Student Grant Scheme Reform

Questions (275)

Carol Nolan

Question:

275. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to increase the earnings limit for third level students to allow them work more hours in part-time jobs without losing their grants. [18706/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The assessment of means under the Student Grant Scheme is based on gross income from all sources, with certain social welfare and health service executive payments being exempt.

In the assessment of means, a deduction can be made for “Holiday Earnings” earned by the applicant from employment outside of term time but within the reference period for the assessment of income for student grant purposes.

The value of the Holiday Earnings income disregard was increased from €3,809 to €4,500 under the Student Grant Scheme 2016.

The 2019 Student Grant Scheme opened for applications on 25 April 2019. The Holiday Earnings income disregard threshold in the 2019 Scheme is set at €4,500.

Student Grant Scheme Administration

Questions (276)

Carol Nolan

Question:

276. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the annual scheme and regulations for the student grant will be published. [18707/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Student Grant Scheme 2019 and the Student Support Regulations 2019 were published on Thursday, 25th April 2019.

Both documents are available to view and/or download from the Department's website: https://www.education.ie/en/Learners/Information/Student-Grants/

SUSI’s online system for the 2019 Scheme is now open. Students attending college in the academic year 2019/20 are required to submit their grant application to SUSI (via www.susi.ie), to have their eligibility for grant assistance assessed.

Perspective students are advised to apply early so that their application can be queued and assessed early in the assessment process.

Junior Cycle Reform

Questions (277)

Carol Nolan

Question:

277. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if history will be reinstated to the junior certificate programme as a compulsory subject; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18708/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I met with officials of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) in November of last year and asked that a review of the optional nature of history under the new Framework for Junior Cycle be carried out. As part of their review the NCCA has also been asked to identify how the study of History in our schools can be best promoted. A new Council of the NCCA was appointed recently. The Council is currently finalising their report. I look forward to receiving the final version of the report when completed by the NCCA and signed off by the NCCA Council in the near future.

I will consider this report in detail before making a final decision on this matter.

Teacher Recruitment

Questions (278, 279)

Carol Nolan

Question:

278. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the specific initiatives he has taken to increase the recruitment of teachers at primary and second level. [18709/19]

View answer

Carol Nolan

Question:

279. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to address the shortage of subject teachers at second level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18710/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 278 and 279 together.

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 and at post primary to the recruitment of teachers of particular subjects such as STEM, modern foreign languages, Irish and Home Economics.

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

The Steering Group is considering the issues that relate to 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; and promotion of the teaching profession. It is supported in its work by the Teacher Supply Implementation Group and a number of working groups that are looking at specific policy areas. In undertaking its task, the Steering Group is cognisant of the requirement that all persons wishing to teach in recognised schools must meet the professional registration standards and criteria set by the Teaching Council, which is the professional regulatory body for 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. Actions include:

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

- Following engagement with the Higher Education Authority (HEA), a number of higher education institutions (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 to explore the development of programmes to upskill existing teachers in targeted post primary subject areas and to examine the potential for flexible ITE programmes.

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

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

- At primary level, I recently announced the creation of six substitute teacher panels for schools in urban and rural areas. This pilot scheme will see up to 18 teachers hired on full-time contracts. Each teacher will be based in one school and rotate among up to 15 other schools as part of a cluster, with the potential for the scheme to cover 90 schools.

- An online substitute teacher recruitment portal is being developed. It is intended that the portal will be in place for the next school year.

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

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

- In December 2018, a national campaign to promote the teaching profession was launched across a number of platforms, including radio and digital media, supported by a new ‘Teaching Transforms’ webpage providing information about teaching as a career.

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.

School Accommodation

Questions (280)

Carol Nolan

Question:

280. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of prefabs and portakabins in use at primary and second level schools here. [18711/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

If the Deputy can clarify where she is referring to I will be happy to provide the information requested.

School Accommodation

Questions (281)

Carol Nolan

Question:

281. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount spent on prefabs and portakabins at primary schools here. [18712/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

If the Deputy can clarify where she is referring to I will be happy to provide the information requested.

School Accommodation

Questions (282)

Carol Nolan

Question:

282. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of prefabs and portakabins being used for classroom accommodation by primary schools in counties Laois and Offaly. [18713/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that it is the over all policy of my Department to ensure the highest standard of permanent accommodation for all schools. In the context of a rapidly increasing school population, my Department's priority is to ensure that every child will have access to a physical school place and in this regard, it is sometimes necessary to make use of temporary accommodation in order to meet the accommodation needs of schools including schools in counties Laois and Offaly.

I wish to advise the Deputy that the number of prefabs and portacabins being used for classroom school by primary schools in County Laois is 3 and in County Offaly 6.

School Accommodation

Questions (283)

Carol Nolan

Question:

283. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of prefabs and portakabins being used for classroom accommodation by secondary schools in counties Laois and Offaly. [18714/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that it is the over all policy of my Department to ensure the highest standard of permanent accommodation for all schools. In the context of a rapidly increasing school population, my Department's priority is to ensure that every child will have access to a physical school place and in this regard, it is sometimes necessary to make use of temporary accommodation in order to meet the accommodation needs of schools including schools in counties Laois and Offaly.

I can confirm that current number of prefabs and portacabins being used for classroom accommodation in secondary schools in Count Laois is 16 and in County Offaly is 28.

School Accommodation

Questions (284)

Carol Nolan

Question:

284. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount being spent on prefabs and portakabins at primary and secondary schools in counties Laois and Offaly since 2016, in tabular form. [18715/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy, that my Department has spent €2,375,944.00 on prefabricated accommodation, at primary and post primary schools, in counties Laois and Offaly since 2016. As requested, the information is also provided in tabular form.

Accommodation Laois/Offaly

County

2016

2017

2018

2019

Total

Offaly

€400,349.17

€224,457.89

€489,558.65

€160,940.02

€1,275,305.73

Laois

€579,304.08

€190,694.61

€237,034.66

€93,605.40

€1,100,638.75

Total:

€979,653.25

€415,152.50

€726,593.31

€254,545.42

€2,375,944.48

Emergency Works Scheme Applications

Questions (285)

Michael McGrath

Question:

285. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for emergency funding by a school (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18730/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy, in relation to the school to which he refers, that officials from my Department have been in contact with the relevant school authority regarding its application for funding under the Emergency Works Scheme.

Additional information has been requested from the school in respect of this application. When this information is submitted, the application will be assessed. A final decision will issue directly to the school authority thereafter.

Road Safety

Questions (286)

Jack Chambers

Question:

286. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills the measures being taken to ensure education for primary school children regarding road safety and pedestrian crossings; the further measures taken to highlight the dangers of phone use while crossing the road; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18744/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

One of the broad objectives of the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum for primary schools states that the SPHE curriculum should enable the child to develop a sense of safety and an ability to protect himself/herself from danger and abuse. The SPHE curriculum is divided up into strands and strand units for each two-year class grouping (junior and senior infants, first and second class, third and fourth class, fifth and sixth class). One of the strands, Myself, has a strand unit called Safety and Protection in which personal safety and safety issues are explored.

Under personal safety, at junior and senior infants level, the child should be enabled to explore appropriate safety strategies; identify situations and places that are safe and those where personal safety might be at risk; and explore how accidents might be prevented at home, in school, on the farm, or in the water. Under safety issues, the child should be enabled to identify people who are responsible for safety in the community and learn and practise safety strategies for crossing the road, using the bus or being a pedestrian; and realise and understand that rules are necessary in order to protect people and keep them safe.

The spiral nature of the curriculum means that the understanding and learning of the child progressively develops. By fifth and sixth class, under personal safety, the child should be enabled, inter alia, to explore rules and regulations at home, in school and in society and the importance of adhering to them; identify situations and places that may threaten personal safety; and discuss a variety of risky situations and behaviour and assess and evaluate how these risks may be avoided or minimised and the implications of taking risks etc. Under safety issues, the child should be enabled to recognise places where it is safer to play and how to behave in a responsible manner when playing; know how to keep safe when travelling; and develop responsible attitudes towards the prevention of accidents and know what to do in the event of an accident etc.

While the specific issue of using phones while crossing the road is not stated in the curriculum, the spiral nature of the curriculum ensures that pupils will progressively develop a broader understanding of personal safety and safety issues such as crossing the road, and should be equipped with the necessary skills to do so safely.

In addition, the Road Safety Authority is responsible for ensuring Irish schools and colleges have the support and resources they need to promote road safety. Educating road users about road safety is one of the priorities of the Government’s Road Safety Strategy 2007-2012. The Strategy acknowledges that education plays a crucial role in permanently reducing deaths and injuries on Irish roads. Raising awareness and increasing understanding of road safety issues among schoolchildren and college students is one of the primary targets of the Strategy’s action plan. Since the Strategy was published in 2007, the RSA has implemented a comprehensive integrated road safety education programme in pre-school, primary, post-primary, third level and in the community. This has been done in partnership with many organisations including the Department of Education and Skills, An Garda Síochána, the Health and Safety Authority and the Higher Education Authority. As part of this, the RSA has developed a range of material that teachers can use to educate school children about road safety as it applies to all road users – pedestrians, motorcyclists, cyclists and motorists.

School Transport Eligibility

Questions (287, 348)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

287. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a school transport service (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18754/19]

View answer

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

348. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application for school transport by a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19489/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 287 and 348 together.

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 my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school.

In general children are eligible for school transport if they meet the distance criteria and are attending their nearest school.

Bus Éireann has confirmed that the children from the area referred to by the Deputy are not eligible for school transport as they are either not attending their nearest school or do not meet the distance criteria under the school transport scheme.

Children who are eligible for school transport and who complete the application process on time will be accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation for the 2019/20 school year.

Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport on a concessionary basis only and will be facilitated where spare seats are available after eligible children have been accommodated.

In cases where the Department is satisfied that the nearest school is full, eligibility for school transport will be determined based on the distance that children reside from their next nearest school having regard to ethos and language. Further information in this regard is available on my Department's website www.education.ie.

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

Insurance Costs

Questions (288)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

288. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the provisions being put in place to support a school (details supplied) that has been presented with an insurance quote of €26,000; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18757/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department is aware of issues relating to rising insurance costs in some special schools which have been brought to my Department’s attention, through correspondence received from a number of special schools, including St Teresa’s Special School, and through discussions with the National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education (NABMSE).

Officials from my Department have been in contact with the board of St. Teresa's Special School and are working as a matter of urgency with NABMSE and other relevant government departments, including the State Claims Agency, to seek a resolution to the issue of increased insurance costs in special schools.

Emergency Works Scheme Funding

Questions (289)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

289. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) did not receive the full funding sought under the emergency works programme; if he will review this decision; the status of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18763/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I can confirm that officials from my Department have been in contact with the school to which the Deputy refers to clarify the position with respect to recently approved funding under the Emergency Works Scheme.

The project has been devolved to the school authority for delivery. The school will be required to revert to my Department's Planning and Building Unit prior to entering into a contract for the works in question. At that stage, my Department will ensure that adequate funding is made available for the approved works.

Autism Support Services

Questions (290)

Denise Mitchell

Question:

290. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for the location of an autism spectrum disorder, ASD, unit in a school (details supplied) and-or another school in accordance with section 8 of the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18775/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I want to assure the Deputy and Parents that concerns regarding a shortage of appropriate school places for next September are being taken very seriously.

My Department Officials and the NCSE are actively engaging with local schools and school patron bodies to address this urgent and important issue.

Ensuring that every child has a suitable placement available to them from September is a key priority for me and my Department.

With regard to the schools referenced by the Deputy, my officials have advised me that the plans for both schools have been reconfigured to allow for the possible addition of a special classes on the site after the initial building work has been completed.

Autism Support Services

Questions (291)

John Curran

Question:

291. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to provide an autism spectrum disorder, ASD, unit at primary level in Rathcoole, County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18800/19]

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 to make application to the National Council for Special education (NCSE) to establish a special class.

The NCSE, an independent agency of my Department, is responsible for planning, coordinating and advising on education provision for children with special educational needs. This includes taking account of the flow of students from primary into post primary. The Council ensures that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

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.

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. Of these, 321 are Post Primary ASD special classes, compared to 72 in 2011.

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.

Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) who are locally based are available to assist and advise parents whose children have special needs. They also assist and advise schools in making decisions in this area.

As the Deputy's question relates to a particular area, I have arranged for the question to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

Remote Area Boarding Grant

Questions (292)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

292. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding the remote area boarding grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18814/19]

View answer

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.

In general, children are eligible for school transport if they satisfy the distance criteria and are attending their nearest school having regard to ethos and language.

An eligible child for whom no transport service is available may, following an application for transport within the prescribed time limits, receive a Remote Area Grant towards the cost of private transport arrangements.

The grant is calculated on the distance that children reside from their school and the number of days attended in the school year. The rate of grant varies from about €200 to €900 per annum.

This grant is payable annually at a fixed daily rate regardless of the number of children from the same family travelling to a particular school.

Special Educational Needs Staff

Questions (293)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

293. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a reply will issue to representations recently submitted by a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18825/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that officials from my Department wrote to the school referred to in this question, on 15th March 2019, in relation to the request the school had submitted for a review of the schools Special Education Teacher Allocation, on the grounds of exceptional circumstances arising in the school, since the development of the school profile.

The correspondence from my Department advised the school that my Department had requested the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to review the exceptional needs application which the school had submitted, and to consider whether the case may be brought forward for a review.

I can advise that the National Council for Special Education visited the school on 4th April, 2019 to conduct a review of the schools special education teaching allocation, and the usage of the allocation in the school.

The findings of this review are now being considered by the exceptional needs review panel, and by my Department, and a decision in relation to this matter will be issued to the school in the very near future.

Third Level Fees

Questions (294)

Noel Rock

Question:

294. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost if the student contribution to fees was reduced by €250 to €2,250; if he will consider the matter in the context of budget 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18828/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Student Contribution, which currently stands at €3,000, was introduced with effect from the 2011/12 academic year. Based on the number of students that qualified for free fees funding in the academic year 2017/18 (and were therefore liable to pay the Student Contribution), and taking into account expected increases in student numbers, it is estimated that the net cost to my Department of reducing the contribution by €250 would cost approximately €19 million.

It should be noted that this figure incorporates the resulting reduction to my Department's Student Grant Scheme budget.

While the student contribution now stands at €3,000, it is important to recognise that there has been no increase in the contribution since 2014/15. The exchequer pays this contribution (or part of it) on behalf of almost 50% of undergraduate students who are in receipt of student grant assistance.

Tax relief provisions are also available so that second and subsequent siblings do not have to bear the full cost. In addition, higher education institutions have provisions in place to allow students to pay the contribution in two moieties.

I cannot comment, or preempt any decisions to be taken by Government as part of Budget 2020 at this stage, other than to assure the Deputy that funding for the higher education sector will continue to be a key focus for me and my Department and that as referred to above there are no plans to increase the student contribution during the lifetime of this Government.

School Curriculum

Questions (295)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

295. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the concerns of rural and farming parents that school curricula will include negative depictions of beef consumption will be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18848/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

It is a matter for individual schools to decide what material they use to support teaching the curriculum in accordance with Circular 42 of 2018 for Primary and Circular 43 of 2018 for Post Primary.

The Healthy Eating Guidelines and Food Pyramid are the policy tools used to define the government recommendations on healthy eating and a balanced diet. The revised Healthy Eating Guidelines and Food Pyramid toolkit has been developed by the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive with key stakeholders and aims to help reduce the intake of high fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) foods and drinks from the Top Shelf of the Food Pyramid.

Student Universal Support Ireland

Questions (296)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

296. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if grants, scholarships, a bursary or financial aid are available for a person (details supplied) in County Cork who wishes to study abroad. [18874/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The main support available to assist students with the cost of higher education is the student grant scheme. SUSI’s online system for the 2019 Scheme is now open. Students attending college in the academic year 2019/20 are required to submit their grant application to SUSI (via www.susi.ie) to have their eligibility for grant assistance assessed.

Students attending approved undergraduate courses in the EU can apply for a maintenance grant provided they meet the terms and conditions of the Student Grant Scheme.

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 including approved undergraduate and postgraduate courses in EU Member States and in non-EU countries. Further information on this tax relief is available from the Revenue Commissioners on www.revenue.ie.

The individual concerned may also wish to review the criteria for the various scholarship and bursary schemes supported by my Department, to determine if he/she might be eligible for support in 2019/20. Information on these schemes can be accessed at the following link: http://www.education.ie/en/Learners/Services/Scholarships/

Schools Amalgamation

Questions (297)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

297. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a matter (details supplied) regarding an amalgamation of schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18881/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the decision making authority for any amalgamation belongs to the Patron/Trustees of the school, and this is subject to the approval of the Department.

Any proposed change involves extensive negotiations at local level and must be well planned and managed in a manner that accommodates the interests of students, parents, teachers, local communities and contributes to an inclusive education system.

My Department has sought further information from the Patron of the schools mentioned by the Deputy relating to the proposed amalgamation and this is awaited. The matter can be considered further following receipt of this information.

Home Tuition Scheme Provision

Questions (298, 299)

Seán Fleming

Question:

298. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills when home tuition hours and a suitably qualified tutor will be provided to a student (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18885/19]

View answer

Seán Fleming

Question:

299. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills the provision being made by the special education section for the provision of a school place for a student (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18888/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 298 and 299 together.

Under Section 24 of the Education Welfare Act, 2000 where a board of management of a recognised school or a person acting on its behalf is of the opinion that a student should be expelled from that school it shall, before so expelling the student notify the Educational Welfare Service (EWS) of Tusla, of its opinion and the reasons therefore. A student shall not be expelled from a school before the passing of 20 school days following the receipt of a notification under Section 24 by the EWS.

Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 provides for an appeal by a parent or guardian to the Secretary General of my Department or, - in the case of an Education and Training Board (ETB) school, - to the ETB in the first instance, where a Board of Management of a school, or a person acting on behalf of the Board, refuses to enrol a student in a school, expels a student, or suspends a student for 20 or more days in any school year. My Department has no authority to compel a school to admit a pupil, except in the case of an appeal under section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 being upheld.

Application forms for taking a section 29 appeal are available on my Departments website at the following link: http://www.education.ie/en/Parents/Services/Appeal-against-Permanent-Exclusion-Suspension-or-Refusal-to-Enrol/Section-29-Appeals-Application-Form.doc, or by contacting Section 29 Administration Unit, Friars Mill Road, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, phone 0761 108588.

In accordance with Section 29 (c) of the Education Act 1998 appeals are dealt with within a period of 30 days from date of receipt.

It is the policy of my Department that all children with Special Educational Needs can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network. Such placements facilitate access to individualised education programmes which may draw from a range of appropriate educational interventions, delivered by fully qualified professional teachers, with the support of Special Needs Assistants and the appropriate school curriculum.

Some children with special educational needs attend mainstream classes, but some require the environment of a special class or special school. This decision is based on a recommendation contained within a professional assessment in consultation with the National Council for Special Education (NCSE). The NCSE plans and co-ordinates the provision of educational support services to children with special educational needs, in consultation with the relevant education partners and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

In circumstances, where the NCSE, through the local Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO) confirm that there is no school placement available for a child with Special Educational Needs, my Department's Home Tuition Grant Scheme will provide funding towards the provision of 20 hours tuition per week as an interim measure until a placement is available.

SENOs, who are locally based, are available to assist and advise parents whose children have special needs. SENOs are also available to assist and advise schools on special education supports and planning.

Parents/Guardians who may need advice or are experiencing difficulties in locating a school placement should contact their local Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) who can assist in identifying an appropriate educational placement for their child, using the contact details available at http://ncse.ie/seno-contact-list.