School Enrolments

Questions (386)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

386. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of students in the primary school system for 2012-13; the projected increases for the ten years from 2012/2013 on a yearly basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32134/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The number of students enrolled in the primary school system for the 2012/2013 academic year will be available during the summer months. The most recently available projections of enrolment at Primary level are available on the Department's website at http://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Statistics/Projections-of-full-time-enrolment-Primary-and-Second-Level-2012-2030.pdf.

School Health and Safety Issues

Questions (387, 388)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

387. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps taken to advise the boards of management and principals of primary schools on the procedures that they must undertake to ensure schools' full compliance with the statutory health and safety requirements in the workplace; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32135/13]

View answer

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

388. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps taken to advise boards of management in primary schools on the procedures that they must undertake to ensure the health, safety and welfare in the workplace of principal teachers in view of the significant increases in their workload; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32136/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 387 and 388 together.

The body which has statutory responsibility for ensuring that health and safety requirements are met by all employers, including schools, is the Health and Safety Authority (HSA). The Authority also provides information and advice to organisations, including schools, to assist them in ensuring that their responsibilities in respect of health and safety in the workplace are met.

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 sets out the responsibilities on individual school management authorities to have a safety statement in place in their schools. The Statement should identify potential hazards, assess the risks to health and safety and put appropriate provision in place to safeguard the safety and health of employees and pupils.

The HSA has published resources specifically for schools to support them in managing health and safety in the school environment. It also provides a number of online training courses specifically for the school sector. Further details on the advice, resources and training courses available from the HSA can be obtained from the HSA's website www.hsa.ie.

Emergency Works Scheme Applications

Questions (389)

Michael McCarthy

Question:

389. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide additional funding to a school (details supplied) in County Cork in respect of essential works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32145/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department received an application under the emergency works scheme from the school referred to by the Deputy for works relating to a retaining wall. As the scope of the works requested is outside the terms of the emergency works scheme it cannot be considered for funding. The school authority has been informed of this decision.

School Curriculum

Questions (390)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

390. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider changes and revisions to the SPHE curricula to provide for a greater level of assistance and support for children in relation to the issue of cyberbullying, its impact and consequences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32146/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Current Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curricula at primary and post-primary levels already provide students with the strategies and related knowledge to deal with bullying in all its forms including cyberbullying. The curricula aim to foster self-worth, self confidence and respectful relationships and place a particular emphasis on developing a sense of personal responsibility for one's own behaviour, feelings and actions.

The Mental Health Guidelines for Post-Primary Schools (2013) also promote the development and implementation of relevant policies including an anti-bullying policy and code of behaviour incorporating positive behaviour management strategies and the promotion of a 'telling' culture in schools.

I also published 'An Action Plan on Bullying' in January 2013. This Action Plan, which arises from the work of the Anti-Bullying Working Group, provides guidance to schools in the area of bullying, including cyber bullying.

The SPHE Support Service provides for whole-staff seminars on bullying prevention and intervention and policy review and development. The Support Service also provides for school-based anti-bullying support to include, for example, administration of a student survey, the provision of a parent evening and the development of strategies for resolving bullying issues.

The new Framework for Junior Cycle that I launched in October 2012 will build on this by placing a focus on the principle of Well Being and key skills such as Managing Myself and Staying Well. It also includes a Statement of Learning that requires that students will be enabled to take action to safeguard and promote their well-being and that of others. The NCCA is currently developing a short course in SPHE which will support schools in meeting this statement of learning.

School Transport Provision

Questions (391)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

391. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider a free school bus service across the cities of Ireland in the interest of the environment and traffic congestion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31044/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The purpose of my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school.

Children are eligible for school transport where they satisfy the distance criterion and are attending their nearest national school or post primary centre, having regard to ethos and language. School transport is a very significant national operation involving about 42 million journeys and over 82 million kilometres on 6,000 routes every school year. This service is delivered using a mix of Bus Éireann, both school transport and road passenger vehicles, private contractor vehicles including private operator scheduled services, and Dublin Bus, Irish Rail, DART and LUAS where practical. In the region of 115,000 children avail of school transport services throughout the school year including more than 8,000 children with special educational needs.

The terms of the scheme are applied equitably on a national basis. Children who are eligible for school transport and who hold valid Medical Cards (GMS Scheme) travel free on school transport services.

The 2013 allocation to my Department for the provision of School Transport is almost €170m. Any proposal to reduce the qualifying distance for establishing eligibility or to provide a free school bus service as suggested by the Deputy would significantly increase operating costs. For this reason, it is not intended to change the current eligibility criteria for school transport services.

Information and Communications Technology Issues

Questions (392)

Michael Moynihan

Question:

392. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his estimate of the number of graduates with communications technology skills that will be required here over the next three years; his views on whether this demand will be met; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27849/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The joint Government-Industry ICT Action Plan, which was published in January 2012, sets out a multi-level approach with an overarching aim of doubling the number of graduates from ICT disciplines to 2,000 by 2018. It contains a comprehensive range of measures to build the domestic supply of ICT graduates, in the short, medium and long term, including through the roll out of the ICT graduate skills conversion programmes.

The targets in the Action Plan were developed on the basis of research and forecasts of industry demand and graduate output carried out in 2011. The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs is in the process of updating the expected industry demand and skills supply over the coming years. The results of this research will be available shortly and will form the basis for any updates to the targets and measures outlined in the Action Plan.

As part of the Action Plan almost 1,500 places have been provided for graduate jobseekers under two the rounds of the ICT graduate skills conversion programmes that have issued to date. More than 400 people have already graduated from these programmes and a further 300 are due to graduate before the end of this year. In addition, more than 3,700 people have enrolled on ICT programmes under the first two rounds of the Springboard reskilling initiative and a further 2,000 ICT Springboard places have been made available under the third phase of Springboard which was launched in June 2013.

The Plan has helped to raise awareness of employment opportunities in ICT. Technology courses accounted for 20.5% of all honours degree level first preference applications through the CAO this year. The increase in demand from students for technology courses, including a 50% increase in first preference applications for computing over the past 5 years is very positive in building the future supply of graduates.

Student Grant Scheme Administration

Questions (393, 397)

Simon Harris

Question:

393. Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills the measures that have been taken to ensure that the delays encountered by students applying for the third level grant have been rectified; the additional resources that have been allocated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32162/13]

View answer

Denis Naughten

Question:

397. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he is taking to ensure there is not a repeat of the failure by Student Universal Support Ireland to process 2012-13 higher education grant applications in a competent manner; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32178/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 393 and 397 together. 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.

Emergency Works Scheme Funding

Questions (394)

Alan Farrell

Question:

394. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will outline in tabular form the monthly cost of emergency works grant aid in 2013 and annual cost in 2012; the number of applicants for the grant in 2012 and 2013; the cost of the minor works grant scheme in 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32170/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Expenditure under the Emergency Works Scheme in the first six months of 2013 has been as follows: January - €366,438; February - €616,478; March - €208,150; April - €911,789; May - €630,699; and June - €324,581. The total amount of funding issued under the Emergency Works Scheme in 2012 was €10m. In 2012 620 applications for funding under the Scheme were received by my Department and to date in 2013 419 applications have been received. Expenditure on the Minor Works Grant in 2011 amounted to €28.2m.

Teaching Qualifications

Questions (395)

Robert Troy

Question:

395. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to accommodate qualified teachers who are registered with the Teaching Council but will not be recognised under section 30 of the teaching Act in October; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32172/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Circular 0025/2013 issued on 15 May to the managerial authorities of recognised schools and vocational education committees and is on my Department's website. It confirms that Section 30 of the Teaching Council Act 2001 will be commenced on 1 November 2013. Subject to very limited exceptions, which will be controlled by Ministerial regulation, Section 30 will prohibit payment by the State of people employed as teachers in recognised schools unless they are registered with the Teaching Council. Therefore persons who are registered with the Teaching Council will not be affected by the commencement of Section 30.

School Accommodation

Question No. 397 answered with Question No. 393.

Questions (396)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

396. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide an update on an application for additional school accommodation for a school (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32175/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I can confirm for the Deputy that my Department has received an application for additional mainstream accommodation at the school to which he refers. This application is being assessed and a decision on the application will be conveyed to the school authority as soon as the assessment process has been completed.

Question No. 397 answered with Question No. 393.

Special Educational Needs Services Provision

Questions (398, 399)

Seán Kyne

Question:

398. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the work that is being carried out to provide persons with an intellectual disability with a choice of educational options similar to that which other young persons have at the conclusion of second level education. [32199/13]

View answer

Seán Kyne

Question:

399. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will outline the supports that each of the publicly funded third level institutions in the State have to facilitate persons with either physical or intellectual disabilities in continuing education after second level education. [32200/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 398 and 399 together.

The Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) is a college and university admissions scheme which offers places at reduced points to school leavers with disabilities. Thirteen higher education institutions are participating in the scheme in 2013. An application for a place through this scheme is made to the Central Applications Office (www.cao.ie). For further information on DARE see also www.accesscollege.ie.

Core funding for access programmes is allocated each year as part of the overall budget of each designated higher education institution. This funding supports the provision of dedicated staff, services and supports for students with disabilities as well as for mature students and school-leavers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Every further and higher education institution has at least one member of staff with responsibility for liaising with students with disabilities, as required by the Disability Act 2005. In addition many institutions have a dedicated Disability Support Service with trained disability officers, learning support officers and other specialist staff.

Employment Support Services

Questions (400)

Seán Kyne

Question:

400. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if any of the very welcome courses provided under Springboard comprise a rehabilitative training element which would encourage greater inclusion in the workplace by providing opportunities for persons with a disability. [32230/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Springboard programme strategically targets funding of free part-time flexible higher education courses for unemployed and previously self-employed people in areas where there are identified labour market skills shortages or employment opportunities.

More than 10,000 people have been supported under the two rounds of Springboard that issued in 2011 and 2012. An additional 6,000 places are currently being rolled out under a third phase of the programme, which was launched on 21 June 2013. The new places are available on 204 courses in 38 different public and private higher education providers across the country.

All Springboard programmes are selected for funding by an independent panel with industry and educational expertise and must be in area of identified enterprise skills needs based on Expert Group on Future Skills Needs research and industry input. The 2013 courses focus on growth areas such as ICT and International Financial Services as well as on the skills needed for enterprise to trade internationally. Courses that address cross sectoral enterprise skills needs are also available in areas such as lean and quality systems and entrepreneurship.

To be eligible for a place on a Springboard course a person must be unemployed, actively seeking employment, and be in receipt of one of the qualifying Department of Social Protection payments, which includes Disability Allowance, or be signing for credits or be previously self employed. It is open to any person with a disability who meets the eligibility criteria to apply for a place on a Springboard course. Further information on Springboard is available on the dedicated information and applications website: www.springboardcourses.ie. Information and advice is also available to prospective students at the Springboard freephone guidance service on 1800 303 523.

State Examinations Issues

Questions (401)

Billy Timmins

Question:

401. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will arrange to have the still life work completed by students as part of their leaving certificate examination in art returned to them, similar to arts and crafts works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32284/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations. In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.

School Staffing

Questions (402)

Pat Breen

Question:

402. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason teaching hours have been reduced in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32288/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Teacher allocations to all second level schools are approved annually by my Department in accordance with established rules based on recognised pupil enrolment. The staffing arrangements at post primary level for the 2013/14 school year have been published and are available on the Department website. In accordance with these rules each school management authority is required to organise its subject options within the limit of its approved teacher allocation. The deployment of teaching staff in the school, the range of subjects offered and ultimately the quality of teaching and learning are in the first instance a matter for the school management authorities.

School Staffing

Questions (403)

Alan Farrell

Question:

403. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the turnover of substitute teachers in primary and secondary level schools is monitored by his Department with respect to each school; the rate at which the number of substitute teachers has increased or decreased since the embargo on recruitment; if there has been analysis carried out by his Department on the impact that this may have on the quality of lessons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32010/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The employment of substitute teachers is a matter for the managerial authority of each individual primary and second level school.

It is outlined in my Department circulars that the managerial authorities of schools should only employ qualified teachers including substitutes to cover all absences and vacancies in their schools.

All teachers, including substitute teachers, are subject to inspection. In line with the annual inspection programme, inspectors engage with all categories of teacher to evaluate teaching and learning, to provide feedback on improvement and to report on quality and standards in schools.

Substitute teachers can only be employed by the managerial authorities of schools to provide cover for teachers absent from their teaching posts on approved leave of absence. The on line claim system determines the approved absences for which substitute teachers may be employed. If an absence is not approved the claim for the substitute teacher cannot be submitted for payment to my Department using the on line claim system.

Mental Health Awareness

Questions (404)

Alan Farrell

Question:

404. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he has taken in order to increase suicide awareness and mental health support in secondary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32011/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I can inform the Deputy that last January I launched the Well-Being in Post-Primary Schools: Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention, which were developed by my Department in conjunction with the Department of Health. They are informed by consultation with key education partners and by the findings of recent research.

The guidelines provide practical guidance to post-primary schools on how they can promote mental health and well-being in an integrated way and they also provide evidence-based advice on how to support young people who may be at risk of suicidal behaviour.

The Guidelines have been developed to bring coherence to and build upon the multitude of practices that are already in place in schools to promote well-being. They emphasise the need to integrate all elements by using a coordinated whole-school approach in the promotion of positive mental health. This involves building and integrating school self-evaluation processes, implementing the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum, developing the whole-school guidance plan, adopting the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) continuum of support, and building effective inter-agency relationships. Support for schools will be integrated into existing CPD work plans for the SPHE support service and will be coordinated nationally in collaboration with NEPS and HSE to ensure a streamlined approach. Copies of the Guidelines have been circulated to schools authorities.

In addition in the same period I had published, along with my colleague, Minister Fitzgerald, an Action Plan on Bullying 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 these actions this year.

Officials from my Department have already commenced work on the implementation of the actions. In particular, an awareness raising initiative on cyber bullying targeted at young people is already underway and my Department is supporting the Stand Up! Awareness Week Against Homophobic & Transphobic Bullying in second level schools which took place in March. Work has also commenced 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. Preliminary work has commenced on other aspects of the Action Plan on Bullying. Implementation will continue in the coming months.

In addition, the Framework for Junior Cycle, published in October 2012, is underpinned by 8 principles one of which is "Wellbeing", Through Wellbeing "the student experience will contribute directly to their physical, mental, emotional and social wellbeing and resilience. Learning takes place in a climate focused on collective wellbeing of school, community and society". The Framework contains 24 Statements of Learning which students should experience. One of these statements aims to ensure that the student "takes action to safeguard and promote his/her wellbeing and that of others".

In addition, there are six key skills required for successful learning by students across the curriculum and for learning beyond school. One of the six key skills of Junior Cycle is "Staying Well".As part of the revised Junior Cycle, short courses are being prepared by the NCCA not only in PE but also in SPHE and will be available for schools from September 2014. These courses may be assessed as a part of the School Certificate in the new Junior Cycle.