Residential Institutions Redress Scheme

Questions (266)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

266. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has satisfied himself with the operation of an organisation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9868/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

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.

Caranua has, up until the end of December, expended €72.5m on services for survivors. The services include:

Applications Value by Category Type

Cumulative

Health

€19.7 million

Housing

€51.3 million

Education

€1.3 million

Exceptional Needs

€170,709

Total Value of Applications Paid

€72.5 million

They are now publishing statistics on the feedback they receive from survivors and for 2017, there was a 90% satisfaction rate.

As well as having to comply with the Code of Practice for State Bodies, Caranua are currently implementing a number of measures, such as:

- 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 working to enhance the level of statistics it provides to the Department and to the public on waiting times for processing and communicating decisions.

Teachers' Remuneration

Questions (267)

Seán Fleming

Question:

267. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of persons in the teaching profession who worked overseas for a number of years under a group (details supplied) in view of the fact that their service overseas was recognised by his Department for incremental purposes but not for superannuation pension purposes; his plans to include these years for superannuation and pension purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9903/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Comhlámh is the umbrella organisation which acts as a conduit between voluntary organisations in this country who work in developing countries and the Irish Government agency Irish Aid which is part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  

Where a person, employed in an approved teaching post in a recognised school, is granted approved unpaid leave to work in developing countries under the auspices of Comhlámh, the period of such leave is not pensionable in its own right under the teachers’ pension scheme. However, the period of the overseas contract may be purchased at full actuarial cost. It is a matter between the teacher and Comhlámh as to whether the contract provides for such payment and under what conditions. Where my Department is provided with written confirmation of an agreement under which Comhlámh has undertaken to pay the appropriate pension contributions on behalf of the teacher, it will invoice Comhlámh for the full cost and upon receipt of the payment will then credit the person with the appropriate service credit for pension purposes.

 If a circumstance were to arise where payment by Comhlámh had not been agreed with the teacher, then it would be open to the teacher in his/her own right to purchase the period at full actual cost and my Department would provide a quotation to him/her on request.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme Eligibility

Questions (268)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

268. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to parliamentary question numbers 204 of 27 June 2017, 224 of 20 September 2017, 51 of 25 October 2017 and 57 of 16 January 2018, when the eligibility review will be published; when the review was commenced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9922/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The review of eligibility to apply for Caranua is confined to the issue of eligibility of persons who may access the fund. No other issues form part of the review.

The draft terms of reference were published on the website of the Department of Education and Skills on 13 February 2017 and submissions were invited with a closing date of 8th March 2017.

The review will be published in the coming weeks.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (269)

Joe Carey

Question:

269. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the criteria available to a person (details supplied) to prove independent living status towards qualification for a third level grant when that independent living took place in a foreign country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9932/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

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 his/her parents is of itself, not sufficient to establish independent status.

When considering whether a student meets the conditions to be assessed independently of his or her parents, grant awarding authorities like SUSI are obliged to satisfy themselves beyond doubt that an acceptable degree of proof of independent living in the relevant period has been submitted by the grant applicant.

For student grants purposes, a student may be assessed as an independent student if he/she has attained the age of 23 on the 1st of January of the year of first entry to an approved post leaving certificate course or an approved higher education course or of re-entry to an approved course following a break in studies of at least three years, and is not ordinarily resident with his/her parents from the previous 1 October. Otherwise he/she would continue to be assessed on the basis of his/her parents' income.

The onus is on the grant applicant to provide the necessary documentary evidence as requested by the relevant grant awarding authority. Such documentary evidence will vary from student to student, depending on each individual's particular set of circumstances.

The type of documentary evidence required by SUSI can be viewed at the following link: https://susi.ie/eligibility/applicant-class/

It is important to note that each year a significant number of student grant applicants are assessed as 'independent' students and awarded student supports on that basis.  

If an individual applicant considers that he/she has been unjustly refused a student grant, he/she may appeal, in the first instance, to his/her awarding body. Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down in writing by the awarding authority and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board.

Capitation Grants

Questions (270)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

270. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number and proportion of schools that have been rewarded with extra capitation grants arising from compliance with circular 0032/2017. [9933/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

In April 2017, I published Circular Letter 0032/2017 which requires school authorities to adopt the following principles of cost-effective practice which will put a greater emphasis on reducing the cost of school uniforms and other costs:

- All elements of a school should be purchasable from various stores;

- Only “iron on” or “sew on” crests should be used;

- Wherever possible, generic rather than branded items should be specified (e.g. uniform, clothing, IT tablets, sports equipment etc.);

- Provide parents with a list of all required items and indicate the likely costs of these required items at best value stores;

- Provide a book rental scheme;

- Phase out, between now and September 2018, the use of workbooks which cannot be reused;

- Where an exclusive supply arrangement applies, it should be tendered for regularly.

- The Board of Management in each school will have to review the cost of items which they require parents to purchases and to make this information available to the school community.

In the Circular Letter I also set out my intention, as resources permit, to reward schools that can provide evidence of having adopted the principles of cost-effective practice. It is intended that this could be done through some premium in capitation grants for schools.

I do recognise the need to improve capitation funding for schools having regard to the reductions that were necessary over recent years. Budget 2018 marks the second year of major reinvestment in the education sector, as we continue to implement the Action Plan for Education, which has the central aim to make the Irish Education and Training service the best in Europe within a decade. In 2018, the budget for my Department will increase by €554 million to over €10 billion. One of the actions of the 2016-2019 Action Plan is to restore capitation as resources permit. Capitation funding remains a priority for me to address as part of the Action Plan.

The process is under way for restoring grant funding that is used by schools to fund the salaries of ancillary staff. Circular 0079/2017 outlines the current rate increases in order to enable schools implement the arbitration salary increase for grant funded school secretaries and caretakers and to also implement the restoration of salary for cleaners arising from the unwinding of FEMPI legislation.

In relation to the timeline for payment of a premium in capitation grants, this can only be determined when there is funding available through the budgetary process for improvements in capitation grants. A decision will have to be taken at that time on whether any such funding should be channelled in the first instance to delivering on the commitment in the Action Plan 2016 to 2019 to restore capitation funding over a 3 year period before looking at premium payments for schools who have adopted the principles of cost effective practice.

When budgetary resources are available to provide a premium capitation payment for schools, my Department will then consider the most appropriate mechanism to gather evidence on whether or not schools have adopted the principles of cost-effective practice.

Issues in relation to school costs will also be dealt with through the Parents and Students Charter, which each school will develop and operate, following the enactment of the Education (Parent and Student Charter) Bill 2016.

Teachers' Remuneration

Questions (271)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

271. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to detail to teaching unions the way in which the Government plans to achieve equal pay for all teachers into the future by 13 March 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9954/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The public service agreements have allowed a programme of pay restoration for public servants to start. I negotiated together with my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, a 15-22% pay increase for new teachers. The agreements to date have restored an estimated 75% of the difference in pay for more recently recruited teachers and deliver full equality at later points in the scale.

As a result of the changes I negotiated together with my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, the current starting salary of a new teacher is €35,958 and from 1 October 2020 onwards will be €37,692. If full equalisation was achieved the starting salary for a post-primary teacher from 1 October 2020 would be €43,879 and for a primary teacher would be €41,511, at a cost of over €200 million across the public service.

Differential pay scales were introduced by the then Government in 2010. It must be borne in mind that the pay reduction for post-2011 entrants to the public service applied to all public servants and not just teachers, and that any restoration of these measures in respect of teachers would be expected to be applied elsewhere across the public service. While I am not in a position to provide an estimate of the total cost of restoring all post-1 January 2011 entrants in all of the public service to the pre-2011 pay scale arrangements, I can say that in the case of education and training sector employees, including teachers, the estimated current full year cost would be in the order of €130 million. Clearly, the cost across the entire public service would be substantially higher.

To have gone further than the pay increases that have been negotiated for 2018 would mean I would have had less money available to hire over 1,000 extra SNAs in 2018, and over 1,000 extra teachers in 2018.

Any further negotiation on new entrant pay is a cross sectoral issue, not just an issue for the education sector. The Government also supports the gradual, negotiated repeal of the FEMPI legislation, having due regard to the priority to improve public services and in recognition of the essential role played by public servants.

A commitment is included in the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 to consider the issue of newly qualified pay within 12 months of the commencement of the Agreement. That process has now commenced with a first meeting on 12 October 2017. The three teacher unions attended that first meeting.

In addition, the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017 provides that within 3 months of the passing of the Act, my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform will prepare and lay before the Oireachtas a report on the cost of and a plan in dealing with pay equalisation for new entrants to the public service.

DEIS Eligibility

Questions (272, 273)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

272. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to review the criteria for entry into the DEIS scheme; if a public consultation on the proposed criteria will be part of the process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10035/18]

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Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

273. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to increase the weighting given to Travellers that are attending schools in the assessment of DEIS eligibility in view of the fact that Travellers have historically had a much lower achievement in school than the population as a whole; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10036/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 272 and 273 together. DEIS Plan 2017 was the culmination of more than 18 months of consultation and discourse with education partners and other stakeholders to ensure that identification of schools and future delivery of interventions is fully informed by the practical experience of teachers, parents, students and non-governmental organisations working on behalf of children at risk of educational disadvantage and their families.

The report of the review is available on my Department's website at https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/DEIS-Delivering-Equality-of-Opportunity-in-Schools-/DEIS-Review-Report.pdf  and DEIS Plan 2017, which details the range of actions identified during the review, is available at https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/DEIS-Plan-2017.pdf.

A comprehensive document, explaining the methodology used in the 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

The arrangement for the identification of schools for DEIS are set out in DEIS Plan 2017 and I have no current plans to review these arrangements.

Schools Site Acquisitions

Questions (274)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

274. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the criteria used and copies of the way in which the technical assessment was carried out, including a copy of the technical assessment sheet, are publicly available; if so, the location in which they may be accessed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10037/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Details of technical guidance documents are available on my Department's website (www.education.ie).

Where my Department is acquiring a site for the purposes of delivering school accommodation thereon, identified site options are technically assessed in line with the provisions of my Department's Technical Guidance Documents for school sites (TGD 25 and TGD 27), as available on the Department's website.

If the Deputy is referring to technical assessments of a different nature, or of a specific technical assessment, I would be pleased to further address his query in the context of any clarification.

Gaelscoil Issues

Questions (275)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

275. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a new Gaelscoil (details supplied); if approval has been given in principle for the provision of this school; if a site has been identified for the school; if not, the reason the demand of 800 parents for a Gaelscoil in this area is being ignored; the criteria applied in assessing the need for a Gaelscoil in an area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10043/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department uses a Geographical Information System to identify the areas under increased demographic pressure nationwide. The system uses data from the Central Statistics Office, Ordnance Survey Ireland, the Department of Social Protection and information from my Department's own databases. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level.

When it is decided that a new school is required to meet demographic needs in an area, my Department runs a separate patronage process to decide who will operate the school. It is open to all patrons and prospective patrons to apply for patronage of a school under this process and parental preferences for each patron, along with an analysis of existing provision in the area, are key to decisions in relation to the outcome of the process.

This process was followed in relation to the decision on the patronage of the new primary school which opened in September 2016 to serve the Drumcondra_Marino_Dublin 1 area. My Department assessed the applications received from the prospective patrons, including examining the parental preferences received in the applications to ensure they represented children living within the school planning area which the school is set up to serve. My Department prepared an assessment report for the consideration of the New

Schools Establishment Group (NSEG) which then submitted a report with recommendations to me for consideration and final decision.

The patronage assessment report which is published on my Department's website, while indicating substantial support for an Irish medium school, reflects nearly twice as many valid preferences for an Educate Together school in this area as for a Gaelscoil. I accepted the recommendation of the NSEG and the school under the patronage of Educate Together opened in September 2016.

While there are three Gaelscoileanna already operating in the area, the NSEG, in their report to me, noted the strong level of demand from parents for Irish-medium education in the area and recommended that this should be kept under review in the context of future demographic exercises. In this regard, my Department is currently carrying out nationwide demographic exercises at primary and post-primary level to identify areas of demographic growth and determine where additional school accommodation is needed in order to plan for school provision nationwide and this work is almost complete.

School Admissions

Questions (276)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

276. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills when an application for change of status from a girls only school to a coeducational school by a school (details supplied) made on 7 February 2018 will be decided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10044/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to confirm that an application from the school referred to by the Deputy, in respect of a change of status from a junior mixed/senior girls school to fully vertical co-educational school, was received earlier this month, by my Department. The application in question is currently being considered and further information is required from the Patron. In that regard, my Department intends to contact the Patron directly in the coming days.

Oibreacha Feabhsúcháin do Scoileanna

Questions (277)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

277. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna cén uair a dhéanfar cinneadh ar iarratas ó Bhord Oideachais agus Oiliúna na Gaillimhe agus Ros Comáin ar chóiríocht fheabhsaithe, seomra acmhainní san áireamh, do scoil (sonraí tugtha) ar cuireadh iarratas isteach ina leith i mí an Mheithimh 2017; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [10074/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Ba mhaith liom a chur in iúl go bhfuil an t-iarratas ar chóiríocht bhreise ag an scoil i gceist fós á phlé. Táimse ag súil go n-eiseofar cinneadh go díreach chuig údarás na scoile gan mhoill.

Stádas Scoile

Questions (278)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

278. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna cén uair a thabharfar stádas neamhspléach do scoil (sonraí tugtha) mar scoil neamhspléach; cén chúis atá leis an moill an cinneadh seo a dhéanamh; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [10075/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Tá coiste athbhreithnithe bunaithe chun athbhreithniú a dhéanamh ar an soláthar oideachais ar fud scoileanna ar oileáin. Tá an obair seo ag an gcéim thosaigh a bhaineann lena forbairt agus déanfar í a chur chun cinn in 2018. Beidh an Roinn i dteagmháil leis na páirtithe ábhartha, an t-údarás scoile dá dtagraítear ina measc.