253. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools in which transition year is compulsory. [9786/18]View answer
Written Answers Nos 253-265
253. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools in which transition year is compulsory. [9786/18]View answer
The Transition year programme is available to all second level schools but it is the board of management of each individual school that decides whether to offer the programme and if offered it decides on the number of places available to students on such programmes, depending on available resources. If offered, it also decides whether it is optional or compulsory for its students;
My Department does not have information on which schools have decided to make Transition Year compulsory for all of their students.
254. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of pupils currently undertaking transition year; and the proportion of post junior certificate pupils that undertake same. [9787/18]View answer
The information requested by the Deputy is as follows for 2017/18 school year which is the most recent year for which information is available.
Number of recognised post-primary schools
Number of schools who returned students enrolled in transition year
Number of students enrolled in transition year
Proportion of post Junior Cycle students* that had previously undertaken transition year (* Leaving Certificate/Leaving Certificate Applied/Leaving Certificate Vocational Year 1 students in 2017/18)
255. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of pupils that have applied to do transition year but have been unable to do so due to a limit on numbers; and the number of schools that have limits on placements. [9788/18]View answer
While Transition Year programme is available to all second level schools, it is a matter for the board of management of each individual school to decide whether or not to offer the programme to it's students and if offered, the board of management decides on the number of places that are available to it's students to participate in Transition Year.
My Department does not have information on which schools have a limit on the number of places in Transition Year available to it's students.
256. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the introduction of new in-school speech and language services. [9789/18]View answer
The Programme for a Partnership Government states that a new model of In-School Speech and Language Therapy will be established.
Budget 2018 provided an additional €2M to introduce a pilot/demonstration project for in-school Therapy services in 2018.
The demonstration project will develop and test a model for the delivery of in school speech and language and occupational therapy support, in a defined regional area, across a range of schools, in conjunction with the Health Service Executive (HSE) and supplementing existing HSE therapy services.
The pilot will focus on developing greater linkages between educational and therapy supports.
I will be announcing further details in relation to the project in the near future.
257. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to improve the criteria for school transport eligibility commencing for the 2018/2019 school year in view of the difficulties that families have faced in rural areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9797/18]View answer
School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.
Currently over 116,000 children, including almost 12,000 children with special educational needs, are being transported in over 4,500 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually at a total cost of almost €190 million in 2017.
The purpose of my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school.
Children are generally eligible for school transport if they satisfy the distance criteria and are attending their nearest school. It is important to note that all eligible children are accommodated under the terms of the scheme.
Arising from commitments in the Programme for Government, a review of the Concessionary Charges and Rules element of the School Transport Scheme was undertaken.
The review was published in December 2016 and made recommendations on both the charges and the rules element of concessionary school transport.
With regard to the charges for concessionary school transport the recommended course of action was to continue with the current position whereby charges remain in place for those in receipt of concessionary places. I agreed with this recommendation on the basis that those applying for concessionary transport are making a conscious decision to do so, understand that they are not eligible for school transport and understand the implications of this choice at the time of application.
The report also recommended that the number of concessionary places should be reduced in line with the rules introduced in 2012 on a phased basis. Previous plans to advance this option were put on hold, pending the completion of the review.
However upon consideration of the review and following discussions with the Cross Party Working Group which I established to feed into the review, I decided that there should be no planned programme of downsizing in the coming years except in line with normal operational decisions within the current scheme.
The terms of the School Transport Scheme are applied equitably on a national basis.
258. Deputy Frank O'Rourke asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school place can be found for a person (details supplied) requiring a place in a specialist unit within a mainstream primary school in north County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9813/18]View answer
Ensuring that children with special educational needs are supported and given the opportunity to reach their full potential is a key priority for this government.
My Department's policy aims to ensure that all children with Special Educational Needs, including those with Autism, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network.
Such placements facilitate access to individualised education programmes which may draw from a range of appropriate educational interventions, delivered by fully qualified professional teachers, with the support of Special Needs Assistants and the appropriate school curriculum.
Some students, although academically able to access the curriculum in mainstream, may find it too difficult to manage full-time placement there. This can be due to significant difficulties in areas such as behaviour or sensory needs which have not been ameliorated, even with appropriate intervention, in mainstream.
Other children may have such complex needs that the recommendation in their professional reports state that they are best placed in a special school.
The NCSE is aware of emerging need in County Kildare from year to year, and where special provision is required it is planned and established to meet that need.
There are currently 70 special classes in the County, including 62 ASD special classes. A further 282 students, including students with ASD, are placed in 4 special schools in Kildare.
The enrolment of a child in a school is a matter, in the first instance, for the parents of the child and the Board of Management of a school. My Department and the NCSE has no role in relation to processing applications for enrolment to schools.
The parents of the child referred to by the Deputy are encouraged to contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs and request assistance in identifying educational placements. Contact details are available on www.ncse.ie
The NCSE is continuing to work with schools, parents, NEPS, health professionals and other staff who are involved in the provision of services in the Kildare area for children with special educational needs, to ensure that each child has a school placement appropriate to their needs for the 2018/19 school year.
The deferred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.
259. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 206 of 13 February 2018, the reason it was not answered and put on the record of Dáil Éireann on 13 February 2018; when a reply will issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9837/18]View answer
A response will issue very shortly to the Deputy in this regard.
260. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a decision on tenders in regard to a school (details supplied) will be announced; when commencement will occur; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9838/18]View answer
The school to which the Deputy refers is at an advanced stage of the tender process. The school was recently authorised to issue the Letter of Intent to the preferred tenderer. Subject to no issues arising it is anticipated that construction will commence in the second quarter of 2018.
261. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a decision has been made on an application by a school (details supplied) for extra supports for a person; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9854/18]View answer
My Department provides an extensive range of supports for pupils with Specific Speech and Language Disorder (SSLD) including provision for the establishment of special classes for Specific Speech and Language Disorder in primary schools. Speech and Language Therapy services are provided to these classes by the Health Service Executive (HSE).
The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), which is an independent statutory agency, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports, including the establishment of additional special classes in various geographical areas, where a need has been identified. The NCSE operates within the Department's criteria in allocating such support and applications meeting the criteria are approved by the NCSE. Applications meeting the criteria are approved by the NCSE.
The SENO for Moyderwell National School has confirmed that there is a special speech and language class attached to this school.
The criteria for specific speech and language disorder are set out in my Department in Circulars 08/99, 08/02 and 02/05 and these criteria are consistent with the recommendations in the Special Education Review Committee (SERC) Report. Appendix 1 of Circular 02/05 Organisation of Teaching Resources for Pupils who need additional Support in Mainstream Primary Schools states the following in relation to specific speech and language disorder:
Such pupils should meet each of the following criteria:
- The pupil has been assessed by a psychologist on a standardised test of intelligence that places non-verbal or performance ability within the average range or above.
- The pupil has been assessed by a speech therapist on a standardised test of language development that places performance in one or more of the main areas of speech and language development at two standard deviations or more below the mean, or at a generally equivalent level.
- The pupil’s difficulties are not attributable to hearing impairment; where the pupil is affected to some degree by hearing impairment, the hearing threshold for the speech-related frequencies should be 40Db;
- Emotional and behavioural disorders or a physical disability are not considered to be primary causes.
- Pupils with speech and language delays and difficulties are not to be considered under this category.
- In the case of specific speech and language disorder it is a pupil's non-verbal or performance ability that must be within the average range or above. (i.e. non-verbal or performance IQ of 90, or above).
- The pupil must also have been assessed by a speech and language therapist and found to be at two or more standard deviations (S.D.) below the mean, or at a generally equivalent level (i.e. - 2 S.D. or below, at or below a standard score of 70) in one or more of the main areas of speech and language development.
Two assessments, a psychological assessment and a speech and language assessment are necessary in this case.
The NCSE has stated that the student in question did not, at the time, have a speech and language disorder diagnosis. If this child’s diagnosis has changed to one of specific speech and language disorder and if the professional reports confirm same and recommend special class placement for the child, the child's parents can apply for a place in the Speech & Language class in this school for next September.
262. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 152 of 7 February 2018, if the identification levels for disadvantaged schools is based in the data received from the schools combined with the census or if it is based on the census only data; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9857/18]View answer
As stated in my last reply, the identification of levels of disadvantage in schools is based on data provided by schools themselves, combined with publicly available CSO Small Area of Population Census data as represented by the Pobal HP Index.
A comprehensive document, explaining the methodology used in the DEIS Identification process is available on the Department’s website at https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/DEIS-Delivering-Equality-of-Opportunity-in-Schools-/DEIS-Identification-Process.pdf
263. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application for a proposed new school (details supplied). [9858/18]View answer
A project to provide a new school building for the school to which the Deputy refers is included on my Department’s capital programme.
The relevant Education and Training Board, as patron of the school in question, is currently in the process of finalising the acquisition of property to facilitate this building project.
Once this acquisition is complete the project to deliver the new school building can progress into architectural planning.
264. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the maximum allowable hours for a child that wishes to receive home tuition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9864/18]View answer
The purpose of the Home Tuition Grant Scheme is to provide funding towards the provision of a compensatory educational service for
1. Early educational intervention for children with autism who meet the schemes eligibility criteria
2. Students with special educational needs seeking an educational placement in a recognised school
3. Students, enrolled in schools, with significant medical conditions which has caused, and is likely to continue to cause, major disruption to their attendance at school
The preferred approach is that children are educated in school settings where children may have access to fully qualified teachers, individualised education programmes, special needs assistants, school curriculum with the option, where possible and appropriate, of full or partial integration and interaction with other pupils.
Accordingly, Home Tuition is provided as an interim measure only for children for whom a placement in a recognised school is not available and should not be regarded as an optional alternative to a school placement.
Each of the strands of the scheme prescribe the hours available for allocation. For children with Autism aged from 2.5 years to 3 years the number of tuition hours available is 10. From 3 years, for children with Autism for whom school placements are not available, the number of available tuition hours is 20 per week.
For children with special educational needs over 4 years for whom school placements are not available, the number of available tuition hours is 20 per week.
For children with medical conditions the hours granted are reflective of the time the child has been absent from school and these are listed in the Department's Home Tuition circular.
I do not intend to make changes to the number of hours applicable under the 2017/18 Home Tuition scheme.
I have attached my Departments Circular 0050/2017, which sets out the number of hours applicable under each strand of the scheme.
265. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the recent resignation of two members of the board of an organisation (details supplied); the reason for the resignations; his views on the reason provided for the resignations; if his attention has been further drawn to the lack of progress in respect of ongoing issues at the organisation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9867/18]View answer
I am aware that 2 members of the Board of Caranua have resigned. The Board of Caranua has the important job of securing the most beneficial, effective and efficient use of the resources available in the investment account while being fair to survivors, seeking to meet their needs and benefit as many people as possible. I thanked both of the former survivor members for their contribution to the work of the Board.
Caranua has, up until the end of December, expended €72.5m on services for survivors. The services include:
Applications Value by Category Type
Total Value of Applications Paid
They are now publishing statistics on the feedback they receive from survivors and for 2017, there was a 90% satisfaction rate.
In 2016, following consultation with survivors, the Board changed their criteria to include household goods and funeral expenses. This was in response to what survivors were calling for on how the fund should be utilised.
As well as having to comply with the Code of Practice for the Governance for State Bodies, Caranua are in process of implementing the following measures:
- It is reviewing its customer charter in consultation with stakeholders;
- It is making data available on feedback and complaints received;
- It is working to increase the level of face-to-face engagement with applicants. It is doing this through scheduled face-to-face meetings in various venues in Dublin, in the regions and in the UK.
- It is working to enhance the level of statistics it provides to the Department and to the public on waiting times for processing and communicating decisions.
Following the resignation of two members, there are still two survivors on the Board of Caranua and my Department will be seeking to replace the Board members who resigned as soon as practicable.