have been referred from Student Universal Support Ireland to the Student Grants Appeal Board in 2012/13; the number of claims that have been successfully upheld during that period; the average time for an appeal to be heard by the SGAB; and how often the SGAB meets to deal with appeals deferred from SUSI. [12646/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Student Grant Appeals Board deals with appeals arising from student grant decisions made by 66 grant awarding authorities and not just SUSI.

Appeals are received by the Student Grants Appeal Board on an on-going basis throughout an academic year. Since its establishment, Appeal Board sittings have taken place at intervals varying from 2 to 4 weeks. It is currently sitting at weekly intervals. The average time for the consideration of an appeal varies on this basis. The frequency of sittings is determined by the volume of appeals submitted and the requirement that the Appeals Board makes a determination on the appeal within the 60 day timeframe specified in the Student Support Act 2011.

The statistical data required by the Deputy is contained in the table.

Appeals on foot of SUSI decisions to Student Grant Appeals Board - 2012/13 Academic Year

Number of appeals to the Student Grants Appeals on foot of SUSI decisions

223

At close of business 8 March 2013

Number of appeals considered by the Student Grants Appeals Board to date on foot of S

129

At close of business 5 March 2013

Number of appeals where SUSI decision was overturned

11

At close of business 5 Mar 2013.

Student Grant Scheme Delays

Questions (220)

Brian Stanley

Question:

220. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason for the delay in awarding the student grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; and when they may expect to receive same. [12651/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland, that on 5th March 2013, a request for further documentation was issued to the student referred to by the Deputy. When the requested documentation is returned the student will be notified directly of the outcome.

Pupil Transfers

Questions (221)

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan

Question:

221. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review circular 32/03 section 3, transfer of pupils to another primary school to repeat sixth class; if he is satisfied that this is a useful and justifiable restriction; if he will consider having it removed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12669/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department's policy in relation to pupils repeating the same grade in primary school is set out in Primary Circular 32/03. In accordance with this circular, in exceptional cases a Principal teacher, following consultation with the learning support teacher/resource teacher and class teacher and parent(s) of the pupil may conclude that a pupil would benefit educationally by repeating a grade level. In such cases, the pupil may be allowed to repeat the year provided there is an educational basis for it, and there is a clear programme for the pupil to follow.

However, the circular provides that pupils who have completed sixth class must not transfer to another primary school to repeat sixth class and that in the event that a school were to enrol pupils from another school to repeat sixth class the pupils shall not be included as eligible pupils for the purposes of determining staffing and other resources granted the school.

The Primary School curriculum is designed as an eight year course, including a two year infant cycle followed by six years in standards from first to sixth, with children progressing to the next grade at the end of each school year. The curriculum is flexible and child-centred, and can be adapted to meet children's needs. Additional supports by way of learning support and resource teaching is also available to enable pupils to make progress in keeping with their needs and abilities and to move consecutively through the different class levels in the school in keeping with their peers. I have no plans to amend the provisions of the circular in question.

Gratuity Grant Applications

Questions (222)

Dan Neville

Question:

222. Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for gratuity grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Limerick; and further to Parliamentary Question No. 333 of 29 January 2013 the up to date position regarding an application for funding under the terms of the Superannuation Act 1887. [12718/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that a gratuity under the Superannuation Act, 1887, was approved by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in respect of the retired employee of the Limerick Model School.

Payment in respect of the gratuity issued to the former employee in February 2013.

Teacher Redeployment

Questions (223)

Michael Lowry

Question:

223. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact of an ongoing redeployment issue for a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; if his attention has been drawn to the hardship caused as a result of this redeployment; if he will take steps to alleviate the hardship caused in this case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12731/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

In line with procedures agreed under the Public Service (Croke Park) Agreement 2010 - 2014 this person was placed on the Public Appointments Service re-deployment resource panel. A suitable vacancy was identified in Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) and the person was redeployed to LIT in line with the agreed procedures. Following the redeployment decision, the individual referred their case for adjudication.

The adjudication was heard by an independent adjudicator on 26 August 2012 and a decision issued to the parties on 19 September 2012 affirming the redeployment decision. Under the terms of the adjudication scheme under the Public Service (Croke Park) Agreement 2010 - 2014, the outcome of this adjudication is binding on all the parties.

School Enrolments

Questions (224)

Martin Heydon

Question:

224. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the options open to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare whose daughter is not eligible for a primary school place due to her age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12732/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The question of enrolment in individual schools is the responsibility of the managerial authority of those schools. My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking places.

It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act, 1998. In this regard a Board of Management may find it necessary to restrict enrolment to children from a particular area or a particular age group or, occasionally, on the basis of some other criterion. The criteria to be applied by schools in such circumstances are a matter for the schools themselves. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants.

Section 29 of the Education Act 1998, provides parents with an appeal process where a board of management of a school or a person acting on behalf of the Board refuses enrolment to a student. Where a school refuses to enrol a pupil, the school is obliged to inform parents of their right under Section 29 of the Education Act 1998 to appeal that decision to either the relevant Vocational Educational Committee or to the Secretary General of my Department.

The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The Board can be contacted at National Educational Welfare Board, National Headquarters, 16-22 Green Street, Dublin 7 or by telephone at 01-8738700.

Student Grant Scheme Appeals

Questions (225)

Seán Fleming

Question:

225. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an appeal in respect of the amount of the grant awarded to a student who wished to receive the special rate of maintenance grant (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12738/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Officials in my Department understand from Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) that the student in question does not meet the terms and conditions of the student grant scheme for the special rate of grant.

If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a student grant, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to SUSI.

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 Student Grants Appeals Board.

Public Procurement Regulations

Questions (226)

Tom Fleming

Question:

226. Deputy Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review the public procurement by his Department particularly in the area of school suppliers of arts and graphic products who have vast specialised knowledge that is a very valuable resource which will be lost along with the industry; if he will acknowledge that the criteria in the public procurement for exam procurement condition that requires a minimum turnover of €10 million by the business totally prohibits the micro school supplier from engaging in trading in a core part of their business and that this will put an estimated 2,500 jobs at risk (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12787/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy is probably aware, the National Procurement Service (NPS) is already supporting Small and Medium Business Enterprises (SMEs) to participate in public sector procurement competitions through its education and guidance strategies. All of the NPS tender documents explicitly seek to encourage the participation of SMEs in competitions, by encouraging them to explore the possibilities of forming relationships with other SMEs or with larger enterprises.

In terms of public procurement reform, it has been estimated that €9 billion is spent by public bodies annually on the procurement of supplies and services. My colleague Minister Howlin has highlighted the importance of ensuring that the public sector is achieving maximum value for money and operational efficiency in its approach to public procurement. Centralising the procurement of commonly used goods and services can deliver significant benefits which include: cash savings; administrative savings from reduced duplication of tendering; greater purchasing expertise; improved consistency and enhanced service levels.

In addition, given the financial constraints within which we must all now work, cost reductions and savings can go some way to helping Exchequer funded bodies, such as schools, manage within reducing financial budgets.

Given the potential benefits that can realised across the public sector, public procurement is one of the major projects of key strategic importance under the Government's Public Service Reform Plan. The Public Service Reform Plan, published in November 2011, provides for the development of a new policy framework for procurement. This work is now being led by the newly appointed Chief Procurement Officer, Paul Quinn. Under his leadership a new national procurement office for the public sector is being established. Paul is currently working with officials across the public sector to put in place new sectoral and centralised procurement arrangements.

I do appreciate the concerns being raised by school supply companies and I have asked relevant officials here in the Department, who are coordinating procurement reform in the Education and Training sector, to take these concerns into consideration in the context of the work being undertaken on procurement reform.

School Disputes

Questions (227)

John McGuinness

Question:

227. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will engage with the board of management of a school (details supplied) in County Kilkenny to resolve a lengthy dispute; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12790/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I appreciate the concerns you raise in your question. While my Department sets out the constitution of Boards of Management and rules of procedure it is not directly involved in the management of schools.

Under the provisions of the Education Act, 1998, the Board of Management is the body charged with the direct governance of a school, and it is the Board of Management which employs the teachers at the school. Accordingly, whereas my Department provides funding and policy direction for schools, it does not have the power to instruct schools to follow a particular course of direction with regard to individual complaint cases.

The Office of the Ombudsman for Children may independently investigate complaints relating to the administrative actions or non actions of a school recognised by my Department, provided the parent has firstly and fully followed the school's complaints procedures. The key criterion for any intervention by the Ombudsman for Children is that the administrative actions or non actions of a school has, or may have, adversely affected the child. Accordingly, officials in my Department are not in a position legally to intervene in the dispute in question.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (228)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

228. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the higher diploma in montessori teaching course at a college (details supplied) in Dublin is not funded by the Student Universal Support Ireland grant; if he will consider including it on the list for funding in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12844/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The course referred to by the Deputy has not been approved as it has not been demonstrated that it represents academic progression from the qualification required for entry to the course. I have no plans to extend the student grant scheme to include this course on that basis.

Educational Disadvantage

Questions (229)

Gerry Adams

Question:

229. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he has put in place to tackle educational disadvantage for deaf children. [12874/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department provides for an extensive range of supports to assist pupils who are deaf or hard of hearing.

I can confirm that there are currently 11 special classes for pupils with hearing impairment attached to mainstream primary schools, 5 special class at post-primary level and 3 special schools. An enhanced capitation grant is provided to the special schools and special classes for hearing impaired pupils.

Pupils in special classes and special schools for hearing impaired children are supported by enhanced pupil teacher ratios of 7:1. Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support is also provided in these schools and classes, as required.

In line with my Department's policy that children with special educational needs (SEN) access appropriate education intervention in mainstream settings where possible, many deaf/ hard of hearing pupils are integrated into mainstream classes at primary and post-primary level with the assistance, as necessary, of resource teaching and special needs assistant support.

Grant-aid is also provided to schools towards the provision of special equipment for pupils who are hard of hearing, such as sound field systems and radio aids.

My Department also provides funding for a weekly home tuition service whereby tutors visit the homes of deaf and hard of hearing pre-school children and school-going pupils to provide training in Irish Sign Language (ISL) for these children, their siblings and parents.

In addition, the Visiting Teacher Service for Children and Young People with a Hearing Impairment is provided by my Department from the time of referral through to third level education. The Visiting Teacher service provides advice and support to ensure that the needs of children and young people with hearing impairment are met. This service is available at pre-school, primary and post-primary levels. Specifically, the service works in partnership with parents of pre-school children with hearing impairment, visiting their homes and/or meeting them in groups to inform, advise and offer guidance in matters pertaining to their education and overall development and in helping their children to derive maximum benefit from the educational opportunities available.

My Department, through the Higher Education Authority (HEA), has established and funds a Centre for Deaf Studies in Trinity College, Dublin which provides diploma courses for ISL/English interpreters, deaf tutors and in deaf studies. The course modules deal with issues such as sign linguistics, bilingualism and socio-linguistics of sign language. The course is delivered in seminar sessions/group work and the award of the diploma is based on continued assessment and a project and course design.

Finally, I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has published Policy Advice on the Education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children in Ireland, which makes a number of recommendations for the improvement of educational provision for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children.

This policy advice is available on the NCSE's website www.ncse.ie. My Department has established a working group which will consider and implement the recommendations of this report in accordance with available resources.

Múinteoirí Bunscoile agus Meánscoile

Questions (230)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

230. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna cad iad na hathruithe atá déanta ar na liúntais Ghaeilge, Ghaeltachta agus Oileáin a bhíonn á n-íoc le múinteoirí bunscoile agus meánscoile ó tháinig sé i gcumhacht; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [12883/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Thug an Rialtas faomhadh do roinnt beart a bhain le liúntais seirbhíse poiblí tar éis don Aire Caiteachais Phoiblí agus Athchóirithe athbhreithniú a dhéanamh ar fud na seirbhíse poiblí ar liúntais agus préimh-íocaíochtaí.

Mar thoradh ar chinneadh an Rialtais, táthar tar éis na liúntais Ghaeltachta, na liúntais i gcomhair mhúineadh trí Ghaeilge agus na liúntais Oileáin a tharraingt siar ar fud na seirbhíse poiblí i gcás tairbhithe nua, múinteoirí san áireamh, le héifeacht ó 1 Feabhra 2012.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (231, 232, 233)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

231. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 40 of 20 September, the number of the 27 schools listed that are in band rating 2.1 and are not included in the five year plan and have rented portacabins that have sites that have been assessed by his Department as being ready to build on; the names and roll numbers of these schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12884/13]

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Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

232. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 40 of 20 September 2012, the number of the 27 listed schools that are in band rating 2.1 and are not included in the five year plan and have rented portacabins that have more then 50% of the pupils being taught in portacabins; the names and roll numbers of these schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12885/13]

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Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

233. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 40 of 20 September 2012, the number of the 27 listed schools that are in band rating 2.1 and are not included in the five year plan and have rented portacabins that have learning support and resource teachers working in rooms that are not considered adequate in size for such work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12886/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 231 to 233, inclusive, together.

I wish to advise the Deputy that a site assessment if required would only take place at the point when a building project is being approved.

In respect of rented portacabins that have more then 50% of the pupils being taught in portacabins, my Department does not have the specific information sought by the Deputy relating to the deployment of teachers in classrooms by schools.

In relation to schools that have rented portacabins that have learning support and resource teachers working in rooms that are not considered adequate in size for such work, when schools apply for temporary accommodation it is a matter for each school to apply for the appropriate level of accommodation. As standard, the Department approves a 16m2 room for each full-time equivalent learning support and resource post in respect of both permanent and temporary accommodation.

Schools Refurbishment

Questions (234)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

234. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Education and Skills the schools in counties Wicklow and Carlow that were provided for under his Department's additional accommodation scheme and emergency works approval to date in 2013; the precise amount of funding that has been allocated to each; the specific project in each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12887/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Details of all Additional Accommodation and Emergency Works approvals are published on my Department's website on a weekly basis.

As the tendering process could be influenced by the provision of the amount of grant-aid provided at this stage, this information will be published on my Department's website as soon as the projects are completed.

Departmental Staff Remuneration

Questions (235)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

235. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of persons on the payroll of his Department, both departmental employees and teachers in schools nationwide; the number of physical payslips that his Department processes each month; the percentage of these that are sent to payees in the post; the breakdown in the overall cost of physical payslips and postage per year for the years 2009 to 2012; if payees have the option of switching to online payslips; if he will implement online payslips in the near future; if he has considered the savings this would make; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12888/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

An average of 96,000 employees (comprising school employees/pensioners and Departmental staff) are paid on payrolls operated by my Department every fortnight. Approximately 229,000 payslips are generated every month, of which 98.95% are posted to payees. The overall cost of physical payslips and postage in the years 2009 to 2012 is as follows:

Year

Stationery Costs

Posting Costs

2009

€59,635

€1,246,735

2010

€67,015

€1,275,369

2011

€78,475

€1,276,477

2012

€51,417

€1,074,703

The option of online payslips is not yet available to school employees/pensioners. Online payslips for school employees/pensioners will be considered by officials in my Department, with a view to implementing a cost effective online payslip system by the end of 2014. In late 2012 my Department rolled out the online payslip facility on a pilot basis to Departmental staff in Tullamore. Since February 2013 this has been extended to all staff within the Department's main offices in Dublin, Tullamore and Athlone.

The issuing of physical payslips to staff within the Department will cease with effect from Friday 15th March. In the coming weeks this online facility will be extended to officers outside the Departments main offices who carry out field duties such as Inspectors and Psychologists; this will significantly reduce the percentage of Departmental staff currently receiving payslips by post.

Teacher Redeployment

Questions (236)

Joe McHugh

Question:

236. Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Education and Skills with reference to new applicants for panel rights at primary teacher level including applicants who previously applied in 2012, if a person (details supplied) in County Donegal who has worked in a temporary capacity for seven years in two separate dioceses, will be in a position to secure a place on the 2013-14 panel. [12900/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The core function of the redeployment arrangements is to facilitate the redeployment of all surplus permanent teachers to other schools that have vacancies. The redeployment of all surplus permanent teachers is key to the Department's ability to manage within its payroll budget and ceiling on teacher numbers. Thereafter, schools are required under the panel arrangements to fill permanent vacancies from supplementary panels comprised of eligible fixed-term (temporary/substitute) and part-time teachers. The application process for the supplementary panels was introduced for the 2012/13 school year.

The arrangements for panel access for fixed term (temporary/substitute) and part-time teachers for the 2013/14 school year are set out in Department Circular 0038/2012 which was published on 9 November 2012 and is available on the Department website. The closing date for receipt of applications was 14 December 2012.

The teacher referred to by the Deputy has submitted an application before the closing date and this is currently being processed. As outlined in circular 0038/2012, my Department intends to notify all applicants of the outcome of their application by 31 March 2013 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Library Services

Questions (237)

Peter Mathews

Question:

237. Deputy Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide in tabular form, in respect of library services in university libraries, the percentage of total spend allocated to the library services broken down by institution and year for each institute of technology and university for each year from 2005 to date; the number of persons and the full time equivalent in each grade in library, academic and administrative positions for each institute of technology and university for each year from 2005 to date; the names and student enrolment of modules or courses taught by part time or sessional lecturers or any staff not in the full time employment of the institution for each institute of technology and university for each year from 2005 to date and the percentage of FTE student numbers this represents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12909/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The information sought is not readily available in my Department. Officials of my Department have asked the Higher Education Authority to contact the institutions seeking details and I will forward the available information to the Deputy as soon as possible.

School Curriculum

Questions (238)

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Question:

238. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to the social, personal and health education programme currently run in second level schools as a compulsory part of the curriculum, his plans to maintain this as a mandatory subject; and if he has any plans to reform the said programme. [12931/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The NCCA is designing a range of short courses which will be available to schools from September 2014 including a short course in SPHE. Schools may choose to incorporate these short courses into their junior cycle programme either for certification purposes or not for certification. They may choose not to opt for the new short course and may choose to continue to use existing courses or other approaches to meet the Framework's Principles, Statements of Learning and Key Skills relevant to these areas. Schools will have the flexibility to determine how best to meet the range of Statements of Learning, Key Skills and Principles that relate to the areas currently covered in SPHE.

The new Framework for Junior Cycle which I published last October will, inter alia, aim to increase the importance of physical wellbeing in several ways:

The Framework is based on eight Principles. The Principle of "Wellbeing" undertakes to ensure that "the student experience contributes directly to their physical wellbeing." The Principle of "Inclusive Education" undertakes to ensure that "the educational experience is inclusive of all students and contributes to equality of opportunity, participation and outcomes for all"

Contained in the Junior Cycle's Statements of Learning is the stated aim that the student "takes action to safeguard and promote his/her wellbeing and that of others"; is "confident and competent in physical activity and is motivated to be physically active" and that he/she "understands the importance of food and diet in making healthy lifestyle choices".

In addition, eight Key Skills are required for successful learning across the curriculum and beyond the school. This is in recognition of the fact that learning takes place both inside and outside of the formal school environment. One of these Key Skills is "Staying Well", which adopts a holistic approach to wellbeing and includes "Being healthy, physical and active".

School Patronage

Questions (239)

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

239. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide an update on plans to set up an Educate Together primary school in the Sandymount-Ringsend area of Dublin. [12952/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy may be aware, in June 2011, I announced the need for the establishment of 20 new primary schools to cater for increased demographics across a number of locations up to 2017, including the Sandymount/ Ringsend area in Dublin 2/4.

I also announced new arrangements for the recognition and determination of patronage of these new primary schools. The new arrangements published by my Department provide a balanced approach to allow applications to be made by prospective patrons for the establishment of schools. The criteria used in deciding patronage of the new schools place a particular emphasis on parental demand for plurality and diversity of patronage. This consideration will have regard to the patronage of the existing schools in an area.