Teacher Supply

Questions (400)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

400. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the implementation of the recommendations of the final report on teacher supply in Ireland, "Striking the Balance", by the Teaching Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13926/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The final report of the Technical Working Group on teacher supply, ‘Striking the Balance’, focussed on the development of a model of primary teacher supply while outlining the work required to establish a long term model of post-primary teacher supply.

The report is a useful reference point for the continuing work being undertaken in this area and, since the publication of “Striking the Balance”, my Department has put in place structures to develop and oversee a comprehensive set of actions to support teacher supply. This work is being led by the Teacher Supply Steering Group established in March 2018, which is chaired by the Secretary General of my Department. The Steering Group is considering the issues that relate to teacher supply, including: initial teacher education policy, provision, funding and support; data/research requirements; policies and arrangements for schools and teachers that impact on teacher mobility/supply; and promotion of the teaching profession.

The Steering Group is overseeing the Action Plan for Teacher Supply, which I published in November 2018 with twenty-two actions in the four policy areas. These actions include:

- Following engagement with the HEA, a number of HEIs will provide new post primary initial teacher education (ITE) undergraduate programmes in 2019 in priority subject areas, including mathematics, modern foreign languages and Irish. The HEIs also plan to commence more new undergraduate ITE programmes in 2020.

- The HEA is engaging with HEIs regarding the development of programmes to upskill existing teachers in targeted subject areas and to examine potential for flexible ITE programmes.

- An additional €1 million has been allocated in the current academic year to the Student Assistance Fund (SAF) for Professional Master of Education (PME) students who are experiencing financial difficulty.

- The Teaching Council, at the request of my Department, is reviewing the implementation of school placement guidelines for student teachers, with a particular focus on school/HEI partnerships.

- In the current school year the limits that teachers on career break can work as substitutes were suspended.

- My Department is currently undertaking an analysis of the potential for a primary school substitute teacher supply panel scheme.

- My Department has recently published Circular 0015/2019 with details of a new teacher sharing scheme for post-primary schools, commencing in the 2019/20 school year.

- In December 2018 a national campaign for the promotion of the teaching profession was launched across a number of platforms, including radio and digital media. The campaign is supported by a new webpage providing information about teaching as a career (www.gov.ie/teachingtransforms).

- A Consultative Forum was held in November 2018 to ensure that all stakeholders were kept aware of the measures being considered and implemented and to facilitate their input and participation.

- Five regional focus groups were held in December 2018 and January 2019 giving teachers, principals and parents an opportunity to consider and respond to the Action Plan and to contribute new ideas.

- The development of an online teacher and substitute teacher recruitment portal is being explored.

The Steering Group and the various working groups reporting to it continue to meet on a regular basis and I hope to be in a position to announce further developments in this area over the coming months.

After-School Support Service Provision

Questions (401)

Catherine Martin

Question:

401. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider passing legislation, regulations or guidelines thatwould encourage primary schools to make space available to private or community operators to provide afterschool care facilities in primary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13928/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that following consultation with relevant school authorities, Guidelines on the use of School Buildings outside of School Hours were published by my Department in October 2017. These guidelines can be viewed on my Department's website at this link: https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/guidelines-on-the-use-of-school-buildings-outside-of-school-hours.pdf

The purpose of these guidelines is to provide guidance for schools in relation to the use of school buildings outside of school hours and guidance for those schools who are considering putting such arrangements in place.

In general, the management of school premises at local level is a matter for the relevant school authorities, and if a community group is interested in using school facilities contact should be made with the school in the first instance.

School Transport Provision

Questions (402)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

402. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a matter relating to school transport (details supplied) in County Cork will be examined; and if a compromise can be reached. [13965/19]

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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 kilometres annually. The purpose of the scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school.

Under the terms of the Post-Primary School Transport Scheme, children are eligible for transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kilometres from and are attending their nearest education centre as determined by the Department of Education/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

Children who are eligible for school transport and who complete the application process on time are accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation. Children who are eligible for school transport but for whom no service is available may be offered the Remote Area Grant towards the cost of making private transport arrangements.

Children who are not eligible for school transport, but who complete the application process on time, are considered for spare seats that may exist after eligible children have been facilitated; such seats are referred to as concessionary seats. Where the number of applications from ineligible children exceeds the number of spare seats available, tickets are allocated using an agreed selection process.

Families wishing to avail of school transport services for the 2019/20 school year should ensure that their applications are submitted online at www.buseireann.ie. The closing date for receipt of applications for the 2019/20 school year is Friday 26 April 2019.

School Enrolments

Questions (403)

Catherine Martin

Question:

403. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties in securing a secondary school place for boys in the Clontarf, Dublin 3, area; the reason a school (details supplied) is not a feeder school for a secondary school in view of the fact that it is a short walking distance from the primary school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14046/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has no record of receiving applications for Additional School Accommodation from the schools in question.

In relation to enrolment generally, it is my Department's responsibility to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking school places in an area. Parents can choose which school to apply to and where the school has places available the pupil should be admitted.

It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of all schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act, 1998. In schools where there are more applicants than places available a selection process may be necessary. In this regard a Board of Management may find it necessary to prioritise enrolment of children from particular areas or particular age groups or on the basis of some other criterion, including giving priority to applicants who have attended a particular primary school known as a feeder school. The criteria to be applied by schools in such circumstances are a matter for the schools themselves.

The selection process used by schools and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants. However, it may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in their school of first choice.

The Educational Welfare Services (EWS) of the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) is the statutory agency that can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The local service is delivered through the national network of Educational Welfare Officers (EWO). Contact details are available at http://www.tusla.ie/get-in-touch/education-and-welfare/

As the Deputy will be aware, the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 was signed into law by the President on 18 July 2018.

The overall objective of the Act is to provide a new framework for school enrolment that is designed to ensure that every child is treated fairly and that the way in which schools decide on applications for admission is structured, fair and transparent

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (404)

Frank O'Rourke

Question:

404. Deputy Frank O'Rourke asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of places available in the ASD unit at a secondary school (details supplied) for the pupil intake in September 2019; his views on whether the number of places available is sufficient to accommodate all applicants; if there will be an increase in the number of ASD unit places available upon completion of an enlarged education campus scheduled for June 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14053/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The delivery of the two new schools to which the Deputy refers has been devolved to Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB). There will be a two-classroom Special Educational Needs Base in each of the schools. This means that 24 places will be provided in the SEN Bases that will be made available on the campus once it is completed.

I understand that there is no ASD provision in either school at present.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of Special Needs Organisers, for the development and delivery and co-ordination of education services to children with Special Educational Needs, including the establishment of special class and special school placements.

The NCSEs main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements. This process is ongoing and the NCSE is actively engaging with schools in Kildare to ensure that all children who require special class placements can access such placements in for the forthcoming school year.

My Department will continue to support the NCSE in opening ASD special classes in areas where there is an identified need.

Broadband Service Provision

Questions (405)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

405. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the name of the company and type of technology being used to deliver broadband in each primary school by county; the expected bandwidth down and up; the installation status of same (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14075/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The information is currently being collated and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it is available, subject to the commercial sensitivities in relation to the management and operation of the Schools Broadband Access Programme.

Through the Schools Broadband Access Programme the Department provides for the supply of internet connectivity for all recognised primary and post primary schools, and some 98% of schools are included in this scheme. All post-primary schools and some special schools are now included in the 100Mbps programme.

The policy of my Department is to offer the best quality connectivity to all schools in line with the technical solutions available in the market and financial constraints. Broadband capacity can vary due to geographical location and local infrastructure, and thus impact on the service that can be provided.

Under the current primary schools programme the Department continually reviews the availability of services and upgrades schools where the opportunity arises, in line with contractual and budgetary requirements. Some 1,400 primary schools are currently on download speeds of 30Mbps or greater (the baseline download speed required under the National Broadband Plan). This is a significant improvement over recent years, given that less than 100 primary schools were on those speeds in 2012. Further schools are likely to be upgraded to those speeds in 2019, through EIR's 300K Rural Deployment commitment.

The need to improve broadband connectivity to primary schools is recognised in the Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020, and access to high speed broadband is one of the indicators identified in the Digital Strategy Action Plan. An interdepartmental working group has been established to determine how best to address broadband connectivity to primary schools in collaboration with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, in the context of the National Broadband Plan and the Intervention Strategy, and proposed industry provision.

Adult Education Provision

Questions (406, 407, 408, 409)

Micheál Martin

Question:

406. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will report on the FET guidance strategy following a review by an organisation (details supplied) that was completed in September 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14097/19]

View answer

Micheál Martin

Question:

407. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will report on funding to adult guidance services nationwide since 2005; if the service meets up to 53,000 persons per year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14098/19]

View answer

Micheál Martin

Question:

408. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of vacancies in the adult guidance counsellor sector by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14099/19]

View answer

Micheál Martin

Question:

409. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he or his officials have met with the Ministers for Employment Affairs and Social Protection and Business, Enterprise and Innovation to discuss the adult guidance counsellor service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14100/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 406 to 409, inclusive, together.

The Adult Educational Guidance Services (AEGS) were established within Vocational Education Committees (VECs) in 2000 with a remit to provide career and educational guidance to participants in further education sector before, during, and after their course. The AEGS are now based in the 16 Education and Training Boards (ETBs).

There are a total of 37 AEGS across the 16 ETBs. Currently, there are no vacancies in the AEGS in 14 of the ETBs. There are a total of three vacancies in the AEGS in two of the ETBs. I understand that the processes are underway to fill these vacancies.

There is a commitment in the Further Education and Training (FET) Strategy 2014-2019 to develop a FET Guidance Strategy. My Department is currently engaging with consultants on the finalisation of an overall Career Guidance Review. The Career Guidance Review is a comprehensive review of guidance in the education sector and will set out the overall landscape of guidance tools and provision in the education sector. The findings and recommendations of this review will inform the development of the FET guidance services. This includes the AEGS but also guidance delivered in Post Leaving Certificate colleges and other settings.

I understand that to date there has been no formal inter-Departmental meeting between my Department, the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection specifically on the adult guidance service, although issues relating to guidance, referrals and jobseeker and learner supports are regularly discussed in broader meetings.

Please see funding figures for the Adult Guidance Service from 2005 - 2017 in appendix 1.

The total beneficiaries of the AEGS from 2015-2017 is also attached for the Deputy's information, at appendix 2.

The National Centre for Guidance in Education (NCGE) provides reports to inform my Department and SOLAS on the work of the 37 AEGS annually. The reports provide both qualitative and quantitative data on service provision. These reports are published on the NCGE's website at www.ncge.ie.

Appendix 1 - Funding to Adult Guidance Service 2005 - 2017

Year

Funding €

2005

4,580,426

2006

5,586,871

2007

6,587,000

2008

6,810,129

2009

6,854,000

2010

6,854,000

2011

6,799,536

2012

6,847,728

2013

6,666,373

2014

6,012,100

2015

6,295,395

2016

5,806,363

2017

5,951,070

Appendix 2 – Beneficiaries AEGS 2015 - 2017

Year

Beneficiaries

2015

54,471

2016

52,297

2017

52,885

Schools Health and Safety

Questions (410)

Ruth Coppinger

Question:

410. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will report on the testing of water quality in a school (details support) which resulted in the school closing; the assistance given to the school to remedy the issue; if issues with public health are envisaged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14121/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The water test results for the school to which the Deputy refers produced a positive result for a particular bacterium. The test results were made available to my Department on 20 March last. My Department took immediate action and arranged for the water systems in the school to be disinfected and flushed in accordance with the National Guidelines in this matter which are published by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/legionellosis/publications/File,3936,en.pdf. The remedy was implemented on the afternoon of 20 March outside of school hours to prevent disruption to the school.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) confirmed that the action taken by my Department was consistent with the guidelines. While the school authority took a decision to close, the HSA also confirmed that an occurrence of this bacterium is a low level risk to be dealt with by way of a managed approach though implementation of the National Guidelines.

The HSE confirmed to my Department that the detection of this bacterium is not a public health issue.

Schools have been issued with guidance on managing Health and Safety issues in their buildings. This includes guidance on controlling the bacterium in question. Regular flushing of water systems and cleaning of shower heads and other water outlets such as taps is required. The link to this guidance is https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Information/Health-Safety-Guidelines/

Schools Health and Safety

Questions (411)

Ruth Coppinger

Question:

411. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills if water quality has been tested in a school (details supplied) following the testing of water in another school in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14122/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware that detailed structural investigations are currently being carried out in 22 schools built by a particular contractor. This includes the school to which the Deputy refers.

As part of these detailed investigations, water testing is being carried out as a matter of routine.

The water tests carried out for this school were clear.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (412)

John Curran

Question:

412. 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) will be provided; if the brief change report submitted has been reviewed; if so, the response to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14127/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The major building project for the school referred to by the Deputy and Scoil Áine is 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.

A Brief Change Request from the Design Team has been reviewed and approved in principle by my Department. The Design Team has been instructed to complete the Stage 2b Submission and to provide additional information on the proposed additional works and associated costs. The Design Team has also been requested to upgrade the design to ensure that the new school building is a Near Zero Energy Building (NZEB) in compliance with the 2017 amendment to Part L of the current Building Regulations.

Upon receipt and review of the Stage 2(b) submission, the Department will revert to the Board of Management regarding the further progression of the project to tender stage.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (413)

John Curran

Question:

413. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a progress report on a new school building project for schools (details supplied) will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14128/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The major building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is currently at an advanced stage of Architectural Planning - Stage 2(b) - Detailed Design.

The Stage 2(b) report was submitted to my Department in late September 2018 and following an initial review was deemed incomplete. A revised Stage 2(b) report which was submitted to my Department in late January 2019 is currently under review.

Upon review of the revised Stage 2(b) report my Department will revert to the school with regard to the further progression of this project at that time.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (414)

John Curran

Question:

414. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a building project for a school (details supplied) has moved from stage 2B to tender; if the brief change report has been approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14129/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The major building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is 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.

A revised Brief Change Request from the design team has been reviewed and approved by my Department. The design team has been advised to incorporate the approved Brief Change Request into the Stage 2(b) submission.

In addition the design team is currently upgrading the design to ensure that the new school building is a Near Zero Energy Building (NZEB) in compliance with the 2017 amendment to Part L of the current Building Regulations.

Upon receipt and review of the Stage 2(b) report my Department will revert to the school with regard to the further progression of this project at that time.

Teacher Supply

Questions (415)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

415. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of teachers not being replaced by substitute teachers due to the difficulty in employing substitute teachers (details supplied); and the prevalence of same in English language schools and Gaelscoileanna. [14135/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I am attaching for the information of the Deputy data from the Department’s on-line claims system (OLCS) on the numbers of substitutable days and the number of days for which a substitute claim was received by the Department for these days, for the school year 2017/18. This is the most recent set of data available. The Deputy should note that the OLCS is designed to enable schools to record all absences (substitutable and non-substitutable) for all staff members paid directly on the Department’s payroll and to make claims for substitution. Accordingly, data on absences in ETB schools is not available. In addition separate data is not available in relation to English medium schools and Gaelscoileanna.

As the Deputy will be aware, management bodies and schools have, in recent years, reported difficulties in recruiting teachers. At primary level this relates mainly to the recruitment of substitute teachers.

In response to these difficulties, the Teacher Supply Steering Group was established in March 2018 and the Group is chaired by the Secretary General of my Department.

The Steering Group is leading on the identification of the issues, the development of a programme of actions on teacher supply and the oversight of its implementation. It is considering the issues that impact on teacher supply under four policy headings: initial teacher education policy, provision, funding and support; data/research requirements; policies and arrangements for schools and teachers that impact on teacher mobility/supply; promotion of the teaching profession.

On 8th November 2018, I published the Action Plan for Teacher Supply, which contains twenty-two actions under the four policy headings.

A number of specific measures are being taken to increase the pool of available substitute teachers. These include:

- For the 2018/19 school year, the restrictions on the number of days that teachers on career break may be employed were suspended.

- Retiring teachers were given information that in order to remain eligible for employment in a state funded teaching post for a period of more than five consecutive days, they must maintain registration with the Teaching Council.

- My Department is currently undertaking an analysis of the potential for a primary school substitute teacher supply panel scheme.

- The development of an online substitute teacher recruitment portal is being explored.

- My Department is considering the removal of the restriction on job-sharing teachers undertaking substitute work.

Other actions include:

- In December 2018 my Department launched a national campaign to promote the teaching profession across a number of platforms including radio and digital media. The campaign is supported by a new website providing information about teaching as a career (www.gov.ie/teachingtransforms).

- Following engagement with the HEA, HEIs have put in place new post primary initial teacher education (ITE) undergraduate programmes to commence in 2019 in a number of priority subject areas, including mathematics, modern foreign languages and Irish. More new undergraduate ITE programmes are also planned to commence in 2020.

- The HEA is to engage with HEIs to explore the development of programmes to upskill existing teachers in targeted subject areas and to examine potential for flexible ITE programmes.

- The Teaching Council is undertaking a review of the implementation of the guidelines for student teacher school placements.

- In the current academic year, an additional €1m has been allocated to the Student Assistance Fund for Professional Master of Education (PME) students, increasing the overall fund to €10.1m.

- The Teaching Council is developing more streamlined processes for the registration of teachers qualified in jurisdictions outside the State.

- My Department published Circular 0015/2019 with details of a new teacher sharing scheme for post-primary schools, commencing in the 2019/20 school year.

In addition, following from the implementation of the Policy on Gaeltacht Education:

- An Irish-medium Masters in Education for primary and post-primary teachers, including principals, commenced in September 2018 in Mary Immaculate College.

- Marino Institute of Education will, from 2019, provide a 4-year Irish-medium B Ed for primary teachers.

The Steering Group and the various working groups reporting to it continue to meet on a regular basis and I hope to be in a position to announce further measures to support teacher supply over the coming months.

Substitutable days where no substitute cover was claimed, 2017/18

Primary

School year

Substitutable days (excl. weekends & closures)

Number of days where a substitute claim was received

Number of substitutable days where no substitution cover claimed including days where a substitute teacher was not required

1/9/2017 – 30/6/2018

750,359

647,137

92,299 (12.30%)

Post Primary Schools (Community and Voluntary Secondary Schools)

School Year

Substitutable days (excl. weekends & closures)

Number of days where a substitute claim was received

Number of substitutable days where no substitution cover claimed including days where a substitute teacher was not required

1/9/2017– 01/6/2018

261,461

235,853

25,608(9.79%)

This information has been extracted from the Online Claims System (OLCS), which is designed to enable schools to record all absences (substitutable and non-substitutable) for all staff members paid directly on the Department’s payroll and to make claims for substitution.

There are a number of absence types on the OLCS which are identified as substitutable for payroll purposes, but for which, in certain cases, no substitute is required to be recruited or where the school is not entitled to recruit a sub teacher. For this reason the number of substitutable absences where no substitution cover is claimed is overstated. Such absence types include:

- Teacher Professional Development: In some cases schools close for teacher CPD. Such absences are recorded as substitutable, but in the case of whole school closure, no substitute is employed.

- Force Majeure/Illness in Family: The first day of this leave is not substitutable.

- Self-Certified (Uncertified) Sick Leave: For payroll purposes this leave is recorded as substitutable. However, it is in only substitutable in smaller primary schools for multiple absences of teachers on the same day. For other school types, self-certified sick leave absences are non-substitutable.

- Visiting Teachers: Visiting teachers must have their leave recorded on OLCS but, due to the nature of their posts, they may not always be replaced by a substitute.

- Principal Release Time: This leave is recorded as substitutable but in certain cases, where schools have clustered, these absences are covered by teachers appointed to Principal Release Time Posts. In such cases no substitute is required.

- Supervision and Substitution - Some substitutable absences in post-primary schools are covered by teachers whom have signed up for the Supervision and Substitution Scheme. Accordingly, claims will not be submitted for some absences.

Special Educational Needs Data

Questions (416)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

416. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the primary schools in Kinsealy, Malahide and Portmarnock that currently have ASD units; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14141/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Individual school boards of management are responsible for the establishment of special classes. It is open to any school in the area to make application to the National Council for Special education (NCSE) to establish a class.

The National Council for Special Education, an independent agency of my Department, is responsible for planning, coordinating and advising on education provision for children with special educational needs. The Council ensures that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

The NCSE’s team of locally based Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) are available to assist and advise parents whose children have special needs and identify available placements. They also support and advise schools in this area. Parents who are experiencing difficulties in locating a special class placement, should contact their local SENO.

In deciding where to establish a special class in an area, the NCSE take account of the current and projected demand and the available school accommodation both current and planned. In this regard, the SENO may approach individual schools to discuss the matter with a view to finding the optimal location in terms of convenience and sustainability.

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.

From time to time, the NCSE identifies local areas where additional special class provision is required. In those circumstances, Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) work with the schools and families concerned to resolve the issues involved. This process is ongoing and the NCSE are actively engaging with schools in relation to establishing ASD classes where there is an identified need for the 2019/2020 school year.

160 new special classes have been opened for the 2018/19 school year, which means there are now 1,459 special classes in place, compared to 548 in 2011.

There are 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. There are 6 primary special classes in the areas referred to by the Deputy, comprising 1 Early Intervention ASD class and 2 ASD primary classes. Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs are available on www.ncse.ie.

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

The Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 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 provides 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.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (417)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

417. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to establish additional ASD units in the primary schools in Kinsealy, Malahide and Portmarnock; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14142/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Individual school boards of management are responsible for the establishment of special classes. It is open to any school in the area to make application to the National Council for Special education (NCSE) to establish a class.

The National Council for Special Education, an independent agency of my Department, is responsible for planning, coordinating and advising on education provision for children with special educational needs. The Council ensures that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

The NCSE’s team of locally based Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) are available to assist and advise parents whose children have special needs and identify available placements. They also support and advise schools in this area. Parents who are experiencing difficulties in locating a special class placement, should contact their local SENO.

In deciding where to establish a special class in an area, the NCSE take account of the current and projected demand and the available school accommodation both current and planned. In this regard, the SENO may approach individual schools to discuss the matter with a view to finding the optimal location in terms of convenience and sustainability.

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.

From time to time, the NCSE identifies local areas where additional special class provision is required. In those circumstances, Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) work with the schools and families concerned to resolve the issues involved. This process is ongoing and the NCSE are actively engaging with schools in relation to establishing ASD classes where there is an identified need for the 2019/2020 school year.

160 new special classes have been opened for the 2018/19 school year, which means there are now 1,459 special classes in place, compared to 548 in 2011.

There are 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. There are 6 primary special classes in the areas referred to by the Deputy, comprising 1 Early Intervention ASD class and 2 ASD primary classes. Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs are available on www.ncse.ie.

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

The Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 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 provides 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.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (418)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

418. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 226 of 26 February 2019, if tenders have been sought for the appointment of a design team for a new school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14183/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware that the project to which he refers has been devolved for delivery to Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB). I can confirm to the Deputy that tenders have been sought for the appointment of a design team in respect of that project. I can also confirm that the closing date for receipt of such tenders is 2nd April next.

School Admissions

Questions (419)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

419. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 213 of 26 February 2019, if a decision has been made on the application for co-educational status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14184/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I am pleased to confirm to the Deputy that the application for a change of status, for the school in question, was approved. This decision has been conveyed to the school authorities.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (420)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

420. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 210 of 26 February 2019, the reason a new invitation to pre-qualify has not commenced for a new school (details supplied) in County Kildare; the revised timescale for the delivery of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14186/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

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.

As previously advised, one of the unsuccessful parties has challenged the outcome of the pre-qualification process.

Following consideration of legal advice the school has, in consultation with the Department, taken the decision to cancel the pre-qualification process and a new invitation to pre-qualify will issue shortly on the e-tenders platform.

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 normally takes between 7 and 8 months to complete.