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Wednesday, 15 Oct 2014

Written Answers Nos 107-112

Questions Nos. 107 and 108 answered with Question No. 104.

Departmental Staff Remuneration

Questions (109)

Billy Timmins

Question:

109. Deputy Billy Timmins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if performance-related pay has been paid to any of her staff or staff in her Department for the years 2011, 2012, 2013 and to date in 2014; if so, the number of staff; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39393/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Performance related pay has not been paid to any staff member of my Department in the years referred to by the Deputy.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (110)

Brendan Smith

Question:

110. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if her attention has been drawn to concerns in respect of proposals to change the system of allocating teaching resources to schools to support children with special education needs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39406/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) published its Report on a Proposed New Model for Allocating Teachers for Students with Special Educational Needs on 18 June 2014.

The NCSE, consulted widely with education partners, representatives of the disability sector, stakeholders and parent representative groups, during the course of the development of this policy advice.

The report recommends that a new allocation model should be developed, based on a schools educational profile, while providing a baseline allocation to every mainstream school to support inclusion.

My Department is currently collecting information which will be required to develop the proposed new model.

Following publication of the working group report, my Department invited education partners, stakeholders, and parent representative groups to make written submissions in relation to the NCSE report. 26 written submissions have been received to date, from interested parties.

My Department also held a number of consultation meetings on 1st and 3rd October last with stakeholders, education partners, and parent representative groups.

Consultation has been a key feature of the development of this policy advice to date and I can confirm that consultation will continue to take place at each stage of the development of proposals for any new model.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (111, 112)

Michael McNamara

Question:

111. Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Education and Skills the purpose served by the three year requirement in the definition of re-entry, for the purposes of the student grant scheme 2014 in SI No. 20 of 2014 as a mature student entering an approved course following a break in studies of at least three years, having previously attended an approved course, in view of the fact that in the year of re-entry to an approved course, in view of the fact that mature student is already defined as a student who is at least 23 years old on 1 January in the year of entry or re-entry to an approved course; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39421/14]

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Michael McNamara

Question:

112. Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the three year requirement in the definition of re-entry, for the purposes of the student grant scheme 2014 in SI No. 201 of 2014 as a mature student entering an approved course following a break in studies of at least three years, having previously attended an approved course, acts as an incentive to prolong absence from higher education for students who decide to pursue a different course in view of the fact that regulation 15(7) of SI No. 201 of 2014 provides that a grant may not be paid in respect of a repeat period of study, on a different course; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39422/14]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 111 and 112 together.

It is understood that the Deputy's questions relate to break in studies period of three years of the "re-entry" provision of the Student Grant Scheme 2014, S.I. No. 201 of 2014. The re-entry provision allows a mature student, entering an approved course following a break in studies of at least three years, having previously attended an approved course, to have their status reclassified.

The purpose of the student grant scheme is to provide additional assistance where parental income is below a certain threshold or, in the case of independent mature students, where the level of income of the student and his or her spouse warrants additional assistance by way of a grant. Very significant numbers of third-level students move out of home to go to college and continue to be supported by their parents while in full-time education.

Confirmation that a student is living separately from their parents/guardians is, of itself, not sufficient.

The duration of the break in studies required for re-classification, such as that as an independent mature student, increased from one year to three years for the 2010/11 academic year. Under previous schemes students could be re-classified as a mature students following a break of only one year. However, this was being used in some cases as a "gap year" by students whose parents' income was too high to qualify for a grant, to return after a year and resume their studies at postgraduate level qualifying for support based on their own, rather than their parents', income. The increase to three years was to focus resources on genuine mature students.

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