Education and Training Boards Expenditure

Question No. 326 answered with Question No. 321.

Questions (325)

David Cullinane

Question:

325. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Education and Skills the aggregate at any one time of moneys borrowed by each education and training board, in tabular form. [19207/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Section 49 of the Education and Training Boards Act 2013 states that an Education and Training Board (ETB) 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.

In response to the question raised 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.

Question No. 326 answered with Question No. 321.

Third Level Institutions Governance

Questions (327)

David Cullinane

Question:

327. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the appropriateness of university marketing activities here that go beyond providing information to potential students such as paid promotional signage at sporting grounds or theatres; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19209/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy may wish to note that under the statutory framework set out in the Universities Act, 1997 universities are independent, autonomous and self-governed legal entities and are, therefore, responsible for all matters relating to their day-to-day operations and activities. Section 13 of the Universities Act, 1997 states that in furthering its objects and development, universities may 'collaborate with educational, business, professional, trade union, Irish language, cultural, artistic, community and other interests, both inside and outside the State, to further the objects of the university.'

In that context, the management and appropriateness of marketing and promotional activities such as set out in the Deputy's question are matters, in the first instance, for the individual institutions themselves. The performance of these roles are, of course, subject to detailed governance, oversight and accountability requirements.

Third Level Institutions Governance

Questions (328)

David Cullinane

Question:

328. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the appropriateness of universities providing housing, catering facilities and staff, transport resources and staff for the personal use of its senior administrators; and the guidance or instruction he has offered the HEA or the universities on such matters of prudence. [19210/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

There is a detailed framework in place, including for example, the requirements of Public Financial Procedures and the Code of Governance of Irish Universities, governing all expenditure by universities.

Specifically, the Code of Governance for Irish Universities states that universities must abide by the Guidelines on Achieving Value for Money in Public Expenditure as set out in the address by the Minister for Finance of 20 October 2005 and communicated to the universities, and provide confirmation of their compliance.

In respect of pay policy, the Code states that university governing authorities are required to implement Government pay policy as expressed from time to time. In addition, further pay policy as expressed from time to time in accordance with Frameworks agreed between the universities and the HEA under Section 25 (5) of the Universities Act 1997 must also be implemented and adhered to. The Agreed Framework between the universities and the HEA for Departures from Approved Levels of Remuneration, Fees, Allowances and Expenses for University Employees lays down the principles to which the parties subscribe regarding the exercise of discretion on the part of a university to depart from levels of remuneration etc. approved by the Minister.

In respect of instances where a campus residence is provided, there is a benefit-in-kind (BIK) to the Head of a university for whom this kind of provision is made. The determination of whether a liability for tax arises on the BIK is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners. The tax arising on the BIK attributable to a Head’s private use of a residence is the responsibility of the Head and must be borne by him/her from within his/her total remuneration. Where a University compensates or makes a payment on behalf of its Head for the BIK incurred, such compensation or payment is viewed as part of overall remuneration for the purposes of public pay policy.

As the Deputy is aware, my Department allocates recurrent funding to the Higher Education Authority (HEA) for direct disbursement to the HEA designated higher education institutions, including the Universities and Institutes of Technology. The HEA allocates this funding to these institutions and the internal disbursement of that funding is then a matter for the individual institution.

Under the current statutory framework both Institutes of Technology and Universities are independent and autonomous bodies and on that basis are responsible for the conduct of their day-to-day affairs, including the allocation of their income both from public and private sources. The performance of this role is - as referred to above - subject to detailed governance, oversight and accountability requirements.

Higher Education Institutions

Questions (329, 330)

David Cullinane

Question:

329. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Education and Skills the date of construction, the university, the building or project name, the area and the cost of each university building programme costing in excess of €5 million in the past 15 years, in tabular form [19211/19]

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David Cullinane

Question:

330. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Education and Skills the date of construction, the institute, the building or project name, the area and the cost of each institute of technology building programme costing in excess of €5 million in the past 15 years, in tabular form. [19212/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 329 and 330 together.

My Department already has a process underway with the higher education sector to compile information on projects delivered for the period since 2008. This process is nearing conclusion and will enable information for the period since 2008 to be provided to the Deputy in tabular format in the coming days.

This process has required consultation with the universities and institutes of technology, who are responsible for project delivery and hold the project files. A significant number of projects, particularly in the university sector, were delivered without funding from my Department.

Third Level Institutions

Questions (331)

David Cullinane

Question:

331. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Education and Skills the area of land owned or in the possession of each university and institute of technology in each year in the past 15 years, in tabular form. [19213/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy will be aware, Universities, Technological Universities and Institutes of Technology are autonomous bodies as set out in the Universities Act 1997, the Institutes of Technology Act 2006 and the Technological Universities Act 2018.

In that regard, the bodies in question are responsible for their day to day operations, including the procurement of goods and services; provision of services for students; and allocation of all of their income (both public and private). Records in these matters are not held by my Department.

Similarly, the records requested by the Deputy in relation to the area of land owned or in the possession of each institution over each of the past fifteen years are not held by my Department.

Third Level Fees

Questions (332)

Peter Burke

Question:

332. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Education and Skills if discretion can be shown to prospective teachers returning from outside of the EU after a number of years of teaching (details supplied) in relation to the payment of non-EU fees for their Master's degree in education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19232/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The position is that higher education universities are autonomous institutions as provided for in the Universities Act 1997. Therefore, the criteria governing the level of tuition fees to be charged in the case of postgraduate study is solely a matter for the relevant institution to determine in line with its own criteria.

Accordingly, my Department has no function in relation to such matters.

Tax relief is available on postgraduate tuition fees paid. Details in relation to this relief are available from the Revenue Commissioners at www.revenue.ie.

School Transport Provision

Questions (333)

John McGuinness

Question:

333. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills the action he is taking to provide school transport for 24 pupils who are attending schools (details supplied); if the pupils will be included in the school transport system in view of the fact that all buses from Callan to Kilkenny city are operating at maximum capacity; and if a solution for all concerned will be expedited. [19248/19]

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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 km 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.

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

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.

Bus Éireann has confirmed that the children from the area referred to by the Deputy are not eligible for school transport as they are not attending their nearest school.

The number and size of buses operating for the 2019/20 school year will be determined by the number of children who apply and are deemed eligible for school transport.

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 this regard families should liaise with their local Bus Éireann office regarding the availability of transport on a concessionary basis for the next school year.

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

School Enrolments

Questions (334)

Niall Collins

Question:

334. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if assistance will be provided to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19288/19]

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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.

Autism Support Services

Questions (335)

Brian Stanley

Question:

335. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Education and Skills if finance has been provided for ASD units at schools (details supplied); and if the necessary staff will be in place for September 2019. [19307/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has recently received applications, for additional accommodation, under the Department's 'Additional School Accommodation Scheme' from the schools' in question.

The applications for permanent accommodation are currently under assessment, as soon as the process has been completed the school authorities will be contacted directly. To ensure that the schools' in question have accommodation for September, my Department has approved the rental of prefabricated units as an interim measure.

It is a matter for school authorities to employ teachers and SNA’s in accordance with the Department's policy and the deployment of staff in the school is, in the first instance, a matter for the school management authorities.

Departmental Correspondence

Questions (336)

Jack Chambers

Question:

336. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a reply will be issued to correspondence (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19333/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The correspondence referred to by the Deputy has been received and a response will issue shortly in this regard.

School Transport Provision

Questions Nos. 338 and 339 answered with Question No. 263.

Questions (337)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

337. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the school bus operated by a bus service (details supplied) has run out of private funding; if he will consider funding this school bus service to ensure school attendance rates are maintained; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19348/19]

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 km annually.

The purpose of my Department's Post Primary 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 where they reside not less than 4.8 km from and are attending their nearest post-primary school.

All children who are eligible for school transport and who complete the application process on time will be accommodated under the terms of my Department's School Transport Scheme in the 2019/2020 school year.

Questions Nos. 338 and 339 answered with Question No. 263.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (340)

John McGuinness

Question:

340. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a place is available at the ASD unit of a school (details supplied) for a person; and if the matter will be expedited. [19407/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The NCSE, an independent agency of my Department, is responsible for planning, coordinating and advising on education provision and support services for children with special educational needs, in consultation with the relevant education partners and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

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.

ASD Early Intervention classes are available for children aged between 3 and 5 years of age with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Early intervention classes are intended to provide early support for children with ASD before they start school.

A child cannot attend an early intervention class prior to their third birthday.

As the Deputy's question relates to the NCSEs placement planning for a particular child, I have referred the question to the NCSE for their direct reply.

School Staff

Questions (341)

Barry Cowen

Question:

341. Deputy Barry Cowen asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application by a school (details supplied). [19420/19]

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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. The next meeting of the Primary Staffing Appeals Board will be held in June. Information on the staffing appeal process and the application form is available in Circular 0019/2019, published on the Department website.

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

SOLAS Funding

Questions (342)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

342. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the funding which has been committed by SOLAS towards an electronic marking system for adult and apprenticeships programmes; the progress of the project; the breakdown of the spend; the amount allocated to a company (details supplied); the estimated overall cost in addition to SOLAS working hours and travel and subsistence; the proposed date of implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19424/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Test Event Notification and Results Capture System (TENRCS) is a business system which provides an enhancement to the existing results and certification systems for adult and apprenticeship programmes. The specific function of the TENRCS is to automate a number of manual tasks linked to assessment. The use of this system will greatly reduce the risk relating to the incorrect calculation and/or transcription of learner results, while providing an electronic tracking system of the assessment process.

Progress to date includes the development of the initial system and full user acceptance testing with a range of staff in relation to the roles of assessor, training standards officer and assessment designer. It is envisaged that the project will be piloted in one Education and Training Board (ETB) during 2019 and will be rolled out to all other ETBs following successful completion of the pilot.

The breakdown of funding allocated to this project is set out in the attached tabular statement.

Funding Allocation for TENRCS

€ (m's)

Open Sky

€0.588

ETBI (for roll out to ETBs)

€0.223

SOLAS Staff Costs (including T&S)

€0.750

Total

€1.561

Higher Education Authority Administration

Questions (343)

Alan Kelly

Question:

343. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that minutes of meetings of the Higher Education Authority have not been published on its website since the meeting of 6 November 2018; the reason minutes of recent meetings have not been published; if minutes of all recent meetings of the authority will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19426/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Although the publication of minutes of meetings of a State body is not a requirement under the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies 2016, I can advise the Deputy that my Department has been informed that it is the practice of the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to post a record of meetings of the HEA Board periodically on the HEA’s website.

I can confirm that a record of the meetings to January 2019 have been posted on the HEA website and my Department has been informed by the HEA that further records will be posted later this year.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (344)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

344. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a development at a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19444/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy is aware, the project to which he refers has been devolved for delivery to Donegal Education and Training Board (DETB).

A meeting took place with DETB and its design team on 12th February last. At this meeting, the Stage 2A submission was presented. A number of design issued were identified with this submission. DETB is liaising closely with officials in my Department to ensure that these issues are addressed as quickly as possible. Permission can be given to progress to the next stage of the project once the Department is satisfied with the solutions proposed by DETB in that respect.

Autism Support Services

Questions (345)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

345. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he is taking to ensure enough special classes are attached to mainstream schools in order that all children diagnosed with autism who need such facilities and supports can access them; the new such classrooms planned for schools in Limerick city and county at both primary and post-primary levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19459/19]

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.

There are 5 special schools and 49 special classes attached to mainstream schools in Co. Limerick. Of these, 5 are ASD early intervention classes, 22 are primary ASD classes and 14 are post primary ASD classes. The number of ASD special classes in Co. Limerick has increased from 2 in 2013/2014 to 41 in 2018/2019. Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs are available by county on the NCSE website, www.ncse.ie.

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 advise parents whose children have special needs. They also assist and advise schools in making decisions in this area.

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 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

School Transport Provision

Questions (346)

Niall Collins

Question:

346. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the school transport grant awarded to a person (details supplied) will be issued; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19468/19]

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 km annually.

School Transport Section has advised the family in question that the Special Transport Grant will be processed upon receipt of a completed Statement of Attendance Form.

School Transport Eligibility

Question No. 348 answered with Question No. 287.

Questions (347)

Shane Cassells

Question:

347. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school bus place will be provided for a student (details supplied) to get to a school in Kells, County Meath; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19479/19]

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 km 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 km 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. Only children who are eligible for school transport and who hold valid Medical Cards are exempt from paying the annual charge.

Bus Éireann has advised that the child in question is not eligible for school transport as she is not attending her nearest school and the family should liaise with their local Bus Éireann office if they wish to avail of school transport on a concessionary basis for the 2019/20 school year.

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

Question No. 348 answered with Question No. 287.