Special Educational Needs Services Provision

Questions (263)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

263. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will approve resource hours for a child (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30276/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from primary and post primary schools for special educational needs supports, including Resource Teaching support for children with more complex special needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such supports.

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 has now published details of all of their allocations for resource teaching support for the 2013/2014 school year. These details are now available on the NCSE website, www.ncse.ie, and detail the allocations made for each school on a per county basis.

The NCSE has retained a number of Resource Teacher posts to meet late or emergency applications received up to the begining of the school year. Applications received after the initial closing date for allocations, or where additional material to support an application was received after this date, will be considered at this point. In the interim, schools may provide additional teaching support for those pupils who need it from the existing resource teaching or general allocation model allocations.

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.

Schools Building Projects Application Numbers

Questions (264)

Simon Harris

Question:

264. Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will outline all new school buildings, school extensions and upgrades and investments planned for schools in an area (details supplied) in County Wicklow; the projected timeline for completion of these projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30282/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware that the Five Year Construction Plan, that I announced on 9 March 2012, outlines the major school projects that will commence construction over the duration of the Plan. The primary aim at the core of the Plan is focused on meeting demographic demands to ensure that every child will have access to a physical school place and that our school system is in a position to cope with increasing pupil numbers. I also wish to advise the Deputy that due to additional funding made available for the schools' building programme as part of the Government's "Investing in Infrastructure & Jobs" package announced recently, school projects that were not contained in the 5 year programme but have completed extensive architectural planning are now being progressed to tender and construction. In relation to the area in County Wicklow, referred to by the Deputy, the following school projects are being progressed; St. Philomena's National School and Coláiste Ráithín - new school buildings under a Public Private Partnership arrangement. The projects are due to be completed by the end of 2016. St. Brendan's College - replacement school building - the project is at an advanced stage of architectural planning. My Department will shortly be in contact with the school authorities in relation to progressing the project to tender and construction.

Details of all works funded under my Department's Additional Accommodation, Prefab Replacement and Emergency Works Schemes, including works in schools in Co. Wicklow, are available on my Department Website and this is updated on a regular basis.

Schools Building Projects Applications

Questions (265)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

265. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Skills when an application for a replacement of prefabs will be successful in respect of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 12; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30306/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I can confirm for the Deputy that my Department is considering an application for the replacement of temporary accommodation at the school to which he refers and my officials have been in contact directly with the school in this regard. A decision on the application will be conveyed to the school authority as soon as the assessment process has been completed.

Special Educational Needs Services Provision

Questions (266)

Simon Harris

Question:

266. Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider allowing for dual enrolment to take place for children with special educational needs, in such circumstances where a child is being gradually transitioned to mainstream school or attending as much mainstream school as possible but also requires to remain in a special needs school for a period of time or for certain aspects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30331/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department does not facilitate the dual enrolment of children in schools. National Council for Special Education Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENO's) can only allocate resources to schools in respect of those pupils enrolled in a school. However, dual placement arrangements are a regular feature of transitional plans for children who are transferring from one placement to another and should be managed locally by the relevant Boards of Management.

In addition, some children with special educational needs in special schools or special classes may also attend mainstream classes on a part-time basis in line with their abilities and local arrangements are made by the relevant boards of management.

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.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (267)

Simon Harris

Question:

267. Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will outline the timeline for providing the new second level school which he announced for an area (details supplied) in County Wicklow; when patronage will be decided for this school; when it is expected to open its doors to students; when a decision will be made on the precise location; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30332/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The intention is to provide the school to which the Deputy refers in the northern part of county Wicklow. A precise location will be decided in time to facilitate the expected commencement date of the new school, which is 2016.

Applications have been invited from prospective patrons. The closing date for the receipt of applications is 12 July 2013. The successful patron will be announced later this year.

Topical Issue Debate

Questions (268)

Micheál Martin

Question:

268. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of Dáil Topical Issue debates submitted to his Department following selection by the Ceann Comhairle since March 2011; the number of Topical Issues taken directly by him; the number of topical issues taken by a junior Minister in his Department; the number of issues taken by a Minister not from his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30339/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The information sought by the Deputy is in the following document. Number of Dáil Topical debates selected from March 2011 - present

Minister

No.

Minister Quinn

26

DES Minister of State

74

Minister not from DES

28

After-School Support Services

Questions (269)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

269. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a service (details supplied) in County Kerry; the reason this service has not received the recognition of adequate structural funding of which it is so deserving; the reason representations to his Department initiated in the summer of 2010 are still ongoing; where does the service go from here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30351/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I understand that the service to which the Deputy refers is an after school service for children with disabilities which is primarily funded by the Health Service Executive. I also understand that the Department of Children and Youth Affairs provides some funding to this service through the Community Childcare Subvention Scheme.

As such, the Deputy may wish to refer his question to the Health Service Executive and the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs for further information in relation to this matter.

Departmental Funding

Questions (270)

Brendan Smith

Question:

270. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills when funding will be allocated for a project (details supplied) in County Cavan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30364/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I can confirm for the Deputy that my Department is considering a request for grant aid to facilitate refurbishment works at the facility in question. A decision will be conveyed to the applicant when the application has been fully assessed.

Third Level Admissions Entry Requirements

Questions (271)

Brendan Smith

Question:

271. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will clarify the situation in relation to the circumstances that a student who holds a primary degree in sports science can now qualify for a grant to do a two year masters in physiotherapy in UCD; if there is any special entitlement-scheme for students who are Irish international athletes and who, on this occasion, have been selected for this masters course on the basis of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30365/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The main financial support available to students attending higher education is my Department's Student Grant Scheme. Under the terms of the Student Grant Scheme, grant assistance is awarded to students who meet the prescribed conditions of funding including those which relate to nationality, residency, approved course, previous academic attainment and means. Currently maintenance support is not available for students entering postgraduate courses. However, those who meet the qualifying conditions for the special rate of grant will be eligible to have their post-graduate tuition fees paid up to the maximum fee limit of €6,270.

A postgraduate student may qualify to have a €2,000 contribution made towards the costs of their fees. The income threshold for this payment is €31,500 for the 2013/14 academic year, increasing relative to the number of family dependants. The Deputy will appreciate that in the absence of all of the relevant details that would be contained in an individual's application form it would not be possible for me to say if the student would qualify for a student grant. To determine eligibility for the 2013/14 academic year a student may submit a fully completed online grant application to Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) via www.susi.ie. My Department has no special entitlement scheme for students participating in higher education who are Irish international athletes. Tax relief is also available on postgraduate tuition fees. Details in relation to this relief are available from the Revenue Commissioners.

Schools Amalgamation

Questions (272)

John Paul Phelan

Question:

272. Deputy John Paul Phelan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the proposal to amalgamate schools (details supplied) in County Kilkenny and the progress made towards a new joint school building; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30368/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I can confirm for the Deputy that the schools to which he refers have sought my Department's approval to amalgamate. The proposal states that a new school building would be required to facilitate an amalgamation. The application is currently being assessed and a decision will be conveyed to the management of the schools in due course.

The Deputy will be aware that my Department's over-riding objective is to ensure that every child has access to a physical school place and that our school system is in a position to cope with increasing pupil numbers. To ensure that this is achieved, the delivery of major school projects to meet significant demographic demands nationally will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years. The 5 Year Construction Plan that I announced in March 2012 is focused on meeting this demand.

Amalgamations that may have major capital implications can only be considered within the context of my Department's capital budget and the challenges facing my Department in meeting national demographic demands.

Schools Building Projects Applications

Questions (273)

John Paul Phelan

Question:

273. Deputy John Paul Phelan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for an extension to a school (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30369/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that enrolments at the school to which he refers have declined by 31% over the last 5 years to the level of four mainstream class teachers.

The Deputy will be aware that my Department's over-riding objective is to ensure that every child has access to a physical school place and that our school system is in a position to cope with increasing pupil numbers. To ensure that this is achieved, the delivery of major school projects to meet significant demographic demands nationally will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years. The Five Year Construction Programme that I announced in 2012 is focused on meeting this demand. My Department is satisfied that the school has sufficient accommodation to meet its current needs.

Adult Education

Questions (274)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

274. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the inclusion of adult literacy and numeracy in the SOLAS Bill 2013 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30471/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I recognise that further education and training as it is currently delivered covers a broad spectrum that ranges from basic adult literacy and numeracy courses to courses that are certified at level 6 and above on the National Framework of Qualifications.

Section 9 of the Further Education and Training Bill 2013 provides that SOLAS, once established, will prepare and submit, to the Minister, a strategy in respect of further education and training.

The issue of including a provision in the Bill for the development of a national adult literacy and numeracy strategy was raised at Dáil Committee Stage. The Bill was amended at Dáil Report Stage to include a provision for the development of a literacy and numeracy strategy.

Student Grant Scheme Administration

Questions (275)

Dara Calleary

Question:

275. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills the application process that exists for students currently in receipt of a higher education grant but who are repeating first year in another discipline; if he will confirm that such students will again be eligible for the HEG once they have completed first year of this new course and move onto second year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30515/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

To satisfy the terms and conditions of the student grant scheme in relation to progression, a student must be moving from year to year within a course having successfully completed the previous year or be transferring from one course to another where the award for the subsequent course is of a higher level than the previous course.

The objective of this policy is to help as many students as possible to obtain one qualification at each level of study. Given the level of demand on the student grant budget from first time students and students that are progressing with their studies to a higher level, there are no plans at present to change the arrangements in place.

In the scenario presented by the Deputy, a student who is repeating first year at the same level but in a different course is not considered to be progressing and cannot be considered for funding under the Student Grant Scheme. The student will be eligible to apply for a grant under the scheme once he/she is progressing on to the second year of his/her course.

Tax relief at the standard rate of tax may be claimed in respect of tuition fees paid for approved courses at approved colleges of higher education including approved undergraduate and postgraduate courses in EU Member States and in non-EU countries. Further information on this tax relief is available from the Revenue Commissioners.

Residential Institutions Issues

Questions (276)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

276. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 267 of 26 February 2013, if he will provide an update regarding a fund which was to be administered by his Department to support survivors of institutional abuse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30517/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I appointed the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board with effect from 25th March 2013. The Board will oversee the use of the cash contributions of up to €110 million, pledged by the religious congregations, to support the needs of some 15,000 survivors of institutional child abuse. Supports across a range of services, including mental health services, health and personal social services, education and housing services will be available.

The Board held its inaugural meeting on 27th March and has commenced work on the arrangements to be put in place for the operation of the Fund. Further publicity will be undertaken as the work of the Board progresses and a website with detailed information on the Fund's services is being developed. While the tasks facing the Fund are significant, I am confident that it will make a meaningful contribution to the wellbeing of the survivors of institutional abuse. Some initial information regarding the work of the Board is available on its website www.risfboard.com.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

Questions (277)

Denis Naughten

Question:

277. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a decision will be made on an appeal for higher education grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Roscommon; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30522/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland that the student referred to by the Deputy has had her application reviewed and a grant award letter issued on 19th June 2013.

EU Funding

Questions (278)

Derek Nolan

Question:

278. Deputy Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if there is any European educational fund which members of the European Union can avail of through his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30530/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Under the current Multiannual Financial Framework of the EU, Ireland receives some €10m annually from the Lifelong Learning Programme, which is distributed through the National Agencies, Léargas and the Higher Education Authority.

Applications for grants under the Lifelong Learning Programme are invited annually by the agencies by public advertisement.

The Lifelong Learning Programme covers areas of education and training, from school to adult and higher education. Its primary objective is to encourage mobility between member states for educational purposes.

Minor Works Scheme Suspension

Questions (279)

Pat Breen

Question:

279. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to reintroduce the minor works grant scheme in view of the financial pressures schools are now experiencing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30534/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

When the Minor Works Grant last issued in November 2011 for the school year 2011/2012, I stated that given the need to focus on meeting the demand for additional school places, it was unlikely that funding would be available for the Minor Works Grant in the coming years. This is borne out by the fact that in 2012, 85% of the capital expenditure in the school sector was in respect of large scale projects, additional accommodation and prefab replacement. The balance was expended on site acquisition, emergency works, furniture and equipment provision and commitments arising from earlier years.

The capital allocation that is available for the school sector in 2013 is expected to have a similar spend pattern as was the case in 2012 and at this time there are no plans to reinstate the Minor Works Grant.

Emergency Works Scheme Applications

Questions (280)

Pat Breen

Question:

280. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide assistance to a school (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30535/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The school referred to by the Deputy should submit an application under my Departments Emergency Works scheme for an appropriate ventilated facility for consideration.

Third Level Fees

Questions (281)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

281. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his Department will be conducting a study or a report on the impact that increasing student fees for third level students is having on families with children attending college, in view of the fact that he has committed to increasing the third level registration fee for students by €250 annually in the coming years; if he will conduct such a study or report internally by officials in his Department or if they will be seeking external tenders for expert consultants to carry out such a study who will be independent; when he expects such a report to be commissioned; the length of time in which he expects such a study to be completed; the length of time he expects to receive such a report; and if he will outline when the report or study will be finalised or when it will feed into policy by his Department. [30536/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy will be aware the student contribution will increase to €2,500 for the next academic year and is set to increase by €250 each year until the 2015/16 academic year when the contribution will stand at €3,000. The contribution is paid by the Exchequer in respect of students who qualify under my Department's student grant scheme.

The Government is aware of the financial pressures on families and, conscious of this, tax relief provisions have been put in place which provide for tax reliefs so that second and subsequent siblings do not have to bear the full cost. In addition, my Department, through the Higher Education Authority (HEA), requested institutions to put arrangements in place whereby students may opt to pay the contribution in two instalments.

The 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 the 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 decision-making as to the future funding of the sector.