I propose to take Questions Nos. 264, 352 and 353 together.
Schemes were initiated in 1978 and 1979 for the employment of Clerical Officers and Caretakers in primary and secondary schools. Staff employed on these schemes are paid directly by my Department and are not paid via grant funding. Currently there are a total of 420 people employed on these schemes. The 1978 and 1979 schemes are being phased out and have been superseded by a more extensive capitation grant scheme.
The majority of primary and voluntary secondary schools in the Free Education Scheme now receive capitation grant assistance to provide for secretarial, caretaking and cleaning services. Capitation related grants are issued to the majority of primary and post-primary schools to employ such staff. Within the capitation grant schemes, it is a matter for each individual school to decide how best to apply the grant funding to suit its particular needs. Where a school uses the capitation grant funding to employ a secretary, such staff are employees of individual schools. My Department has no plans to develop an alternative scheme for schools to employ secretaries separate to the current system of capitation grant assistance.
Notwithstanding the above, in 2015 my Department agreed to engage with the union side in relation to the pay of School Secretaries and Caretakers who are employed using grant funding and to enter an arbitration process. The Arbitrator recommended a cumulative pay increase of 10% between 2016 and 2019 for School Secretaries and Caretakers comprehended by the terms of the arbitration process and that a minimum hourly pay rate of €13 for such staff be phased in over the period 2016 to 2019. My Department recently published circular letter 0080/2016 for primary schools and circular letter 0081/2016 for voluntary secondary schools, setting out the application of the second phase increases of the Arbitrator’s recommendations. The circulars are available at:
Circular 0080/2016 http://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0080_2016.pdf.
Circular 0081/2016 http://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0081_2016.pdf.
The increases recommended by the Arbitrator are binding and must be applied by all schools who employ staff to whom the Arbitrators recommendation applies. The circulars issued by my Department set out the revised rates of grant funding for schools and an application process by which schools can apply for additional funding in order to enable schools to pay the revised rates set out in the circulars.