Teaching Qualifications

Questions (88)

David Stanton

Question:

88. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is satisfied that all those teaching history at second level are fully qualified to do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18302/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Teacher allocations to second level schools are approved annually by my Department in accordance with established rules based on recognised pupil enrolment. Within schools, the deployment of teachers is a matter for school management. Management authorities of individual schools and Education and Training Boards (ETBs) are responsible for the appointment and deployment of teachers so as to maximise the effective teaching of the curriculum offered by the school. Schools are also responsible for deciding what subjects and programmes to offer and this can vary in accordance with local need. This, in turn, determines the type of teacher competencies/specialisms required at that time.

Data supplied to my Department by the Teaching Council show that there are over 6,600 teachers registered on the basis of qualifications in history. It should be noted that this number would include teachers who are not currently teaching history, such as those who are retired, on career breaks, travelling, unemployed, deployed to teach other subjects and so on.

Schools Site Acquisitions

Questions (89)

Niall Collins

Question:

89. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will, in view of the protracted delay which may arise in the procurement of a suitable site for the construction of a new school (details supplied), give favourable consideration to the site referenced 1.4.15 in the Fermoy Electoral Area Local Plan August 2011; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this site has received positive approval from the board of the management of the school in question; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18319/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

This site has been considered by officials in my Department for the school referred to by the Deputy in the context of other options available. However, whilst it remains open to consideration, it is not considered the preferred option at this time.

Special Educational Needs Staffing

Questions (90)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

90. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding special needs assistants in mainstream schools (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18324/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating resource teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to schools to support children with special educational needs. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. The criteria by which SNA support is allocated to pupils is set out in my Department's Circular 0030/2014.

The previous Government capped the number of SNA posts at 10,575 in December 2010. That cap remained in place until December 2013. In December 2013, this Government agreed to increase the cap on the number of SNA posts by 390 posts to 10,965 at the end of 2014.

The NCSE allocates a quantum of SNA support for each school annually taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support. The deployment of SNAs within schools is then a matter for the individual Principal/Board of Management. SNAs should be deployed by the school in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated. It is a matter for schools to allocate support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilised.

The NCSE invited schools to make applications for SNA support for children who have assessed care needs for the coming 2014/15 school year by 26th March 2014, for their consideration. The NCSE will advise schools of the outcome of their applications ahead of the new school year.

Summer Works Scheme Applications

Questions (91)

Noel Harrington

Question:

91. Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for funding under the summer works scheme in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18327/14]

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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.

Summer Works Scheme Applications

Questions (92)

Noel Harrington

Question:

92. Deputy Noel Harrington asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for funding under the summer works scheme in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18329/14]

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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.

Departmental Staff Retirements

Questions (93)

Paul Connaughton

Question:

93. Deputy Paul J. Connaughton asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a person (details supplied) in County Galway is eligible to claim early retirement from his Department due to ill health; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18339/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

It is open to the person to whom the Deputy refers to make application for early retirement due to ill-health, if, in consultation with her medical advisor, she forms the view that her illness is likely to be permanent. In this regard officials in the Pension Unit of my Department have provided to the person to whom the Deputy refers both personal and general information in regard to pension. The personal details provided remain unchanged. Details of the retirement application process and the various application forms are available on my Department's website to download. Should the person to whom the Deputy refers make application for retirement it will be dealt with in accordance with the procedures in place.

Student Grant Scheme Payments

Questions (94)

Jack Wall

Question:

94. Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) has never had their Student Universal Support Ireland grant payment paid for the year 2013-2014 in view of the fact that they made numerous representations to SUSI over this period by e-mail and telephone conversation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18354/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The decision on eligibility for a student grant is a matter for the relevant grant awarding authority. I understand from Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) that the student referred to by the Deputy is a renewal student in the 2013/14 academic year and that SUSI have recently been in contact with the student in relation to the submission of a renewal application for 2013/14.

School Transport Provision

Questions (95)

Anne Ferris

Question:

95. Deputy Anne Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Skills the schools in County Wicklow that are facilitated with school buses; if he will provide a breakdown of each school and location; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18386/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I have requested Bus Éireann, which operates the School Transport Scheme on behalf of my Department, to reply directly to the Deputy with the information requested.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (96)

Seán Ó Fearghaíl

Question:

96. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps being taken by him to encourage all post-primary schools to provide for students with special education needs; the efforts engaged in to ensure that special education units are strengthened locally throughout the country to meet local needs; if SENOs are acting to persuade local post primary schools to meet such local demand or if they are simply directing students with a particular need to pre-existing units which may or may not be able to meet their needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18391/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department's policy is to secure the maximum possible level of inclusion of students with special educational needs in mainstream primary and post-primary schools, in order to ensure that as many children as possible can be educated with their peers within their own community. This policy is in line with the provisions of the Education of Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004.Students with special educational needs have access to a range of support services. In mainstream schools, pupils may be supported with access to additional teaching and/or care supports. Some children may be supported in a special class attached to a mainstream school. These students have the option, where appropriate, of full/partial integration and interaction with other pupils. Other children may have such complex needs that they require specialist supports in a special school.

I wish to advise the Deputy that 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.

SENOs engage with schools annually in order to plan for, and to open, new special classes each year, in order to ensure there are sufficient special class placements available at primary and post primary school level to meet demand in a given area.

Since 2010, the number of special classes in mainstream schools has increased from approximately 500 to over 740 Special Classes, including 118 new special classes opened for the 2013/14 school year.

SENOs have again been working with schools, in recent months, in order to plan for the establishment of special classes for the forthcoming 2014/2015 school year. Although this work is ongoing, at this point, the NCSE has advised that they expect to open up to 100 new special classes for the coming school year. SENOs are continuing to liaise with and work with schools in order to meet demand for special school placements.

The NCSE has advised that for the most part the response from schools to requests to establish new special classes has been positive. There are, however, difficulties in opening new special classes in a small number of areas. The NCSE will continue to engage with schools in relation to this matter and officials at my Department will also work closely with the NCSE to address any such difficulties in the coming weeks.

Computerisation Programme Expenditure

Questions (97)

Jack Wall

Question:

97. Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the assistance available for the cost of educational aids for a child (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18401/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Programme for Government prioritises the integration of ICT in teaching and learning across the curriculum. Where ICT is embedded in the curriculum it can serve to engage and motivate children in the learning process. It has proven to increase students' self-esteem and creates a more positive disposition towards learning as well as providing teachers with more up to date, exciting and relevant ways of presenting and engaging with the curriculum. ICT can act as a catalyst for peer teaching and learning and is hugely powerful in the development of team-work, higher order thinking skills and a collaborative learning and teaching environment. The use of tablet devices is one of the many ways to integrate technology into teaching and learning.

I am aware of the fact that in many schools, parents are being asked to fund the cost of tablet devices for use in the classrooms. This is an operational matter for the Board of Management of each school and the Department has no role at individual school level in approving such initiatives. I believe it is important that where new technology is being considered by schools, parents should be consulted prior to the decision being made and that the costs and other implications for students and children seeking to be enrolled in the school are fully considered by the Boards of Managements.

The Department is not in a position to make new grant funding available for purchase of ebooks and associated services and devices. However, I would like to clarify that schools may choose to allocate the existing book grant provided by the Department towards purchase of electronic books if they wish.