Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (192)

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

192. Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review the change in grant payment to a person (details supplied) in County Galway. [14715/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Under Budget 2011, the qualifying distance criterion for the non-adjacent rate of student grant increased from 24kms to 45kms. The proposal to amend the distance to qualify for the higher non-adjacent rate to 45km took into account a reasonable radius in which students could be expected to commute on a daily basis.

The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter for an applicant's grant awarding authority. Where an applicant is not satisfied with the decision of the grant awarding authority, he/she may submit an appeal to have the decision reviewed.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (193)

David Stanton

Question:

193. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 249 of 28 January 2014, if the independent review of the visiting teacher service has been concluded; when he intends to publish same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14736/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the Visiting Teacher Service for children with Visual and Hearing Impairment provides assistance for children who are deaf or hard of hearing and children who are blind or visually impaired.

In May 2013 the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) brought forward policy advice which recommended that the service should be reviewed. Accordingly, an independent review of this service is currently being conducted in line with the NCSE recommendations.

The review is being conducted by two independent reviewers who are tasked with reviewing the role and function of the Visiting Teacher Service in accordance with the Terms of Reference of the Review, with a view to making recommendations for consideration to my Department.

The reviewers have met and consulted with members of the Visiting Teacher service and with a broad range of individuals as well as statutory and non-statutory organisations who are involved in the education of children who are blind or visually impaired and children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Parents, children, teachers and other interested parties have also had the opportunity to contribute to the review by making a submission and/ or by answering a questionnaire, which was available on my Department's website www.education.ie until 31 January 2013.

At the recommendation of the reviewers my officials have allowed a brief extension to the timeframe for the delivery of this Report. The purpose of the extension was to facilitate the widest possible consultation. I understand the review is now at an advanced stage and should be concluded by the end of April 2014. I will consider the question of publication when I have received the report.

School Textbooks Rental Scheme

Questions (194)

Michael McGrath

Question:

194. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will address an issue raised by a sixth class pupil of a national school (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14742/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Department will continue to provide a book grant as usual to all primary schools. This grant, can be utilised for the purposes of updating or expanding a school's existing book rental scheme.

I want to commend all schools that have used it to help build up book rental schemes over the years and I am aware of the difficulties faced by schools in relation to these schemes. Their efforts mean that the high costs of school books is being significantly reduced for parents.

At my request, the National Parents' Council surveyed the views of their members in relation to currently operating book rental schemes.

Parents have reported that where book rental schemes operate, they are open to all parents in 95% of cases, and that the cost per child is under €40 per year in a considerable majority of schools.

Perhaps most tellingly, the survey has found that 93% of parents believe that book rental schemes help with the costs of educating a child.

Ensuring that book rental schemes are available to all parents must therefore clearly be our aim.

I understand that it feels unfair to those schools who have invested time and money to establish such schemes, that they now cannot benefit from the additional funding which was secured as part of the Budget. Of course it is unfair, but equally, the status quo was deeply unfair on many parents and I am not currently in a position to re-examine the scheme.

The parents who had no access whatsoever to book rental schemes needed more support.

With the limited funding available, I believe that targeting this funding - to make sure that every parent in Ireland has access to some level of a book rental scheme - was the greatest good that could be achieved.

The Department has contacted primary schools that do not currently operate a book rental scheme to advise them of the application process.

Schools, such as that referred to by the Deputy, that indicated in the Primary School Census 2013 that they currently operate a book rental/loan scheme will not therefore qualify for funding.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (195)

Michael McCarthy

Question:

195. Deputy Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a student grant will issue in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14745/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Officials in my Department have confirmed with the awarding authority, Cork County Council, that the student referred to by the Deputy was awarded 50% registration fees for the academic year 2013/14. The student was not awarded a grant towards maintenance as the income was over the income threshold.

If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a student grant, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to the appeals officer in the awarding authority.

Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down in writing by the awarding authority and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to my Department.

Proposed Legislation

Questions (196)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

196. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide an update on the current status of the draft education (admission to schools) Bill; the expected timeline for bringing the Bill before the Houses of the Oireachtas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14797/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Government gave approval last week for drafting the Education (Admissions to Schools) Bill 2014. This new legislation aims to ensure that the enrolment process in all primary and post-primary schools is inclusive, transparent and fair.

The General Scheme has since been referred to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel by the Government with a request to commence drafting as soon as possible.

National Educational Psychological Service Administration

Questions (197)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

197. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a number of schools in the north Inishowen area of County Donegal have been without the services of a NEPS psychologist since September 2013; the impact this is having on the north Inishowen schools completion programme; and if he will have the issue resolved as soon as possible. [14812/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I can inform the Deputy that my Department's National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) provides educational psychology service to all primary and post primary schools through an assigned NEPS psychologist and in some cases through the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments (SCPA). Under this scheme schools can have an assessment carried out by a member of the panel of private psychologists approved by NEPS, and NEPS will pay the psychologist the fees for this assessment directly.

In relation to the schools to which the Deputy refers in this instance the assigned NEPS psychologist is currently on maternity leave and, as is normal in this situation relevant, school authorities have been informed that they may avail of the SCPA to draw down necessary assessment services in the interim. The local NEPS office will continue to provide service to the school in the event of critical incidents and are available to discuss any other requirements schools in this area may have relevant to the NEPS service. Schools are free to contact the NEPS Regional Office in McKendrick House, McKendrick Place, Letterkenny at 074-9178592 in this regard.

Summer Works Scheme Eligibility

Questions (198)

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

198. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) in County Mayo did not receive the summer works scheme grant when it met all the criteria and in view of the fact that it urgently requires repair works to be carried out on the roof; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14831/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware that on 20th March last I announced that 386 schools have been approved funding under the Summer Works scheme to undertake school improvements. This first round of funding will allow schools to carry out small and medium scale building works across three categories of projects - Gas, Electrical and Mechanical.

A second round of the scheme is expected to be announced in the coming weeks within the context of available funding and 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.

This round will cover applications for improvement works yet to be assessed, including an application from the school to which the Deputy refers.

School Enrolments

Questions (199)

Jack Wall

Question:

199. Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the options available to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare to obtain secondary education for their child; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14832/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Educational Welfare Service of the Child and Family Agency (EWS) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The EWS may be able to offer assistance and advice on securing a school placement within the pupil's area. The contact details for the EWS is Educational Welfare Service of the Child and Family Agency, Block 3 South Dublin County Council, Tallaght, Dublin 24, phone number 01-4635513.

The selection and enrolment of pupils in schools is the responsibility of the authorities of the individual school. My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking school places in an area. However, this may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice. As schools may not have a place for every applicant, a selection process may be necessary. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants.

Under section 15 (2) (d) of the Education Act, 1998, each school is legally obliged to disclose its enrolment policy and to ensure that as regards that policy that principles of equality and the right of parents to send their children to a school of the parents' choice are respected.

The Deputy may be aware that the Government has approved the drafting of the Education (Admissions to School Bill) 2014. This new legislation aims to ensure that the enrolment process in all schools is inclusive, transparent and fair.

Summer Works Scheme Eligibility

Questions (200)

Michelle Mulherin

Question:

200. Deputy Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) in County Mayo did not receive the summer works scheme grant 2014 when all the required criteria were met; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14833/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware that on 20th March last I announced that 386 schools have been approved funding under the Summer Works scheme to undertake school improvements. This first round of funding will allow schools to carry out small and medium scale building works across three categories of projects - Gas, Electrical and Mechanical.

In the case of the school, referred to by the Deputy, my Department is liaising with the school regarding the summer works project sought in the context of the proposed major capital project earmarked for the school.

Residential Institutions

Questions (201)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

201. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his role in relation to the provision of supports and compensation to victims of institutional abuse; his plans to fulfil outstanding obligations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14009/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Residential Institutions Redress Board provides compensation to those who suffered abuse as children in residential institutions. The independent Board makes awards in accordance with the framework set out in Towards Redress and Recovery, the report of the independent compensation advisory committee which advised on the appropriate levels of compensation. By the end of 2013, the Board had made 15,103 awards with an average award value of €62,496 and the largest being €300,500, resulting in an overall cost of the Redress Scheme of some €1.2 billion.

These arrangements have provided survivors of institutional child abuse with a mechanism by which they could obtain fair and reasonable financial compensation for abuses suffered, without the necessity to pursue long and often traumatic cases via the court system.

Conscious that many survivors continue to suffer the effects of the abuse suffered as children and in keeping with the unanimous Dáil motion, the Government agreed to establish the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund to utilise the €110 million cash contributions, pledged by the congregations, to support the needs of survivors. Supports across a range of services, including mental health services, health and personal social services, education and housing services will be available. The Fund, which uses the service name Caranua, published its criteria and guidelines and commenced accepting applications in January of this year. Further information regarding Caranua's services is available on its website www.caranua.ie.

My Department continues to fund the Origins Family Tracing Service operated by Barnardos for former residents wishing to trace family members with whom they have lost contact. Survivors can also avail of the National Counselling Service operated by the Health Service Executive which offers counselling and psychotherapy services to those who have experienced trauma and abuse in childhood with priority given to survivors of institutional abuse.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (202)

Simon Harris

Question:

202. Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an ASD facility will be supplied in a school (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14938/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

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 question relating to provision at post primary level to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

Gaelscoil Issues

Questions (203)

Colm Keaveney

Question:

203. Deputy Colm Keaveney asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has identified a location and construction date for the provision of a Gaelscoil in Loughrea; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14942/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The school referred to by the Deputy was included on the list of projects, announced in March 2012, to commence construction in 2015/16.

The Deputy may be aware that I signed a Memorandum of Understanding between my Department and the County and City Managers' Association (CCMA) in 2012. This Memorandum of Understanding fosters increased levels of cooperation and formalises the Local Authorities' part in identifying and securing sites for educational use. In that context, my Department is working closely with Galway County Council towards acquiring a permanent site as soon as possible to meet the needs of the school to which the Deputy refers.

However, due to the sensitivities associated with land acquisitions generally I am not in a position to provide further information at this time. Once the acquisition of a suitable site is finalised, a design team for the project will be appointed with a view to its progression to tender and construction.

School Accommodation Provision

Questions (204)

Michael Lowry

Question:

204. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason an application for additional accommodation for a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary was not considered; if he will immediately reconsider this application in view of the very cramped and unsafe conditions in the school at present; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14977/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I can confirm that an application for additional classroom accommodation was received from the school referred to by the Deputy on 7th February 2014.

Given the current financial constraints within which my Department is currently operating, priority is being given to applications for essential mainstream classroom accommodation in areas of significant demographic growth and where additional teaching staff has been allocated. This will continue to be the main focus for my Department in the coming years to ensure that every child has access to a physical school place.

The school in question was not allocated additional staff and my Department is therefore not in a position to provide additional classroom accommodation for the reasons outlined. The school has been advised accordingly.

With regard to the health and safety issues referenced in the details provided, the school received a Minor Works grant of €6,221 last November. It is open to the school to prioritise the works it wishes to undertake within the scope of the scheme and the works in question would meet the criteria for consideration under this grant.

Where schools have issues of an emergency nature, it is open to the schools to submit an application for funding to my Department under the Emergency Works Scheme. Details of the criteria associated with the scheme together with an application form may be accessed on my Department's website www.education.ie. My Department would request that a technical report and supporting evidence relating to the issues concerned and outlining the works required should accompany any submission.

Summer Works Scheme Administration

Questions (205)

Dan Neville

Question:

205. Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding funding in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Limerick; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14983/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware that on 20th March last, I announced that 386 schools have been approved funding under the Summer Works Scheme to undertake school improvements. This first round of funding will allow schools to carry out small and medium scale building works across three categories of projects - Gas, Electrical and Mechanical.

A second round of the scheme is expected to be announced in the coming weeks within the context of available funding and 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. This round will cover applications for improvement works yet to be assessed in the context of the criteria outlined above.

Special Educational Needs Staff Remuneration

Questions (206)

Finian McGrath

Question:

206. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will support a matter (details supplied) regarding a special needs panel. [14985/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The detailed supplementary assignment arrangements for SNAs for the 2013/2014 school year are set out in Departmental Circular 0037/2013 which issued on 1 July 2013 and which is available on the Department's website at the following address: http://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0037_2013.pdf

With effect from 1 May 2013 once an SNA with a minimum of one year's service is notified by his/her employer that he/she is to be made redundant then he/she shall be deemed to be a member of a Supplementary Assignment Panel for SNAs.

In line with the information provided by the Deputy this person was made redundant in 2010 and therefore she is not eligible for a position on the SNA Supplementary Assignment Panel. Panel eligibility is only available to those SNAs who were made redundant on or after 1 May 2013.

It should be noted that this does not prevent the person applying for SNA vacancies but employers are obliged to give precedence to applicants who are members of the SNA Supplementary Assignment Panel.

Summer Works Scheme Eligibility

Questions (207, 212, 213, 214, 215)

Pat Breen

Question:

207. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) in County Clare has not been successful under the summer works scheme; if the school will be considered in the next round of funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14988/14]

View answer

Pat Breen

Question:

212. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) in County Clare has not been successful in the summer works programme: if the school will be considered in the next round of funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15013/14]

View answer

Pat Breen

Question:

213. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) in County Clare has not been successful in the summer works scheme; if the school will be considered in the next round of funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15014/14]

View answer

Pat Breen

Question:

214. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) in County Clare has not been successful in the summer works scheme; if the school will be considered in the next round of funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15015/14]

View answer

Pat Breen

Question:

215. Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) in County Clare has not been successful in the summer works scheme; if the school will be considered in the next round of funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15016/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 207 and 212 to 215, inclusive, together.

The Deputy will be aware that on 20th March last, I announced that 386 schools have been approved funding under the Summer Works scheme to undertake school improvements. This first round of funding will allow schools to carry out small and medium scale building works across three categories of projects - Gas, Electrical and Mechanical.

A second round of the scheme is expected to be announced in the coming weeks within the context of available funding and 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. This round will cover applications for improvement works yet to be assessed, including applications from the schools to which the Deputy refers.

School Transport Administration

Questions (208)

Clare Daly

Question:

208. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all the recommendations of the Farrell Grant Sparks report entitled Review of the Overhead Costs and Indirect Costs for the Administration of the School Transport Scheme, of October 2009, were implemented immediately or if they were implemented on a phased basis in view of the fact that the administration charges appear to have fallen by approximately €1.5 million each year since he took office. [15004/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Farrell Grant Sparks looked at possible alternative methods for the calculation of the Bus Éireann transport management charge. The recommendations in the report were not implemented.

The basis of this charge was not changed and remains as set out in the 1975 Summary of Accounting Arrangements.

Each year since 2008 an element of the charge has been rebated by Bus Éireann to the Department to reflect the challenging financial conditions facing the country