Schools Amalgamation

Questions (229)

Joe Carey

Question:

229. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the outcome of a meeting in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Clare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24376/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that I recently met with the school authorities that are involved in the proposed post primary school amalgamation building project. In that regard, the schools concerned acknowledged the steps being taken by my Department to acquire a site for the development of a building for the new amalgamated school. The Deputy is aware that the religious congregation that owns existing school properties in Ennistymon has offered to transfer the properties concerned to the State as part of its offer made in response to the publication of the report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (the Ryan Report). The Government has agreed to accept this and a number of other properties offered by the Congregation. The land in question, together with the lands already in the ownership of the Department, will be sufficient to meet the overall site requirements of the new school. My Department through the Chief State Solicitor's Office is currently working with the Solicitors acting on behalf of the Congregation concerned on the legal procedures and mechanisms required to facilitate the transfer of this additional land. The question of locating the primary school, Scoil Mhainchín Ennistymon, on the post primary school campus was also raised at the meeting. In that regard a technical assessment of the site to assess if it can accommodate all the schools concerned is being arranged. My Department will be in further contact shortly with the schools concerned in the matter.

Residential Institutions

Questions (230)

Denis Naughten

Question:

230. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will confirm that it is his intention to legislate to retain evidence given to the Ryan commission by victims of abuse; if it is also his intention to make provision in any such legislation on evidence and documentation collated in connection with the vaccine trial module of the inquiry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24390/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Government agreed in principle to my bringing forward legislative proposals to allow for the retention of the records of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, the Residential Institutions Redress Board and the Residential Institutions Review Committee. These proposals will include amendments to existing legislation where necessary. It is intended that the records will be retained in the National Archives and completely sealed for a period of at least 75 years following which access to them would be subject to strict safeguards. I will be bringing the legislative proposals to the Cabinet for consideration in due course. There will be consultation with all the stakeholders, including groups representing survivors, as the proposals are developed. The position in relation to the vaccine trials division of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse is that its work ceased in 2003 and the High Court found that the Order establishing the inquiry was ultra vires the 2000 Act. In preparation for its dissolution the Commission proposed to return the records supplied to their original sources and to seek the return of copy documents from third parties for confidential disposal. Having consulted with the Office of the Attorney General, I agreed that the Commission could proceed as proposed in advance of its dissolution. In 2012 the Commission announced that it had commenced dismantling the records of the vaccine trial division by returning the records supplied to their original sources and by seeking the return of copy documents from third parties for confidential disposal. I understand that the Commission has completed this process and that all records have been returned to their original sources.

School Accommodation

Questions (231)

Alan Farrell

Question:

231. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide an update on the delivery plans for the seven new classrooms for a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; the projected time frame for their completion; the projected capacity of each classroom; if consultation has taken place with school management on this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24392/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I am pleased to confirm that an all-in devolved grant was recently approved for the school to which the Deputy refers. This funding will allow the school to replace current prefabricated classrooms with seven purpose-built mainstream classrooms and special needs facilities. These replacement classrooms will greatly enhance the school's accommodation and it is anticipated that this project will satisfy the school's long term accommodation needs. The school authorities, in question, were notified by letter of this decision in May last which also outlined the terms and conditions of the devolved grant and the level of accommodation to be provided. I wish to advise the Deputy that, with devolved funding, it is matter for the individual school authorities to determine the projected time frame for the completion of the project, subject to the drawdown requirements attached to the grant.

State Examinations Commission

Questions (232)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

232. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has issued any guidance to the State Examinations Commission regarding the timeframe in which it must reply to parliamentary questions. [24401/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Parliamentary Questions, for answer by the State Examinations Commission, are forwarded to the SEC on the day they are received in my Department. It is normal practice that all Parliamentary Questions are replied to by the answer date set by the Questions Office in the Oireachtas. Unavoidably, some delays may occur e.g. where a Parliamentary Question requires investigation or collation of data.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (233)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

233. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the tender process in respect of a major building project at a school (details supplied) in County Galway has been completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24420/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The tenders for the project to which the Deputy refers were recently returned. The Design Team is currently preparing their tender report. It is anticipated that the tender process will be complete in the coming weeks. Subject to no issues arising, it is anticipated that works will commence on site in the coming months.

School Placement

Questions (234, 254)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

234. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason he will not provide an additional teacher to accommodate the new junior infants class in a school (details supplied) in County Dublin, in view of the increase in numbers of children in the local area; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the lack of school places means that some families have had to include children in three different schools and the hardship this is causing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24493/14]

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Clare Daly

Question:

254. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 37 of 29 May 2014, regarding two other schools in the areas accepting additional stream of junior infants, that a school (details supplied) is not offering places to parents of children from another school despite this; the remedies open to these families; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24662/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 234 and 254 together. I wish to advise the Deputies that my Department has examined the level of demand for junior infant places in the Swords area and in that regard has also been in contact with the schools concerned. Following on this contact, it was ascertained that there are currently two schools, with the same Patron, as the school referred to by the Deputies which have lost or are due to lose mainstream teaching posts. These schools have spare accommodation capacity within their buildings and expressed a willingness to accept an additional stream of Junior Infants each, which my Department approved, to alleviate any pressure on places in the area. This undertaking was given by these schools on 19th March last after contact with my Department. Prior to that date, children may have been refused a school place in the two schools in question but this should no longer be the case. In further recent contact with the schools involved, my Department has been advised that the schools concerned are continuing to offer places. The Deputies will appreciate that in view of constraints on my Department's capital budget imposed by the need to meet demographic demand, it is important that school size is monitored and that a balance is preserved among all schools in catchment areas to ensure that one school is not expanding at the expense or the viability of another school. This may sometimes however result in children not being offered a place in their school of first choice.

Special Educational Needs Staffing

Questions (235)

Finian McGrath

Question:

235. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will reconsider Circular 0030/2014 regarding special needs assistants provision and to ensure that all children receive the necessary supports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24515/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The purpose of Circular 0030/2014 is not to reduce the number of SNA posts in schools, but to clarify the role and purpose of SNA support and to ensure it is targeted at those pupils who need it, in accordance with policy advice recommendations. My officials have already consulted with school Management Bodies prior to issuing the circular and is currently setting up further meetings with Management Bodies and Parent representative groups to clarify the provisions fo the circular. In June 2011, the Department of Education and Skills published a Value for Money and Policy Review of the SNA scheme. In May 2013, the National Council for Special Education published its Policy Advice on Supporting Children with Special Educational Needs in Schools. Both reports concluded that the SNA scheme has been highly successful in supporting the care needs of children with special needs in schools, and with assisting in their integration and inclusion. However, the reports also concluded that the intended purpose of the scheme was not always generally well understood by parents or schools and that the scope and purpose of the scheme should be clarified for schools. It is important to note that the new Circular, for the most part, reflects existing allocation practices which have been in place in recent years, as opposed to introducing new criteria. The Government approved an extra 390 SNA posts last December for the period to end-December 2014, which means that there are now almost 11,000 SNAs available to work with children who have an assessed care need in primary, post-primary and special schools These extra posts will ensure the Government's policy of ensuring every child assessed as needing SNA support will receive access to support. Implementation of the circular should ensure that children's care needs are better understood so that SNAs can work more effectively to assist children.

Schools Establishment

Questions (236)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

236. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide an update on the provision of a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; if accommodation has been sourced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24557/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

In accordance with my announcement of 28 November 2013, the new 700 pupil post-primary school for Balbriggan which will operate under the patronage of Educate Together, is scheduled to commence operation in September 2016. To that end, my Department is exploring a number of options regarding accommodation for the school and will liaise with the Patron body in that regard.

School Enrolments

Questions (237, 238, 239, 240)

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

237. Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of section 29 appeals for refusal to enrol his Department has dealt with to date in 2014; if he will provide a breakdown by county, and whether primary or secondary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24559/14]

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Kevin Humphreys

Question:

238. Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of section 29 appeals for refusal to enrol his Department has dealt with to date in 2014 for schools in Dublin 2, 4, 6, 6W and 8; if he will provide a breakdown by specific school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24560/14]

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Kevin Humphreys

Question:

239. Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Education and Skills the cost to date in 2014 for section 29 appeals for refusal to enrol; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24561/14]

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Kevin Humphreys

Question:

240. Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of section 29 appeals for refusal to enrol that were dealt with in 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively; the annual cost of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24562/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 237 to 240, inclusive, together.

Up to the end of May 2014, there have been a total of 215 appeals lodged to my Department in respect of refusal to enrol. This is broken down as follows:139 at post-primary level and 76 at primary level.

The breakdown by location as requested by the Deputy is not readily available. The cost to the end of May 2014 is €136,961. This figure also includes section 29 appeals lodged in respect of suspensions and expulsions.

The remaining information as requested by the Deputy is set out in the following table.

YEAR

2011

2012

2013

Annual Cost*

€275,579

€279,751

€255,830

Number of Refusal to Enrol

270

244

322

*These costs relate to payments to appeal committee members who heard section 29 appeals including expulsions and suspensions.

School Enrolments

Question No. 242 answered with Question No. 209.

Questions (241)

Kevin Humphreys

Question:

241. Deputy Kevin Humphreys asked the Minister for Education and Skills the way it is planned for the admissions to school Bill to reduce the number of section 29 appeals for refusal to enrol; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24563/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy is aware, the Government gave approval in March of this year for drafting the Education (Admissions to Schools) Bill 2014 and the General Scheme has since been referred to the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel to the Government for drafting. My aim in bringing forward legislative proposals in relation to school admission is to improve the admissions process and to ensure that the way schools decide on applications is structured, fair and transparent. The framework also proposes a mechanism for ensuring that every child receives a school place. The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection report on the Draft General Scheme followed public hearings at the committee involving parents and education partners among others. The recommendations from the Committee will be considered further in the context of the drafting of the Bill.

Question No. 242 answered with Question No. 209.

School Staffing

Questions (243)

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy

Question:

243. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Education and Skills in view of new information supplied to his Department, if he will reverse the decision to withdraw a teaching post from a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24586/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The criteria used for the allocation of teaching posts for the 2014/2015 school year is set out in the Staffing Schedule (Circular 0007/2014) which is available on the Department website. The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the 30 September 2013. The staffing schedule also includes an appeals mechanism for schools to submit an appeal under certain criteria to an independent Appeals Board. The appeal criteria are published in Circular 0007/2014. The school referred to by the Deputy submitted an appeal under Criterion B - Additional Enrolments in October 2013 to the February, 2014 meeting of the Primary Staffing Appeals Board. The appeal was refused by the board on the basis that the grounds of the appeal did not meet the published criteria. The school was notified accordingly. The Primary Staffing Appeals Board operates independently of the Minister and the Department and its decision is final.

Ministerial Responsibilities

Questions (244)

Lucinda Creighton

Question:

244. Deputy Lucinda Creighton asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will list in tabular form all legislation and specific sections therein that refer to powers delegated to the Minister of State with special responsibility for training and skills; if he will detail the title of the civil servants who are responsible for reporting directly to said Minister of State; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24618/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Powers as listed in the table were delegated under SI No. 379 of 2011 Education and Skills (Delegation of Ministerial Functions) Order 2011, to the Minister of State with special responsibility for training and skills.

It should be noted that SI 379 of 2011 referred to the Labour Services Act, 1987 which has since been repealed by the Further Education and Training Act, 2013. A revised order to take account of the passage of the legislation is being drafted.

Reporting lines to a Minister of State are not exclusive, as officials will have a range of duties and will have a reporting obligation to the Minister for Education and Skills. In that context, all officials in the Department of Education and Skills engaged in the delegated areas have direct or indirect reporting arrangements, as appropriate, to the Minister of State.

Legislation

Industrial Training Act 1967

Youth Employment Agency Act 1981

Section 7 (1) (c) (i) of the Education Act 1998 in so far as it relates to adult education, including education disadvantage (within the meaning of Section 32 (9) of the Act) among adults

Section 7 (1) (c) (ii) of the Education Act 1998 in so far as it relates to transport services

National Training Fund Act 2000

School Staffing

Questions (245)

Dominic Hannigan

Question:

245. Deputy Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to put in place new employment structures for school secretaries in order that there is more employment security for persons who are in this role; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24629/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The majority of schools receive grant assistance in respect of caretaking or secretarial services under the Capitation Grants scheme. Within the Capitation grant scheme, the level and extent of services provided is a matter for the school authorities who, through the discretion afforded under the scheme, apply diverse arrangements for secretarial and caretaking services according to their priorities and as resources permit. As the secretaries and caretakers are employees of individual schools, my Department does not have a role in determining the pay and conditions, including pension rights, under which they are engaged. These are matters to be agreed between the staff concerned and the school authorities. Notwithstanding this, a forum was set up with the aim of establishing the position in schools regarding the terms and conditions of school secretaries and caretakers employed using grants issued by my Department. The forum is jointly chaired by my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the relevant management bodies and the unions involved (SIPTU and IMPACT). In order to establish the factual position of secretaries and caretakers, a survey, developed in conjunction with the school management bodies and the relevant unions, was carried out in all schools. The results of the survey is contributing to the forums considerations of appropriate measures in relation to the rates of pay of school secretaries and caretakers which are ongoing.

Quality and Qualifications Ireland Administration

Questions (246, 247)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

246. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the exact fee that Quality and Qualifications Ireland proposes for re-engagement with legacy voluntary providers. [24630/14]

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Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

247. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a breakdown of the services that Quality and Qualifications Ireland will offer for legacy voluntary providers who apply to re-engage and who pay a fee for this service. [24631/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 247 and 246 together. As the Deputy will be aware, QQI has been undertaking a Comprehensive Policy Development Programme since early-2013. The first phase of that programme focussed on putting in place the policies and procedures which would allow QQI to engage with providers with no existing relationship with any of its predecessor bodies, FETAC, HETAC and the NQAI. QQI is now putting in place the policies required for it to re-engage with legacy providers. Re-engagement in this context refers to the agreement by QQI of a provider's overall procedures for quality assurance and enhancement, as required by Part 3 of the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act, 2012. Currently, legacy providers are engaging with QQI on a transitional basis, and will be required to establish a new formal quality assurance arrangement with QQI and move into what is referred to as a "Lifecycle of Engagements". Re-engagement will involve the comprehensive evaluation by QQI of providers' quality assurance procedures against QQI's new quality assurance guidelines, which will be based on those used by HETAC and FETAC, but with additional elements required by the 2012 Act. Agreement of those procedures by QQI will allow providers to access QQI's range of services, including the validation of programmes and the making of awards. QQI published a number of draft policy papers regarding its re-engagement with legacy providers in March 2014 to facilitate consultation with relevant stakeholders. The Board of QQI is to consider the draft Policy on Re-Engagement with Legacy Providers at its next meeting and, if approved, the Policy will then be published with a view to its implementation from the Autumn. Under Section 80 of the Act, QQI is required to determine the fees which apply to the providers with which it engages, and to seek the consent of both the Minister of Education and Skills and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. QQI has not yet determined the relevant fee.