Teaching Council of Ireland

Questions Nos. 163 and 164 answered with Question No. 159.

Questions (162)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

162. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 93 of 27 February 2014, if he will clarify if professionals, other than teachers, registering with the Teaching Council to comply with Circular 0006/2013 on the home tuition scheme for 2013 to 2014 are only permitted to be registered for a limited period of time, for example, a period of three years. [12021/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Council registers teachers under the terms of section 31(5) of the Teaching Council Act and the Teaching Council [Registration] Regulations 2009. The Council also operates in accordance with the European Directive for the mutual recognition of qualifications 2005/36/EC for the teaching profession. The Council does not register persons for professions other than teaching. The Council does not limit a teacher's period of registration to three years. In circumstances where a teacher does not meet all of the registration requirements at the time of registration, he/she may be granted conditional registration for a period of time in order to meet all of the registration criteria. The period of conditional registration does not normally exceed three years (which is the case for teachers registered in accordance with the European Directive). The three year period is normally adequate for a teacher to meet the additional registration requirements and get full registration.

Since April 2013, all registration applicants are required to have a teaching qualification at the time of application. Those who do not have teaching qualifications are not eligible for registration under regulations 2, 3 or 4. For those who are seeking registration under regulation 5 (and do not have a recognised teaching qualification), registration is granted on a conditional basis for a period of three years to enable the teacher to complete a recognised teaching qualification. If the teacher does not complete a recognised teaching qualification within the three year period or if the specified period is not extended on the basis of extenuating circumstances then his/her registration will lapse.

In situations where a teacher cannot meet the requirements of a registration condition due to extenuating circumstances, he or she can apply for an extension to the specified period.

Questions Nos. 163 and 164 answered with Question No. 159.

Departmental Funding

Questions (165)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

165. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 66 of 6 February 2014, if the organisations in receipt of funding from his Department are subject to a service level agreement containing a clause prohibiting the use of funding to change the law or Government policies, or prohibiting the use of funding to persuade persons to adopt a view on a law or public policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12052/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

In the time available and with current resource constraints, it is not possible to examine all the arrangements and conditions in place in respect of those organisations receiving funding from my Department to determine whether the clauses referred to by the Deputy form a part of these arrangements. However, it is considered unlikely that funding conditionality would include explicit prohibitions such as those stated by the Deputy. In addition to the issue of the appropriateness of imposing such prohibitions, the question of effectively assessing compliance with them would arise.

As I advised in my reply of 6 February to an earlier question from the Deputy, the conditionality linked to receipt of Departmental funding generally requires compliance with a number of standard criteria, including: satisfying eligibility requirements of the scheme or programme in question; reporting of projected and actual expenditure; assessment of programme activities and impacts; and full receipting of income and expenditure, with independently audited accounts.

In relation to State bodies in particular, the 2009 Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies specifies the framework agreed by Government for the internal management and the internal and external reporting relationships of commercial and non-commercial State bodies. It also advises state bodies involved in service provision to develop service level agreements. While the Code does not specify particular clauses that are required to be included in such agreements, it requires State Bodies to serve the interests of the taxpayer, pursue value for money in their endeavours and act transparently as public entities.

If the Deputy wishes to table a further question regarding a specific aspect or specific recipient of Departmental funding I will arrange to have this considered.

School Transport Eligibility

Questions (166)

Michael McCarthy

Question:

166. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review the decision not to assist a student (details supplied) in County Cork with a travel pass to attend a school in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12063/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Under the terms of my Department's Post Primary School Transport Scheme children are eligible for transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kms from and are attending their nearest education centre as determined by my Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language. Bus Éireann, which operates the school transport scheme on behalf of my Department, has advised that the child in question is not attending his nearest education centre and is therefore not eligible for school transport. Only children who are eligible for school transport and who hold valid medical cards (GMS Scheme) are exempt from paying the annual charge. The Post Primary School Transport Scheme is applied equitably on a national basis.

Bullying in Schools

Questions (167)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

167. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will outline all protocols set down by his Department for bullying in schools, including any bullying of pupils by teachers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12070/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware that I published new anti-bullying procedures for all primary and post primary schools at the beginning of the 2013/14 school year. The purpose of these procedures is to give direction and guidance to school authorities and school personnel in preventing and tackling school-based bullying behaviour amongst its pupils. The procedures include specific requirements in relation to the use of prevention and education strategies and the consistent investigation, follow up and recording of bullying behaviour amongst pupils.

Under the provisions of the Education Act, 1998, the Board of Management is the employer of the teachers in a school. In general, the Board has the responsibility to ensure that the school operates efficiently and effectively, to take all reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of pupils in its care and, as employer, the Board also has responsibilities in relation to the action of its employees. If a parent wishes to make a complaint against a teacher or school they should contact the relevant school authorities. The complaint procedures adopted by most schools are those that have been agreed between the teacher unions and school management bodies.

Student Grant Scheme Appeals

Questions (168)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

168. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a decision has been made on a student grant appeal in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12085/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Officials in my Department have confirmed that the student referred to by the Deputy has appealed the decision of the awarding authority to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board. The appeal is due for consideration by the board on Tuesday 11th March 2014. The decision of the Appeals Board will issue directly to the student.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (169, 171, 173)

Martin Heydon

Question:

169. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the provision of additional autism spectrum disorders, ASD, unit places at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12113/14]

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Martin Heydon

Question:

171. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the advice he would give to parents of a child (details supplied) in County Kildare seeking a place in an autism spectrum disorders, ASD, unit for secondary education from September 2014 who cannot find a place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12119/14]

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Martin Heydon

Question:

173. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the plans to provide an autism spectrum disorders, ASD, unit at secondary level in an area (details supplied) in County Kildare to assist parents facing difficulties in sourcing places for children coming out of primary level ASD units; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12142/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 169, 171 and 173 together.

The Deputy will be aware that the establishment of a network of autism-specific special classes in schools across the country to cater for children with autism has been a key educational priority in recent years. 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 the establishment of special classes in various geographical areas as required. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. I have therefore arranged for the Deputy's questions relating to provision at post primary level to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

SENOs are also a valuable source of support to parents who are actively sourcing a placement for their children or on deciding the most appropriate placement for their child. SENO contact details are available on www.ncse.ie. The NCSE has published a Guide for Parents and Guardians of Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs on Choosing a School. This guide is also available on their website. The NCSE works in collaboration with the Educational Welfare Services of the Child and Family Agency which is the statutory agency that can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The Educational Welfare Services, Child and Family Agency, can be contacted at 16-22 Green Street, Dublin 7 or by telephone at 01-8738700.

The enrolment of a child to a school is a matter in the first instance for the parents of the child and the Board of Management of a school. My Department has no role in relation to processing applications for enrolment to schools. Where a parent seeks to enrol their child in a school and that school refuses to enrol a pupil, the school is obliged to inform parents of their right under Section 29 of the Education Act 1998 to appeal that decision to the Secretary General of my Department. Only where an appeal under Section 29 is upheld, may the Secretary General of my Department direct a school to enrol a pupil.

Special Education Review

Question No. 171 answered with Question No. 169.

Questions (170)

Seán Kyne

Question:

170. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress of the working group tasked with examining a new learning resource allocation model; if he will provide an indicative timeframe for the completion and implementation of any recommendations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12117/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that I received the Report of the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) Working Group on a Proposed New Model for Allocating Teaching Resources for Students with Special Educational Needs, on 5th March, 2014. This report has been developed following a review of best practise in both national and international research, and follows a wide process of engagement and consultation with parents of children with special educational needs, representative groups, educational partners, voluntary bodies and advocacy groups.

The report proposes that a new model for the allocation of supports for children with special educational needs should be introduced and it includes a number of recommendations on how this could be achieved.

I will now consider the Report's recommendations carefully with my Department and consult with my colleagues in the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy, before bringing this report forward to Government in the near future. Subject to Government approval, it is envisaged that the NCSE would then publish the report, and that my Department would begin the process of planning for the implementation of the report's recommendations.

Question No. 171 answered with Question No. 169.

Schools Building Projects Status

Question No. 173 answered with Question No. 169.

Questions (172)

Derek Nolan

Question:

172. Deputy Derek Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a progress report is available for a school (details supplied) in Galway city regarding the site and accommodation details, the projected enrolment figures for the school and an estimated timeline for the school's completion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12125/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The school to which the Deputy refers is scheduled to open in September 2014 in temporary accommodation. Arrangements for this are progressing. My Department is keeping the Patron informed in this regard. The school will be a single stream school. Its projected junior infant intake is up to 28 pupils. Permanent accommodation plans for the school will be progressed separately

Question No. 173 answered with Question No. 169.

School Accommodation

Questions (174)

Alan Farrell

Question:

174. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the current temporary accommodation at St. Sylvester's infant school in Malahide; his proposals to replace the multiple prefab units at this location with permanent classrooms; the provision for future projected growth in the catchment area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12143/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that there is a mix of purchased temporary accommodation and permanent accommodation on the school site. While a major capital project for the school is not included on my Department's 5 year plan, my Department is currently considering, with the school, how best to address the replacement of temporary accommodation on the site, including phased delivery via devolved funding. The first step in this process is to determine the long term projected enrolment for the school with the Patron and this process is currently in train.

School Accommodation

Questions (175)

Alan Farrell

Question:

175. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide information on the progress on providing additional accommodation at Kilcoskan national school, The Ward, County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12144/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department approved funding for the school in question in July 2013 for additional classroom and special needs accommodation. My Department has not received any request for additional funding from the school. Any request received will be considered and a response will be conveyed to the school authority.

School Staffing

Questions (176)

Brendan Smith

Question:

176. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if further consideration will be given to the detailed submission made in respect of the need to retain the current staffing complement at a school (details supplied); if he will ensure all of the issues outlined in the submission from the parents' association on the school's staffing needs and likely future enrolment will be taken into account with regard to the need to retain four teachers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12149/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The criteria used for the allocation of teaching posts for the 2014/2015 school year is set out in the Staffing Schedule (Circular 0007/2014) which is available on the Department 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 30 September 2013. The staffing schedule also includes an appeals mechanism for schools to submit an appeal under certain criteria to an independent Appeals Board. The school referred to by the Deputy submitted an application for consideration at the February meeting of the Primary Staffing Appeals Board. The Appeals Board determined that the appeal did not satisfy all of the published criteria as set out in Circular 0007/2014. The school has been notified accordingly. The Appeals Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (177)

Brendan Smith

Question:

177. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the proposed building project for a school (details supplied) in County Cavan; the current stage of the project; when the project is likely to proceed to the next stage; the timescale for construction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12154/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The school building project to which the Deputy refers is at an advanced stage of architectural planning, Stage 2b - Detailed Design. Planning permission and a disability access certificate have been secured for this project. A decision by the local authority regarding the application for a fire certificate is awaited. Once all statutory approvals are secured the design team will prepare and submit the stage 2(b) submission for consideration by my Department.

Due to competing demands on the Department's capital budget imposed by the need to prioritise the limited funding available for the provision of additional school accommodation to meet increasing demographic requirements it was not possible to include this project in the 5 year construction programme announced in March 2012. However, school building projects, including the project referred to by the Deputy, which were previously initiated but not included in the current five year construction programme will continue to be progressed to final planning stages in anticipation of the possibility of further funds being available to the Department in the future.

Schools Building Projects Expenditure

Question No. 179 answered with Question No. 113.

Questions (178)

Clare Daly

Question:

178. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the measures he has put in place to ensure Government contracts awarded for capital projects for schools and educational facilities are not subcontracted out to companies outside the State which operate on a cash in hand basis and are not tax compliant; and the steps he has taken to address same. [12197/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

For school building projects, procedures are in place to mitigate against the possibility of appointing a main contractor who is not tax compliant. Following the tender process and before a contract is put in place, the recommended bidder must satisfy the standard requirements which are taken from the Department of Finance Capital Management Works Framework. These requirements include confirmation of tax clearance.

With regard to building projects funded by my Department, contractors wishing to tender for major projects must sign a Personal Situation Declaration under Oath confirming that they are in compliance with Regulation 53 of SI 329 of 2006. Any contractor failing to provide this declaration is excluded from tender competitions. Contractors must also produce a Tax Clearance Certificate, or, demonstrate a satisfactory level of tax compliance before they are awarded a contract.

A building project is a complex arrangement of contractual relationships between the client, the main contractor, specialist sub-contractors, domestic sub-contractors, suppliers of materials, suppliers of plant etc. In general all sub-contractors employed on education sector building projects are employed directly by the Main Contractor or indirectly by the Main Contractor through other sub-contractors.

Following a tender process last year, my Department appointed a private company to conduct random audits on school building projects to verify compliance with the relevant clauses in the Public Works Contracts. If an audit uncovers any matters of concern regarding tax compliance such matters will be referred by my Department to the Revenue Commissioners.

The Deputy will be aware that issues relating to tax compliance fall within the remit of the Revenue Commissioners. The Relevant Contracts Tax (RCT) system introduced in 2012 applies to all payments made by a principal contractor to a subcontractor under a relevant contract (this is a contract to carry out, or supply labour for the performance of relevant operations in the construction, forestry or meat processing industry). RCT applies to both resident and non-resident contractors operating in the construction, forestry or meat processing industry.

If the Deputy has information of instances where irregularities have occurred then my Department's advice is that these should be notified by the Deputy to the Revenue Commissioners.

Question No. 179 answered with Question No. 113.

Springboard Programme

Questions (180)

John Deasy

Question:

180. Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 380 of 4 March 2014, if he will consider including Springboard courses under the child care education and training support programme. [12201/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Springboard is a specific initiative that strategically targets funding of free part-time higher education courses to enable unemployed people who have lost jobs in sectors where employment levels will not return, to upskill or reskill in areas where there are identified labour market skills shortages or employment opportunities. Unfortunately due to the limited resources available under the Springboard fund it is not possible to cover other expenses, including child care expenses, incurred by students while participating on a course.

Child care support was introduced in the late 1990s as a way of providing assistance to people participating on specific Further Education programmes who faced barriers returning to education. In 2010, this programme was restructured into the Childcare Education and Training Scheme (CETS) administered by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. It is not intended to extend the scheme further at this point.