Special Educational Needs Staffing

Questions (356, 358)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

356. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of children in each of the past six years who have been assigned low incidence resource teaching. [32104/13]

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Charlie McConalogue

Question:

358. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of children in mainstream education in receipt of low incidence resource teaching; and the number of teachers employed to provide the resource teaching. [32106/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 356 and 358 together.

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.

I wish to advise the Deputy also 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.

The NCSE has now published revised details of the Resource Teaching allocations for all schools, based on existing allocation levels.The NCSE has recently published comprehensive policy advice on Supporting Students Special Educational Needs in Schools, which contains detailed information regarding the number of pupils with special educational needs being supported in schools, and the number of pupils in receipt of additional supports by disability category. This report is available at www.ncse.ie. The report sets out that, in the 2012/13 school year, additional teaching resources were allocated to schools for 21,421 primary and 9,781 post primary students with low incidence special educational needs. 5,265 additional teaching posts were made available to the NCSE in 2012/13 for allocation in respect of pupils with low incidence special educational needs.

As applications for additional resource teaching support for children with low incidence disabilities are considered by the NCSE, I have referred the Deputy's question regarding the number of children who have been allocated additional resource teaching support for the past six years to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

In the longer term, it is proposed to develop new allocations system to improve how resources for children with special Educational needs are allocated to schools.

I have, as suggested in the NCSE policy advice on Supporting Students with Special Educational Needs in Schools, 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.

Special Educational Needs Services Provision

Question No. 358 answered with Question No. 356.

Questions (357)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

357. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of children in mainstream, special class and special school settings in each of the past five years who have been assigned the support of a special needs assistant; and the number of special needs assistants deployed to support these children in each setting. [32105/13]

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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 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.

The NCSE allocates a level of SNA support for each school annually taking into account the assessed care needs of all of the qualifying children enrolled in the school. SNAs are then deployed by schools in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated. It is a matter for schools to allocate support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilised.

Some 10,575 Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) SNA posts have been made available for allocation to schools by the NCSE for the coming school year, subject to qualifying applications being received. The number of SNA posts available for allocation has been maintained at a time when there has been a requirement to make savings across a range of expenditure areas.

The NCSE has allocated 10,490 SNA posts to schools for the 2013/14 school year, providing for access to SNA support for 22,000 pupils. The total number of SNA posts allocated to schools for the 2012/13 school year was 10,487 posts.

Details of the SNA allocations which have been made to schools by the NCSE for the 2013/2014 school year are now 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.

As all applications for SNA support are considered by the NCSE, I have referred the Deputy's question regarding the number of children who have been assigned SNA support for the past five years to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply to the Deputy.

Question No. 358 answered with Question No. 356.

Special Educational Needs Staffing

Questions (359)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

359. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of children in special classes in primary schools; and the number of teachers employed to teach them. [32107/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that details of the special classes which are attached to mainstream schools at primary and post primary level are detailed on a county by county, and school by school basis, on the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) website www.ncse.ie.

There are 495 special classes attached to mainstream primary schools in the current school year. At primary level, one teacher is allocated to each approved special class.

Details of any new special classes which will be opened for the 2013/14 school year will be detailed on the NCSE website once this has been finalised.

I wish to explain to the Deputy that pupil numbers vary in Special Classes on the basis of the disability categorisation of the special class, which ranges from a 6:1 to 11:1 pupil teacher ratio. It is not possible to provide an actual figure for enrolment levels in special classes, as class numbers can fluctuate throughout the school year as pupils enrol and leave special classes, while in some cases pupils are partially integrated between special and mainstream classes.

School Inspectorate

Questions (360)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

360. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the current staffing details of the inspectorate at both primary and post-primary level, including the numbers of inspectors at each grade in each business area. [32108/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

There are 123.3 whole-time equivalent (WTE) staff currently in the Inspectorate. There are 66.5 inspectors at inspector grade, 46.8 at senior/divisional grade, 8 at the grade of assistant chief inspector, 1 deputy chief inspector and 1 chief inspector. The 113.3 inspectors at inspector or senior/divisional grade include 57 primary inspectors, 54.3 post-primary Inspectors and 2 inspectors designated as primary/post-primary. The Chief Inspector and Deputy Chief Inspector are responsible for the overall management of the Inspectorate. 101.3 WTE staff are assigned to inspection and advisory services in five regional business units and 20 Inspectorate staff are assigned to policy work including evaluation support, self-evaluation, school improvement and curriculum and assessment policy.

Probationary Teachers

Questions (361)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

361. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of primary teachers who applied to undergo probation during the last academic year; the number who were assigned an inspector; the number who completed the probation process successfully; the number who were deemed to need more time; and the number who were unsuccessful. [32109/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Preliminary figures for the 2012/2013 school year indicate that 2,421 applications to undergo probation were received from primary teachers. Some 91 applications were not eligible and the remaining 2,330 teachers were allocated to inspectors for one or two inspection visits in accordance with the probation circular. At the last update on 21st June 2013 the Inspectorate had completed 3,736 inspection visits to teachers on probation, representing 97% of the total number of inspection visits required; and the programme was on target to have all eligible teachers inspected before the end of the school year. Since the inspection programme has only just concluded information on the outcomes of the inspection visits is not yet available. A summary of the inspection outcomes, with validated figures, will be available within a few weeks and will be provided to the Deputy.

Schools Numbers

Questions (362)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

362. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to introduce a database of primary school pupils. [32110/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The development of a database for all schools and colleges aided by my Department is vital to the provision of evidence-based data on progression of students through the system and, especially, to identify those at risk of dropping out or under-achieving. My Department has committed to the development of such a database in it's Data Strategy 2008-2010. As part of the development of the Data Strategy consultations were carried out with many of my Department's agencies to discuss how data could best be collected and shared in a manner which reduces the overall administrative burden for the school and allows for the most efficient operation and provision of services to the pupil.

There have been a number of developments in recent years in the area of pupil data collection from post-primary schools. My Department is currently in the process of streamlining the post-primary returns process to allow for a live online system allowing for easy exchange of information that reflects the up-to-date situation in regard to enrolment at any one time and to cut down on administrative burden and the scale of paper-based information flows across the Department and its associated agencies. This is currently in a pilot phase.

My Department has begun preliminary work on extension of this development to primary level schools. Once this is done, my Department will have access to an integrated live Learners database covering primary and post-primary level, which will allow for the effective monitoring of progression, and for enhanced policy planning using real-time data.

School Accommodation

Questions (363)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

363. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the inventory of school accommodation will be completed. [32111/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department provides an online inventory of school accommodation which is available for completion by schools on the Department's Esinet portal. The Inventory captures key data and statistics on the existing school building stock throughout the country at both primary and post-primary levels. To date approximately 80% of schools have completed or are in the process of completing the online inventory.

In tandem with this a pilot study was undertaken by my Department to develop an inventory of education infrastructure and related community assets in five areas in the country. The geographic areas included for the pilot study were Tuam, Navan, Clonmel, Portlaoise, and part of Limerick City.

The research information gathered from this pilot study was in a format compatible with current Department information systems, such as the Geographic Information System (GIS). This allows my Department to overlay the new information such as site maps, floor plans and other data on to its current GIS mapping system.

It is the intention that this expanded inventory data will now be developed on an incremental basis at a national level.

School Management

Questions (364)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

364. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to allow schools to retain details of school attendance electronically. [32112/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department is currently streamlining the arrangements for the maintenance of school attendance records at primary level and will be publishing a circular in this regard in the coming days.

Preparatory work has also been commenced by my Department on the development of a primary online pupil database. My Department envisages starting a consultation process with the management bodies and relevant education partners in relation to this work in early Autumn 2013.

As the nature and scope of the primary pupil database project develops, further consideration will be given by my Department as to how electronic records systems at school level could in the future fit with the database. In this regard, my Department will also engage further with the relevant partners in relation to the minimum requirements relating to areas such as data integrity, audit trails, data protection, oversight and other core system requirements which will need to be met by any such electronic systems.