Emergency Works Scheme Appeals

Questions (103)

Derek Nolan

Question:

103. Deputy Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) in County Galway was unsuccessful in its appeal for emergency funding; if there are any other possibilities for it to receive an extension or temporary accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29584/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the application for Emergency Funding from the school, referred to by the Deputy, is currently under consideration in my Department and the school authority has been requested to forward additional information in relation to this application. When the additional information has been received and assessed, a decision on the matter will be conveyed to the school authority. As the Deputy will also be aware, the school, in question, has an application with my Department for capital funding for an extension and school refurbishment. This application is currently being reviewed in the context of changing demographics in the area and my Department will be in contact with the school authority in the matter shortly.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (104)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

104. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Education and Skills when students from a school (details supplied) in Dublin 9 will be moved to their temporary classrooms. [29616/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The major building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of architectural planning. The project has been authorised to proceed to Stage 2(b) which includes applications for Planning Permission, Fire Safety Certificate, Disability Access Certificate and the preparation of tender documents. The design team has recently submitted a response to the Local Authority on a Request For Further Information. A decision on the statutory approvals from the Local Authority is now awaited.The project is listed on the five year school building programme to go to construction in 2014/2015. The project includes the temporary relocation of the school to allow construction on the existing site. The transfer of students to the temporary accommodation will be programmed in time to allow the commencement of construction on site.

Fee Paying Schools

Questions (105)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

105. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which he continues to have dialogue with all fee-paying schools with particular reference to the need to recognise the contribution made by many such schools to society and keeping in mind that some suggested changes may result in increased costs to the tax payer; if he continues to have meaningful dialogue with such school authorities in an effort to ensure an amicable working arrangement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29631/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I have not had dialogue with all fee charging schools. However, a number of fee charging schools have made contacted with the Department and the level of engagement to date varies from school to school.Where the authorities of a school approach the Department about entering the Free Education scheme it is because they are concerned about the future viability of the school and wish to explore all options in considering the future of the school. I have made it clear that my Department will engage constructively with any fee charging school that is considering how best to secure its future. Any approach to my Department will be considered on an individual school by school basis, taking account of the significance of the provision concerned in terms of diversity and overall demand for school places in the locality served by a school. The Deputy will be aware that in the context of the Budget 2013, I made a further one point change to the staffing allocation of fee charging schools from September 2013.On the basis of the analysis I published earlier this year on the income from fees available to fee charging schools, I expect that a minority of the fee charging schools will wish to engage with my Department in planning for their future.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Questions (106)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

106. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which he continues to have discussions with the Church of Ireland authorities in the context of the retention of the smaller school network throughout the country; if he has been in a position to reassure the respective authorities in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29632/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Government recognises that small schools are an important part of the social fabric of rural communities. They will continue to be a feature of our education landscape. As part of the Budget 2012 decisions, the number of pupils required to gain and retain a classroom teaching post in small primary schools is being gradually increased between September 2012 and September 2014. In these extremely challenging times, all public servants are being asked to deliver our public services on a reduced level of resources and teachers in small schools cannot be immune from this requirement. The phasing of these measures can provide the schools concerned with time to consider the potential for amalgamation with other schools where this is feasible. If amalgamations do take place, they will be voluntary and follow decisions taken by local communities and not by the Department.

How best to sustain provision for widely dispersed and small Protestant communities does present as a particular challenge especially in any locality where enrolment in their schools is declining to single figures and amalgamation is not an option because there is no other school nearby. The Government is intent in fostering pluralism in school provision. Supporting minority churches in maintaining their schools is part of that policy.

A Value for Money examination of small schools is almost complete and my Department expects to publish the analysis and findings in the near future. I hope that this report will foster constructive engagement both in the Oireachtas and among all interested parties in looking at the challenges ahead and how best to make provision for primary education in rural and dispersed communities. My Department and I will continue to engage with the relevant education sector stakeholders, including the Church of Ireland, in relation to education provision for all areas.

In addition to this my Department has expanded the existing appeals process so that it is accessible to the schools that are affected by the budget measure. In this regard small schools will not lose their classroom post if they are projecting sustainable increased enrolments in September 2013 that would be sufficient to allow them to retain their existing classroom posts over the longer term.

The detailed arrangements in relation to the appeals process are set in the Department's Staffing Circular 0013/2013. The Appeals Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

Special Educational Needs Services Provision

Questions (107)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

107. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the required education support will be provided to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29694/13]

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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. The NCSE intend to notify schools and publish details of allocations for SNAs and resource teaching hours for the 2013/2014 school year on Wednesday 19th June. These details will be available at www.ncse.ie.

Student Grant Scheme Appeals

Questions (108)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

108. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a person (details supplied) in County Clare who received a letter from Student Universal Support Ireland dated 5 June 2013 refusing him an education grant; this letter does not state the reason he was unsuccessful but suggests he appeal the decision; the grounds on which he should appeal the decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29695/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) that on 5th June his appeal was rejected due to incomplete documentation. Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down, in writing, by SUSI, and remains of the view that SUSI has not interpreted the scheme correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the Student Grant Appeals Board. The relevant appeal form will be available on request from SUSI.

Student Grant Scheme Appeals

Questions (109)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

109. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an appeal in respect of an application for higher education grant in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare whose examination results are currently being withheld due to the pending appeal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29696/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) that requested additional documentation was incomplete. The applicant referred to by the Deputy was issued with a decision in May, 2013 advising him that he was deemed ineligible to receive a grant. SUSI also confirmed that to date they have not received an appeal from the applicant.

If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a student grant, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to the appeals officer in 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 independent Student Grant Appeals Board. The relevant appeal form will be available on request from SUSI.