School Patronage

Questions (379)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

379. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the patronage survey process for a new school in Donabate, County Dublin will commence. [13698/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

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 a new 16 classroom primary school to be established in 2020 for the Donabate school planning area.

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) website 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 and their preferred language of instruction. 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 submits a report with recommendations to me for consideration and final decision. The assessment reports and the NSEG recommendations for all such patronage processes are made available on my Department's website.

The patronage process for the 4 post-primary schools and 12 primary schools to be established in 2019 has been completed. The patronage process for the schools to be established in September 2020, including the school referred to by the Deputy, will commence later this year, significantly ahead of their due opening dates. Updates in relation to further patronage processes will be announced on the OPPS website and the Department’s website (www.education.ie).

Education and Training Boards Staff

Questions (380)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

380. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 238 of 5 February 2019, if his attention has been drawn to the fact that staff delivering the ETB (details supplied) courses have not received incremental increases in wages since 2008 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13717/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Staff delivering the training courses that the deputy refers to are employed under the Local Training Initiative programme (LTI). As previously mentioned, this programme is a project-based training and work experience programme carried out in the local community run by local community groups and associations. Staff delivering courses are typically employed by the relevant community group or association.

On 21 March 2002, the Labour Court recommended that LTI Community Training Supervisors should receive an increase in pay and that the total grant paid by FÁS to project sponsors for supervisor pay should be increased by 20%. Sponsors were to be advised that the total increased grant, less employers PRSI, should be paid to supervisors. This was implemented by FÁS.

The recommendation also stated that for future pay increases, the supervisors should have a pay relationship with and be ‘linked proportionally’ to Community Training Centre (CTC) Managers. Any benefit to the claimants arising from the pay relationship should be paid in accordance with the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, which was in place at the time. Since then, LTI Community Training Supervisors have received increases under national agreements, in line with CTC Managers.

The increases to salary from the implementation of the Public Service Stability Agreement provided for the restoration of pay which was reduced as a result of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Acts (FEMPI). CTC Managers, and consequently LTI Supervisors, are not covered by the Public Service Stability Agreement as they are not public servants and did not have their pay reduced under FEMPI.

ERASMUS Programme

Questions (381)

Catherine Martin

Question:

381. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to ensure that Irish students domiciled in Northern Ireland will have access to Erasmus programmes here and elsewhere after 2021; if Irish students can study in the UK after 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13721/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Learning mobility within the Erasmus+ programme is determined not by students' domicile, but by the institution in which they are enrolled having an Erasmus University Charter. Possession of this Charter allows institutions to apply for funding to send and receive students and staff to other Charter holders.

Therefore, if the NI student is attending a Higher Education Institution here, with an Erasmus University Charter, they are eligible to avail of learning mobility opportunities in other institutions that similarly hold the Charter.

I would also like to assure the Deputy that Irish students can continue to study in the UK once the UK leaves the EU. In this regard, the Common Travel Area will mitigate many of the Brexit impacts within the Education Sector. This includes not just the SUSI grants, but also maintaining the current EU fee system for Irish students in the UK, but also Northern Irish and UK Students studying in Ireland. Agreement between my Department and the Department for Education in the UK on these principles, as well as wider policy issues at other levels of education has been reached, and discussions are now focussed on framing these within a Memorandum of Understanding. This will protect much of the valuable and rich cooperation that takes place in education on a North-South and an East West basis.

ERASMUS Programme

Questions (382)

Catherine Martin

Question:

382. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to ensure that students living here but domiciled in Northern Ireland will have access to Erasmus programmes after 2021; if Irish students can study in the UK after 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13724/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Learning mobility within the Erasmus + programme is determined not by students' domicile, but by the institution in which they are enrolled having an Erasmus University Charter . Possession of this Charter allows institutions to apply for funding to send and receive students and staff to other Charter holders.

Therefore, if the NI student is attending a Higher Education Institution here, with an Erasmus University Charter, they are eligible to avail of learning mobility opportunities in other institutions that similarly hold the Charter.

I would also like to assure the Deputy that Irish students can continue to study in the UK once the UK leaves the EU. In this regard, the Common Travel Area will mitigate many of the Brexit impacts within the Education Sector. This includes not just the SUSI grants, but also maintaining the current EU fee system for Irish students in the UK, but also Northern Irish and UK Students studying in Ireland. Agreement between my Department and the Department for Education in the UK on these principles, as well as wider policy issues at other levels of education has been reached, and discussions are now focussed on framing these within a Memorandum of Understanding. This will protect much of the valuable and rich cooperation that takes place in education on a North-South and an East West basis.

National Educational Psychological Service Data

Questions (383)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

383. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of vacancies for NEPS psychologists; the length of time of each vacancy by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13745/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy may be aware my Department’s National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) 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 Deputy may also be aware that under Budget 2018 NEPS numbers were further increased with 10 new posts being sanctioned from September 2018 bring total approved numbers to 194 w.t.e..

NEPS recruits its psychologist from Regional panels of suitably qualified personnel organised by the Public Appointments Service (PAS) following a national recruitment competition. These panels were replenished following a competition which was completed in early September 2018.

Currently there are 183 w.t.e. psychologist staff serving in NEPS with 11 vacancies. Three of these posts have recruits with agreed start in the next eight weeks. Two of the remaining vacancies are at Senior Psychologist level and an internal promotion competition is being put into place within NEPS currently to fill these posts. The consequential main-grade vacancies will, when identified, be replaced by the external recruitment process.

The Panel created in September is now depleted and the remaining vacancies will not now be filled from that source. My Department is in active talks with PAS in relation to the organising of a new national recruitment competition from which new regional recruitment panels will be formed. It is hoped that these will be in place for the commencement of the new academic year.

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the last budget again increased NEPS psychologist number by a further 10 posts to 204 w.t.e.. These posts will also will also fall due for filling from the new panel for September 2019.

In relation to the Deputy’s question I can clarify that NEPS psychologists are not, per se, assigned by county but work within a regional and local office structure serving the needs of schools in their immediate vicinity. I attach therefore for the Deputy’s information a breakdown of current NEPS vacancies by Region and Office location and detailing the length of time the posts have been vacant.

Office location of NEPs Psychologists posts currently vacant and length of time in weeks the vacancies have existed

NEPS Region

NEPS Office

Vacancy Commenced

No Weeks Vacant

Agreed Start Date

Comment

West

Galway Office

02/07/2018

38

01/04/2019

S-East

Kilkenny

01/09/2018

29

08/04/2019

Dublin

Dublin 1 Office

30/06/2018

38

20/05/2019

Dublin/Mid Leinster

Naas Office

06/09/2018

29

S-East

Portlaoise

01/09/2018

29

N-East

Cavan Office

01/09/2018

29

N-East

Cavan Office

06/07/2018

37

N-East

Navan Office

09/07/2018

37

N-West

Letterkenny Office

03/07/2018

38

Dublin/Mid Leinster

Dun Laoghaire Office

12/11/2018

19

Senior Psych.

West

Galway Office

01/12/2018

16

Senior Psych.

Teachers' Remuneration

Questions (384)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

384. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the repayment of incorrectly charged taxes for primary school teachers; the number of teachers overcharged by county; the number that have had the charges refunded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13746/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Revenue Commissioners introduced real time PAYE (PAYE modernisation) from the 1st January 2019. This was the biggest change to the PAYE system since the 1960s. Under the new system, from the 1st January 2019, employers are required to report their employees’ pay and statutory deductions to Revenue for each payroll issue.

My Department issued holiday pay to primary substitute staff on the 21st March. The issuing of holiday pay has ensured that refunds owed to primary substitute staff have been paid to them. Holiday pay is normally issued in payrolls in April.

The assignment of tax credits is a matter between the individual substitute and Revenue. The information that is available on a county basis in my Department databases relates to the number of substitute employees that were affected by the cessation date issue and the number of RPNs received from Revenue for those impacted.

1,147 refunds of tax have been generated to primary substitute teachers. These refunds have ranged in value from €0.25 to €1,924.04.

Where a primary substitute teacher has more than one employer, the Revenue Commissioners will issue Revenue Payroll Notifications (RPNs) based on the information available to them. Employees may have more than one source of taxable income and may assign credits to more than one employment. Tax credits and taxable basis are decided by Revenue and notified to the employer to apply to payrolls. Any refunds of tax to staff are based on the information supplied by Revenue.

Refunds of tax due to primary teacher substitute staff for whom Revenue have submitted RPNs to my Department have been paid.

Schools Refurbishment

Questions (385)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

385. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for deep retrofits of schools; the number of schools which have had retrofits completed since 2016; the location of the schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13747/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

In the National Development Plan (2018-2027) €2.5bn is identified for the refurbishment and construction of schools. Part of this is intended for a deep energy retrofit of schools built prior to 2008.

My Department and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland are currently involved in an energy efficiency retrofit pilot scheme for schools. The longer-term outcome of this scheme will be to create an accurate and scalable model for energy efficient retrofits of schools across the country.

This pilot commenced in 2017 when ten schools received energy retrofits. In 2018, six schools received retrofits. For 2019 we are hoping to expand this programme and expect to make an announcement in that respect shortly.

Energy Conservation Measures delivered to date include fabric (roofs, walls, glazing and doors), heating (boilers, controls, Building Management systems), and electrical (LED lighting and solar PV).

Student Grant Scheme Applications Data

Questions (386)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

386. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications for a third level maintenance grant refused in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13748/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The student grant scheme administered by SUSI, provides grants to students who meet the prescribed conditions of funding, including those relating to nationality, residency, previous academic attainment and means.

The number of applicants who applied to SUSI for a grant but were deemed ineligible for the period 2015/16 to 2018/19 by county, is in the table.

Refused Applications only for years 2015-19, split into Counties (from home address), as on SUSI systems on 15/03/2019

Status

2015-16

2016-17

2017-18

2018-19

Carlow

245

234

218

211

Cavan

338

325

348

322

Clare

477

442

474

427

Cork

2,054

1,942

1,790

1,689

Donegal

656

626

617

558

Dublin

4,188

3,965

3,887

3,666

Galway

1,116

1,117

1,100

1,046

Kerry

648

553

591

597

Kildare

890

773

766

662

Kilkenny

357

381

342

324

Laois

319

310

333

310

Leitrim

141

134

146

137

Limerick

795

790

749

673

Longford

167

166

161

148

Louth

589

541

536

481

Mayo

557

528

511

477

Meath

773

757

742

669

Monaghan

245

260

256

231

Offaly

292

311

301

268

Roscommon

241

282

252

215

Sligo

305

307

291

268

Tipperary

668

661

624

570

Waterford

501

464

442

396

Westmeath

438

375

325

345

Wexford

486

532

475

447

Wicklow

518

451

456

475

Other*

544

402

354

296

Total

18,548

17,629

17,087

15,908

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (387)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

387. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress on the completion of 42 new schools announced in April 2018, in tabular form. [13749/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy is aware, in April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next 4 years (2019 to 2022), 26 schools at primary level and 16 at post-primary level. This announcement followed nationwide demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the current and future need for primary and post-primary school places across the country.

The patronage process for the new schools (primary and post-primary) to be established in 2019 is complete and the patronage process for the new schools to be established in 2020 will commence later this year.

The current focus for the Department is to prioritise the 17 schools opening in September 2019 so that accommodation solutions are put in place as soon as possible. In this regard, my Department has appointed a Project Manager to assist in the procurement of interim school accommodation for the schools opening in September 2019 and these schools will open in suitable interim accommodation.

The announcement in April 2018 provides a better lead in period for planning and delivering accommodation solutions for the schools that are due to be established from September 2020 onwards.

Where required, site acquisition processes in respect of permanent locations for the schools are currently underway. Significant progress has been made in this respect to date and my officials continue to work to deliver permanent site solutions as expeditiously as possible.

Further updates will be provided on my Department’s website at the end of March in the context of the regular updates on the current status of large-scale building projects. In addition, my Department will provide update to the Joint Committee on Education and Skills in May 2019.

School Transport Data

Questions (388)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

388. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of cases in which taxis are engaged to transport children to schools; the number of school children involved; and the amount spent annually by county. [13751/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

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 km annually.

Bus Éireann has advised that in 2018 over 4,000 children with special educational needs were availing of school transport services in taxis at a cost of some €32m. The use of taxis in the school transport scheme is almost exclusively an element of the Special Education Needs Scheme.

The level of detailed information requested is not readily available; I have requested Bus Éireann to respond directly to the Deputy when the figures are compiled.

School Staff Appeals Mechanism

Questions (389)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

389. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an appeal for a third teacher will be considered for a school (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13757/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The criteria used for the allocation of teaching posts is published annually on the Department website. The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous 30 September.

The staffing schedule operates in a clear and transparent manner and treats all similar types of schools equally irrespective of location.

The staffing schedule also includes an appeals mechanism for schools to submit a staffing appeal under certain criteria to an independent Appeals Board. Details of the appeal process and application form are available in Circular 0019/2019, "Staffing Arrangements in Primary Schools for the 2019/20 School Year", which is published on the Department website.

My Department has received a staffing appeal from Filemore National School for consideration by the Appeals Board under the Small Schools criteria. The Primary Staffing Appeals Board will meet to review appeals for the 2019/20 school year in the coming weeks and the school will be notified of the outcome of the appeal.

The Primary Staffing Appeals Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

Public Private Partnerships

Questions (390)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

390. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the post project reviews for PPPs (details supplied); when the reviews were completed; and if they have not been completed, when completion and publication is expected for same. [13758/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Department has given a commitment to undertake a review of the Pilot Schools, i.e. the first bundle of five post primary schools that were delivered in 2001/2002 through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.

A service provider has been appointed to conduct a comprehensive review of the Pilots Schools, including a direct comparison with traditional schools procured around the same time. This goes beyond what might be normally envisaged in a post-project review and will provide useful information that will be relevant to the wider school building programme. The review will incorporate detailed condition surveys of the buildings, as well as comparing the operation and maintenance provision in both PPP and traditional schools.

The more detailed nature of this review responds directly to a recommendation in the 2004 C&AG report on the Pilot Schools that, at the appropriate time, the costs and benefits of adopting the PPP approach should be assessed relative to the performance of a comparable group of schools procured conventionally. In line with the requirements under the Public Spending Code for post project reviews, it is intended to publish the key findings of the Review towards the end of 2019. It will also be determined whether the approach taken provides a suitable framework for further PPP reviews.

The review of the Pilot Schools will be the first formal Post Project Review of PPP projects carried out by the Department. However, reviews in the form of lessons learned exercises have been undertaken in relation to PPP projects delivered in the education sector and such projects are also the subject of ongoing review and monitoring. Prior to handover to the Department, the NDFA conducts its own internal review of the procurement and construction phases and identifies any lessons which should inform future approaches. Lessons learnt reports in respect of Schools Bundle 1, 2 and 3 have previously been shared with the Public Accounts Committee.

Important lessons learnt from earlier PPP projects have been incorporated into more recent approaches. In particular, the Project Agreement, which provides the contractual basis for the PPP arrangement, has been regularly updated to ensure that it provides a robust framework for measuring the performance of the private partner and protecting the interests of the State over the lifetime of the project.

The Department is also tracking the actual enrolments in PPP schools against the long-term projected enrolments. Enrolment data is provided on the Department’s website. This is important in assessing, as per the Public Spending Code, that the basis on which a project was undertaken proved correct and that the planned outcomes were the appropriate responses to actual public needs.

A lessons learned exercise in relation to Schools Bundle 5, the PPP project impacted by the collapse of Carillion, has been initiated and will be completed once the final projects in that Bundle have been delivered.

School Funding

Questions (391)

John McGuinness

Question:

391. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a funding application by a school (details supplied); if a decision will be expedited; the timeframe involved for consideration and approval of the extra costs submitted which arose from the planning process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13762/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I can confirm that the school referred to, by the Deputy, has submitted an application to my Department for additional capital funding.

The application is being considered and a decision will be conveyed to the school authority as soon as the assessment process has been completed.

Departmental Data

Questions (392)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

392. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of complaints submitted to his Department in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of appeals made with respect to the outcome of such complaints; the number referred to the Office of the Ombudsman; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13779/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

It is the aim of officials within my Department to provide quality services to all our customers, which is underpinned in our Customer Charter. There is a complaints procedure in place to address any instances when customers are unhappy with the service they have received. This can be found on our Department's website.

The complaints procedure informs customers on how to make a complaint, and the steps taken within the Department once this complaint has been received. It also acts a guide to staff in investigating and responding to complaints in a fair, structured and timely manner.

While a complaint can be made to any member of staff in relation to the service received, a formal complaint can be made to my Department’s Customer Service Office if it cannot be resolved at the point of service.

The number of formal complaints received by my Department in 2016, 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019 are as follows:

2016 – 5 formal complaints received, none progressed to the Ombudsman

2017 - 4 formal complaints received, none progressed to the Ombudsman

2018 - 3 formal complaints received, none progressed to the Ombudsman

to-date 2019 - 3 formal complaints received, none progressed to the Ombudsman to date.

All formal complaints received from 2016 to 2019 were resolved within the Department, and therefore were not progressed to the Ombudsman.

Home Tuition Scheme Eligibility

Questions (393)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

393. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if home tuition will be provided to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13816/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The purpose of my Department’s Home Tuition Grant Scheme is to provide funding towards the provision of a compensatory educational service for students enrolled in school, with a significant medical condition which has, and is likely to cause, major disruption to their attendance in school on a continuing basis.

Home tuition is not an alternative to a school placement and is provided in very limited and specific circumstances.

Eligibility for applications received under the Medical Strand of the Scheme is assessed having regard to, although not limited to, the following criteria:

• The student’s attendance levels during the previous school year

• A relevant medical/professional report which should clearly confirm a diagnosis.

Based on the information provided in the application received in my Department on 26th February 2019 in relation to the student’s medical condition my Department was not in a position to sanction Home Tuition.

The Home Tuition Grant Scheme provides for an appeal process and details are set out in the decision letter which issued to the applicant. Appeals may be submitted in writing to my Department’s Special Education Section outlining the reasons for the appeal along with additional supporting documents or reports, as appropriate.

I have forwarded the information the Deputy has provided with this question to my officials and requested them to examine the information under the appeals process. My officials will contact the Parent directly in due course.

Teaching Qualifications

Questions (394)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

394. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter in relation to the qualifications of a German citizen (details supplied) to teach at a primary school here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13847/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I understand that the Deputy is referring specifically to the Department’s minimum requirements in Irish, English and Mathematics for entry into primary Initial Teacher Education. Having relatively high minimum entry requirements in core subject areas of Irish, English and Mathematics is one of the key policy levers that help ensure quality teaching and learning in primary schools.

In recognition of the fact that there may be applicants who do not meet some or all of these minimum entry requirements but want to enter into primary initial teacher education, whether from Ireland or abroad, there are a number of alternative qualifications that can take the place of the relevant Leaving Certificate grade. There is also a process in place to assess whether a given qualification is suitable to meet the entry requirements.

I am aware of the case to which the Deputy refers and have asked officials from my Department to provide the additional detail requested as a matter of priority.

School Accommodation Provision

Questions (395)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

395. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the process a national school in County Sligo needs to undertake in order to seek funding towards the development of indoor sports and recreational facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13865/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware that under the National Development Plan (NDP), increased funding has been provided for the school sector capital investment programme. This funding allows for a continued focus on the provision of new permanent school places to keep pace with demographic demand and also provides for an additional focus on the refurbishment of existing school buildings to include the building and modernisation of PE facilities. The government will focus, in the medium term, on the provision of PE facilities in schools.

National Educational Psychological Service

Questions (396)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

396. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills when children (details supplied) in County Donegal will receive an appointment for an assessment from the National Educational Psychological Service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13868/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy may be aware 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 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 have made enquiries in the matter of the children, the subject of the Deputy's question, and find that although a NEPS psychologist was involved with both children, and on two occasions each, in 2018 there are currently, I understand, no outstanding requests for involvement of NEPS by the school with either boy.

I would advise therefore that if the parents of the children, have concerns about their current situation they might raise them, in the first instance, with the principal of the school involved with a view to her raising the matter with their local NEPS service for further advice, or if appropriate, direct intervention, including assessment.

I hope this clarifies the issue for the Deputy.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (397)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

397. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the funding being made available in the capital programme for special autism units and in the current expenditure programme for special need supports to meet existing and future need in two secondary schools (details supplied) in Dublin 22. [13878/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department’s capital allocation for the school sector in 2019 amounts to €622m. I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has received an application for additional accommodation from one of the schools in question. The application is currently being assessed. As soon as this is completed a decision will be conveyed to the school authorities.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) through its national network of Special Needs Organisers (SENOs) is responsible for planning and coordinating education provision for children with special educational needs including granting approval for the establishment and resourcing of special classes.

Special classes for students with ASD are staffed with a lower pupil–teacher ratio of 6:1 at primary level and 6:1.5 at post primary level, and also have a minimum of two SNAs for every class of 6 children.

When the NCSE sanction a special class in a school, the school can apply to my Department for capital funding to re-configure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation. There are standard arrangements in place for the funding, design and delivery of these projects.

Other resources which are provided to schools to support children with Special Educational Needs, including Autism, include the following:

- Professional development for teachers.

- The National Educational Psychological Service

- Assistive technology.

- Access to the Special School transport scheme.

- Access to special equipment and furniture where required.

- Enhanced capitation grants at primary level

- Adapted school buildings/Additional accommodation

- ICT Grant for new classes

- Start Up grant for new classes

- Access to the extended school year scheme. (July Provision).

Schools Building Projects

Questions (398)

Stephen Donnelly

Question:

398. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the options for ensuring a one site school for an existing primary school (details supplied) will be investigated which under current plans will end up on three sites with a new primary school between two of those sites; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13881/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy is aware, a major building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is included in my Department's 6 Year Construction Programme. The project is currently at Stage 2(b) of the architectural planning process and planning permission has been secured. The next step includes securing Fire and Disability Access Certification and this process is in train.

My Department recently met with school representatives relating to the school's location and agreed to continue to liaise with the school authority in this regard.

National Educational Psychological Service Staff

Questions (399)

Catherine Martin

Question:

399. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of unpaid primary school psychologists in employment; the policy in relation to recruiting unpaid positions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13883/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) provides psychological services to primary and post primary schools. Educational Psychologists are recruited through open competitions conducted by the Public Appointments Service (PAS) who in turn nominate successful candidates to my Department for appointment.

The educational psychologists concerned are paid a salary and their employment conditions are set out in a contract of employment. My Department does not recruit psychologists for unpaid positions or engage psychologists to work pro bono. NEPS annually facilitates placements for students undertaking a Doctorate Programme in Educational Psychology, as a core requirement of their course of academic study during which time they are under the supervision of NEPS psychologists. In such cases there is no employer/employee relationship and as such no remuneration is involved.