Departmental Bodies Data

Questions (234)

Seán Fleming

Question:

234. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of commercial semi-State companies under the aegis of his Department; the current value of the pension fund assets held by each commercial semi-State company; the latest funding position of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20903/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

For the Deputy's information there are no commercial semi-state companies under the aegis of my Department.

Details of non commercial agencies under the remit of my Department can be downloaded from the Department's website. http://www.education.ie/en/The-Department/Agencies/

SOLAS Training and Education Programmes Administration

Questions (235)

Clare Daly

Question:

235. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the impact on apprentices arising from the changes made to their payment while studying in the institutes of technology from being that of a FÁS allowance to a SOLAS payment; if these payments are now taxed; and if the apprentice is now at a financial disadvantage vis-à-vis last year. [20924/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Following the dissolution of FÁS, responsibility for the Apprenticeship Programme transferred to SOLAS.

Participants on an off the job phase of the SOLAS Apprenticeship Programme attending an Institute of Technology are paid a SOLAS training allowance based on the gross wage norms relating to their particular trade. The amounts of these allowances remain unchanged from last year and are not subject to taxation and thus apprentices are not at a financial disadvantage vis-à-vis last year.

SOLAS Training and Education Programmes Provision

Questions (236)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

236. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills in respect to the decision to cut the SOLAS training allowance of €31.80 per week that assists persons with disabilities to cover the additional costs of accessing training course, if he will examine the effect of this cut on participation rates on training courses, including any drop off in attendance from trainees due to affordability issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20941/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The payment of an additional training allowance of €31.80 per week for the long term unemployed was introduced during a period of high employment levels as an incentive for the long term unemployed to participate in FÁS (now SOLAS) training courses. The payment of this allowance was later extended to those persons in receipt of social welfare disability payments to introduce equality of treatment for all participants in training.

The payment was reduced from €31.80 per week to €20 per week as part of Budget 2011. In the present economic situation this incentive is no longer considered appropriate and as part of Budget 2014 it was decided to cease this payment for all SOLAS participants commencing courses after 1st January 2014. This change does not apply to persons who commenced a course prior to January 2014 who will continue to receive the long term unemployed bonus payment for the duration of their course. As travel supports continue to be available to participants on SOLAS training courses, I am confident that these supports will assist persons with disabilities in participating on these courses and I do not see the need to further examine the effect of this change.

This is a decision taken in the context of the overall savings this Department had to find for 2014 and future years. It was taken against a difficult budgetary background and there is no scope to re-visit it.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (237)

Terence Flanagan

Question:

237. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a student grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 13; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20946/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The assessment of means under my Department's student grant scheme is based on gross income from all sources. Therefore, all income is assessed from the same starting point, eliminating any distortion which might arise from different spending decisions.The means test arrangements of the student grant scheme are applied nationally. In the case of both employed and self-employed applicants, gross income is assessed with certain specified social welfare and health service executive payments excluded.

The eligibility of an applicant, or the level of the grant awarded, may be re-assessed by the awarding authority in the event of a change of circumstances in the academic year.

I have no plans at present to depart from the above practice in respect of the determination of income.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Questions (238)

John Paul Phelan

Question:

238. Deputy John Paul Phelan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to address the issue of excessively large class sizes at a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20969/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The criteria used for the allocation of teachers to schools is published annually on the Department's 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 previous 30 September. The staffing schedule operates in a clear and transparent manner and treats all similar types of schools equally irrespective of location. The configuration of classes and the deployment of classroom teachers are done at local school level. The staffing arrangements for schools for the current school year, 2014/15 are set out in Department Circular 0007/2014 which is available on the website.My Department publishes annual statistics on class size data for each school. The most recent statistics are for the 2012/13 school year. The national average class size is 24.7 pupils. However, with over 20,800 classes in over 3,100 primary schools throughout the country there will always be variations in class sizes at individual school level. My Department's guidance to local school management is that such variations should be kept to the minimum.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (239)

John Paul Phelan

Question:

239. Deputy John Paul Phelan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the proposed extension to a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20970/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The building project for an extension to the school referred to by the Deputy is included in the Five Year Construction Programme to proceed to Tender and Construction in 2014/15. The design team on the project had reached completion of Stage 1 of Architectural Planning. As part of that work it has now been agreed by my Department that extensive refurbishment works to the existing school will also be required.

My Department has recently approved a significantly increased scope of works for the project to incorporate those refurbishment works. Arising from this expansion in the scope of works it has become necessary to commence a tender exercise for the appointment of a new design team to take the project forward from this point.

A fully revised brief for that tender competition is currently being finalised and the process of Design Team appointment will commence shortly.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (240)

John Paul Phelan

Question:

240. Deputy John Paul Phelan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an extension to schools (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20971/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The major building project for the schools referred to by the Deputy is completing stage 2(a) of architectural planning. Following the Stage 2(a) Stakeholders meeting which was held in February 2014 between my Department Officials, the Boards of Management and their Design Team, an addendum report was requested to clarify a number of points. This report has been received and is under review. Upon completion of this review and subject to no further issues arising the project will be progressed to Stage 2(b) which includes applications for Planning Permission, Fire Safety Certification, Disability Access Certification and the preparation of tender documents.

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.School building projects, including the project referred to by the Deputy, which have been 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.

Special Educational Needs Staffing

Questions (241)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

241. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding a full-time nurse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21002/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that 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 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 has advised that access to SNA support will be provided for the child in question for the coming school year.

Circular 0030/2014 provides details of the kind of care support for which an SNA will usually be provided, including assistance with medication, feeding, toileting and mobility. However, if it is considered that additional nursing assistance is also required, in addition to the care assistance support which an SNA can provide, an application for such support should be made to the Health Service Executive.

Special Educational Needs Staffing

Questions (242)

Clare Daly

Question:

242. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will supply the signed agreements or a file copy between the various trade unions and his Department that took place in 2004, which contain the agreements involving special needs assistants detailing the various SNA’s working hours, and the way their part-time salary is calculated. [21057/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The contractual position in respect of the working hours of SNAs is as outlined in their contracts of employment which were agreed with the school management authorities and the relevant Trade Unions representing SNAs (IMPACT and SIPTU) prior to their introduction in 2005. The agreement reached between the parties found expression in the two circular letters issued in 2005 detailing the contracts of employment for SNAs.

Links to the SNA Contracts of Employment are as follows: Department of Education and Skills Circular SNA 12/05 (Post-Primary) http://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/sna12_05.pdf Department of Education and Skills Circular SNA 15/05 (Primary) http://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Popular-forms/SNA-15-05-Contract-Form.pdf

This contract of employment is augmented by all of the relevant Departmental Circulars governing Special Needs Assistants which detail the standardised terms and conditions of employment for SNAs. These Circulars are amended and new Circulars are issued by the Minister for Education and Skills from time to time.

The position regarding the working hours of full-time SNAs is as outlined in these standard SNA contracts of employment. In that context, the standard SNA contract has been designed to be flexible to cater for the different spectrum of working hours across all the various schools including primary, post-primary and special schools. No set hours were agreed but instead full-time SNAs are expected to work for the normal school hours in the school that they are working in, and in addition to be available for a period of time before and after school in order to help with reception and dispersal of children and preparation and tidying up of classrooms etc. These times are set locally by the school management and will vary from school to school depending on the requirements of the school.

In addition, all SNAs were required to be available for a number of days at the start and finish of each school term not exceeding 12 in total. Under the Croke Park Agreement it was agreed to introduce greater flexibility to the use of these 12 days.

Accordingly, DES Circular 71/2011 was issued on 15 December 2011 which outlined that these 12 days now equate to 72 hours (pro-rata for part-time SNAs) to be used by schools as an additional bank of hours to be utilised and delivered outside of normal school opening hours and/or the normal school year.

Link to DES Circular 71/2011 is as follows: http://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0071_2011.pdfSNAs who are employed in a part-time capacity are paid a pro-rata amount dependent upon their level of hours of employment. Part-time SNAs are paid on the agreed divisor rate for pay purposes for part-time SNAs which is 32 hours. I should point out that this divisor was agreed with both of the Trade Unions (IMPACT and SIPTU) that represent SNAs.

Furthermore, the issue of appropriate working hours for all public servants was one of the key aspects of the set of proposals for a public service agreement which were put forward by the Labour Relations Commission and which now form the Public Service Stability Agreement 2013-2016 (the Haddington Road Agreement). The specific text of the Haddington Road Agreement relating to working hours for SNAs is as follows:

"SPECIAL NEEDS ASSISTANTSHoursUnder the terms of the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014, discussions took place that led to agreement on changed attendance arrangements for Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) that give schools the option of an additional two hours working time per week from each Special Needs Assistant. Under the terms of this Agreement on increased working hours in the Public Service, the available requirements in schools for additional hours for SNAs is quite limited. Given issues such as the duration of the school day and operation hours, and the specific availability of individual SNAs the details of the utilisation of any additional requirements should be the subject of further discussions.

These new attendance arrangements, allied to the provisions outlined in the above paragraph should be the subject of a review by the LRC in advance of the 2013/2014 school year, involving the Department of Education and Skills and IMPACT/SIPTU, in order to assess if the additional hours are being utilised in the most effective and appropriate manner and in order to achieve agreement on any changes deemed necessary in terms of the arrangement agreed for teachers.

This will constitute the liability on Special Needs Assistants in respect of working hours for the purposes of this extension to the Public Service Agreement."

An LRC process has now commenced in respect of the application of this provision of the Haddington Road Agreement.

School Staffing

Questions (243)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

243. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has engaged in discussions with interested parties regarding the likely impact of proposed cuts to the staffing schedule for small schools for the 2014-15 academic year; if he will consider suspending the proposed cuts; the impact the proposed cuts will have on schools in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21069/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As part of the Budget 2012 decisions, there is a phased increase in the number of pupils required to gain and retain a classroom teaching post in small primary schools with four teachers or less. The first phase of the budget measure took effect from September 2012. The final phase of the budget measure takes effect from September 2014 and will not be suspended. My Department has expanded the existing appeals process so that it is accessible to the schools that are affected by the budget measure. In this regard small schools will not lose their classroom post if they are projecting sustainable increased enrolments in September 2014 that would be sufficient to allow them to retain their existing classroom posts over the longer term.

The detailed arrangements in relation to the appeals process are set in the Department's Staffing Circular 0007/2014. The Appeals Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final. The allocation process for the 2014/15 school year is currently underway in the Department.

There are two schools in County Donegal impacted for the 2014/15 school year by the Budget 2012 measure. These schools have had appeals to the Primary Staffing Appeals Board provisionally upheld and will not lose their posts pending actual enrolments in September 2014.

The Government recognises that small schools are an important part of the social fabric of rural communities. They will continue to be a feature of our education landscape. How best to sustain provision for widely dispersed and small local communities does present as a particular challenge, especially in any locality where enrolment is declining to single figures. In these extremely challenging times, all public servants are being asked to deliver our public services on a reduced level of resources and teachers in small schools cannot be immune from this requirement.

My Department and I will continue to engage with the relevant education sector stakeholders in relation to education provision for all areas. Our current configuration of small primary schools has been examined by the Department in a value for money (VFM) review. This review took account of the ethos of schools and the locations of small schools relative to other schools of a similar type. I am currently considering this review in consultation with my Government colleagues and I intend to publish the report on completion of this consideration process.

Summer Works Scheme Administration

Questions (244)

Dara Calleary

Question:

244. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) was not successful in the recent summer works scheme; if consideration will be given to an emergency works application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21075/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware that I recently announced details of the schools that will receive Summer Works Scheme funding in 2014 in respect of applications submitted for Categories 1 to 6 i.e. Gas, Electrical, Mechanical, Toilet Facilities and Roof Works projects. In total, I have approved the spending of more than €70 million on the Summer Works Scheme to allow 772 schools undertake improvement works during the summer months.

Commensurate with the level of funding set aside for the Scheme, applications were assessed on a top down basis in accordance with the prioritisation criteria outlined in the Circular accompanying the Scheme. Unfortunately, due to the scale of demand for funding under the Scheme, it was not possible to grant aid all applications. However, in accordance with the Scheme's Circular, the school's application will be retained and will be prioritised for consideration under further rounds of the Summer Works Scheme in the future, subject to availability of funding.

In regard to the consideration of an Emergency Works application, the school authorities must be advised that the main purpose of the Emergency Works Scheme is to ensure the availability of funding for urgent works to those schools that are most in need of resources as a result of an emergency situation. An emergency is a situation which poses an immediate risk to health, life, property or the environment, which is sudden, unforeseen and requires immediate action and in the case of a school, if not corrected, would prevent the school or part thereof from opening.

School Costs

Questions (245)

Jack Wall

Question:

245. Deputy Jack Wall asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to address the financial problems for parents (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21097/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I am very conscious that costs associated with sending children to school is a considerable burden on families. Since becoming Minister for Education and Skills, I have attempted to take steps to reduce the burden on families. In 2014, the Department will provide €15m in book grants to first and second level schools. An addition €6.7m will be targeted in 2014 and 2015 at primary schools who did not operate a book rental scheme. Some €8.3m in additional grants will be divided among primary schools that currently operate book rental schemes in 2015 and 2016.

Apart from the recognised fee-charging second level schools, recognised primary or post-primary schools are not permitted to charge school fees. Voluntary contributions by parents are however permissible provided it is made absolutely clear to parents that there is no question of compulsion to pay. The manner in which contributions are sought and collected is a matter for each school management; however their collection should be such as not to create a situation where either parents or pupils could reasonably infer that the contributions take on a compulsory character.

I launched new "Guidelines for Developing Textbook Rental Schemes in Schools" on the 28th January 2013. These Guidelines provide practical advice to primary and post-primary schools on how rental schemes can be established and operated. The aim of the Guidelines is to help as many schools as possible to start such book rental programmes.

A special "Guide for Parents" was also published, to inform them of how the schemes operate and how parents can help schools to establish and run them. I have been very clear in my support for book rental schemes.

The Department will continue to provide a book grant as usual to all post primary schools. This grant, can be utilised for the purposes of updating or expanding a school's existing book rental scheme. The current arrangements for the distribution of school book grants relies on the local knowledge of the school and school Principal in order to ensure a fair allocation of scarce funds to those most in need.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (246)

Michael McGrath

Question:

246. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will advise the way a parent of a child with special needs can seek the support of a special needs assistant as the child enters preschool; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21107/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the vast majority of supports for childcare, including pre-school education, is provided by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. The principal vehicle for the delivery of pre-school education is the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme which was introduced in January 2010 and provides for early learning in a formal setting to children in the year before they commence primary school.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) currently provides for care support for pupils with special needs attending a range of pre-schools. Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) are allocated to Special Schools and to mainstream Primary and Post Primary schools to assist children with special educational needs who also have additional and significant care needs. Such support is provided in order to facilitate the attendance of those pupils at school and also to minimise disruption to class or teaching time for the pupils concerned, or for their peers, and with a view to developing their independent living skills.

This may, in some instances, include provision for children who are enrolled to early intervention classes in recognised primary schools, or special schools, where support is provided for as part of the schools total quantum of SNA support. However, as set out in my Department's Circular 0030/2014 in relation to the SNA scheme, SNA support is not provided to pre-school services which operate outside of the primary or special school provision.

School Transport Provision

Questions (247)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

247. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will ensure free school transport will be provided to students whose school (details supplied) in County Kerry is closing at the end of this academic year and will be moving to a new school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21117/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Under the terms of my Department's Primary School Transport Scheme, children are eligible for transport where they reside not less than 3.2 kms from and are attending their nearest national school as determined by my Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

These eligibility criteria are applied equitably on a national basis to all children attending a national school including children who are attending a school of amalgamation.Children who are eligible for school transport and who hold valid medical cards (GMS Scheme) are exempt from paying the annual charge.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (248)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

248. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the provision of an extension to a school (details supplied) in County Kerry; if the works will be carried out over the course of one summer and not two; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21118/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that funding, on a devolved basis, was approved to the school in question on 30th April last by my Department for the provision of one mainstream classroom and two resource rooms for children with special educational needs. In that regard, devolved funding is approved on the basis that the works concerned are completed within 12 months of the date of the letter of approval. If there are however valid circumstances why the timetable concerned cannot be met, a case should be made to my Department's Building Unit for an extension of the deadlines.

I also wish to advise the Deputy that the school in question was also included in the list of successful schools under the Summer Works Scheme 2014, which I published on 20th March last, for mechanical improvement works.

Minor Works Scheme Restoration

Questions (249)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

249. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to fully reinstate the minor works grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21123/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

A Minor Works Grant issued to primary schools last November for the school year 2013/2014. Circular letter 0062/2013 which was published as the Minor Works Grant issued last November states that "the grant will only be paid in future years as funding permits".

The Deputy will be aware that under the Investment and Capital Investment Programme 2012-2016, the focus in the education sector is on meeting the demand for additional school places.

State Examinations Reviews

Questions (250)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

250. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has compiled a report of the recommendations of the schools, teachers and students who took part in a pilot scheme of the new junior cycle reform in 46 schools in 2012; if so, whether the report is available to parents and members of the public; if not, report the reasons for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21129/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The NCCA Junior Cycle School Network was set up in April 2012. Its role was developmental; providing an in-school perspective on various aspects of the new junior cycle. It was never intended to be a pilot of the new junior cycle. The NCCA Network comprises 48 schools selected from applications made in response to a general invitation issued to all schools. It is representative of all school types and size and includes schools from a wide geographic spread, Irish-medium schools and DEIS-designated schools. Network schools have received NCCA support in planning new approaches to junior cycle, opportunities to participate in professional development within their own schools and with other network schools, and immediate access to ideas and resources generated by network schools. The benefits of participation to the network schools involved have been direct in terms school and individual professional development.

A report, such as you are suggesting, has not been prepared nor is it intended. Instead, the tangible outcomes based on network experiences such as courses developed, programme samples, presentations, planning/review workshops experiences have in many cases formed the basis of material shared with the full cohort of post-primary schools. In addition, NCCA has gained very significant insight into the response of schools and teachers to particular aspects of the Framework and their introduction into the day-to-day school setting.

School Staffing

Questions (251)

Patrick O'Donovan

Question:

251. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a status update on a staff appeal application in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Limerick to maintain their third teaching post for the next school year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21176/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The criteria used for the allocation of teachers to schools is published annually on the Department's 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 previous 30 September. The staffing arrangements for the coming school year 2014/15 are set out in Circular 0007/2014 which is available on the website.The staffing arrangements include an appeals mechanism for schools to submit an appeal under certain criteria to an independent Appeals Board. Section 4 of Circular 0007/2014 provides details for schools wishing to make an appeal.

The Primary Staffing Appeals Board meets three times per year. The first meeting was held in February, 2014. The next meeting is due to take place on Tuesday, 10 June, 2014. The school referred to by the Deputy has submitted an appeal under the small school appeal criterion to the June meeting of the Appeals Board and will be notified of the outcome of the appeal following that meeting.

The Primary Staffing Appeals Board operates independently of the Minister and the Department and its decision is final.

Departmental Communications

Questions (252)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

252. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if any telephone calls in or out of his Department are being, or ever have been, recorded, and if so, if he will provide details of the systems used to record and store such calls and the cost to his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21232/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

For the Deputy's information, telephone calls have not been recorded by the Department and are not currently being recorded.

School Transport Administration

Questions (253)

Clare Daly

Question:

253. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 177 of 6 May 2014, if he will furnish a copy of the briefing he was issued with regard to the FGS report. [21248/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The briefing referred to in my reply of 6 May 2014 was verbal briefing. As the Deputy will be aware, the FGS report referred to has been published, and is available to download on the following link: http://www.education.ie/en/Parents/Services/School-Transport/Review-of-Overhead-Costs-and-Other-Indirect-Costs-Attributable-to-the-School-Transport-Scheme.pdf

School Transport Provision

Questions (254)

Seán Fleming

Question:

254. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will arrange school transport for a bus route to collect children at a location (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21281/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Bus Éireann which operates the school transport scheme on behalf of my Department is responsible for the planning and organising of school bus routes, including the designation of the pick-up and set down points to be used by their bus services.

Routes are planned in such a way to ensure that, as far as possible, eligible pupils have a reasonable standard of service while at the same time, ensuring that school transport vehicles are fully utilised in the most efficient and cost effective manner.

Bus Éireann review existing services over the summer months. Arising from this review, routes may be altered or extended depending on the number and location of eligible children who will be availing of school transport for the following school year.

School Enrolments

Questions (255)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

255. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to provide additional secondary school places in the Celbridge area in County Kildare in view of the increase in the student population there and in view of the fact that all secondary schools in the area are fully subscribed for September 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21313/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware that the Five Year construction Plan, that I announced on 9th March 2012, outlines the major school projects that will commence construction over the duration of the Plan. The primary aim at the core of the Five Year Plan is focussed on meeting demographic demands to ensure that every child will have access to a physical school place and that our school system is in a position to cope with increasing pupil numbers.

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that this Plan provides for a new Post-Primary school for Celbridge to meet future demographic demands in the area. My Department has not received any application for funding from existing providers to cater for additional school places for the September 2014. If such an application is received it will be considered by my Department.

Teaching Qualifications

Questions (256)

John O'Mahony

Question:

256. Deputy John O'Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) in County Mayo has not received their primary teacher's honours degree allowance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21321/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

In 2012 a public service-wide review of allowances was carried out by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. As a result of the review, qualification allowances were abolished with effect from 1st February 2012. Department of Education and Skills Circular 0008/2013 outlines the effect of this decision on teachers. The Circular was agreed under the auspices of the Teachers' Conciliation Council, a body established in accordance with the terms of the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme for Teachers. The Council is composed of representatives of the teacher representative bodies, school management, the Department of Education and Skills and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, chaired by an official of the Labour Relations Commission.

In Paragraph 12 of Circular 0008/2013 an exception is made in the case 'where as at 5 December 2011, a teacher in employment on that date and eligible for receipt of a qualification allowance in respect of the post they held on that date, was actively undertaking a course of further study leading to an additional qualification, provided that the teacher does not cease to be a registered student on that course before its completion. Such individuals may apply to the Department/VEC as appropriate for a derogation from the general position within 3 months of the date of receipt of the award'.

As the person concerned was not a teacher in employment on 5 December 2011 and not eligible for receipt of a qualification allowance in respect of any teaching post on that date, they do not qualify for payment of an allowance in respect of the qualification related to the course being undertaken at that time.