Schools Building Projects

Questions (187)

Seán Fleming

Question:

187. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding appointing a design team for a school project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51736/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

A building project which involves a replacement school building for the school referred to by the Deputy is included in my Department’s 6 year Construction Programme. 

A project brief has been finalised and the project will be delivered via the ADAPT programme.  The ADAPT programme uses a professional external Project Manager to coordinate and drive the respective design teams on each project.

In this regard, my Department will shortly commence the process of procuring a Project Manager for the programme and will be in further contact with the school authorities when this process has been completed.  My Department wrote to the school in recent weeks to advise them of this position.

I wish to confirm to the Deputy that my Department is committed to providing a new school building for the school in question.

Schools Building Projects

Questions (188)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

188. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the provision of a new secondary school for the Malahide and Portmarnock areas of County Dublin as announced in November 2015; if he has identified locations for these proposed schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51741/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy may be aware, a project to provide permanent accommodation for Malahide Portmarnock Educate Together Secondary School is included on my Department's capital programme. 

With the assistance of officials from Fingal County Council a suitable site has been identified and the school building project has been advanced into the architectural planning process.

School Accommodation

Questions (189)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

189. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the provision of a permanent site for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51742/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that, with the assistance of officials in Fingal County Council, agreement in principle has been reached with the landowner in respect of the acquisition of a site at Broomfield, Malahide to accommodate the school to which he refers.

The schedule of accommodation and brief in respect of the building project has been finalised and the project will now be progressed into Architectural Planning. The urgency attached to this project is recognised by my Department and in that context it is intended that it will be delivered as part of my Department’s Design and Build Programme.

 In the interim, work will continue to complete the transfer of the site into my Department's ownership.

School Transport Provision

Questions (190)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

190. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the parents (details supplied) of children with special needs in County Donegal can expect to receive a decision with respect to school transport requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51746/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

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

In the 2017/18 school year over 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.

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. 

The children in question are eligible for school transport and are currently availing of a mainstream school transport service under the terms of my Department's Primary School Transport Scheme.

My officials have requested Bus Éireann to contact the family directly regarding their request for a change of pick-up and set-down point.

The terms of the School Transport Schemes are applied equitably on a national basis.

School Accommodation

Questions (191)

Gino Kenny

Question:

191. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills the details regarding the lease of a school (details supplied) by his Department from a trust; the reason for the decision not to renew the current lease held by a scout group; his plans to rent the building out at market rent in 2019; if there are stipulations in the lease that the building should only be used for community purposes; the way in which the lease has been terminated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51768/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The property referred to by the Deputy is not in my ownership. In common with other buildings of its kind, there is a charging lease in place on the property, in this case dated 1928 for 900 years to protect the state's investment in the property.

In circumstances where a property has ceased to be used as a school, and a request is received from the property owner to release the State's interest secured under a charging lease, such requests are considered in the context of the specific circumstances which pertain to the individual property. 

I can confirm that my Department has not received a request from the property owners to release my interest in this property. 

Any queries in relation to the property should be directed to the property owner in the first instance.

Ministerial Meetings

Questions (192)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

192. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to meet with the acting chief executive officer of Caranua; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51784/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Officials of my Department meet regularly with both the Chair and Chief Executive of the organisation to discuss relevant matters. 

There are no planned meetings with the Chief Executive of Caranua.

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (193)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

193. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of children in the Dublin 5, 13 and 17 areas on a waiting list to access an ASD unit; the number of ASD units within schools in these areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51785/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Funding for special education provision in 2018 will amount to some €1.75 billion, up 43% since 2011 and equivalent to 18.7% of the gross overall current allocation for education and training. 

My Department's policy is to provide for the inclusive education of children with special educational needs, including Autism (ASD), in mainstream school settings, unless such a placement would not be in the best interests of the child concerned, or the children with whom they will be educated.

The enrolment of a child to 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 has no role in relation to processing applications for enrolment to schools and it does not maintain details of waiting lists in schools.

Accordingly, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) advises parents, to seek to enrol their child, by applying in writing, to the school/s of their choice as early as possible. Where parents have been unsuccessful in enrolling their child in a school for the 2018/19 school year, they should update their local SENO (Special Educational Needs Organiser) to inform the planning process.

Since 2011, the NCSE has increased the number of special classes from 548 in 2011 to 1,459 across the country now, of which 1,196 are Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) special classes.

There are 37 special schools and 237 special classes attached to mainstream schools in Co. Dublin. Of these, 17 are ASD early intervention classes, 139 are primary ASD classes and 41 are post primary ASD classes. The number of ASD special classes in Co. Dublin have increased from 66 in 2011/2012 to 197 in 2018/2019. Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs are available on www.ncse.ie.

The NCSE is aware of emerging need from year to year, and where special provision, including special class provision, is required, it is planned and established to meet that need. This process is ongoing.

While it is not always possible or practical that a special class placement would be available in a child’s local school, the NCSE has informed my Department that, in general, they are satisfied that there are sufficient ASD special class placements to meet existing demand nationally. From time to time, the NCSE identifies local areas where additional provision is required. In those circumstances, SENOs work with the schools and families concerned to resolve the issues involved.

Where parents have been unsuccessful in enrolling their child in a school placement they should update their local SENO to inform the planning process.

My Department is aware that the establishment of special class provision in some schools and communities can be challenging.

The Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 when commenced will assist in addressing this issue in areas where the NCSE is of the opinion that there is insufficient education provision for children with special educational needs.

Section 8 of the Act, which commenced Monday 3rd December 2018, will provide the Minister with a power, after a process of consultation with the NCSE, the Board of Management and the Patron of the school, to compel a school to make additional provision for the education of children with special educational needs.

Construction Contracts

Questions (194)

Joan Burton

Question:

194. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress that has been made on completing works committed to under a construction project (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if these works will be expedited. [51825/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department terminated the contract with the building contractor under Clause 12 of the Public Works Contract earlier this year.

There is a Performance Bond in place for this project and the Design team has been liaising with the Bondsman with the intention of calling on the Bond to cover the costs of finishing out the works.

The design team has drawn up a list of works that have to be completed and negotiations with the Bondsman are at a very advanced stage. Subject to no issues arising it is envisaged that work should commence on site in January 2019.

My Department is committed to getting all of the outstanding works completed as soon as possible.

Brexit Issues

Questions (195)

Lisa Chambers

Question:

195. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has formally met with his UK counterpart to discuss Brexit and its impact on east-west trade reciprocal arrangements and all other Brexit-related matters that fall within the remit of his Department; the number of times they have formally met to discuss Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51885/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I have not met with the UK Secretary of State for Education since my recent appointment as Minister for Education and Skills.  I understand that my predecessor has had such a meeting and that the Ministers of State at my Department have also engaged with their UK counterparts.

It is a priority for me to engage fully with Brexit matters and I hope to arrange a meeting with the Secretary of State at the earliest opportunity to discuss education cooperation matters.

University Governance

Questions (196)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

196. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if applications will be requested to fill a position on the governing body of a university (details supplied) for 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51923/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I can confirm that the term of office of the present Governing Body of the university referred to by the Deputy, will expire on 31st January 2019.

In accordance with Section 16(3) of the Universities Act 1997, up to four ministerial representatives will be appointed to the Governing Body on my nomination, following an open recruitment process managed by the Department and consultation with the President of the University.

In that regard, I can advise that officials within my Department are progressing this matter and details on how to apply for the positions will be available on my Department’s website (www.education.ie) in due course.

Schools Building Projects

Questions (197)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

197. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for the proposed extension of a school (details supplied); the status of the project; the timeline for completion of the works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51946/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

This project is currently at Stage 2B of Architectural Planning.  Planning Permission has been received and the Disability Access Certificate and Fire Safety Certificate have been granted.

The Department has authorised the pre-qualification of contractors. The school was informed of the timeframe for progression of the project to tender stage and construction stage and the steps involved.  Pre-qualification normally takes between 8 and 12 weeks to complete.  When pre-qualification is complete the project will then be progressed to tender stage.  A tender stage takes between 7 and 8 months to complete.

This major building project is included on my Department’s 6 year Programme to go to construction in 2019.

Schools Building Projects

Questions (198)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

198. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for the proposed extension of a school (details supplied); the status of the project; the timeline for completion of the works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51947/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

This project is currently at Stage 2B of Architectural Planning.  Planning Permission has been received and the Disability Access Certificate and Fire Safety Certificate have been granted.

The Department has authorised the pre-qualification of contractors. The school was informed of the timeframe for progression of the project to tender stage and construction stage and the steps involved.  Pre-qualification normally takes between 8 and 12 weeks to complete.  When pre-qualification is complete the project will then be progressed to tender stage.  A tender stage takes between 7 and 8 months to complete.

This major building project is included on my Department’s 6 year Programme to go to construction in 2019.

School Admissions

Questions (199)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

199. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will report on the admission policies of a school (details supplied); if the recommendations of the inspectors' reports of 2013 and 2015 for that school have been implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51969/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Under the provisions of the Education Act, 1998 the Board of Management is responsible for the day to day running of a school. It is the responsibility of the Board to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the provisions of the Education Act, 1998 and the commenced provisions of the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018.

The enrolment policy must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants.

While there was no Follow Through inspection conducted on the 2013 Special Educational Needs inspection report, the WSE-MLL report of 2015 contains a section entitled Implementation of Recommendations from Previous Evaluations. This section notes that Good progress has been made on implementing the recommendations made in the whole school sections of previous inspection reports. A Follow Through inspection was conducted in 2017 to follow up on the implementation of the WSE-MLL report’s main recommendations. This Follow Through inspection report notes that very good progress was made in the implementation of four of the five main recommendations of the WSE-MLL report and good progress was made in the implementation of one of the main recommendations.

National Educational Psychological Service Staff

Questions (200)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

200. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the child behavioural psychologist post for the north west region based in Letterkenny is vacant in relation to the NEPS; if so, the date on which the previous post holder vacated the role; the efforts being made to fill the post; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51974/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I can inform the Deputy that my Department’s National Educational Psychological Service provides educational psychological support to all primary and post-primary schools. This involves direct support in the event of a critical incident, access to national and regional support and development work to build school capacity to support students, access to a NEPS psychologist for responses to queries arising, and access to individual pupil casework via a NEPS psychologist or through the Scheme for the Commissioning of Psychological Assessments. (SCPA).

The NEPS Letterkenny Office is sited within the Midlands / North-Western Region and currently has two vacancies at entry grade psychologist.  The first results from the retirement of the NEPS Regional Director in late February 2018 and from the subsequent consequential promotions to Regional Director and Senior Psychologist leaving a vacancy in that office.  The 2nd vacancy results from the resignation of a psychologist in Letterkenny in July.

I can inform the Deputy that following the completion of a national recruitment in conjunction with the Public Appointments Service (PAS) in the early autumn that regional recruitment panels have been established to serve these and a broader range of staffing needs for NEPS.  I can also inform the Deputy that in the last week PAS have completed the processing of the candidate for the first Letterkenny vacancy who will start with NEPS in early February next.  My Department is awaiting notice in relation to recruitment of the second vacancy.

National Educational Psychological Service Data

Questions (201)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

201. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of children in the north-west region who, having been referred to the NEPS by schools, are waiting to have a psychological assessment carried out; the number of children waiting three, six, nine, 12, 15 and longer than 15 months, respectively, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51975/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I can inform the Deputy that my Department’s National Educational Psychological Service provides educational psychological support to all primary and post-primary schools. This involves direct support in the event of a critical incident, access to national and regional support and development work to build school capacity to support students, access to a NEPS psychologist for responses to queries arising, and access to individual pupil casework via a NEPS psychologist or through the Scheme for the Commissioning of Psychological Assessments (SCPA).

NEPS does not maintain waiting lists but in common with many other psychological services and best international practice, has adopted a consultative model of service. The focus is on empowering teachers to intervene effectively with pupils whose needs range from mild to severe and transient to enduring. Psychologists use a problem solving and solution oriented consultative approach to maximise positive outcomes for these pupils. NEPS encourages schools to use a continuum based assessment and intervention process whereby each school takes responsibility for initial assessment, educational planning and remedial intervention for pupils with learning, emotional or behavioural difficulties. Teachers may consult their NEPS psychologist should they need to at this stage in the process. Only in the event of a failure to make reasonable progress, in spite of the school's best efforts in consultation with NEPS, will the psychologist become involved with an individual child for intensive intervention or assessment.

This system allows psychologists to give early attention to urgent cases and also to help many more children indirectly than could be seen individually. It also ensures that children are not referred unnecessarily for psychological intervention.

I would advise if there are concerns in relation to the educational or social and emotional development of any student that these should be raised by the parents, in the first instance, with the Principal of the school he/she is attending, with a view to Principal discussing the situation with the assigned NEPS psychologist or local NEPS service.

Child Protection

Questions (202)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

202. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills the measures being taken to ensure that the safety issues raised by a person (details supplied) are being addressed. [51981/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

In accordance with the Education Act 1998, the Board of Management is the body charged with the direct governance of a school. It is also the Board of Management of the school that is responsible for ensuring that all appropriate health and safety measures are in place.

In relation to child protection matters, the organisation with primary statutory responsibility for child protection is the Child and Family Agency. The role of the Department of Education and Skills is to provide guidance to all recognised schools in implementing their child protection obligations.  The Department has issued child protection procedures for primary and post-primary schools which set out very clear procedures for reporting allegations or suspicions of child abuse and which make clear the lead role of Tusla in the investigation of child protection concerns. In December 2017, the Department of Education and Skills, following consultation with the relevant education stakeholders, published updated Child Protection Procedures for Primary and Post-Primary Schools 2017 which take account of the new statutory requirements of the Children First Act 2015 which is now fully operational. Responsibility for ensuring that child protection requirements are complied with rests with the school board, the principal and the staff of each school.

The Department has recently received correspondence regarding a school from the person referred to by the Deputy. The Department has brought the matters raised in this correspondence to the attention of the board of management of the school in question and has sought its clarification as to the position regarding same.

Parking Provision

Questions (203)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

203. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of car parking spaces provided for staff working within Dublin, Limerick and Cork city and to agencies therein. [52009/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Department of Education and Skills provides car-parking spaces for its staff within Dublin, Limerick and Cork city as follows:

Car-parks

Number of spaces

Dublin

185 spaces

Limerick

21 spaces

Cork

34 spaces

The information sought in regard to the car-parking spaces provided for staff working in agencies based in Dublin, Limerick and Cork is being collated and I will arrange to have it forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it becomes available.

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (204)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

204. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52014/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Funding for special education provision in 2018 will amount to some €1.75 billion, up 43% since 2011 and equivalent to 18.7% of the gross overall current allocation for education and training.  

My Department provides for a range of services and supports to ensure that children with Special Educational Needs can have access to an education appropriate to their needs.

These supports include additional teaching and care support, enhanced capitation, specialist school transport arrangements, assistive technology and/or specialist equipment, adaptations for school buildings where necessary and additional training for teachers of children with special educational needs.

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

As this question relates to a particular school I have referred the question to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

School Enrolments Data

Questions (205)

Declan Breathnach

Question:

205. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Education and Skills the level of secondary school places available in 2019 by school in County Louth and east County Meath in tabular form; the level of demand for these places; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52030/18]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department does not hold the specific information to which he refers.

More detailed information relating to enrolment levels in all primary and post schools nationwide is available on the Department's website at the following link:

https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Statistics/Data-on-Individual-Schools.

In relation to school admissions, parents can choose which school to apply to and where the school has places available, the pupil should be admitted. However, in schools where there are more applicants than places available, a selection process may be necessary. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants. However, this may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice. The Deputy will note however that the selection process procedures and enrolment policy are the responsibility of the individual school authorities.

The Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018, which was signed by the President on 18 July 2018, is an important piece of legislation which will introduce a more parent-friendly, equitable and consistent approach to how school admissions policy operates for the almost 4,000 primary and post-primary schools in this country and a fair and balanced school admission process for all pupils.

The Deputy will be aware that my Department announced that a new post-primary school will be established for the Drogheda & Laytown area in Co Louth, to open in September 2019.

I also wish to advise the Deputy that my Department's capital investment programme provides for devolved funding for additional classrooms for existing schools where an immediate enrolment need has been identified.