School Discipline

Questions (248)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

248. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills his Department's policy is in respect of entire class groups being dismissed from school for the summer before the date previously notified to parents in response to a prank by a minority of students, thereby reducing the teaching contact time for all students ahead of their exams (details supplied); if there are certain procedures that schools are supposed to follow in such circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24632/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Education Welfare Act 2000 requires all schools to have in place a Code of Behaviour. The Act requires that a school Code of Behaviour shall, inter alia, specify the standards of behaviour that shall be observed by each student attending the school and the measures that may be taken when a student fails or refuses to observe those standards.

In relation to a school's closing date, the arrangements in relation to the standardised school year do not require that the start or end of the school year should be standardised. However, schools must provide of a minimum of 167 teaching days at post-primary level and 183 teaching days at primary level.

Under the provisions of the Education Act, 1998, the Board of Management is the body charged with the direct governance of a school. Decisions in relation to matters relating to the school's closing date and the implementation of the school code of behaviour are dealt with at local school level and any concerns relating to same should be addressed to the relevant school authorities. The complaint procedures adopted by most schools are those that have been agreed between the teacher unions and school management bodies.

The Office of the Ombudsman for Children may independently investigate complaints about schools recognised with the Department of Education and Skills, provided the parent has firstly and fully followed the school's complaints procedures. The key criterion for any intervention by the Ombudsman for Children is that the action of the school has had a negative effect on a child.

Student Grant Scheme Appeals

Question No. 250 answered with Question No. 222.

Questions (249)

James Bannon

Question:

249. Deputy James Bannon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a Student Universal Support Ireland grant has been denied in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Longford. [24651/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The student referred to by the Deputy was awarded a postgraduate fee contribution of €2,000 for the academic year 2013/14. He appealed this decision to the independent Student Grant Appeals Board and his appeal was heard by the Board on 1st April 2014. The original decision was upheld and a letter issued to the student shortly thereafter advising him of the outcome of the appeal.

Question No. 250 answered with Question No. 222.

School Staffing

Questions (251)

Paudie Coffey

Question:

251. Deputy Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Education and Skills if additional teachers will be provided at a school (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24655/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The criteria used for the allocation of teachers to primary schools is published annually. 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 2014/15 school year are set out in Circular 0007/2014 which is available on the Department website. The staffing schedule includes the provision whereby schools experiencing rapid increases in enrolment can apply for additional permanent mainstream posts on developing grounds, using projected enrolment for September 2014. In addition, the staffing process includes an appeals mechanism for schools to submit an appeal under certain criteria to an independent Appeals Board. The Appeals Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

The school referred to by the Deputy has submitted an appeal to the June meeting of the Appeals Board which takes place today. The school will be notified of the outcome of its appeal in due course.

School Discipline

Question No. 254 answered with Question No. 234.

Questions (252, 253)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

252. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide the guidelines regarding time out rooms in schools; the way they are used; the recommendations regarding design including the way windows should be made secure; if there should be a handle on the inside of the door; and the kind of observation there is when a child is in the room. [24658/14]

View answer

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

253. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills the guidelines for teachers and special needs assistants for dealing with challenging behaviour in children; and the supports available to teachers dealing with these issues. [24659/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 252 and 253 together.

My Department does not support the use of certain sanctions or inappropriate strategies for the management of behaviour issues. In particular my Department does not support a strategy which leaves a student in an unsupervised situation (e.g. a locked room or a corridor) while the child is in the care of the school. Many schools withdraw pupils occasionally from the main classroom for short periods of time in order to provide support to them, or to manage pupil behaviour, particularly if a child is exhibiting behaviours which may be a danger to themselves or others. In some circumstances, a child who is exhibiting extreme behaviours may be brought to another room to ensure the safety of other pupils and until they are calm again. Such rooms or spaces may not be officially designated as withdrawal rooms, e.g. schools may use existing classrooms or other spaces within the school. This is a normal facet of the management of pupil behaviour. Where used, it will normally form part of a school's response to behaviour and part of student support structures, procedures and practices.

Some special schools for pupils with severe emotional behavioural disorders, or Autism, where there are a greater number of pupils likely to exhibit distressed behaviour, may use a room which is designated as a safe space for withdrawal purposes, in order to ensure pupil safety and to prevent self-harm or harm to other pupils. These rooms are variously described as 'withdrawal rooms', 'time-out rooms', or 'safe spaces'. In all cases where such a room is used the child should be under continuous supervision. In circumstances where special schools use designated time out procedures, they should do so with the consent of parents and the school Board of Management.

The Board of Management of each school is responsible for the care and safety of all of the pupils in their school. Schools should supervise and support children who are distressed or out of control until they have recovered and are able to re-engage in the classroom. Schools may seek advice from their local National Educational Psychological Services psychologist, from their NCSE Special Educational Needs Organiser, or from the National Behavioural Support Services, as to how children with behavioural needs can best be supported in school.

Training is available for schools in relation to the provision of support for children with special educational needs from the Special Education Support Services (SESS), who can, as part of their designated training modules, provide guidance for schools in relation to containment or management measures for difficult behaviour.

There are a number of published guidelines available to schools:

- The Department recently published new Guidelines for Schools on Supporting Students with Behavioural, Emotional, and Social difficulties, which are available on the Department's website www.education.ie

- The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) has also developed guidelines for schools on Codes of Behaviour. In developing a Code of Behaviour schools must specify the standards of behaviour that shall be observed by each student attending the school. All parents must be made aware of behaviour management strategies employed by a school. This guidance document on Developing a Code of Behaviour advises that specialised behaviour management strategies, such as the use of restraint, should not be used without expert advice, training and monitoring. In particular the guidelines point to certain sanctions which are regarded as inappropriate, including leaving a student in an unsupervised situation (e.g. a corridor) while in the care of the school.

- The National Educational Psychological Services document Behavioural Emotional and Social Difficulties- a Continuum of Support: Guidelines for Teachers also provides advice for teachers, including some advice on the use of "Time Out" procedures in the classroom.

The Department has asked the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to prepare Policy Advice on Educational Provision for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. In developing this policy advice, the NCSE will consult widely with parents, professionals and other stakeholders and interested parties while also conducting research in relation to this area. As part of the process to develop this policy advice, the NCSE will consider the issue of the use of withdrawal in schools and advise the Department in relation to this matter.

Question No. 254 answered with Question No. 234.

Schools Data

Questions (255)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

255. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide, in tabular form, the number of students at primary level in each county and at secondary level in each county broken down by each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24667/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

A provisional list of pupils enrolled in each primary and post primary school is available on the Department's website at the following link: http://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Statistics/Data-on-Individual-Schools/. This list includes the county of each school.. Final data, including Annual Statistical Report tables at first and second level, will be published on the Department's website at the end of the June.

School Textbooks Rental Scheme

Questions (256)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

256. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total funding that will be provided to a school (details supplied) in County Donegal for the book rental scheme; the timeline in which payment will be received; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24668/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

In Budget 2013 funding of €5million for three years was provided to support the establishment of book rental schemes in primary schools that did not operate such schemes. DEIS schools will receive €150 per child and non-DEIS schools will receive €100 per child in seed capital over the next two years to establish book rental schemes. This will cost approximately €6.7m. The school referred to by the Deputy operates a book rental/loan scheme and therefore did not qualify for this funding under the initial scheme.

I indicated that following allocation of the initial round of funding, I would re-examine the scheme to see if I could allocate funding to primary schools that already had such schemes. I am pleased to advise the Deputy that the balance of the funding, some €8.3m, will be divided among all primary schools that currently operate book rental schemes in 2015 and 2016. These schools are expected to receive €18 per pupil or €20 per pupil in DEIS schools over those two years.

Every primary school, including the school referred to by the Deputy, will now benefit from the School Book Rental Scheme.

Schools Data

Questions (257)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

257. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of whole-time equivalent teaching staff actively teaching in all primary and secondary schools, broken down by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24669/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Statistics section of my Department's website contains information relating to the number of whole time equivalent teaching staff in all primary and secondary schools broken down by county for the 2012/13 academic year.Information relating to the 2013/2014 academic year is currently being compiled and will be available at the end of June/early July 2014.

School Enrolments Data

Questions (258)

Mary Mitchell O'Connor

Question:

258. Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of children on the waiting list for places in junior infants in a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; if school places will be provided for these children in the coming academic year; the action he will take to ensure enrolment of children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24677/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department does not hold details of enrolment applicants in schools. Such details are retained by the individual school authority. My Department is engaging with the Patron and the school authority in question relating to pupil places for September 2014 and will continue to keep the matter under review.

School Enrolments Data

Questions (259)

Mary Mitchell O'Connor

Question:

259. Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of children on the waiting list for places in junior infants in a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; if school places will be provided for these children in the coming academic year; the action he will take to ensure enrolment of children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24678/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department does not hold details of enrolment applicants in schools. Such details are retained by the individual school authority.

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that my Department approved funding to the boys' school in the area in question in May 2012 to provide two additional classrooms to cater for increasing pupil numbers. As part of the same building project, my Department also provided funding to the school under the 2012 Prefab Replacement Initiative to replace rented prefabs being used for resource teaching purposes. I understand that this building project was completed in May 2014 with a grant amounting to over €400,000 being provided by my Department. This additional accommodation will facilitate the school enrolling an extra junior infant class in September 2014.

My Department has no record of receiving an application for additional accommodation from the girls' school in the area. My officials have contacted the school advising that it is open to them to submit an application should the current accommodation be insufficient to cater for any increasing enrolments. I understand that the school is considering the matter.

Further Education and Training Programmes Provision

Questions (260)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

260. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason St. John Bosco Youth Centre, Davitt Road, Drimnagh, Dublin 12 has been blocked from allowing 30 young persons to start on courses by a person (details supplied); if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the courses provide a full certificate FETAC level 4 for students who are mostly early school leavers; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that current guidelines do not state that there must be a minimum number of students participating; the reason they are not allowed accept students who are age 17 years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24694/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

This is an operational matter for the City of Dublin Education Training Board (CDETB). I am informed by the CDETB that St. John Bosco Youth Centre currently receives funding for two Local Training Initiative programmes operating out of the premises on Davitt road. These programmes have been funded and supported by the Training Centre in Ballyfermot since Jan 2013.

These programmes are both at FETAC level 4 and are suitable for adult and young people who have not completed second level education.• Horizon Programme. This is a 30 week programme targeting learners in the 18-35 brackets with no formal or incomplete secondary education and within the Dublin 12 area.• LEAP programme. This is a 30 week programme targeting learners in the general 16-35 brackets but specifically 18-23 with no formal or incomplete secondary education and primarily within the Dublin 12 area.

In order to make these programmes viable from a value for money point of view the CDETB requires the Centre to recruit 18 participants for each programme. I understand that CDETB has recently given approval to commence the Horizon programme as 17 eligible learners are on the course list and a further learner is being processed. The Centre has agreed to start this programme and I am informed that all eighteen learners have been sent letters inviting them to start on 16th June 2014.The LEAP programme has 11 eligible learners with a further 8 learners being processed onto a waiting list. CDETB expect that this course will commence in coming weeks.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (261)

Michael Moynihan

Question:

261. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the progression rule applies where a student, having previously been enrolled for first year of a level 8 course without doing final year exams or proceeding further or gaining any qualification from this course due to ill-health and having done so without receiving free fees or a Student Universal Support Ireland grant during this time, should be disqualified from State assistance to study a PLC course even at a lower level, even though they have privately funded the first year of this PLC course and now require State funding for the second year of study to complete the course; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24712/14]

View answer

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. The decision on eligibility for new student grant applications for the 2014/15 academic year is a matter for the centralised grant awarding authority, SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland).

The Deputy will appreciate that in the absence of all of the relevant details that would be contained in an individual's application form and supporting documentation, it would not be possible for me to say whether or not a student should qualify for a grant - this is a matter for SUSI to determine. However I would point out that under the scheme, students who have previously attended, but not completed a course of study are required to complete an equivalent period of study on an approved course before being eligible to be considered for a grant.

Emergency Works Scheme Applications

Questions (262)

Dara Calleary

Question:

262. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will instruct departmental officials to immediately process an emergency works applications for a school (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24780/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The school in question recently submitted an application for funding for toilet facilities for a special needs pupil under my Department's Emergency Works Scheme. This application is currently being assessed and the school authorities will be notified of the outcome once this assessment has been completed.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (263)

Brian Walsh

Question:

263. Deputy Brian Walsh asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Galway to have a new building included in the new schools building programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24793/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Department's priority is to target its limited capital budget for the provision of additional school accommodation in identified areas of demographic growth.

Major school building projects, including the school referred to by the Deputy, that are not included in the current Five Year Construction Programme, will continue to be progressed subject to available funding into Architectural Planning. My Department is currently reviewing the accommodation brief for the school concerned and will be in contact with the school in this regard shortly.

Public Procurement Contracts Social Clauses

Questions (264)

Sandra McLellan

Question:

264. Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if Government policy ensures that when awarding large State contracts a percentage of contractors are employed from the local community for the duration of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24142/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

Under EU law, public contracts above certain values must be advertised EU-wide and awarded to the most competitive tender in an open and objective process. The aim is to promote an open, competitive and non-discriminatory public procurement regime which delivers value for money. It would be a breach of the rules for a public body to favour or discriminate against particular candidates on grounds of location or nationality and there are legal remedies which may be used against any public body infringing these rules.

However, I understand that the European Commission issued guidance in 2010 that identified a range of social considerations that could be relevant for procurement including promoting employment opportunities for young unemployed or long-term unemployed and promoting compliance with core labour standards. This guidance stressed that when incorporating social considerations into the procurement process one of the key challenges is ensuring compliance with the EU Treaty Principles and the Procurement Directives. The EU procurement directives primarily envisage that social considerations may be included as contract performance conditions, provided they are not discriminatory and are included in the contract notice or in the contract documents and relate to the performance of the contract. For example, the EU Directives state that contract performance conditions may be intended to favour on-site vocational training, the employment of people experiencing particular difficulty in achieving integration, the fight against unemployment or the protection of the environment.

The issue of maximising the potential of public contracts to deliver social benefits is something that I have been examining. Therefore the use of social clauses in public procurement is limited to instances where they are targeted at factoring into the procurement process consideration of social issues such as employment opportunities, equal opportunities and social inclusion.  In order to be compatible with EU law, they must be made known to all interested parties and must not restrict participation by contractors from other Member States.

Challenges arise from the need to ensure that: value for money is not adversely affected; additional costs are not placed on domestic suppliers relative to other potential suppliers; and the targeted benefit is capable of being measured and monitored during execution of the contract.

The inclusion of social clauses in the procurement process would appear to be most suited to situations where the social benefit could be considered a core requirement and can be directly linked to the contracting authority s policy or strategic plan. Experience in other Member States, would also indicate that social clauses will tend to be used for services and works contracts rather than supply contracts.  A further consideration is the ability of contracting authorities to effectively monitor compliance with the social clause; this may be more difficult where some of the work is to be performed in another Member State.

The use of a social clause requiring a contractor to recruit a certain percentage of those employed on a public works construction site from the ranks of the long term unemployed is being piloted on a limited number of schools projects under the Devolved Schools Programme Design and Build Framework, which is being administered by the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.  The Government Contracts Committee for Construction (GCCC) last year approved the pilot initiative to be included in the NDFA Devolved Schools Programme. 

A framework of contractors has been set up for the Devolved Schools Programme, which consist of a mix of new builds, extensions and some remedial works to existing schools both at a primary and post primary level.  Three contracts were awarded in February off the Devolved Schools Programme.  The projects will be constructed using the public works contract for Building Works designed by the Contractor.  A clause has been included in the contract which requires that 10% of the person weeks worked on the contract be undertaken by individuals recruited from the ranks of the long-term unemployed.  There is also a requirement for 2.5% of the person weeks on the contract to be undertaken by apprentices. 

It is important to note that such a provision must be managed carefully both to ensure that the requirements set can be met and monitored but also consideration must be given to their impact on a sector that has experienced decline in output since 2008 as it may result in significant displacement of those already in employment. 

The contractors compliance with this clause under the Devolved Schools Programme will be carefully monitored in accordance with the terms set out in the contract.  Once initial evaluations on the performance of the clause have been undertaken any necessary amendments will be tabled at GCCC before they are incorporated into the PPP element of the Stimulus Programme.

In addition, in order to maximise the effective use of such clauses in procurement a project group led by the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) is to be established which will put forward projects where social clauses would be inserted into the contract to address employment and training.

The group will have the following functions:

- The Departments with responsibility for employment and training will identify the important social considerations and actively assist the procuring bodies and successful tenderers through the provision of training, accreditation.

- The OGP will assist Departments and agencies in the design of the social clause most suited to the specific contract.

- The procuring body will monitor the impact of the social clause(s).

- The OGP will collate this information and report on its implementation.

This is a complex area and I want to ensure that we learn from practical experience here and the experience in other jurisdictions to develop robust social procurement framework that is effective. It is important to ensure that where possible the State uses its purchasing power to develop employment and re-training opportunities that arise under certain public contracts. I have asked the OGP to review this approach after 12 months.