School Transport Provision

Questions (109)

Bobby Aylward

Question:

109. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the delays in the payment of the bus escort grant to school (details supplied) and the subsequent difficulties the current situation is causing for the students, the majority of whom have moderate to severe learning disabilities, and for the management and staff; the steps he has taken to address this matter; the number of schools nationwide which are awaiting delayed payment of the bus escort grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40892/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.

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.

In the 2017/18 school year more than 117,000 children, including over 12,000 children with special educational needs, were 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.

Funding for school transport escorts is being processed and over 450 schools will have received advance payment for the 2018/19 school year by 10th October 2018.

Schools Data

Questions (110, 111, 112)

Noel Rock

Question:

110. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a map of the 314 school planning areas. [40901/18]

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Noel Rock

Question:

111. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a map of the school planning areas was last revised. [40902/18]

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Noel Rock

Question:

112. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide the previous school planning maps for Dublin. [40903/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 110 to 112, inclusive, together.

The information requested by the Deputy around the individual maps of the 314 school planning areas is not readily available and would represent a significant administrative burden to compile. However, if the Deputy wishes to nominate a number of school planning areas, I would be happy to provide individual maps of these areas directly to the Deputy.

As the Deputy will be aware, in order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data in a way that takes account of the significant local and regional variations in demographic trends and enrolment projections, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas, of which some 40 are in Dublin.

Using school planning area boundaries within my Department’s Geographic Information System (GIS) allows data within those boundaries, including data for enrolments in schools, child benefit and other relevant data to be added to the mapping information, grouped and analysed. The GIS records the number of primary and post-primary schools within each planning area, the combined enrolments for all of the schools within each area, including total enrolment and enrolment in each class group, together with child benefit data for the 0-4 age group relevant to the area.

In most areas, school planning areas were based on traditional school catchment areas where all primary schools were assigned to a post-primary feeder area (typically a population centre or town), containing one or more post-primary schools. The school planning areas were developed for use with the GIS in 2008 and with the introduction of Small Areas in Census 2011, these areas were amended to align with Census Small Areas. The current school planning areas take account not only of local groupings of schools, but also of natural boundaries, Census Small Areas and other local conditions.

These school planning areas are used in the demographic exercise as a basis for the assessment of areas of growth and to inform recommendations on the establishment of any new schools required in that school planning area.

School Staff

Questions (113)

Joan Burton

Question:

113. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a selection process has commenced or if the appointment of a principal for the Gaelcholáiste for north County Kildare has occurred in view of the fact that the principal was due to be appointed by 1 September 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40907/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department allows for appointments of Principals to all new schools from 1 September of the school year prior to the opening of a new school.

The recruitment and appointment of teachers (including Principals) to fill teaching posts is a matter for the individual school authority, subject to procedures agreed under Section 24(3) of the Education Act 1998 (as amended by the Education (Amendment) Act 2012).

Schools Refurbishment

Questions (114)

Joan Burton

Question:

114. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a design team has been appointed for the refurbishment and extension to a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40908/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the project brief for the school in question has been finalised and the Schedule of Accomodation has been furnished to the Patron who I understand has provided the details directly to the school.

My Department will be in further contact with the school authority relating to the commencement of the architectural planning process which will include the appointment of a design team.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (115)

Joan Burton

Question:

115. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a design team has been appointed for the construction of a school (details supplies); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40909/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The project to which the Deputy refers has been devolved for delivery to the local Education and Training Board (ETB). My Department recently gave approval to the ETB to proceed with the appointment of a Design Team for the project. That process is currently underway and will take a number of months to complete.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (116)

Joan Burton

Question:

116. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills when construction will commence on a new school (details supplied); when phase 1 of the construction project will be completed; when is it expected phase 2 of the construction project will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40910/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The school building project to which the Deputy refers is currently on site.

The initial phase is the construction of the new 8 classroom school. Unless there are any unforeseen events arising, this first phase is due for completion and handover in Quarter 2 2019.

The second phase is due for completion and handover in Quarter 1 2020.

Schools Building Projects Data

Questions (117)

Joan Burton

Question:

117. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has received the revised pre-qualification report from the design team in relation to a school (details supplied); if it has been reviewed; when tenders will be invited from the shortlist of contractors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40911/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The major building project referred to is now at an advanced stage of Architectural Planning - Stage 2(b) – Detailed Design.

As the Deputy will be aware, the project was authorised to commence the Pre-Qualification of Contractors in April 2018. The Design Team has submitted a revised pre-qualification report and this was reviewed and approved by my Department on 2nd October.

When the Design Team has finalised the pre-qualification process and the Department has conducted a final review of the NZEB (Near Zero Energy Building) submission, this project will then be progressed to tender stage. A tender stage normally takes between 7 and 8 months to complete.

The Department will keep the school informed with regard to the projected timeframe for the progression of this project to tender stage and construction and the steps involved.

Schools Designation

Questions (118)

Joan Burton

Question:

118. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a decision has been made on the application by a school (details supplied) to become co-educational; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40912/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department is in receipt of correspondence from the Patron of the school in question relating to a proposed change of the school's status.

The matter is being considered and my Department will be engaging further with the Patron as part of this process.

Schools Site Acquisitions

Questions (119)

Joan Burton

Question:

119. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the required clarifications have been received from the vendor of the site for schools (details supplied); if satisfactory, if a design team can be appointed for both projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40913/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Engagement with the vendor is still ongoing in respect of outstanding clarifications regarding the proposed school site acquisition. Therefore, the appointment of a design team cannot be progressed yet but Department officials are working to do so as soon as it is possible.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (120)

Joan Burton

Question:

120. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress to date with the construction of a school (details supplied) which commenced construction in May 2017; when construction will be completed; when the new school will be ready for occupation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40915/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Phase 2 of the project referred to by the Deputy includes the demolition of the existing school and construction of the permanent 32 classroom school. This particular phase of the building project commenced earlier this year and is progressing.

The contract period for this project is 24 months.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (121)

Alan Kelly

Question:

121. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will address a matter in relation to correspondence from his Department concerning a person (details supplied); and the way in which the opinion of the HSE can be disregarded. [40922/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As this refers directly to an individual person I have referred this query to the National Council for Special Education, NCSE for direct reply to the Deputy.

The NCSE through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports, including applications for assistive technology.

SENOs make recommendations to my Department where assistive technology is required. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in making recommendations for support, as set out in Circular 0010/2013 which is published on my Department’s website.

https://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0010_2013.pdf

In order to qualify for equipment under the assistive technology scheme, a child must have been diagnosed with a physical or communicative disability and must also have a recommendation in a professional assessment that the equipment is essential in order to allow the child to access the curriculum. It must also be clear that the existing I.T. equipment in the school is insufficient to meet the child's needs.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (122)

Bobby Aylward

Question:

122. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of reversing the budget 2011 decision to increase the SUSI grant non-adjacency qualifying distance from 24 km to 45 km; if reversing same has been considered in advance of budget 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40923/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The cost of reversing the change to the distance criteria in the Student Grant, is estimated to be in the region of €26m.

The above costing assumes that a change to the distance criterion would result in a similar percentage of students qualifying for the higher non-adjacent grant support, as existed pre Budget 2011.

The Deputy will appreciate that there are a large number of competing demands for available funding. Decisions with regard to Budget 2019 will be announced on Budget day.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (123)

Bobby Aylward

Question:

123. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills the way in which the distances for adjacent and non-adjacent third-level grants were arrived at; his plans to reform the calculation of distances to one of a mean average for the journey; his further plans to address the issue of the calculation via the shortest distance using rural roads in poor repair; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40924/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The student maintenance grant is a contribution towards the living costs of a student. It is not intended to cover the full costs of attending college. The student grant scheme does however, provide for different levels of maintenance support, depending on means. Grants are also provided at adjacent and non-adjacent rates. The higher non-adjacent rates are intended to provide additional support to those students who may be living away from home.

Budget 2011 provided for a number of student grant measures which came into effect for the 2011/12 academic year, including the change in the assessment of the qualifying distance criterion for the non-adjacent rate of grant from 24 kilometres to 45 kilometres.

The 24km distance criterion was originally set in 1968 and had not been updated in more than 40 years. Since then, significant improvements have taken place in the road and rail network and it is considered that the revised distance criteria is more consistent with the type of distances that students may legitimately be expected to commute to college.

The current qualifying distance of 45km for the higher non-adjacent rate of student grant takes into account a reasonable radius within which students may commute on a daily basis. Any decision to review the distance criteria would have to be considered in the context of the overall priorities and financial resources available for higher and further education.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (124)

Martin Heydon

Question:

124. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the major building project for a school (details supplied); if consideration has been given to an earlier profile for commencement of construction than Q3 2019 in view of the urgent need for the school building; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40945/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The major building project for St. Paul’s Secondary School, Monasterevin is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning, Stage 2(b) – Detailed Design.

The Design Team is currently in the process of completing the Pre-Qualification of Contractors process for the main contract and reserved specialist contracts. When pre-qualification is complete the project will then be progressed to tender stage.

The project is currently profiled to commence construction in Q3 2019. However, the Department has advised the school that if the project is in a position to commence construction earlier in 2019, the Department can facilitate this.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (125)

James Browne

Question:

125. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills when construction will commence for a school (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40953/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The school to which the Deputy refers is at an advanced stage of the tender process. Subject to no issues arising the project is on target to commence construction in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (126)

Martin Heydon

Question:

126. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a building project for a school (details supplied); if it can be considered for rapid build status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40958/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy will be aware, the project to which he refers has been devolved for delivery to the local Education and Training Board.

This means that it is a matter for the ETB to appoint a Design Team to advance the project through the design and construction phases.

My Department considers that the ETB is best placed to deliver the project and it is happy that the devolved process will support its timely delivery.