School Services Staff

Questions (146)

Michael McCarthy

Question:

146. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on whether it was reasonable to enforce a 5% cut under the Financial Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009 on persons who are not public servants as has happened in the case of low paid school caretakers and secretaries even though neither are in many cases subject to a salary scale, have no pension rights and no sick leave entitlements; his views on the implications posed by a case currently before the Employment Appeals Tribunal (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41246/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No 2) Act 2009 was introduced in order to achieve a significant reduction in the public service pay bill. All persons employed by a recognised school or VEC/ETB are "public servants" within the meaning of the Act, regardless of the source of the money used to fund their salary, the lack of ability of any Minister or Department to determine on their appointment or set their pay rates and irrespective of whether they are eligible for, or members of, a public service pension scheme. The fact that such staff come within the definition of "public servant" solely for the purposes of the Act does not alter their employment status in any other respect. When the Tribunal issues a decision in the case referred to by the Deputy, I will consider the implications of that decision.

School Patronage

Questions (147)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

147. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will invite submissions from all boards of management and parents associations of all schools on the subject of school patronage to ensure receipt of a wide diversity of submissions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41271/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy may be aware that on the 23rd September last, I launched a public consultation on promoting inclusiveness in primary schools. The public consultation process is part of my Action Plan in response to the Report of the Advisory Group to the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector. The main stakeholder groups that were involved in the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector have been contacted directly and invited to make a submission. This includes the school management bodies and the National Parents Council Primary. An information leaflet, specifically targeted at parents, is being distributed to all parents' associations, in conjunction with the National Parents' Council - Primary. Copies of the information leaflet are also being distributed directly to primary schools. The parents leaflet and the call for submissions are available to download from the Department's website - www.education.ie. All interested parties are invited to submit their views by 22 November.

Book Rental Scheme

Questions (148, 162)

Derek Nolan

Question:

148. Deputy Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a list of schools in County Galway that have a book rental scheme in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41279/13]

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Derek Nolan

Question:

162. Deputy Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a list of schools in County Galway that have a book rental scheme in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41434/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 148 and 162 together.

As the Deputy may be aware I launched new "Guidelines for Developing Textbook Rental Schemes in Schools" on the 28th January last. These Guidelines provide practical advice to primary and post-primary schools on how rental schemes can be established and operated. The aim of the Guidelines is to help as many schools as possible to start such book rental programmes. The publication of these Guidelines follows a survey of schools by the Department, and which I published in May 2012. This had a 99% response rate at primary level, and showed that 76% of primary schools operate a book rental scheme. At second level, the response rate was lower, at 44%. Of those which did respond, 88% of those in the VEC sector and 73% of those in the Community & Comprehensive sector operated a book rental scheme. I believe these results show that we have a good foundation to build on across the country. I hope that schools that are not yet operating book rental schemes will be encouraged to use the Guidelines to introduce them. If they do, it will result in substantial savings for parents. Schools which already have rental schemes can save parents up to 80% of the cost of buying new books. The Department does not presently have the information requested by the Deputy. However, the Department will continue to monitor the number of schools operating book rental schemes. The information requested by the Deputy will be gathered as part of the annual enrolment data returns from primary and post-primary schools and will be available once it has been collated.

Student Grant Scheme Rates

Questions (149)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

149. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will protect the student maintenance grant in budget 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41305/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

There was no change in Budget 2013 to any of the student grant rates including the non-adjacent or adjacent rates of grant or the higher special rate of grant for the 2013 financial year. The aim of the student maintenance grant scheme has always been to make a contribution to the cost of going to college; covering the full cost has never been a feasible option. As the Deputy will be aware, the reality of our economic situation presents significant challenges that have to be reconciled with limitations on public resources. This is a very stark reality, which, unfortunately, means that changes to any public service, including the student grant scheme, cannot be ruled out. I empathise with students and I am very conscious of the fundamental role played by the student grant scheme in supporting families who are putting their children through further and higher education. However, the state of the public finances is such that tough decisions had to be made to control public expenditure and to ensure sustainability in the long run. For this reason it is the responsibility of Government to take into consideration all areas of public services when formulating Budget 2014. Ultimately, our budgetary decisions now will play a major part in creating a sustainable economy and in regaining our economic independence. As the Deputy will be aware all proposals made in relation to education expenditure including changes to student grants will be considered in the context of the Budget 2014.

Student Voluntary Contributions

Questions (150)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

150. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will not under any circumstances increase the student contribution charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41306/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Student Contribution stands at €2,500 for the current academic year and is payable by students who qualify under the free fees schemes. I have already signalled my intention to increase the Student Contribution by €250 each year hereafter until the 2015/16 academic year when the contribution will stand at €3,000. The Contribution is paid by the Exchequer in respect of students who qualify under my Department's Student Grant Scheme (some 40%). The Higher Education Authority (HEA) is undertaking a study on the sustainability of the current funding system for higher education. This study was initiated at my request and an initial report has been published. This report makes it clear that immediate work is required to prepare for a longer term approach to a system that can be maintained through a sustainable funding base which will be able to address the continual expansion of the sector while protecting the quality of education. The HEA is continuing its work in this area and I will be advised further as this work progresses. The report will help inform decision-making as to the future funding of the sector.

Student Assistance Fund Issues

Questions (151)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

151. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will put in place a proper and fairer postgraduate loan scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41307/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I have no plans at present to introduce a loan scheme for postgraduate students. A number of financial institutions offer loans to assist students with costs associated with their studies. Following discussions with my Department, with support and advice from the National Treasury Management Agency, a specific loan initiative was introduced by Bank of Ireland in 2012 to provide finance for fees and living costs for postgraduate students.

Departmental Staff Remuneration

Questions (152, 153, 154)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

152. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of payable orders issued by his Department in the month of August 2013; the number of these issued to serving teachers, retired teachers, serving departmental staff, retired departmental staff, other parties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41317/13]

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Mattie McGrath

Question:

153. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of payable orders issued by his Department in the month of September 2013; the number of these issued to serving teachers, retired teachers, serving departmental staff, retired departmental staff, other parties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41318/13]

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Mattie McGrath

Question:

154. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of serving teachers on his Department's payroll, retired teachers on his Department's payroll, serving departmental staff and retired departmental staff to whom moneys due to be paid in September 2013 are still awaiting payment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41319/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 152 to 154, inclusive, together.

All Government Departments ceased to issue Payable Orders with effect from the 30th August 2013 under the Public Service Reform Plan. My Department issued a total of 247 Payable Orders in August 2013; 12 Payable Orders issued to serving primary/voluntary secondary school teachers; 165 Payable Orders issued to personnel paid on the payroll for retired teachers and non-teaching staff of Primary, Voluntary Secondary/Community and Comprehensive schools and their spouses and children; and 17 Payable orders issued to serving staff of my Department. 53 Payable Orders issued to payees not on payrolls operated by my Department. Retired Department staff are not paid by my Department. My Department did not issue any Payable Orders in the month of September 2013. My Department is awaiting bank account details from a total of 14 people so that their salary/pension can issue to them, bank details are awaited from 2 serving teachers, 10 personnel paid on the payroll for retired teachers and non-teaching staff of Primary, Voluntary Secondary/Community and Comprehensive schools and their spouses and children and 2 serving staff of my Department.