Education and Training Provision

Questions (85)

Clare Daly

Question:

85. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills with regard to the closure of Abbey College in August 2011 and the fact that staff members were awarded a judgment for outstanding wages by both the LRC and EAT and yet remain unpaid, the measures in place to ensure the directors of this company cannot open another educational facility. [42678/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) has assumed the award-making function of both FETAC, which made awards for programmes provided by Abbey College, and HETAC. Under the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act, 2012, providers which seek access to the awards of QQI must first have their procedures for quality assurance agreed by QQI.

QQI is introducing a new process for providers seeking to agree their quality assurance procedures with QQI. As part of this process, QQI will require applicants to provide a statutory declaration in which all owners and/or influential persons associated with the applicant will have to respond to a number of questions including whether they have been adjudicated bankrupt, whether they have made a composition or arrangement with creditors, whether they have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment, whether they have been convicted of an indictable offence, whether they have been convicted of an offence involving fraud or dishonesty, or whether they have been the subject of an order under section 160 of the Companies Act 1990.

Therefore the past history of directors and influential persons associated with a particular provider will be taken into account when deciding whether or not that provider should be allowed to apply for validation of programmes by QQI. This also applies to providers of English language training which seek ACELS recognition.

Institutes of Technology Issues

Questions (86)

Ann Phelan

Question:

86. Deputy Ann Phelan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the outcome figure for an institute of technology (details supplied) in respect of research and development income is significantly lower than the other third level institutions here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42682/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Irish higher education system must deliver against multiple objectives. A System Performance Framework has been published which outlines key system objectives and indicators for the system as a whole. No single institution can hope to deliver comprehensively against all these objectives. Instead, the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 supports the development of a system of diverse institutions, with each institution delivering in different ways against these overarching objectives.

The development of research capacity is a key objective for the system overall, but it is not expected that each higher education institution will be research intensive. Quality research requires a level of critical mass of activity and initiatives underway as part of the recently announced plans for the reconfiguration of the sector, such as the development of regional clusters and the establishment of technological universities, will enable the further development of research capabilities across the system.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (87)

Mary Mitchell O'Connor

Question:

87. Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a school (details supplied) in County Dublin and the proposed move to a vacant building in Loughlinstown; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42685/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that it is my Department's intention to provide improved accommodation for the school to which he refers. It is intended that the school will be accommodated in a school building currently occupied temporarily by a special school pending the construction of a permanent school building for the latter. This permanent building is listed on the Five Year Construction Plan with a view to proceeding to construction in 2014/15. The building project for the special school is progressing as quickly as possible and is at an advanced stage of the architectural planning process.

For the Deputy's information, in July 2010, the school to which she refers was approved funding of over €164,000 to upgrade existing services and accommodation which will have assisted with improving the school's current environment.

Broadband Services Provision

Questions (88)

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

88. Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a school (details supplied) may expect to have broadband installed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42690/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Under the Schools Broadband Access Programme the Department provides for the supply of internet connectivity for all recognised primary schools. All contracts under the Schools Broadband Access Programme were re-tendered last year under a public procurement competition. As a result of this the number of service providers has been expanded from 6 to 13 with the aim of ensuring that satisfactory solutions would be awarded to schools.

Oristown National School was re-tendered for in a mini-competition in August this year to see if a solution was available after their previous connection broke down. The contract for this school has been awarded to RippleCom and the necessary installation arrangements are currently in train. Contact is being made with the school by the provider.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Questions (89)

Billy Timmins

Question:

89. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding class sizes in County Wicklow (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42759/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The criteria used for the allocation of teachers to schools is published annually on the Department's website. The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous 30 September. The staffing schedule 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. The staffing arrangements for schools for the current school year, 2013/14 are set out in Department Circular 0013/2013 which is available on the website. My Department publishes annual statistics on class size data for each school. The most recent statistics are for the 2012/13 school year. The national average class size is 24.7 pupils. However, with over 20,800 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.

Apprenticeship Programmes

Questions (90)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

90. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total number of apprenticeships made available throughout the country in each of the past five years and to date in 2013; the extent to which this has met the demand; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42769/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I am informed that the number of apprentices registered by employers in the past 5 years, as well as the total apprentice population for each year is as follows:

Year

Registrations

Apprenticeship population

2008

3,765

26,170

2009

1,535

21,407

2010

1,204

14,801

2011

1,307

13,001

2012

1,434

8,862

2013

1,266 (year to date)

7,725 (year to date)

The above figures also include the relevant data for this year to date. I understand that the equivalent year to date figure for apprentice registrations for 2012 was 1,010 which indicates a 25% increase in 2013.

Under the Action Plan for Jobs my Department has commissioned a review of the Apprenticeship Programme. The consultative phase of the Review has invited submissions from stakeholders in Apprenticeship, and the review will address three key themes:

Consideration of the strengths and weaknesses of the current model of apprenticeship and what improvements can be made to its current structure.

An examination of the alternative methods of work-based training in Ireland.

Consideration of the structural mechanisms, and criteria, under which collaboration with industry/employers can be pursued into the future, either through improved, alternative or complementary models of work-based training.

It is expected that the group leading the review will complete its work before the end of the year.

Education Policy

Questions (91)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

91. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a structure will be put in place to facilitate immediate action in partnership with Pobal and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to ensure adequate funding for island preschools; if the Department has comprehensive island-specific policies on student and teacher ratios at the three levels of schooling (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42775/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy may be aware, the vast majority of support for child care, including preschool education, is not provided by my Department, but is provided by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. Funding for island preschools is a matter for that Department.

In my Department, teacher allocations at primary and post-primary level are approved annually in accordance with established rules based on recognised pupil enrolment. The staffing arrangements at primary level include provision for island schools to retain the second or third classroom teaching post where the school is the only primary school remaining on the island. This provision means that such posts are retained on a lower pupil threshold than what applies in all other primary schools. The staffing arrangements at post-primary level include an additional teaching post for island schools.

The detailed staffing arrangements for schools, including island schools, are in the public domain and are published on my Department's website.