Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (295)

Derek Keating

Question:

295. Deputy Derek Keating asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to establish an multi-denominational post-primary school in County Galway in view of the increased population figures in recent years. [31461/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy may be aware, two new post-primary schools (in Doughiska and Claregalway) will be opening in September 2013, both of which will be multi-denominational. These new schools are being established in order to provide sufficient places for the increased numbers of post-primary pupils within the general area. The Forward Planning Section of my Department will continue to analyse demographic data for all areas of the country, including Galway county, to identify where new schools will be required over the coming years. Should the need for any new post primary school emerge in Galway county it will be open to Patron bodies to apply for patronage in line with the established process, which was announced in June 2011.

School Staffing

Questions (296)

Robert Troy

Question:

296. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason teaching positions are being falsely advertised when they are already filled by internal candidates; if he will reintroduce the voluntary redeployment scheme for all teachers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31500/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Teaching vacancies are filled in the first instance through the redeployment of surplus permanent teachers. 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 the recruitment and appointment of teachers to fill teaching posts is a matter for the individual school authority, subject to procedures agreed under Section 24(3) of the Education Act 1998 (as amended by the Education (Amendment) Act 2012).

A pilot voluntary redeployment scheme operated at post primary level this year to assist in the redeployment of surplus permanent teachers in the Sligo area. This scheme was confined to schools in close proximity to the surplus schools in Sligo. This pilot scheme operated only for redeployment in 2013. My Department has no plans to introduce a separate voluntary redeployment scheme.

School Enrolments

Questions (297)

Robert Dowds

Question:

297. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Education and Skills in relation to the planned changes to enrolment policy, if he will ensure that Gaelscoileanna at both primary and secondary level are able to give priority to children who come from households where Irish is in use. [31502/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy is aware, I announced at this year's Teacher Union Conferences that I will shortly bring to Government draft heads of a bill – the Education (Admission to School) Bill 2013. I will seek to publish the Bill in draft form to allow a full public discussion, including inputs from the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection and the education partners. I also intend to publish draft regulations that I plan to make when the Bill is enacted. In bringing forward these proposals, it is not my intention to unnecessarily intrude into how schools do their business. My policy objective is to ensure that the way in which schools decide on applications is structured, fair and transparent. As the Bill and the Regulations will be published in draft form, they will also be subject to a lot of detailed scrutiny before becoming law. I will be reflecting carefully on the views expressed in the consultation process to ensure they strike the right balance between school autonomy and fairness in our education system.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (298)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

298. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Education and Skills if students of a school (details supplied) will be moved to their temporary location when the new term starts in September. [31528/13]

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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 current stage 2(b) includes applications for Planning Permission, Fire Safety Certificate, Disability Access Certificate and the preparation of tender documents. 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. It is not proposed to relocate the students to the temporary accommodation prior to this.

School Transport Eligibility

Questions (299)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

299. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a bus route (details supplied) in County Kerry. [31536/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Under the terms of my Department's Primary School Transport Scheme children are eligible for transport where they reside not less than 3.2 kms from and are attending their nearest national school as determined by my Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language. Bus Éireann, which operates the School Transport Scheme on behalf of my Department, has advised that the child referred to by the Deputy, in the details supplied, is not attending his nearest national school and is therefore not eligible for school transport.

Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport on a concessionary basis subject to a number of conditions, including the following:

- routes will not be extended or altered;

- additional vehicles will not be introduced, nor will larger vehicles or extra trips using existing vehicles be provided to cater for children travelling on a concessionary basis;

- no additional State cost will be incurred.

The family in question should liaise with their local Bus Éireann office regarding the availability of transport on a concessionary basis for the 2013/14 school year.

Special Educational Needs Staffing

Questions (300)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

300. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for Education and Skills the way the recent cuts to special needs assistants will affect schools in Ballymun and Finglas, Dublin. [31544/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (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 (SNAs) 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.

Whereas the allocations of SNA support for individual schools may change each year in line with a school's enrolment of children with care needs, there has been no reduction to the overall number of SNA posts being provided for schools for the coming school year. This provision remains at 10,575 posts, which is the same number as in recent years, and will ensure that all children who qualify for access to SNA support for the coming school year will receive access to such support. There has been no cut to the number of SNA posts available for allocation. Allocations are made to schools annually taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support each year. Where a school may receive a reduction in SNA support in a given school year, this is not a cut to support, but a reflection of the number of qualifying children and the extent of care support that they require.

Details of the SNA allocations which have been made to schools by the NCSE for the 2013/2014 school year are available on the NCSE website www.ncse.ie, which provides details of the SNA allocations for each school on a school by school and per county basis, including schools in Ballymun and Finglas, Dublin.

Departmental Staff Rehiring

Questions (301)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

301. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of temporary clerical officers who have been employed by his Department over each of the past three years; the number of those who have been retired public-civil servants; his views on whether his Department should employ retired staff in these positions in view of the level of youth unemployment here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31571/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The number of Temporary Clerical Officers employed in my Department for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012 were 9, 6 and 8 respectively. Temporary Clerical Officers for the Department are recruited through the Public Appointments Service selection process which is in compliance with the Commission for Public Service Appointment's Code of Practice for Appointment to positions in the Civil Service and Public Service. There were no retired public/civil servants among these 23 temporary staff employed in those years.

European Council Meetings

Questions (302)

Finian McGrath

Question:

302. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if copies of presentations by persons (details supplied) to the final education Council meeting to be held under the Irish Presidency in Brussels in May 2013 will be made available. [31592/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Mr Sahlberg and Ms Blower both made oral interventions at the Education, Youth, Sport and Culture Ministerial Council meeting on 16 May 2013. A summary record of the discussion, which includes a brief outline of these interventions, has been prepared by the Council General Secretariat and is available on the Council's website at the following address: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/educ/137150.pdf.

School Accommodation

Questions (303)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

303. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will outline all approvals for additional accommodation and emergency works in an area (details supplied) in 2013 to date by his Department's school building unit; if he will include the school name, roll number, date approved, type of additional accommodation or emergency work approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31593/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The information requested by the Deputy is available on my Department's website at www.education.gov.ie by clicking on 'Schools and Colleges', then 'Building Works' and then on 'Devolved Schemes'.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (304)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

304. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 235 of 12 March 2013, in view of the fact that the State over the past four years has spent nearly €5 million on payslips and postage to school employees and pensioners, the progress that has been made in his Department in implementing a cost effective online payslip system that is intended to be rolled out by the end of 2014; if consideration has been given to bringing this forward in view of the significant savings it would yield for the State; if the scheme will be similar to the online payslip facility that ran on a pilot basis for officials from his Department in Tullamore, County Offaly; if physical payslips ceased to be issued by his Department to officials nationwide by 15 March 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31615/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Further to my response to the Deputy's earlier Parliamentary Question No. 235 of 12th March 2013, it has not been possible to progress the implementation of a cost effective online payslip system for school employees and pensioners, in the intervening period, due to other priorities. Since March of this year, there have been significant developments to the school employee/pensioner payrolls, including an allowance review for recently appointed teachers, implementation of the Local Property Tax, in addition to measures provided for under the Haddington Road Agreement and the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (FEMPI) Act 2013.

Work is also ongoing on the implementation of Section 30 of the Teaching Council Act 2001 along with preparation for the implementation of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) European Union Regulation etc. As regards the Department's staff, I can confirm that the on-line payslips pilot has completed and as scheduled the issuing of physical payslips for all staff on the Department's ICT network, ceased with effect from 15th March 2013. A solution is still being investigated with regard to the officers on field duties, as they are not on the Department's ICT network.

Student Grant Scheme Delays

Questions (305)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

305. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of students per county who are currently awaiting payment of the Student Universal Support Ireland grant; the date on which these outstanding payments will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31621/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The attached table details the number of students awarded maintenance that have yet to be paid, as on 2nd July, 2013, for the 2012/13 academic year by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI). SUSI has confirmed that those yet to be paid are students that were awarded in June, but are awaiting confirmation of registration from the college or students who were awarded, or/and who have not yet provided their bank details. SUSI is continuing to make payment to students as expediously as possible, once they receive the necessary confirmation.

County

Yet to be paid

Carlow

0

Cavan

0

Clare

4

Cork

40

Donegal

16

Dublin

114

Galway

27

Kerry

19

Kildare

26

Kilkenny

14

Laois

10

Leitrim

4

Limerick

21

Longford

6

Louth

15

Mayo

11

Meath

13

Monaghan

9

Offaly

5

Roscommon

13

Sligo

11

Tipperary

16

Waterford

21

Westmeath

2

Wexford

13

Wicklow

12

Outside Ireland

29

442

Student Grant Scheme Application Numbers

Questions (306)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

306. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of students who applied for Student Universal Support Ireland grants to pursue a course of study outside the State; the number of these who were erroneously informed by the Department that they would receive a grant to cover the course fees; the steps he has taken to adequately compensate any students in this situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31622/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I understand from Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) that some 702 students applied for support to pursue a course of study outside of the State in 2012/13.

The Deputy will be aware that the provision of information and decisions on student grants are operational matters for SUSI rather than for my Department. While some students may have had the impression that a grant award would be made to them on the basis of their telephone discussion with SUSI regarding the progress or detailed aspects of their application, I understand that it is the policy of SUSI not to confirm or give any indication to students regarding the decision or award of a grant otherwise than formally in writing and following full assessment. There are internal review procedures as well as internal and external appeals mechanisms in place whereby students may query or appeal any aspect of the assessment of their grant application by SUSI and there is also the possibility of referral to the Ombudsman in respect of SUSI’s administrative procedures.

The Deputy will appreciate that, in the context of SUSI having received in excess of 69,000 applications in 2012/13, some administrative errors will inevitably arise when handling a high volume of applications within a relatively short timeframe. In a very small number of cases where an administrative error was made by SUSI in actually awarding a grant, and the formal award of a grant in writing was subsequently rescinded by SUSI, the grant scheme does not provide for the award of a grant where the applicant is not entitled to receive a grant under the terms of the scheme.

Student Grant Scheme Administration

Questions (307)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

307. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide details of the preparations made by his Department to resolve the issues with the Student Universal Support Ireland grant system; his views on whether the system will be effective in the coming academic year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31623/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Accenture Report, which reviewed the operations of SUSI, contained a series of recommendations, many of which are already being implemented by SUSI. In line with these recommendations and in preparation for the 2013/14 academic year, both the online application system and the application assessment process have been further developed to enhance their effectiveness and to deal with the difficulties experienced in year one. A number of new initiatives will make the application process more efficient this year including direct information sharing between SUSI and Government agencies such as the Revenue Commissioners, the Department of Social Protection, the General Register Office and the Central Applications Office. These links should significantly reduce the number of documents required from applicants themselves.

In addition the staff resources recommended by the review have already been sanctioned. The resources include three additional management posts and some 23 (whole time equivalent) additional processing staff. This will help to ensure that qualifying students have their applications assessed as quickly as possible. SUSI has also significantly developed its training programme to meet the training needs of new and existing staff. In addition, the closing date will be a month earlier to facilitate earlier application and decision on a grant application. Also SUSI is working closely with all third level institutions to improve the payment process for the 2013/14 academic year.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (308)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

308. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reasons supplementary welfare allowance is not considered as a qualifying payment for the special rate of maintenance grant for third level study; if he will reconsider his position in respect of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31624/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Persons in receipt of the supplementary welfare allowance may apply for a student grant. Assuming that students satisfy all of the relevant terms and conditions of the student grant scheme, eligible students on this payment qualify for the standard rate of grant and student contribution or fees where applicable. Supplementary welfare allowance is not an eligible payment for the special rate of grant because it is considered to be a short-term payment. I have no plans at present to extend the student grant scheme to include it as an eligible payment.

Special Educational Needs Services Provision

Questions (309)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

309. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the actions that have been taken by him to implement the 2010 framework for action for the inclusion of children with special needs in early childhood education settings to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31625/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Framework for Action for the Inclusion of Children with Special Needs in Early Childhood Education Settings was developed as a research project by Mary Immaculate in Limerick. The Framework has formed the basis for a Certificate in Inclusive Care and Education which is a Level 6 Special Purpose Award designed to provide those working with young children with the specific body of knowledge and skills required to support the inclusion of children with SEN in early childhood education settings. The framework is used more as a pedagogical tool by lecturers/tutors for courses on inclusion of children with special needs rather than directly by practitioners.

Bullying in Schools

Questions (310)

John McGuinness

Question:

310. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the anti-bullying forum established by him in 2012 has issued a final report and recommendations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31651/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Minister Fitzgerald and I published an Action Plan on Bullying on 29th January which sets out twelve actions to help prevent and tackle bullying in primary and second level schools. I have ring-fenced €500,000 to support implementation of the Action Plan this year. Officials from my Department have commenced work on the implementation of the actions. In particular, an awareness raising initiative on cyber bullying targeted at young people has taken place and will continue. My Department supported the Stand Up! Awareness Week Against Homophobic & Transphobic Bullying in second level schools which took place in March.

Work is also well advanced on developing new anti-bullying procedures for schools in consultation with the school management bodies, teacher unions and national parents councils. These new procedures are due to issue to schools for the start of the next school year. Implementation of these and the other actions identified in the Plan will continue in the coming months.

Special Educational Needs Services Provision

Questions (311)

John McGuinness

Question:

311. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills if resource hours will be provided for a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny. [31659/13]

View answer

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 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.

I am committed to ensuring that the resources which will be required to ensure that the allocations can be made to schools at existing levels will be provided, including resources required to meet any late demand expected to arise between now and the start of the school year. I have therefore requested the NCSE to advise me by the end of September on the level of additional demand arising from late or emergency applications for the remainder of the school year. 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 (312)

Patrick Nulty

Question:

312. Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Education and Skills when construction of the extension to a college (details supplied) will commence following its inclusion in a recent Government stimulus programme. [31663/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The major building project for Castleknock Community College is at an advanced stage of architectural planning, stage 2b. Further clarification on the stage 2(b) submission was recently received by the Department from the school authority and this is currently under review. Authorisation has been given to commence the pre-qualification process for contractors. On satisfactory completion of stage 2 (b) and assuming no issues arise, authorisation will be given to commence the tender process.

Special Educational Needs Services Provision

Questions (313, 317)

Patrick Nulty

Question:

313. Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide extra funding to schools through the National Council for Special Education to ensure that students with special needs do not have reduced access to special education resource hours. [31664/13]

View answer

Nicky McFadden

Question:

317. Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will clarify the situation in relation to special needs assistants and resource teacher allocations; if he will bring certainty to parents and school communities that the necessary supports for children with special needs will be provided; if he will acknowledge the important role played by SNAs and resource teachers in ensuring that children with special needs progress and develop in the mainstream school setting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31733/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 313 and 317 together.

I wish to advise the Deputy that the level of resources devoted to supporting children with Special Educational Needs has been maintained at €1.3 billion this year. This includes provision for 10,575 Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) and nearly 10,000 Learning Support and Resource Teachers. These resources have been protected despite the ongoing severe financial position. The ongoing commitment of my Government to protecting frontline supports for children with special educational needs is an acknowledgment of the important role played by SNAs and resource teachers in ensuring that children with special needs can progress and develop and be included in mainstream school settings.

Whereas the allocations of SNA support for individual schools may change each year in line with a school's enrolment of children with care needs, there has been no reduction to the overall number of SNA posts being provided for schools for the coming school year. This provision remains at 10,575 posts, which will ensure that all children who qualify for access to SNA support for the coming school year will receive access to such support. The total number of SNA posts allocated to schools for the 2012/13 school year was 10,487 posts. For the 2011/12 school year it was 10,320 posts. It is estimated that there will be sufficient SNA posts to provide access to SNA support for all children who require such support in the coming school year.

In relation to the allocation of resource teaching support for schools from September 2013, demand for support has risen again this year, due to a combination of demographic growth and increased assessments. Despite the fact that the overall number of posts available to the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) for allocation to schools had been maintained at existing levels, the allocations initially announced by the NCSE on 19th June were reduced to take into account of the growth in demand, within the maintained number of posts, in order to ensure that equivalent allocations could be made for all qualifying children. On 25th of June, I announced that I have now authorised the NCSE to restore the level of resource teaching allocations which can be provided for students with special educational needs to the 2012/13 levels. This will mean that there will not now be any reduction to resource teaching time for children over the level which applied last year.

I also committed to ensuring that the resources which will be required to ensure that the allocations can be made to schools at existing levels will be provided, including resources required to meet any late demand expected to arise between now and the start of the school year. The NCSE have now published revised details of the Resource Teaching allocations for all schools, based on existing allocation levels. Details of these allocations are now provided at www.ncse.ie. In the longer term, it is proposed to develop a new model to improve how resources for children with special Educational needs are allocated to schools. I am concerned that the scale of increased demand for resource teachers this year, if it were to continue, would make the current system unsustainable. I am asking the NCSE to consider the reasons for the unprecedented 12 per cent rise in applications for resource teacher support this year, which compares with an annual 1.3 per cent increase in the number of students attending school in the current year.

The Deputy will be aware that the NCSE recently published comprehensive policy advice on Supporting Students with Special Educational Needs in Schools. I have, as suggested by the Report, requested the NCSE to establish a Working Group to develop a proposal, for consideration, for a new allocation model for teaching supports for children with Special Educational Needs based on the profiled educational needs of children in schools. In the interim, I wish to ensure that children will not be disadvantaged while we move towards a new model which will ensure greater fairness and quality of education for children with special educational needs. That is why I have made the decision to maintain the existing allocation levels this year.

Student Grant Scheme Appeals

Questions (314)

Seán Fleming

Question:

314. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a student grant will be approved on appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31692/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) that the applicant referred to by the Deputy was issued with an ineligibility letter on 15th August 2012. Following an appeal to SUSI and subsequent requests for supporting documentation, a decision on the appeal was issued on 8th April 2013 advising her that she was deemed ineligible to receive a grant. 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.