Bullying in Schools

Questions (95)

Alan Farrell

Question:

95. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his Department will be engaging with the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals in their attempt to request a meeting with Facebook to discuss the risks of cyberbullying; his position on this request; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26440/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As I said at the NAPD conference last year, at national level the NAPD has shown great leadership in helping to formulate education policy. At local level NAPD members show great leadership in the running of our schools, day in, day out. I am therefore very disappointed that Facebook has indicated that they will not engage directly with the NAPD and facilitate a meeting with them. Officials in my Department have already communicated with both the NAPD and Facebook about this issue. Officials in my Department are meeting with Facebook representatives next week and this matter will be raised with them again.

School Textbooks Code of Practice

Questions (96)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

96. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding the cost of school books; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26462/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I am very conscious that the cost of textbooks is a considerable burden on families. Since becoming Minister for Education and Skills, I have attempted to take steps to reduce the burden on families. Shortly after coming into office I met with members of the Irish Educational Publishers' Association and impressed on them the need to limit the cost of textbooks. I have also stressed to them the real need to avoid placing schools and families in a position where textbooks are altered unnecessarily.

The Association has responded positively to my approaches and have agreed a voluntary Code of Practice among their members. The Code commits the publishers to limit the publication of new editions and to maintaining editions of books in print unchanged for at least six years. The publishers have also given assurances to me that they will sell textbooks to schools at discounts so that schools can purchase textbooks in bulk to stock textbook rental schemes. The Deputy should note that educational book publishers are independent private companies and are not under the direct control of my Department. Accordingly, I have no role or powers to intervene in the production decisions of these companies, such as those you have highlighted.

As the Deputy is aware I met with the Irish Educational Publishers' Association shortly after my appointment as Minister and agreed with them a voluntary Code of Practice among their members. If there is any evidence that this Code is being breached, I would like to be provided with same so that I can take it up with the Association.

Teachers' Remuneration

Questions (97)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

97. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 347 of 21 May 2013, if he will address the question (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26472/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

All arrears due to the teacher will issue on 13th June 2013. A letter has been sent directly to the person in question setting out her service history, registration details and appointment status.

Departmental Budgets

Questions (98)

John Deasy

Question:

98. Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the percentage of overall Government spend attributable to his Department; and the percentage for each of the past ten years. [26483/13]

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Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (99)

John Deasy

Question:

99. Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills when he expects his Department's Carrickphierish campus joint venture with Waterford City Council to finally start construction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26501/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that following the recent completion of the pre-qualification of contractors, the project has been authorisation to proceed to tender. It is anticipated, once the tender period is complete, that a contractor will be appointed and construction will commence in the final quarter of this year.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (100)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

100. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which resource or other teaching supports can be made available in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26518/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the NCSE, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports, including the allocation of resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants to schools. The NCSE operates within my Department's established criteria for the allocation of Special Education supports and the staffing resources available to my Department.

All schools were advised to apply to the NCSE for resource teaching and SNA support for the 2013/14 school year by 15th March 2013. The NCSE are currently processing these applications and schools will be notified by SENOs of their resource teaching and SNA allocation for 2013/14 in advance of the coming school year, based on the number of valid applications received. All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

Departmental Budgets

Questions (101)

Seán Fleming

Question:

101. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has received any indicative figure from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform regarding the fiscal adjustments his Department will be asked to make in 2014 and 2015; the size of that adjustment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26546/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

In the context of the forthcoming Budget, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has asked my Department to identify savings which will feed into the expenditure decisions by Government for the Estimates 2014 and the setting of future Ministerial ceilings. The identification of savings options should ensure that a sufficient range of proposals is made by all Departments to help the Government make well-informed choices about spending priorities and allocations. The scale of the adjustments for 2014 was set out in part 1 of the Expenditure Report 2013, which was published in December 2012. Government will be making decisions on the future ceilings as part of the forthcoming budgetary deliberations.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (102)

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

102. Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a school (details supplied) in County Meath may expect a decision on its July provision application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26585/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The July Provision Scheme is an option for all special schools and mainstream primary schools with special classes catering for children with autism or severe to profound general learning disability that choose to extend their education services through the month of July. Children with autism in mainstream classes are eligible to apply for home based tuition, but can, in limited circumstances participate in their school's JEP if they can be accommodated within the school's existing autistic or severe to profound unit(s) and without incurring the need for additional resources, as defined by my Department.

Under the terms of the Programme, exemptions to the general restriction on children from mainstream classes participating in the school based programme can, in limited circumstances be sought, where it is determined that the best interests of the children would be more appropriately addressed by their inclusion in a dedicated autism or severe to profound class for the period of July, having regard to the additional cost arising. A proposal from St Michael's Primary School seeking an exemption has recently been received and approved by my Department. The school have been advised of the decision and the appropriate additional resources in this regard.

School Accommodation

Questions (103)

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

103. Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide an update on the need for additional accommodation for a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26598/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy will be aware, there are two schools on this site, a Junior School and a Senior School. Both schools have temporary accommodation, in the ownership of the schools, in addition to their permanent structures and have applied to my Department for replacement permanent buildings. The next step to progressing a building project for the schools involves the appointment of a design team and the commencement of the architectural planning process. School building projects such as this one, that are not included in the 5 year construction programme, will continue to be progressed to final planning stages in anticipation of further funds being available to my Department in future years.

Information in respect of the current status of all assessed applications for major capital works is available on my Department's website which is updated regularly throughout the year. Funding under my Department's Prefab Replacement Initiative announced in March 2012 was not offered to the schools in question as the initiative was available to schools to replace rented prefabs only. The schools were not considered for devolved grants as the proposed building project is expected to address the various deficiencies within the school buildings. The schools received a total of €34,900 under my Department's Minor Works Scheme in November 2011. It is open to the schools concerned to prioritise the use of these funds to address works of a capital nature requiring attention.

School Accommodation

Questions (104)

Joanna Tuffy

Question:

104. Deputy Joanna Tuffy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide an update in the way the decision to provide a school (details supplied) in County Dublin was arrived at; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26599/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department uses a Geographical Information System to analyse demographic data to determine the areas where additional school accommodation may be required. A variety of sources are used in this analysis, including census data, school enrolment data and child benefit data obtained from the Department of Social Protection. Using this system, up to 2018 a need for some 1,540 additional primary school places has been identified in the area to which the Deputy refers. This equates to an additional 55 classrooms at a pupil teacher ratio of 28:1. The new school referred to by the Deputy is being established to assist in addressing this emerging shortfall and to add to the choice of school type available to parents in the area.

Pension Provisions

Questions (105)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

105. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding Garda pensioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26461/13]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

I do not accept that a two-tier approach is being adopted in respect of the planned reduction in public service pensions over €32,500. The approach set out in the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Bill 2013 on this matter is in fact designed to ensure that the same broad level of pension reduction is applied in the case of each of the two groups of pensioners referenced by the Deputy's question. I would note that the reductions planned for public service pensions above €32,500 apply to retirees from all sectors of the public service; and that Garda pensioners and other public service pensioners are treated alike.

The fundamental change provided for in the Bill is that a public service pension that is currently valued in excess of €32,500 will be reduced with effect from 1 July 2013. The reduction in such pensions will range from 2% at around the threshold level of €32,500 (subject to no pension being reduced below €32,500) to 5% for the highest value public service pensions. Pensioners who retired up to end-February 2012, (i.e. during the ‘original’ grace period) are already subject to the Public Service Pension Reduction (PSPR). The planned further pension reduction of 2 to 5% will therefore be secured by increasing, with effect from 1 July 2013, the PSPR rates to which these pensioners are currently subject. The new higher rates to apply to this cohort are set out in the first Table in section 5 of the Bill.

For pensioners who retired after end-February 2012 and for public servants who will retire on pension up to end-August 2014 (i.e. during the ‘new’ grace period), their pensions will not have been subject to PSPR to date; instead those pensions reflect the downward impact of the 2010 public service pay cuts. The planned pension reduction for this group of 2 to 5% will therefore be secured by introducing PSPR at the rates set out in the second table in section 5 of the Bill. On this basis I consider that there is broad parity of treatment as between the two categories of pensioner referred to.