207. 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. [5006/19]View answer
Written Answers Nos. 207-224
207. 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. [5006/19]View answer
The position regarding personal leave for Representing Ireland at an International Sporting Event is set out in my Department’s circular letter 0032/2007.
The application for personal leave referred to by the Deputy was sanctioned by my Department on the 2nd November, 2018.
208. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress to date regarding the construction of phase 1 of a school (details supplied); when construction will be completed in relation to phase 1; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5017/19]View answer
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. The first phase is due for completion and hand-over in Quarter 2 2019.
209. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress to date regarding the construction of a school (details supplied); when construction will be completed; when the school will be ready for occupation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5018/19]View answer
Phase 2 of the project to which the Deputy refers, which entails the construction of a permanent 32-classroom school, is currently ongoing. Subject to no issues arising it is envisaged that the new school building will be ready for occupation in the final quarter of 2019.
210. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when he expects to receive the recommendation from the new schools establishment group on the patronage of the new primary school for Maynooth, County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5019/19]View answer
211. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when he expects to receive the recommendation from the new schools establishment group on the patronage of the new primary school for Leixlip, County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5020/19]View answer
I propose to take Questions Nos. 210 and 211 together.
As the Deputy will be aware, the Government recently announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022) including two new 8-classroom primary schools to be established in 2019 to serve the Leixlip and Maynooth school planning areas. This announcement follows nationwide, demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country and the 4-year horizon will enable increased lead-in times for planning and delivery of the necessary infrastructure.
A patronage process is run after it has been decided, based on demographic analysis, that a new school is required. This patronage process is open to all patron bodies and prospective patrons. Parental preferences for each patron, from parents of children who reside in the school planning areas concerned, together with the extent of diversity currently available in these areas, are key to decisions in relation to the outcome of this process.
An Online Patronage Process System (OPPS) has been developed by my Department to provide objective information to all parents which will allow them to make an informed choice about their preferred model of patronage for their child’s education. Parental preferences were previously collected based on direct engagement with patron bodies.
The patronage process for new schools is overseen by an external independent advisory group, the New Schools Establishment Group (NSEG). Following their consideration of my Department’s assessment reports, the NSEG will submit a report with recommendations to me for consideration and final decision.
The Online Patronage Process System (OPPS) opened for parental preferences on the 10th December 2018 for 12 primary schools to be established in 2019 and closed on the 15th January 2019. My Department are currently preparing assessment reports for the NSEG and it is anticipated that the successful patrons will be announced in the coming weeks. The assessment reports, including details on the number of parental preferences received for each of the areas and the NSEG recommendations, will be made available on my Department's website.
212. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board has advertised for the recruitment of a principal for the north County Kildare Gaelcholáiste to be located at Maynooth, County Kildare; if accommodation has been secured for the new school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5021/19]View answer
Each Educational Training Board (ETB) receives a Teaching staffing allocation from my Department and it is the responsibility of each ETB to the recruit and manage staffing levels within this allocation. Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB) have informed officials from my Department that they have commenced the process to appoint a principal to the new Gaelcholáiste in Maynooth and they expect that the advertisement for the post will be published shortly.
In relation to securing suitable accommodation, KWETB is engaging with officials of my Department to identify suitable accommodation in Maynooth to allow the new Gaelcholáiste to welcome first-year students in September 2019.
213. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the pre-qualification of contractor's report for the construction of a school (details supplied) was approved on 2 October 2018; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that tenders have to date not been invited from the short-list of contractors; his views on whether it is unacceptable that the pre-qualification process is now in its tenth month when it should only take two to three months; if his officials will contact the design team for the project to progress it to tender forthwith; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5022/19]View answer
The major building project referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of architectural planning, Stage 2(b) – Detailed Design which includes the application for Planning Permission, Fire Cert and Disability Access Cert and the preparation of tender documents. All statutory approvals have been secured.
In line with normal procedure, in early October, the outcome of the pre-qualification process was notified to contractors who expressed interest in tendering for this project. One of the unsuccessful parties has challenged the outcome, resulting in a delay with progressing the project to tender stage. The school and its Board of Management have been taking legal advice in respect of this challenge and my Department has been in regular contact with school authorities and the school's Design Team throughout the process.
Following consideration of legal advice the school has, in consultation with the Department, taken the decision to cancel the pre-qualification process with a view to commencing a new process shortly. While this delay is regrettable it has been outside of the control of the school, its design team and the Department.
When the new pre-qualification exercise has been successfully concluded, the project will then be progressed to tender stage. My Department will remain in close contact with the school and its design team throughout the process to minimise the risk of any further delays.
214. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the invitation of tenders has been approved for the construction of a school (details supplied); if tenders have been invited from the short-list of contractors; the closing date for receipt of tenders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5023/19]View answer
The process of Pre-Qualification of contractors for the project in question is underway. For this particular project, pre-qualification of reserved specialists for the mechanical and electrical works is also required. The Pre-qualification process culminates in the compilation of short-lists of suitable candidates for each respective discipline.
The short-list was submitted to my Department for review on January 11th 2019. On January 17th the Department reverted to the Design Team with a number of items to be actioned with regard to finalising the process and a response is awaited.
When the Pre-Qualification process is completed the project will then be progressed to tender stage which normally takes between 7 and 8 months to complete.
This project is included in the Department of Education and Skills' 6 year construction programme, 2016-2021.
215. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has received an application for major capital works funding by a school (details supplied); the work for which funding is required; the status of the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5024/19]View answer
I am pleased to inform the Deputy that funding was approved in September 2018 under the Additional Accommodation Scheme to enable the Board of Management to provide the following accommodation:
- 5 Mainstream Classrooms, 5 x standard WCs & 1 x WC for assisted users as Additional Accommodation
- 4 Mainstream Classrooms & 4 x standard WCs to replace prefabs
- 2 x Science Labs & 1 Prep Area and 1 Art & Crafts Room
The Board of Management is currently at the procurement of the Design Team stage. The Design Team will take the project through the various stages of architectural planning and onwards through the statutory planning process and to construction.
216. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has received an application for major capital works funding by a school (details supplied); the work for which funding is required; the status of the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5025/19]View answer
I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department has received an application from the school in question for additional mainstream and specialist classroom accommodation. As soon as the application is accessed the school authorities will be informed of the outcome.
217. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to bring forward guidelines on adequate time to allow primary school children to eat their lunches; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5031/19]View answer
Under the provisions of the Education Act, 1998, the Board of Management is responsible for the day to day running of a school.
Circular 11/95 “Time in School” paragraph 3 states that a typical school day for Junior classes is 4 hours and 40 minutes and Senior classes 5 hours and 40 minutes with appropriate recreation i.e. 30 minutes. Under the Rules for National Schools, forenoon and afternoon breaks of five minutes each are allowed.
Where a recreation interval or break of a longer duration than the foregoing are taken (for example when children are allowed to have lunch in the classroom prior to the official commencement of the recreation interval) the length of the school day must be extended correspondingly.
The arrangement within the recreation interval for pupils to eat their lunch is a matter for each Board of Management to determine. My Department has not issued guidelines to schools in this regard.
218. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills if some or all substitute teachers are being treated in their tax affairs by the Revenue Commissioners as being on a cumulative basis instead of a week one basis; the reason for same; the average loss in tax on a monthly basis; when the matter will be resolved; when teachers will be refunded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5033/19]View answer
The Revenue Commissioners introduced real time PAYE on the 1st January 2019, which was the biggest change to the PAYE system since the 1960s. The first payroll of 2019 paid by the Department was on the 3rd January 2019 for post primary teachers and substitute teachers and on the 10th January for primary, non-teaching staff and retirees.
Schools input records of employment through the On Line Claims System for substitute teachers and the details of each period of employment transfers to the Department where the appropriate rates of pay are applied, statutory deductions are calculated and the payment issues in the regular payroll run for the sector.
In the first payrolls of the New Year, the payroll files that transferred to Revenue inadvertently included an end date for substitute staff which informed Revenue that these staff would not be paid under this employer number in the future. This notification caused Revenue to immediately reduce the tax credits and cut off points to zero for this cohort of staff which meant that when they were next paid, there were no tax credits available to be applied to the salary if the same people were paid in the second payroll issue.
The payroll software has been amended to prevent an end date transferring to Revenue for future payments which means substitute teachers paid for the first time in 2019 on payrolls after the 17th January will not have problems with tax credits. However this did not correct the issues that arose for the staff who were paid already.
A solution is being tested at present in consultation with Revenue. It is expected that this solution will be successful and all primary substitute teachers and substitute non teaching staff will have the correct tax deducted on the next pay day of 21st February.
Work is ongoing in relation to the post primary payroll and it is anticipated that some adjustments will be processed for the payroll issue of the 14th February and further adjustments will be processed for the next pay issue of the 28th February.
219. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for the provision of additional second-level school places and additional second-level schools, or both, in Lucan, County Dublin; and the capital allocations for the next five years. [5049/19]View answer
In April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022). In addition to the new schools announced, there will be a need for further school accommodation in other areas in the future. Approximately 40% of extra school places are delivered by extending existing schools. As the Deputy is aware two new 1,000 pupil post-primary have recently being established in the Lucan school planning area to cater for increased enrolments and the requirement for additional school places will be kept under on-going review and in particular will have regard for the increased roll-out of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.
A number of existing post-primary in Lucan are also receiving major extensions under my Department’s 6 Year Capital Programme. Information in relation to the current status of all major school building projects and additional accommodation projects including projects in Lucan is available on my Departments website and this information is updated on a regular basis
220. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he will take to ensure a student (details supplied) is accommodated on an existing school transport route which has adequate space available. [5053/19]View answer
School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.
There are currently over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually.
The purpose of the School Transport Scheme for Children with Special Educational Needs is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children with special educational needs arising from a diagnosed disability.
Eligibility is determined following consultation with the National Council for Special Education through its network of Special Education Needs Organisers. Applications for transport provision, under the terms of this scheme, should only be completed in circumstances where children are not in a position to avail of standard school transport services.
The Department and Bus Éireann are very conscious of the specialised nature of transport provision for children with special educational needs. This is reflected in the standard of dedicated service provided and the fact that these services are generally planned and timetabled to operate on a door-to-door basis.
In certain cases, the Department also provides funding to schools for the employment of escorts to accompany children whose care and safety needs require this level of support while they travel to and from school.
The sibling of the child referred to by the Deputy is eligible under the terms of the School Transport Scheme for Children with Special Educational Needs, and Bus Éireann has advised he is availing of a service that caters for a number of children; there is also an escort on board this service.
However, the child referred to by the Deputy is not eligible for school transport under the terms of the Primary School Transport Scheme as he is not attending his nearest school.
The terms of the School Transport Scheme are applied equitably on a national basis.
221. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the financial supports, both direct and indirect, available to self-employed persons who may wish to return to education at third level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5076/19]View answer
Under the terms of the Student Grant Scheme, grant assistance is awarded to students attending an approved course in an approved institution who meet the prescribed conditions of funding, including those relating to nationality, residency, previous academic attainment and means.
To satisfy the terms and conditions of the student grant scheme in relation to progression, a student must be moving from year to year within a course, having successfully completed the previous year or be transferring from one course to another where the award for the subsequent course is of a higher level than the previous course.
Further information in relation to student grant assistance is available from SUSI’s website (www.susi.ie) or by contacting the SUSI Helpdesk by telephone on 0761 087 874.
Students in third-level institutions who experience exceptional financial need can apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund. This Fund assists students, in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise be unable to continue their third level studies due to their financial circumstances. Details of this fund are available from the Access Office in the third level institution attended.
In addition, tax relief at the standard rate of tax may be claimed in respect of tuition fees paid for approved courses at approved colleges of higher education. Further information on this tax relief is available from the Revenue Commissioners on www.revenue.ie.
In the context of a person re-educating, Springboard is a specific initiative that strategically targets funding of free part-time higher education courses to enable unemployed people to upskill or reskill in areas where there are identified labour market skills shortages or employment opportunities. The courses, which are at level 6 (higher certificate) to level 9 (master's degree) on the National Framework of Qualifications, are being delivered in public and private higher education providers around the country. Further information may be obtained from the website https://springboardcourses.ie/
222. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason there is no college funding for persons in insolvency arrangements in circumstances in which their income is over the SUSI threshold but they do not have a disposable income; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5081/19]View answer
Under the terms of the Student Grant Scheme, grant assistance is awarded to students who meet the prescribed conditions of funding, including those relating to nationality, residency, previous academic attainment and means.
Student grant applications are means tested on gross income from all sources earned inside and outside the State within a specified reference period. The means test arrangements of the Student Grant Scheme are applied nationally. The assessment of income from the same starting point is deemed to be fair and reasonable because this approach eliminates any distortion which might arise from different spending decisions in different households.
The decision on eligibility for grant assistance is a matter for the centralised grant awarding authority SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland) to determine, upon receipt of the relevant application form and supporting documentation.
In addition to the Student Grant Scheme, students in third-level institutions experiencing exceptional financial need can apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund. This Fund assists students, in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise be unable to continue their third level studies due to their financial circumstances.
223. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a progress report on the provision of an extension for a school (details supplied) in County Dublin will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5091/19]View answer
224. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a progress report on the provision of an extension for a school (details supplied) in County Dublin will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5092/19]View answer
I propose to take Questions Nos. 223 and 224 together.
The major building project for the schools referred to by the deputy is currently at an advanced stage of Architectural Planning, Stage 2b - Detailed Design, which includes the application for statutory approvals and the preparation of tender documents. All statutory approvals have been secured. The schools share the same site and the building project will be delivered as a joint project.
The schools and their Design Team have submitted a Brief Change Report to my Department which is currently under review. A response will issue shortly.