Property Tax Collection

Questions (194)

Patrick Nulty

Question:

194. Deputy Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Finance if he will clarify the position regarding the local property tax for a family (details supplied) in Dublin 12; if the family’s concerns can be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5675/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I am advised by Revenue that the Local Property Tax (LPT) records of the individual in question have been corrected and that a refund of the monies deducted in error from his occupational pension was made. However it appears that additional deductions have been made in error by the pension provider.

In regard to the multiple property records in this case, an incorrect property record was set up at the time that the LPT Register was compiled. During the registration process the property record, which was linked to another person, was imported from a non-Revenue source, and added to the Register. A key aspect of the work undertaken in regard to LPT was the development of a comprehensive register of residential properties in the State. During the building of the Property Register some matching difficulties were encountered when consolidating the various Government and non-Government data sources used, and in a small number of cases properties were incorrectly associated with persons on the basis of information imported from other sources.

The individual in question contacted Revenue, during April 2013, to request that a LPT Return be issued to him. At this point a property record was set up for him by a Revenue official. He filed his LPT Return and payment for the property correctly linked to him but unfortunately he was subsequently linked to the duplicate property and this resulted in the issue of a payment reminder and the issue of a deduction instruction from his occupational pension during August 2013. Revenue received a number of contacts from the property owner but failed to fully rectify the issues raised until mid-October 2013 when an instruction was issued to the pension provider to cease deductions. He was then asked to confirm the amount deducted from his pension and a refund of the deductions made in error was initiated in mid-December and issued in early January.

It now appears that the pension provider did not act on the instruction, issued by Revenue in October, to cease deductions from his pension. Revenue has confirmed to me that an official has already made direct contact with his daughter to explain why the deductions have continued and to offer an apology for the errors made. Revenue will issue a refund for the additional deductions made by the pension provider in the coming days.

Finally, Revenue experienced unprecedented demand for service by letter, email and telephone during the past year and errors were inevitable in such an environment. Nevertheless the errors made in the handling of this case and the delay in resolving the issues arising is very much regretted.

Financial Instruments

Questions (195)

Andrew Doyle

Question:

195. Deputy Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Finance the way the new agreement on the markets in financial derivatives impact here; and the action he will take on this issue. [5707/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

I believe the Deputy is referring to the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and Regulation (MiFID II and MiFIR - "MiFID"). Provisional political agreement on this file was achieved on 15 January 2014 but it remains subject to further technical work and will need to be ratified by both the European Parliament and the Council.  MiFID aims to make financial markets more efficient, resilient and transparent, and to strengthen the protection of investors. This is part of the G20 commitments to enhance transparency, mitigate systemic risk and protect against market abuse.

In relation to impacts here, I consider that MiFID will provide for better regulated capital markets where investor protection will be improved. My officials will commence with the transposition work following the entry into force of MiFID.

The provisional agreement reached contains some important provisions on the following areas:

- Investor protection

- Commodities Derivatives

- Trading

- Transparency

- Access to market infrastructure

Investor Protection. MiFID will enhance investor protection through the introduction of rules relating to product governance, product intervention and third-party inducements, and limiting the range of products that can be sold without an appropriateness test. Under the proposals and in order to ensure that retail clients receive unbiased clear information, independent financial advisors will be banned from receiving inducements.

Commodity Derivatives. MiFID contains important provisions which set out new rules for commodity derivative markets. The level of exemptions available has been reduced and more products will be defined as derivative financial instruments when compared with the current MiFID, and will therefore fall within the scope of MiFID and other financial legislation such as Market Abuse. MiFID also contains important provisions relating to position management, position limits and product intervention. These provisions are in respect of all financial instruments, most particularly commodity derivatives, and have the purpose of providing regulators with tools to avoid excessive speculation these financial instruments.

The MiFID proposals complement initiatives taken in other financial services files such as Market Abuse Regulation and Benchmarks, and together they are expected to result in a tighter regime for all commodity derivative markets, including food securities, whether traded Over-the-Counter (OTC) or through exchanges. This new legislative environment will be much more prescriptive than the current situation and will serve to prevent market abuse and to support orderly pricing in commodity derivatives and related commodity markets.

Trading. As part of the EU's G-20 commitment to enhance transparency on the Financial Markets, the MiFID proposals will likely see a significant proportion of trading on the OTC derivatives market move to a regulated venue. This will be achieved through the introduction of a new trading venue category called the Organised Trading Facility (OTF). This will have the effect of making European markets more transparent, subject to greater regulatory oversight, and of levelling the playing field between various venues offering trading services.

Transparency. The financial crisis exposed weaknesses in the transparency of financial markets; therefore strengthening transparency was an important aim of MiFID. It seeks to do this by introducing a new framework establishing requirements for the transparency of transactions in markets for financial instruments. The proposals will also cover non-equity instruments which will bring the EU in line with the approach undertaken in the US.

Access to market infrastructure. The proposals introduce non-discriminatory access to key market infrastructure such as trading venues, central clearing houses and benchmarks. This will increase competition and enhance investor protection.

Child Abuse

Questions (196)

Michael McGrath

Question:

196. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if consideration will be given to the State Claims Agency withdrawing the letters it sent to persons currently suing the State for compensation relating to abuse in national schools, advising that they would be pursued for costs if they were unsuccessful in their actions against the State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5382/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The management of child abuse claims against the State was formally delegated to the State Claims Agency by Government Order made in 2005. Following the ECHR ruling in the Louise O'Keeffe case, further legal advice on the full implications of the judgement is being sought, including for outstanding litigation. The State Claims Agency has informed my Department that there are 44 current day school abuse claims on hands. I have asked the State Claims Agency and my Department to review these cases and any other relevant cases. Following this review I will be reporting back to Government.

Home Tuition Scheme Administration

Questions (197)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

197. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will respond to correspondence by the Irish Centre of Behavioural Support and Research regarding changes being made to the home tuition grant requirements as set out in circular 0006/2013; his views on anxiety expressed by parents to retain the home tuition grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5427/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Officials at my Department have been in correspondence with the Directors of the facility referred to in this question. Officials in the Special Education Section of my Department also met with the Directors of the facility at the end of November 2013, to discuss the issues raised in the correspondence referred to. I am advised that this meeting addressed the issues raised in the correspondence. In addition, my Department has advised the Directors by letter that they are welcome to revert should any issue remain outstanding. I understand that the Directors have reverted very recently with a number of issues which will be addressed as soon as possible. I can also confirm that the Directors have not raised any individual cases with my officials or indeed identified any parents who may be anxious about the Home Tuition grant.

The Deputy may be aware from the circular in question that the purpose of my Department's Home Tuition scheme is to provide a compensatory educational service for children who, for a number of reasons such as chronic illness, are unable to attend school or for children with a special educational need who are awaiting an educational placement and also to provide early educational intervention for preschool children with autism. Children with autism between the ages of 2.5 and 3 are eligible for home tuition. The home tuition continues from their 3rd birthday if no placement in a school based autism early intervention class is available for them. The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has a national network of Special Educational Needs Advisors who can assist parents in identifying school placements for their children, if required.

As home tuition takes place outside the usual school structure it is important that home tutors are qualified to provide an educational programme. It is appropriate therefore that the qualification standard in the Home Tuition Scheme generally reflects that required in a school environment. The qualification requirements for tutors providing home tuition to children have not changed. It remains the case that home tutors should be fully qualified teachers. When it is not possible to recruit a fully qualified teacher then alternative appropriate third level qualifications may be acceptable.

However, from this year my Department has also required that, in addition to being qualified teachers, tutors must be registered or have applied for registration with the Teaching Council of Ireland. Tutors with acceptable third level qualifications will be eligible to apply for registration. Accordingly, those whose qualifications were acceptable in the past remain eligible, provided they have applied for registration with the Teaching Council.

Schools Amalgamation

Questions (198)

Eamonn Maloney

Question:

198. Deputy Eamonn Maloney asked the Minister for Education and Skills the consultative process related to primary school amalgamations and specifically the requirements regarding consultation with parents and school employees; if his Department has received notice of a proposed amalgamation of schools (details supplied) in Dublin 12; when and from whom such notice was received; the proposed timescale for the proposal; and the assurances he can give to parents regarding the continued availability of all educational and related services to children in the context of any proposed amalgamation. [4857/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

While my Department is aware of the Patron's proposals to merge the schools concerned, I have not received any proposal from the Patron in the matter. The initiative for any amalgamation or re-organisation may come from a variety of sources, such as parents, staff, Boards of Management and patron. Any such proposal to amalgamate schools must involve consultation with all of the relevant stakeholders and follow decisions taken at local level. The decision making authority for any amalgamation belongs to the Patron of a school, subject to the approval of the Minister for Education and Skills.

School Curriculum

Questions (199)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

199. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that in rolling out the new English junior cycle course in 2014-15, teachers are finding the in-service training days inadequate and lacking in training on specifics such as syllabus content and assessment criteria and procedures; his views on whether there are sufficient in-service training days to allow for the appropriate introduction of the English junior cycle course and other junior cycle courses in 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4862/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

English teachers will receive a minimum of 4.5 days of continuing professional development (CPD) in relation to the new English junior cycle specification. I consider this to be a sufficient number of training days. The CPD for English is part of a much wider and comprehensive system of support for the implementation of A Framework for Junior Cycle in schools and English teachers will also have opportunities to attend further events in generic areas and/or particular areas of interest.

Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT) is the team charged with providing CPD. JCT began the provision of in-service training for English teachers earlier in this school year, with the provision of one full day workshop. I have also allocated time for English teachers to engage further with the new subject specification back at school, for which resource materials have been provided. Similar provision will be made for English teachers' CPD in both 2014/15 and 2015/16. In addition, JCT advisors will become available for school visits in order to focus on specific areas that the school in question wishes to address.

In relation to specifics about syllabus content and assessment, as is to be expected, teachers currently attending in-service are raising a number of queries and issues. These are being addressed by the JCT advisors on the ground, and where necessary, further issues for clarification are collated and forwarded on to my Department and/or the NCCA. It is to be welcomed that teachers are anxious for more in-depth information, but we must also recognise that we are just at the start of a long-term programme of implementation. In line with the new specification, the first in-school assessment event is not scheduled to take place until late in the 2015/16 school year. CPD for English teachers will deal in detail with assessment well in advance of that date.

School Closures

Questions (200)

Dara Calleary

Question:

200. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for a vacant school building (details supplied) in County Mayo; the amount of money spent on maintaining this building in 2011 to 2013, inclusive; if he will give consideration to a proposal from the local community to use the building for community-based activity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4872/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The property to which the Deputy refers is in the ownership of Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim Education and Training Board (MSLETB) and as such any proposals in relation to the use of the building are a matter for MSLETB. MSLETB as owners are responsible for the maintenance of the building. The records maintained by MSLETB show that the amounts paid for maintenance in the years specified were as follows:

YEAR

AMOUNT

2011

€5,243.78

2012

€5,548.60

2013

€5,495.27

Summer Works Scheme Applications

Questions (201)

Nicky McFadden

Question:

201. Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the summer works application from a school (details supplied) in County Westmeath has been received by his Department; when a decision will be announced on summer works applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4939/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Commensurate with the level of funding available for the Summer Works Scheme, applications are currently being assessed on a top down basis in accordance with the prioritisation criteria outlined in the governing Circular Letter for the Scheme. This Circular Letter (59/2013) is available on my Department's website www.education.ie. It is my intention to publish a list of successful applicants in early 2014.

Emergency Works Scheme Applications

Questions (202)

Nicky McFadden

Question:

202. Deputy Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the emergency works application from a school (details supplied) in County Westmeath has been received by his Department; when a decision will be announced on emergency works applications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4940/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The school in question recently submitted an application for funding under the Emergency Works Scheme for a complete refurbishment of the Technical Graphics Room and the Art Room. This application is currently being assessed and the school authorities will be notified of the outcome once this assessment has been completed.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (203)

David Stanton

Question:

203. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 67 of 28 November 2013, regarding the opening of a new second-level school in Carrigtwohill in 2016-17 under the patronage of the Cork Education and Training Board with the involvement of the Catholic Bishop of Cloyne, if his Department has examined the possibility of the new school operating ASD-specific facilities to cater for the growing demand for post-primary places for autistic children in east County Cork who are currently enrolled in special classes in mainstream primary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4965/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As a matter of policy, my Department liaises with the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) in relation to special education needs provision in all new post primary schools. Accordingly, my Department will be liaising with both the NCSE and the Patron of the school in question in relation to this matter prior to finalising the schedule of accommodation for the school.

Appointments to State Boards

Questions (204, 205)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

204. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will itemise in tabular form the occasions on which his Department has engaged the services of external professional advice such as a company (details supplied) on the appointment of persons to State boards; if he will list the fees paid in respect of such services; the persons who were ultimately appointed on foot of advice received; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4985/14]

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Catherine Murphy

Question:

205. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will identify any instances where a person appointed to a State board after recruitment advice was received from professional external consultants was subsequently deemed to be unqualified for the duties and responsibilities attached to the role; the costs incurred in obtaining advice in respect of each such instance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5001/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 204 and 205 together.

My Department has not sought external professional advice on the appointment of persons to State boards. In accordance with Government policy, expressions of interest have been sought through the Public Appointments Service (PAS) from suitably qualified and experienced persons for consideration for appointment to the boards of Bodies operating under the aegis of my Department. The Deputy should note that in making any direct Ministerial appointments, I am not necessarily confined to those who make such expressions of interest but will ensure that all of those appointed have the relevant qualifications for the positions.

Qualifications Recognition

Questions (206)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

206. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that many highly skilled immigrants work below their skill-set or are unemployed as a result of a limited number of conversion courses available to upgrade qualifications to the Irish standard; his plans to increase the number of conversion courses and eligibility for advanced entry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5063/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Where immigrants wish to take up employment in a profession which is regulated in the State, and where a particular qualification requirement applies to that profession, it would, in the first instance, be the responsibility of the regulatory body concerned to identify any shortfall in qualifications. Under Directive 2005/36, which governs the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU, where the migrant is an EU citizen and has been established in the same profession in another Member State, then they would be entitled to make up the shortfall by way of a compensation measure, which can take the form of an aptitude test or a period of adaptation. Therefore there would be no requirement for the migrant to undertake a conversion course. More generally, providers of education and training have flexibility in recognising the prior learning of individuals who wish to upgrade their skills. This allows providers to take into account the experience and prior studies of applicants and give relevant exemptions where possible, without having to put in place specific conversion courses.

In addition, since 2011 the Department has introduced a number of targeted initiatives aimed at addressing the skills needs of employers and supporting jobseekers into employment. The Springboard programme, for example, provides part time higher education places for unemployed people in areas of identified skills needs. Reskilling and conversion courses are also available through the Momentum and ICT skills conversion programmes. It is open to all jobseekers who fulfil the eligibility criteria to apply for a place under these programmes. New rounds of Springboard, ICT skills conversion and Momentum programmes are due to be launched in 2014. Information on the courses and number of places to be provided will be available following completion of the competitive tendering processes.

Proposed Legislation

Questions (207)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

207. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider the development of a State recognised directory of accredited interpreters. [5064/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I have no plans to regulate the profession of interpreters.

Foreign Language Assistant Scheme

Questions (208)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

208. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to immigrant parents who often have difficulty negotiating the school system; if he will consider introducing statutory guidelines for schools for the purpose of facilitating migrant parents' engagement in their children's education. [5065/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy may be aware, the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration maintains a comprehensive resource of services across a range of Government Departments and agencies, including education. My Department also maintains a resource in relation to the Irish education system which is available on the Department's website. This resource is currently being updated to incorporate details of recent legislative and other changes. Further resources and advice on the Irish school system are available from the National Parents Councils Primary and Post Primary. Finally, individual schools have developed additional resources and strategies to encourage active engagement and effective communications with immigrant parents.

All of this activity takes place in accordance with the Intercultural Education Strategy, which is my Department's policy initiative in this area. The Strategy adopts a partnership approach to intercultural education. This is the preferred approach of my Department and consequently I do not propose to consider the introduction of statutory guidelines in relation to parental engagement with their children's education. As the Deputy may also be aware, parents who may be experiencing a difficulty in accessing a school place for their child may avail of the services of the Educational Welfare Service of the Child and Family Agency.

Teacher Recruitment

Questions (209)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

209. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will amend the Employment Equality Act to prevent schools from recruiting or dismissing teachers based on their religious ethos. [5066/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The programme for Government contains a commitment that "People of non-faith or minority religious backgrounds and publicly identified LGBT people should not be deterred from training or taking up employment as teachers in the state." In this regard the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) designate has been asked to consider and provide advice in relation to amending Section 37 of the Employment Equality Acts 1998 - 2011. When this advice is received the matter will receive immediate attention with a view to amending legislation as soon as possible.

In-service Training

Questions (210)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

210. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the type of in-service training available for teachers on racism and managing diversity in schools; and his plans to improve same. [5067/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST), funded by my Department, is responsible for supporting schools in the implementation of the Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) Curriculum. A core element of the SPHE Curriculum at primary level is the fostering and development of the positive attitudes towards diversity and celebrating difference through the strand unit "Myself and the Wider World". Support is provided on request for teachers through facilitated staff inputs, in class modelling of lessons, local workshops and a range of support materials available on www.pdst.ie (primary) and also on www.sphe.ie (post primary). Through the support given at school level these issues are addressed both through the formal and informal curriculum specifically with regard to promoting a positive school culture and climate that respects individual difference. PDST also provides guidance to schools in the development of a whole school policy for Interculturalism. PDST promotes the use of the NCCA Intercultural Guidelines in schools with regard to policy formation and classroom practice.

Forthcoming supports re Anti-Bullying will address the issue of identity based bullying as part of the wider definition of bullying. The School Self Evaluation process will allow schools to choose a third subject area outside of Literacy and Numeracy to review and evaluate. Those schools choosing SPHE will have an opportunity to review their practice with regard to this issue and to apply for support from PDST if the evaluation indicates a need for same.

The National Induction Programme for Teachers (NIPT) provides an interactive workshop that focusses on the classroom environment and classroom planning to support inclusion. Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) are given an opportunity to reflect on their own individual values, behaviours and attitudes which will determine inclusive practice in their classrooms. Emphasis is placed on how to develop strategies to ensure that all pupils/students are included.

The Special Education Support Service (SESS) delivers a wide range of professional development supports for school personnel working with students with special educational needs and these focus on helping schools to meet the diverse and unique learning needs of students. Strong emphasis is placed on individual learning styles, the assessment of students' unique learning needs, and on the individualised planning of instruction to meet those needs.

School Curriculum

Questions (211)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

211. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will introduce a module on interculturalism, including the use of existing anti-racist education programmes. [5068/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Promotion of interculturalism is integral to all aspects of Irish school life. It should not be confined to one module and therefore the introduction of such a module would not be considered advisable. The primary SPHE programme teaches children to recognise and appreciate ethnic, social and cultural diversity, fostering genuine inclusiveness.

At post-primary, aspects of subjects like History and Geography focus on understanding cultural diversity and the dangers of racism, while CSPE specifically fosters taking action on racism and xenophobia, supporting interculturalism and development. The new Junior Cycle will extend an integrated approach, requiring that every student 'values what it means to be an active citizen, with rights and responsibilities in local and wider contexts.' The key skill, 'Working with Others', stresses 'respecting difference', while the new CSPE short course, currently being developed, reinforces these themes throughout. The Intercultural Education Strategy (2010) in its aims emphasises the importance of "ensuring that inclusion and integration within an intercultural learning environment become the norm "

Foreign Language Assistant Scheme

Questions (212)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

212. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will increase language supports for migrant students. [5069/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Since September 2012 the combined resources available for learning support (General Allocation Model at Primary) and language support at both primary and second level have been merged into a single simplified allocation process. There are currently over 4,600 such posts allocated to schools at primary level and 780 posts at post primary level. This includes the standard learning/language support allocation that is given to all schools and the additional support that is provided to schools that have high concentrations of pupils that require language support. Further additional temporary language support posts are provided on the basis of appeals to the Staffing Appeal Boards and I have no plans to further increase the overall allocation.

After-School Support Services

Questions (213)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

213. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will utilise under-employed teachers and trainee teachers for after-school programmes. [5070/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department through the teacher support services engages teachers on a full time basis for the provision of continuing professional development (CPD) through secondment from their schools. In order to be eligible for secondment teachers must be registered with the Teaching Council and be in a recognised post in a recognised school.If there is not sufficient capacity in the full time seconded personnel to meet the demand for CPD part time personnel are engaged for a limited amount of days per annum to provide training for teachers in priority areas. Again these personnel must be registered teachers and must have been in a teaching position within the last two years. As the Deputy can no doubt appreciate, in an evolving school environment and with the reform agenda continuing apace it is vital that teachers who are engaged in the provision of CPD have recent and relevant experience.

The School Completion Programme (SCP) aims to retain young people in the formal education system to completion of senior cycle and to generally improve the school attendance, participation and retention of its target cohort. The SCP is one of three service strands, which also includes the Home School Community Liaison and the Education Welfare Service, being integrated under the remit of the Educational Welfare Services of the Child and Family Agency. The SCP is a key programme under my Department's DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) action plan.

In 2014, funding of over €24 million is being made available through grant aid arrangements to support 124 school based projects and a number of related initiatives throughout the country. Each project is managed by a Local Management Committee (LMC) which assesses the needs of local students to devise an integrated, costed and targeted proposal of interventions to support these young people. Within the administrative structures the employment of project staff is within the remit of the LMCs. In the development and implementation of local programmes each project considers the competencies it requires in respect of the personnel who are key in delivering each element of its programme. Many SCP projects utilise the services of teaching professionals to deliver those elements of the programme which involve a direct focus on teaching and learning.

School Curriculum

Questions (214)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

214. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will create a State-wide secondary school English language immersion framework; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5071/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department has requested clarification from Deputy O'Brien on this question.

Teacher Training Provision

Questions (215)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

215. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will ensure that continual professional development courses for English as an additional language teachers are available. [5072/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware of this Government's ongoing commitment to ensuring that all children can have access to an education appropriate to their needs. My Department recognises that specialised training and continued professional development (CPD) is important for all teachers, including EAL teachers. The Professional Development Service for teachers, funded by Teacher Education Section in my Department offers support to schools in EAL at in-school and workshop level. Schools are invited to apply for in-school support through an online application, in a number of areas, including EAL. Advisors, with experience in this area, are allocated to work with the school. Support is based on the needs of the school.

Workshops on EAL are offered to schools nationally. In the past PDST have offered, at primary level, workshops on:

- EAL for mainstream teachers,

- Workshop for teachers new to EAL

- Assessment workshop At post-primary level, workshops were offered on Supporting EAL students in the school and were aimed at Guidance Counsellors, Home School Liaison personnel and EAL Co-ordinators. These workshops are currently being revised and it is planned to roll out workshops in Term 3 of this academic year 2013/14. PDST also provides training in differentiation, in terms of differentiating for all pupils. Issues around differentiation and EAL are addressed as part of the school planning process.

Modern Language Teaching

Questions (216)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

216. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will conduct a feasibility study to determine the costs of reinstituting the modern languages primary school initiative. [5073/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The decision to end the Modern Languages Primary School Initiative was made in the context of a very challenging budgetary environment where difficult decisions had to be taken. It was also taken in the context of the need to concentrate on the development and enhancement of the literacy and numeracy skills of our primary pupils. There are no plans to revisit this decision or conduct a feasibility study.