Fee Paying Schools

Question No. 118 answered with Question No. 114.

Questions (117)

Emmet Stagg

Question:

117. Deputy Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will confirm that the only State support to fee-paying schools relates to teacher pay and that the schools themselves have to cover all of their other costs from fee income; and in view of the situation if it is reasonable to refer to fee income as discretionary as his Department did in a recent report. [32475/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The salaries of teachers employed within the approved annual staffing allocation for fee charging schools by my Department, are paid by the State. In addition, the salaries of approved Special Needs Assistants and clerical officers are also paid by my Department. The estimated cost of these posts in the 2011/2012 academic year was in the order of €103m.

Some limited funding is provided for capital projects undertaken in fee charging schools. The Department provided approximately €6.5m in capital funding in 2012. Fee charging schools do not receive any capitation or related grants from my Department.

As outlined in the report "Fee Charging Schools - Analysis of Fee income", which I published last March, the tuition fee income of fee charging schools was adjusted or discounted by the amount of exchequer funding forgone to obtain the discretionary income of the schools. That exercise provided an opportunity to compare the position with that of similar sized schools in the Free Education Scheme and to identify the additional funding that the fee charging schools continue to have available when compared to other schools of comparable size.

A copy of the report is available on my Department's website.

Question No. 118 answered with Question No. 114.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Questions (119, 135, 136)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

119. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which he has been able to avert any loss of teachers at primary and second level schools throughout the country; the extent to which he is in a position to initiate any alleviating measures in any such cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32502/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

135. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which pupil-teacher ratios at primary and second level throughout the country have been kept to the desired levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32518/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

136. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which pupil-teacher ratios at primary and second level throughout County Kildare have been kept to the desired levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32519/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 119, 135 and 136 together.

The Statistics section of my Department's website contains information relating to pupil teacher ratio (PTR) at primary and second level. Pupil Teacher Ratio in respect of all schools is only available at national level and not disaggregated by county or any other variable.

Pupil teacher ratios for the 2012/2013 academic year are currently being compiled and will be available during the summer of 2013. Figures for the 2011/2012 academic year are available on the Department's website at http://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Statistics/.

The Government has protected frontline services in schools to the greatest extent possible in the recent budget and there will be 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.

Teacher allocations are approved annually in accordance with established rules based on recognised pupil enrolment. My Department has published the staffing arrangements at primary and post primary level for the coming school year 2013/14 which are available on the Department's website. At primary level the staffing schedule 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. Given the constraints on teacher numbers my Department has no capacity to put any other ameliorating measures in place.

At post primary level and in accordance with existing arrangements, where a school management authority is unable to meet its curricular commitments within its approved allocation, my Department considers applications for additional short term support i.e., curricular concessions. The allocation processes at both primary and post primary level also include an appeals mechanism under which schools can appeal against the allocation due to them under the staffing schedules. The appeal procedures are set out in the circulars referred to above. The Appeal Boards operate independently of the Department and their decisions are final.

The final staffing position for all schools at primary and post primary level will ultimately not be known until the Autumn. At that stage the allocation process will be fully completed and any appeals to the Staffing Appeal Boards will have been considered.

Special Educational Needs Services Provision

Questions (120, 125, 126, 127, 133, 134)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

120. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which he expects to be in a position to meet the educational needs of children with special needs at primary and second level in all areas throughout the country in both small and large schools; the steps he has taken to address any such emerging issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32503/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

125. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total number of places currently available in mainstream primary and second level schools for children with special needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32508/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

126. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which he has been in a position to maintain expenditure on the educational needs of children with special needs in each of the past four years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32509/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

127. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which children with autism and Asperger’s or children with similar needs are likely to be facilitated in terms of their educational requirements at primary and second level throughout the country in the coming year notwithstanding the budgetary exigencies within which he must operate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32510/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

133. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total number of special needs school places available throughout the country; if this is in line with requirements as set out by the school authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32516/13]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

134. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total number of special needs school places available throughout County Kildare; if this is in line with requirements as set out by the school authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32517/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 120, 125 to 127, inclusive, 133 and 134 together.

The Deputy will be aware that this Government is committed to the protection of frontline services for pupils with special educational needs. 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), nearly 10,000 Learning Support and Resource Teachers, provision for over 600 Special Classes attached to mainstream schools at reduced pupil teacher ratios, enhanced capitation for special schools and special classes and provision for assistive technology support.

Approximately 15% of the entire budget of my Department – some €1.3 billion – was spent in support of children with Special Educational Needs in 2011/12. The provision for the 2012/13 school year is in line with expenditure last year and shows that the overall level of funding for special education has been protected despite the ongoing severe financial position. There has been no reduction in the level of funding to support children with Special Educational needs since this Government came to office.

The level of investment being provided will ensure that provision can continue to be made to provide for the educational requirements of children with special educational needs, enrolled in all schools, including schools in Co. Kildare, to ensure that children with special educational needs, including those with Autism and Aspergers Syndrome can continue to have access to educational facilities in line with their requirements. In relation to the number of school places available for children with special educational needs throughout the country and in County Kildare, the policy of my Department is that children with special educational needs should be included in mainstream placements with additional supports provided. All schools and all school places are therefore available for children with special educational needs to be enrolled. In circumstances where children with special educational needs require more specialised interventions, special school or special class places are also available.

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.