Special Educational Needs Services Provision

Questions (96)

Noel Harrington

Question:

96. Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the special needs assistant allocation for a child (details supplied) in County Cork currently receiving full-time assistance will be maintained for the upcoming year, as it is due to be halved, which will have adverse consequences for their learning; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32386/13]

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 primary and post primary schools for special educational needs supports including resource teaching and Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support as well as the establishment of special classes in various geographical areas as required. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.

The level of resources being 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 and a requirement to make expenditure savings across a range of areas. 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. The demand for SNAs for the 2013/2014 school year currently stands at 10,490 leaving some 85 posts available for late demand. It is therefore 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. SNA allocations are made to schools by the NCSE annually, taking into account the assessed care needs of qualifying children. 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.

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. Where schools have enrolled children who were not considered at the time that these allocations were made, or where schools are seeking a revision to the quantum of SNA support which has been allocated to them for the coming school year, they should contact the NCSE regarding this matter. In general a revision to SNA allocations will only be made in circumstances where schools have enrolled new pupils or where schools can demonstrate that they do not have sufficient SNA posts to cater for the care needs of all of the qualifying children in their school. 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.

School Staffing

Questions (97, 108)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

97. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide in tabular form the number of release days from full-time teaching duties afforded by his Department to teaching principals; his plans to increase these; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32393/13]

View answer

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

108. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will list in tabular form the number of release days from full-time teaching duties afforded by his Department to teaching principals; his plans to increase these; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32404/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 97 and 108 together.

The details regarding release time for principal teachers in primary schools is outlined in Circular Letter 25/02 which can be accessed on my Department's website. The number of days that principal teachers may take as release time in each school year is as follows:

Size of School*

Number of Days Release Time

Principal + 5/6

22

Principal + 3/4

18

Principal + 0/1/2

14

*Size of school refers to Principal and mainstream class teachers only and excludes ex-quota posts e.g. learning support, resource, disadvantaged concessionary posts etc.

There are no plans to increase the number of release days that principal teachers may take as release days.

School Management

Questions (98)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

98. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the training that was provided for members of boards of management at primary and post-primary level; the funding his Department provided for this training; the evaluation of this training that has been undertaken by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32394/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

In recognition of the responsibility which the Education Act has imposed on Boards of Management and the increasingly complex environment in which they must operate, the Teacher Education Section (TES) of my Department developed a new scheme for the provision of support to school management bodies for the purpose of training and development of members of boards of management of primary and post-primary schools in the discharge of their duties. Five core modules of training are currently being delivered. The 5 topics available to Board of Management members are The Board as a Corporate Entity, Procedures Governing the Appointment of Staff in Schools, Board Finances & the Role of Treasurer, Legal Issues and Child Protection Guidelines. Other training is provided as is requested by members of Boards from time to time.

When the training was established in 2006, my Department allocated a sum of €1,000,000 and since then has provided an additional €764,146 towards the training. For 2013 my Department has allocated an amount of €250,000 to BoM training. A National Steering Committee, comprising representatives from all of the Management Bodies for schools, primary and post-primary, meets twice a year with the TES. The Steering Committee members oversee the design and planning of training materials and report on the roll-out of training for the respective school sectors. The response by BOM members to the training, as reported by the Management Bodies, has been very positive. The funding for Board of Management Training is administered on behalf of my Department by the Drumcondra Education Centre.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Questions (99)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

99. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to reduce the average class size in primary schools in Ireland, which according to OECD Education at a Glance 2013 is the second highest of EU countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32395/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The staffing schedule is the mechanism used for the allocation of classroom teachers to all primary schools. It operates in a clear and transparent manner and treats all similar types of schools equally irrespective of location. The configuration of classes and the deployment of classroom teachers are done at local school level. My Department publishes annual statistics on class size data for each school. The most recent statistics are for the 2011/12 school year. The national average class size is 24.4 pupils. However, with over 20,700 classes in over 3,100 primary schools throughout the country there will always be variations in class sizes at individual school level. My Department's guidance to local school management is that such variations should be kept to the minimum.

Classroom teachers are allocated under the staffing schedule based on the pupil enrolments for the previous 30th September. However, the staffing schedule also includes provision for schools that have significant increases in their enrolment in rapidly developing areas to be allocated classroom teachers based on their projected enrolments for September 2013. The criteria for this are set out in the staffing schedule which is available on the Department website. Given the constraints on teacher numbers my Department has no capacity to put any other ameliorating measures in place.

The Deputy will be aware that the Government has protected frontline services in schools to the greatest extent possible in the recent budget and there will no reduction in teacher numbers in primary schools and in free second level schools for the 2013/14 school year as a result of the budget. The DEIS scheme for disadvantaged schools is also fully protected with no overall changes to staffing levels or funding as a result of the budget.

School Staffing

Questions (100, 101, 102)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

100. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will list in tabular form the number of assistant principal posts and special duties posts in primary schools in March 2009; the number of assistant principal posts and special duties posts in primary schools in September 2009; the number of assistant principal posts and special duties posts in primary schools in September 2010; the number of assistant principal posts and special duties posts in primary schools in September 2011; the number of assistant principal posts and special duties posts in primary schools in September 2012; the number of assistant principal posts and special duties posts in post-primary schools in March 2009; and the number of assistant principal posts and special duties posts in post-primary schools in September 2009. [32396/13]

View answer

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

101. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will list in tabular form the number of assistant principal posts and special duties posts in post-primary schools; the number of assistant principal posts and special duties posts in post-primary schools in September 2011; and the number of assistant principal posts and special duties posts in post-primary schools in September 2012. [32397/13]

View answer

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

102. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will list in tabular form the number of Assistant Principal posts returned to primary schools and post primary schools each year as a result of the limited alleviation introduced for schools acutely affected by the impact of the moratorium. [32398/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 100 to 102, inclusive, together.

When the moratorium on the filling of posts of responsibility was introduced the Government exempted Principal and Deputy Principal posts in all primary and post-primary schools and these posts continue to be replaced in the normal manner. The impact of the moratorium is therefore limited to the Director of Adult Education, Assistant Principal and Special Duties posts of responsibility. Vacancies at this level arise due to retirements in the specific grades and typically also from the knock on effect of filling Principal and Deputy Principal posts.

Limited alleviation was introduced for schools that are acutely affected by the impact of the moratorium at Assistant Principal level. This alleviation is mainly focused on post-primary schools. The detailed information requested by the Deputy would take some time to compile by staff in my Department. I do not therefore propose to divert them from their work on the staffing allocations for the 2013/14 school year. Instead I am providing the Deputy with the summary information on the overall impact of the moratorium since it was first introduced in March 2009. At that time about 53% of teachers had posts of responsibility. This has since reduced to about 39%. The following tables give some more detail on the overall position since the moratorium was introduced.

Level of Reduction in Posts of Responsibility

Post type

Post Primary

Primary

Assistant Principal

-2,222

-751

Special Duties

-1,836

-2,276

Total

-4,058

-3,027

Alleviation.

Post type

Post Primary

Primary

Director of Adult Education

30

N/A

Programme Co-ordinator (AP post)

90

N/A

Assistant Principal

307

38

Total

427

38