Disadvantaged Status

Questions (83, 84, 85)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

83. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools built in towns with RAPID areas since the designation of DEIS 1 schools took place; the names, addresses and roll numbers of these schools; if he intends assessing these schools for acceptance into the DEIS 1 scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15515/14]

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Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

84. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will re-assess schools for eligibility for the DEIS 1 programme in view of the significant demographic shifts since the programme commenced; his views on whether this is needed on equality grounds; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15516/14]

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Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

85. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills the cost in 2014 of the DEIS 1 programme; if he is satisfied it is targeted at those schools most in need of the programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15517/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 83 to 85, inclusive, together. The process of identifying primary and post-primary schools for participation in DEIS was managed by the Educational Research Centre (ERC) on behalf of the Department and supported by quality assurance work co-ordinated through the Department's regional offices and the Inspectorate in 2005. DEIS includes a commitment to the ongoing evaluation of the programme to ensure successful implementation and best possible approaches to measuring progress and outcomes at both local and national level. Preliminary findings of the third round of longitudinal testing, published by the ERC in December 2013 in a bulletin report entitled 'Changes in Pupil Achievement in Urban Primary Schools Between 2007 and 2013' shows continuing improvements for pupils in DEIS schools in both literacy and numeracy. It is important that the gains are built upon because, while these findings are encouraging, they also show that average results in DEIS schools still fall below the national average. Accordingly, a key priority for my Department is to prioritise and target resources in schools identified as having the most concentrated levels of educational disadvantage. That challenge is significant, given the current economic climate and the target to reduce public expenditure which limits the capacity for any additionality to the DEIS programme. The estimated expenditure on the DEIS programme by my Department in 2014 is €99 million which includes funding on DEIS grants and additional teachers in DEIS schools. Additional funding is provided by the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs for the School Meals Programme and the School Completion Programme respectively. I have no immediate plans to carry out a re-assessment of schools. The current focus of my Department in relation to the DEIS programme is on its ongoing evaluation and on distilling the learning from this research in order to inform future policy on educational disadvantage.Details of the number of schools built in towns with RAPID areas since the DEIS identification process is as follows:

County

Roll No.

School

Year

Cork

91513S

Youghal Community School, Youghal

2006

Carlow

20295K

Carlow Town Educate Together

2008

Louth

20294I

North Drogheda Environs, Drogheda

2008

Kildare

70650L

Athy Community College

2009

Galway

19858V

Gaelscoil Dara, Galway Cit

2011

Kildare

17064U

Scoil Phadraig, Ballylinan, Athy

2013

Louth

20259G

St. Francis' NS, Dundalk

2013

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (86)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

86. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the options available to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry to further their education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15522/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Under the terms of the Student Grant Scheme, grant assistance is awarded to students who meet the prescribed conditions of funding including those relating to nationality, residency, previous academic attainment and means. Under the terms of my Department's student grant schemes, students who are entering approved full-time undergraduate course in an approved higher education institution are eligible to be considered for a grant. In general, students who previously pursued a course of study are eligible for assistance in respect of a further period of study where they satisfy the conditions of progression provided for in the Scheme. To determine eligibility for the 2014/15 academic year the student should submit an on-line grant application to Student Universal Support Ireland via www.susi.ie. when the on-line application system opens.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (87, 88, 89, 91)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

87. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans regarding the provision of an academic personal assistance programmes for persons with Down's syndrome; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15527/14]

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Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

88. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans regarding the expansion of availability of books and educational materials in formats accessible to persons with Down's syndrome; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15528/14]

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Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

89. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans regarding alternative forms of testing and evaluation for persons with Down's syndrome; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15529/14]

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Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

91. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans regarding the development of an admissions process which does not discriminate against persons with Down's syndrome; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15531/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 87 to 89, inclusive, and 91 together. I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department allocates significant resources to ensure that pupils with special educational needs, including pupils with Down's syndrome, can participate fully in education. Pupils with Down's syndrome may receive additional teaching support in schools, either from a school's general allocation of Learning Support/Resource Teaching, or from an allocation of additional Resource Teacher hours to the schools from the National Council for Special Education (NCSE). Pupils who have care needs may receive access to Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support in schools. Many children with Down's syndrome have access to such SNA support. Other supports include provision for Assistive Technology support which can ensure that educational materials can be provided in accessible formats. With regard to the admissions process to schools, on 25th March, the Government approved the drafting of 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. Among the provisions in the new Bill, will be a requirement for all schools to make an explicit statement in their admissions policy that they will not discriminate against an applicant for admission on the grounds of disability. In relation to admission to higher education, the Disability Access Route to Education (DARE) is a college and university admissions scheme which offers places at reduced points to school leavers with disabilities. Eighteen higher education institutions are currently participating in the scheme. For further information on DARE see also www.accesscollege.ie. To assist pupils to then attend third level education, core funding for access programmes for pupils with disabilities is allocated each year as part of the overall budget of each designated higher education institution. This funding supports the provision of dedicated staff, services and supports for students with disabilities. Every further and higher education institution has at least one member of staff with responsibility for liaising with students with disabilities, as required by the Disability Act 2005. In addition, many institutions have a dedicated Disability Support Service with trained disability officers, learning support officers and other specialist staff. The Fund for Students with Disabilities (FSD) also provides additional funding to both further and higher education institutions for the provision of services and supports for full-time students with disabilities. With regard to alternative forms of testing and evaluation, I wish to advise the Deputy that secondary school students with special needs may have special arrangements made for them while sitting State examinations such as the Leaving Certificate and Junior Certificate. Candidates with disabilities, including Down syndrome, can apply through their school for reasonable accommodation during examinations. Details of the reasonable accommodations that can be made for pupils with special educational needs is available at www.examinations.ie. In relation to standardised testing, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment guidelines on "Assessment in the Primary School Curriculum – Guidelines for Schools" provides general guidance for schools including on using alternative tests in relation to the standardised testing of pupils in primary schools. Finally, I wish to advise the Deputy that the recent NCSE report on Supporting Children with Special Educational Needs recommended that under a proposed new allocation model, all children, including those with Down's syndrome, should be allocated additional resources in line with their level of need, rather than by disability category. An NCSE Working Group has been charged with developing proposals for a new allocation model. Any changes to the current allocation model will therefore be considered in the light of the recommendations of the report of this Group.

Teacher Training Provision

Question No. 91 answered with Question No. 87.

Questions (90)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

90. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans regarding the training of undergraduate level teaching staff for persons with Down's syndrome; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15530/14]

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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 with special educational needs can have access to an education appropriate to their needs. My Department allocates significant resources to ensure that pupils with special educational needs, including pupils with Down's syndrome, can participate fully in education. Supports are provided for schools in order to ensure that, wherever a child is enrolled, s/he will have access to individualised education programmes, fully-qualified professional teachers, Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support, the appropriate school curriculum with the option, where possible and appropriate, of full or partial integration and interaction with other pupils. In relation to initial teacher education, while special education has long been a feature of initial teacher education (ITE) programmes, the Teaching Council, the body with statutory authority and responsibility for the registration of teachers, requires the reconceptualised and extended Bachelor of Education programmes which commenced in 2012, to address a number of specific elements including differentiation, inclusive education including special education and literacy and numeracy. The learning outcomes of these programmes indicate that the graduate teacher should be able to conduct a systematic, holistic assessment of learner needs, to apply knowledge of the individual potential of students, their disposition towards learning and their backgrounds, identities and learning styles to their teaching, to set clear, challenging and achievable expectations for pupils, to evaluate learner progress, to act as an advocate for students, referring students for educational support as required and participating in the provision of that support, amongst other relevant outcomes. Student teachers may also have access to additional elective courses with content focussing on special education. All primary teachers are qualified to teach in any primary or special school classroom. Teachers have access, through the Special Education Support Service, to continuing professional development. My Department also funds a number of Post-Graduate Programmes for teachers involved in Learning Support and Special Education. These programmes are specifically designed to assist all schools and educational services in meeting the needs of students requiring learning support and the teaching of students with special educational needs. Since 2007, some 2,000 teachers have completed these programmes. I am satisfied that current arrangements are adequate to ensure that teachers receive the necessary initial education and have access to quality continuous professional development programmes during their career so that they are in a position to meet the needs of students.

Question No. 91 answered with Question No. 87.