School Expulsions

Questions (300)

Seán Fleming

Question:

300. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a section 29 appeal in respect of a student will be completed (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18889/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

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 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.

Special Educational Needs Staff

Questions (301)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

301. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the rationale for the exclusion of mental injury which may arise as a result of an assault for the leave of absence following assault scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18902/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Scheme for Leave of Absence following Assault for registered teachers and the Scheme for Leave of Absence following Assault for Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) employed in recognised primary and post-primary schools were introduced on 01 September 2017 following discussions with the relevant Trade Unions and School Management bodies.  The provisions of the schemes are contained in Department Circular Letters 0061/2017 and 0062/2017 respectively.

Under the agreed provisions, an  ‘Assault’ is defined as physical contact from a third party causing physical injury to a teacher/SNA in the course of their duties and during approved school activities.

Sick Leave may be granted to a teacher or SNA who is unable to perform his/her duties because of illness or injury.

The Schemes for Leave of Absence following Assault were introduced on a pilot basis for 2 school years.

School Accommodation

Questions (302)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

302. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount expended on modular classrooms, prefabricated units or both to meet additional classroom space in the past ten years; the amount allocated to provide same in the 2019-20 school year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18918/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy should be aware that prior to 2013, separate information on the rental of prefabs, buildings and land was not compiled by my Department.  I can confirm that the total expenditure for rented accommodation from 2013 to 2018 was €85,762,955.12.

The total amount allocated for rented accommodation in 2019 is €19 million.  

In terms of progress being made on replacing temporary accommodation, construction work on large-scale and devolved projects in 2018 and 2019 is expected to facilitate the replacement of over 600 prefabs.  This reflects the priority being placed on this as part of the roll-out of Project Ireland 2040.

In addition, since mid-2018 all schools approved for additional accommodation under my Department's Additional School Accommodation Scheme are also having necessary prefabs replaced as part of their additional accommodation project. To date approval has been granted to replace in excess of 128 prefabs with permanent accommodation and this number will continue to increase as further additional accommodation projects are approved.

Special Educational Needs Data

Questions (303)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

303. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of special educational needs organisers, SENOs, in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by county, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18919/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for fulfilling the functions of the NCSE Council within a designated area in relation to the identification of and delivery and co-ordination of education services to children with disabilities.

The NCSE employs SENOs to provide a nationwide system of local services. Each SENO has responsibility for specific schools, primary, post primary and special, within their area. In general, the role of the SENO ensures that a child with special educational needs receives the supports they are entitled to.

SENOs are available to advise parents in relation to supports which may be available to support children with special educational needs. The local SENO contact details are available on the NCSE’s website at

http://ncse.ie/seno-contact-list.

In 2017, the Special Education Support Service (SESS), the National Behavioural Support Service (NBSS) and the Visiting Teacher Service for Children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing and Children who are Blind/Visually Impaired (VTHVI) transferred from my Department to the NCSE and joined with the services already being provided by NCSE’s SENOs and administrative staff to form a new NCSE Support Service. This new service, which significantly increases the NCSE's support service by over 100,  not only expanded the supports NCSE provide in terms of additional teaching and behavioural supports to schools and families but NCSE now provides professional development opportunities to teachers and schools to build their capacity to support students with special educational needs.

The aim of this new Support Service to develop schools’ capacity to include students with special educational needs and to promote a continuum of educational provision which is inclusive and responsive.

The matter raised by the Deputy in relation to the current number of SENOs from 2016 to 2019 has been referred to the NCSE for direct reply.

Teacher Supply

Questions (304)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

304. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an appeal by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18924/19]

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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. My Department has received a staffing appeal from the school referred to by the Deputy. The next meeting of the Primary Staffing Appeals Board will be held in June and the school will be notified of the Board's decision.

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

Schools Building Projects Data

Questions (305)

Alan Kelly

Question:

305. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the schools that were put on the school building capital plans for new schools or large extensions between 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the schools that have been built; the status of the other schools; when each one will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18937/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Under project Ireland 2040, my Department continues to make progress to increase the infrastructural capacity in the schools sector, in order to meet demographic and other demands.

I wish to advise the Deputy that the current status of large-scale projects being delivered under project Ireland 2040 may be viewed on my Department's website, www.education.ie and this information is updated regularly. In addition, a list of large-scale projects completed from 2010 to date may also be viewed on the website.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (306)

Jack Chambers

Question:

306. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 184 of 9 April 2019, if there is a deadline for the school build completion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18955/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy is aware, a building project to deliver permanent accommodation for Edmund Rice College is included in my Department’s 6 year Construction Programme. 

The school will be delivered under my Department's Design & Build Programme.  Until such a time as planning permission has being applied for and  granted a definitive date for completion of the project cannot be provided.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (307)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

307. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application by a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19010/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to confirm to the Deputy that an application from the school in question was submitted to my Department recently.

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 in schools.

The immediate priority of my Department is providing 20,000 new and replacement school places each year, to ensure that every child has a school place. The focus in the medium will be on the provision of PE halls in post-primary schools. 

Autism Support Services

Questions (308)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

308. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) under construction and near completion will include an autism spectrum disorder, ASD, unit or a special needs unit; and if not, the reason therefore. [19013/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the project to which she refers is currently in construction stage and subject to no issues arising the school should be ready for occupation in September 2019.  The project does not include the provision of Special Educational Needs Base as it would not have been feasible on the site without a reduction in the number of mainstream classrooms for the new school.

Autism Support Services

Questions (309)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

309. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools in the Dublin 2 and 4 areas with an autism spectrum disorder, ASD, unit or special needs unit; his plans to build more units; if so, the locations of same; and the estimated timeframe for them coming online. [19014/19]

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

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 Special Education Needs Organiser (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.

When the NCSE sanction a special class in a school, the school can apply to my Department for capital funding to reconfigure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation. 

Special Classes can be established within a schools existing accommodation. In such circumstances the school can apply to the Department for capital funding to reconfigure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation. 

In the case of all new schools, it is general practice to include a Special Education Needs Base (SEN Base) in the accommodation brief for new school buildings, unless local circumstances indicate that it will not be required. Typically, a two classroom SEN Base is provided in new primary schools and a two or four classroom SEN Base is provided in new post primary schools.

All school capital projects that have been approved by my Department under the Additional Accommodation Scheme, including special needs accommodation, may be viewed on my Department’s website, www.education.ie and this is updated regularly.

Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs in Dublin by postcode are available on the NCSE website at www.ncse.ie  

Teacher Data

Questions (310)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

310. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of teachers nationally in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019 who were successful in obtaining deployment in their location of choice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19019/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Teacher allocations to all second level schools are approved annually by my Department in accordance with established rules based on recognised pupil enrolment and are available on the Department's website.

The core function of redeployment arrangements is to facilitate the redeployment of surplus permanent and CID teachers to other schools where vacancies exist.  Where there is a surplus teacher in a school, it is open to another teacher in the school to apply to be voluntarily redeployed instead.

In addition, a voluntary redeployment scheme has operated on a pilot basis in specific regions in recent years in certain counties.  Permanent teachers employed in these regions are given an opportunity to volunteer for a transfer to other areas if such a transfer will free up a vacancy that would facilitate the redeployment of a surplus permanent teacher in the region. 

In 2017, 11 teachers were redeployed.   3 of these were voluntary applicants from surplus schools and 5 were under the pilot voluntary redeployment scheme.

In 2018, 45 teachers were redeployed.   2 of these were voluntary applicants from surplus schools and 20 were under the pilot voluntary redeployment scheme.

The redeployment process for 2019 is ongoing and will be finalised on 31 May 2019.

School Enrolments

Questions (311)

Michael McGrath

Question:

311. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position on an appropriate school place being provided to a child (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19107/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The enrolment of a child to a school is a matter in the first instance for the parents/guardians of the child and the Board of Management of a school.  My Department has no role in relation to processing applications for enrolment to schools.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is a statutory body, the functions of which include planning and co-ordinating the provision of education and support services to children with special educational needs.  The NCSE, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports as required.  The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.

SENOs are available to assist parents/guardians to identify appropriate educational placements for children with special educational needs and to discuss their child's special educational needs.  As you will appreciate, SENOs are guided by the information regarding diagnosis and the recommendations contained in the reports submitted.  The NCSE has published a Guide for Parents and Guardians of Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs on Choosing a School; this guide is available on the website, www.ncse.ie.

The NCSE works in collaboration with the Educational Welfare Services (EWS) of the Child and Family Agency which is the statutory agency that can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child or can offer assistance where a child is out of school. 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/.

It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of all schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act, 1998.  The selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants. Under section 15 (2) (d) of the Education Act 1998, each school is legally obliged to publish its enrolment policy.

It should be noted that where a parent/guardian seeks to enrol a child in a school and that school refuses to enrol the child, the school is obliged to inform the parents/guardians of their right under Section 29 of the Education Act 1998 to appeal that decision to the Secretary General of my Department.  Only where an appeal under Section 29 is upheld, may the Secretary General of my Department direct a school to enrol a pupil. 

As the deputy's question refers to a specific child, the question will be forwarded to the NCSE for direct reply.

Special Educational Needs Data

Questions (312)

Michael McGrath

Question:

312. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the capacity of a special school (details supplied) in County Cork; the number enrolled; the number of children on the waiting list; his plans to extend the capacity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19108/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The enrolment of a child to a school is a matter in the first instance for the parents/guardians of the child and the Board of Management of a school.  My Department has no role in relation to processing applications for enrolment to schools, and it does not maintain details of waiting lists in schools. The enrolment on 30th September 2018 was 66 students.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is a statutory body, the functions of which include planning and co-ordination, the provision of education and support services to children with special educational needs. The NCSE, through its network of local Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from special schools for special educational needs supports as required. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. 

It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of all schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act, 1998.  The selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants. Under section 15 (2) (d) of the Education Act 1998, each school is legally obliged to publish its enrolment policy.

Regarding the capacity of the school, I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has no record of receiving an application, for capital funding, from the school in question.

School Services Staff

Questions (313)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

313. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the employment of school secretaries by his Department (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19128/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I recognise the very important work done by school secretaries, and indeed by other support staff, in the running of our schools and I am grateful to them for the contribution they make to our education system.  I have spoken to a number of school secretaries about their employment conditions and understand the issues they have raised.

Schemes were initiated in 1978 and 1979 for the employment of Clerical Officers and Caretakers in schools.  The schemes were withdrawn completely in 2008. 

These schemes have been superseded by the more extensive capitation grant schemes.  The current grant scheme was agreed in the context of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress, published in 1991. 

I have recently relaxed the moratorium for those C&C and ETB schools with enrolments of 700 and more which allow them to employ an additional School Secretaries up to a maximum of two per school. There are 91 schools in the C&C and ETB Sector who meet this criteria, based on the information currently available to this Department. This is an initial step and has taken immediate effect.

The majority of primary and voluntary secondary schools now receive assistance to provide for secretarial, caretaking and cleaning services under these grant schemes.  It is a matter for each individual school to decide how best to apply the grant funding to suit its particular needs. Where a school uses the grant funding for caretaking or secretarial purposes, any staff taken on to support those functions are employees of individual schools.  Specific responsibility for the pay and conditions rests with the school.

On foot of a Chairman’s Note to the Lansdowne Road Agreement, my Department engaged with the Unions representing school secretaries and caretakers, including through an independent arbitration process in 2015. The Arbitrator recommended a cumulative pay increase of 10% between 2016 and 2019 for staff and that a minimum hourly pay rate of €13 be phased in over that period.  This arbitration agreement covers the period up to 31 December 2019. 

The arbitration agreement was designed to be of greatest benefit to lower-paid secretaries and caretakers. For example, a Secretary or Caretaker who was paid the then minimum wage of €8.65 per hour in 2015 prior to the arbitration has from 1 January 2019, been paid €13 per hour which is a 50% increase in that individual’s hourly pay. 

Officials from my Department attended a meeting of the Joint Committee on Education and Skills on the 9th of April to discuss the status of non-teaching staff.

The FÓRSA trade union have requested a meeting with the Department to discuss pay arrangements for grant-funded Secretaries and Caretakers from 2020 onwards. The Department has agreed to arrange a meeting with the Union and is currently making arrangements for this meeting to take place in late May/early June. 

Autism Support Services

Questions (314)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

314. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of funding allocated to autism spectrum disorder, ASD, special classes in secondary schools in each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19151/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Enabling children with Special Educational Needs including Autism to receive an education appropriate to their needs is a priority for Government.

At present, the Department of Education and Skills is investing heavily in supporting our children with special educational needs, with €1.8bn being spent annually, about €1 in every 5 of the education budget.

Investment in this area includes an allocation of over €300 million towards providing additional resources specifically to support students with Autism in schools. Since 2011, the number of ASD special classes has increased by over 260% from 330 in 2011 to 1,196 across the country now. In addition, 124 Special schools provide for children with Autism and very complex special needs.

The number of Special education teachers has increased by 37% from 9,740 in 2011, to over 13,400, Special Needs Assistants by 42%, from 10,575 in 2011 to 15,000, as well as 83 SENOs. 

The greater proportion of children with ASD attend mainstream class, where they may access additional supports if required.

Special class placements are provided in mainstream schools for students with ASD and more complex needs, where it has been demonstrated that he/she is unable to learn effectively in a mainstream class for most or all of the school day even with appropriate supports.

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 reconfigure 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).

The NCSE has published guidelines for schools on setting up and organising Special Classes, which are available to download from www.ncse.ie . The guidelines include information on resources which may be provided to schools with special classes and links to information on the how funding is allocated.

School Transport Applications

Questions (315)

Niall Collins

Question:

315. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a decision will be made regarding school transport home pick-up for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19164/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

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

Under the terms of the Primary School Transport Scheme children are eligible for transport where they reside not less than 3.2 kilometres from and are attending their nearest national school.

Bus Éireann is responsible for the planning and timetabling of school transport routes. Bus Éireann endeavours, within available resources, to ensure that each eligible child has a reasonable level of school transport service in the context of the Scheme nationally.

Where practicable, and subject to considerations of cost and logistics, routes are planned to avoid an eligible child having to travel more than 2.4 kilometres to or from a pick up/set down point. Bus Éireann has advised that the family in question is currently being offered a service within the above guidelines.

It is the responsibility of parents to ensure that their children are brought safely to, and collected safely from, the designated Bus Éireann pick up and set down point.

Autism Support Services

Questions (316)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

316. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will set out a policy on the provision of autism spectrum disorder, ASD, classes in each school catchment area; if he is satisfied with the current provision of ASD classes for families who reside in Dublin 6, 6W and 12; his plans to address the shortage of classes in these areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19165/19]

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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.

The National Council for Special education (NCSE), 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.

Individual school boards of management are responsible for the establishment of special classes.  It is open to any school to make application to the NCSE to establish a class. 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 reconfigure 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 advice parents whose children have special needs.  Where parents have been unsuccessful in enrolling their child in a school, they should update their local SENO to inform the planning process.

SENOs are also available to assist and advise schools on special education supports and planning.

The number of ASD special classes in County Dublin have increased from 66 in the 2011/2012 school year to 197 in the 2018/2019, a threefold increase.  There are 15 ASD classes in the areas referred to by the Deputy: 2 Early Intervention classes, 8 Primary ASD classes and 5 Post-primary ASD classes.

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.

As a result of these efforts, I expect progress will be made in the coming weeks in ensuring that every child has a placement available to them from September

I have asked the NCSE to keep in regular contact with the Parents of the children concerned and advise them of progress.

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

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (317)

Jack Chambers

Question:

317. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a school (details supplied) will go under construction and completion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19166/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

A building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is included in my Department’s Construction Programme which is being delivered under the National Development Plan.  The project has been authorised to proceed to tender. 

Subject to no issues arising, it is envisaged that construction will commence in the final quarter of 2019, with a construction period of approximately 24 months.

Teacher Recruitment

Questions (318)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

318. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the efforts he is making to tackle the lack of full-time positions available to young teachers at present; if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties this problem is causing in areas such as County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19172/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Teacher allocations to all schools are approved annually by my Department in accordance with established rules based on recognised pupil enrolment.

After the redeployment processes have transacted, each school is permitted to fill any remaining vacancies through open recruitment. It is open to any suitably qualified teacher to apply for these advertised teaching positions as they arise.

The recruitment and appointment of teachers to fill teaching posts is a matter for the individual school authority, subject to procedures agreed under Section 24(3) of the Education Act 1998 (as amended by the Education (Amendment) Act 2012).

The 2018/19 school year has seen an increase of over 6,000 teaching posts in our schools compared to the 2015/16 school year.  

Budget 2019 will see numbers employed in our schools reach the highest ever level. Over 1,300 additional posts in schools will be funded in the 2019/20 school year, including more than 370 teaching posts to cater for growth in student population and additional special classes.

Teaching Council of Ireland

Questions (319)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

319. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) is waiting for a lengthy period on a Teaching Council number; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19193/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Under the Teaching Council Acts 2001-2015 the Teaching Council is the body with statutory authority and responsibility for the registration of teachers in this State.

The person referred to by the Deputy should continue to liaise with the Teaching Council regarding their application for registration as a teacher.

Teaching Council of Ireland

Questions (320)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

320. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) is waiting for a lengthy period on a Teaching Council number; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19194/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Under the Teaching Council Acts 2001-2015 the Teaching Council is the body with statutory authority and responsibility for the registration of teachers in this State.

The person referred to by the Deputy should continue to liaise with the Teaching Council regarding their application for registration as a teacher.

Universities Legislation

Questions (321, 322, 323, 324, 326)

David Cullinane

Question:

321. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Education and Skills the value of borrowing, underwriting and guaranteeing activities notified to him under the borrowing framework provided for in section 38 of the Universities Act 1997, for each university since the institution of the framework, in tabular form. [19203/19]

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David Cullinane

Question:

322. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Education and Skills the value, name of the creditor and interest rate for each individual amount of borrowing above €1 million in each of the universities covered by the borrowing framework outlined in section 38 of the Universities Act 1997, in tabular form. [19204/19]

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David Cullinane

Question:

323. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Education and Skills the implied recourse to the Exchequer involved in the borrowing, underwriting and guaranteeing activities of universities covered under the Universities Act 1997; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19205/19]

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David Cullinane

Question:

324. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Education and Skills the aggregate at any one time of moneys borrowed by the university and education and training board sectors, in tabular form. [19206/19]

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David Cullinane

Question:

326. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Education and Skills the working of the borrowing framework outlined in section 38 of the Universities Act 1997. [19208/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 321 to 324, inclusive, and 326 together.

Universities are independent and autonomous bodies under the statutory framework set out in the Universities Act, 1997 and on that basis are responsible for the conduct of their day-to-day affairs, including in relation to borrowing activities. The performance of this role is subject to appropriate governance, oversight and accountability requirements. In this context, section 38 of the Universities Act, 1997 contains specific provision for a university to borrow within a framework agreed with the Higher Education Authority (HEA). This framework, which was agreed with my Department and the now Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, has been in operation for some time.

The function of the framework is:

- That a university can engage in borrowing, underwriting and guaranteeing activities provided that they impose no threat to, and do not create any contingent liabilities for, the public purse.

- To ensure that the capacity of a university to function effectively is not endangered.

- That advanced approval by the HEA, or the Ministers for Education and Skills and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, of individual instances of borrowing, underwriting or guaranteeing by a university is not required.

Accordingly, a university is not be required to obtain prior consent from my Department, or the HEA, to engage in borrowing, underwriting, and guaranteeing activities. In addition there is no recourse, implied or otherwise, to the Exchequer for any liabilities matured or maturing by these institutions.

The aggregate amount of monies borrowed by the universities in the 2016/17 accounting year was €637 million. My officials are currently liaising with the HEA to co-ordinate further information, as requested by the Deputy, with regards the value, name of the creditor and interest rate for each individual amount of borrowing above €1 million in each of the universities covered by the borrowing framework. I will arrange for this information to issue directly to the Deputy when available.

With regard to the Education and Training Boards (ETBs), section 49 of the Education and Training Boards Act 2013 states that ETBs may, with the consent of the Minister, accept a proposal, and borrow by means specified in the proposal, for the purposes of carrying out the functions of the board.

I can confirm that there are currently no moneys borrowed by any of the 16 ETBs. Some ETBs have sanction in place for an overdraft facility. The ETBs with that sanction have confirmed to officials in my Department last week that no overdraft facility is currently being utilised.