Forensic Science Ireland Laboratory

Questions (222)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

222. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 65 of 10 April 2019, the deadline date for the return of tenders; the number of tenders received; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22046/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

Further to my response to Parliamentary Question No. 65 of 10 April 2019 regarding the Forensic Science Laboratory Project at the Backweston campus. Delivery of this project is managed by The Office of Public Works. The deadline date for the return of tender is scheduled for end of June. Subsequently, tender assessment will take place during Q3 2019.

Flood Prevention Measures

Questions (223)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

223. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 276 of 26 March 2019, if work has commenced on the detailed technical, hydrogeological assessment; if not, when the work will commence; when the completed report is expected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22049/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

I am advised that the Hazelhatch area of Celbridge, County Kildare was assessed as part of the Eastern Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management Study. The Flood Risk Management Plans identified the need for a further study of the area to help identify any feasible option to manage the existing flood risk.  This further study is being commissioned by Kildare County Council.

I am further advised that the Council are currently finalising their contract documents with a view to issuing tenders and are aiming to complete the study of flood risk in the Hazelhatch area in 2019.

Coastal Erosion

Questions (224)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

224. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to visit the Oranmore, Maree and Clarinbridge area of County Galway soon or to ask the Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW to do so to see at first hand the coastal erosion problems in the area and to meet local persons affected by this problem; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22078/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

It is a matter for Local Authorities, in the first instance, to assess and address problems of coastal erosion in their areas.  Where necessary, Local Authorities may put forward proposals to relevant central Government Departments, including the Office of Public Works (OPW), for funding of appropriate measures depending on the infrastructure or assets under threat.  Discussions are ongoing between a number of Government Departments and agencies in relation to managing those strategic issues associated with coastal erosion.

I am advised by the Commissioners of Public Works that an application for funding under the OPW’s Minor Flood Mitigation Works & Coastal Protection Scheme has been received from Galway County Council for Oran Island and is currently under consideration.  An invitation for a visit to the area in question would be positively received by me.

Coastal Erosion

Questions (225)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

225. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the OPW plan to publish the cost-benefit analysis study carried out on the Ardfry coastal erosion problem in County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22079/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

It is a matter for Local Authorities, in the first instance, to assess and address problems of coastal erosion in their areas.  Where necessary, Local Authorities may put forward proposals to relevant central Government Departments, including the Office of Public Works (OPW), for funding of appropriate measures depending on the infrastructure or assets under threat.  I am advised by the Commissioners of Public Works that an application for funding under the OPW’s Minor Flood Mitigation Works & Coastal Protection Scheme or a cost benefit analysis study has not been received from Galway County Council for Ardfry.

Public Sector Pensions

Questions (226)

Michael Moynihan

Question:

226. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a teacher that is employed directly by the board of management of their school and is not a direct employee of his Department will be eligible for a public service pension; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22018/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The terms of the teachers superannuation schemes provide for pensionability of teachers, employed by school management authorities, whose salaries are paid through the school staff payroll operated by my Department.  Under the pension scheme provisions, teachers employed by school management who are in excess of the quota of teachers for which the Department pays salary, may not become pensionable.

A small cohort of teachers in voluntary secondary schools who were paid privately by school Boards of Management and employed before July 2010 were permitted to join the Occupational Pension Scheme for Secondary, Community and Comprehensive School Teachers.  Those teachers who had applied for membership of the pension scheme before 28 July 2010 and have uninterrupted privately paid employment, in the same school, and are continuing to make the necessary pension contributions remain scheme members under this provision.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (227)

Noel Rock

Question:

227. Deputy Noel Rock asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the school building programme at a school (details supplied); the estimated time for completion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21346/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The school building project referred to by the Deputy was tendered in 2018. Following the publication of tender documents, it became necessary to re-tender this project arising from a change in circumstances resulting in additional requirements which were not included in the original published tender documents. 

The further requirements will be set out in the specification for a new tender competition which my Department intends to publish shortly.

The school authority is being kept fully informed of developments on a continuous basis.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (228, 229, 230)

Micheál Martin

Question:

228. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is satisfied that the July provision scheme is meeting the needs of children with complex needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21370/19]

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Micheál Martin

Question:

229. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the July provision scheme was reviewed last; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21371/19]

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Micheál Martin

Question:

230. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of children that availed of the July provision scheme on an annual basis in the past five years in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21372/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 228 to 230, inclusive, together.

My Department's July Provision Grant Scheme provides funding for an extended school year for students with severe or profound intellectual disabilities and students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

The scheme was developed to reduce potential regression in learning associated with these specific categories of special education needs over the summer holidays.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) which advises me on these matters published its Policy Advice on Educational Provision for Children with Autism in July 2016 which included a review of the July Scheme.

The review found that in general parents value July provision because it provides day-time respite for families and a structured day for students. The NCSE review found a number of problems with the scheme as currently organised.

These include concerns that the scheme may be inequitable because it is not provided to all students with complex special educational needs.

The Council recommended that the relevant Government Departments consider how an equitable national day activity scheme could be developed for all students with complex special educational needs.

The proposed scheme would provide a structured, safe, social environment for all students with complex special educational needs.

My Department has convened an Implementation Group to ensure that the Report’s recommendations are fully and appropriately considered.

There has been consultation with a number of other Departments and State agencies regarding the future direction of the July Education Programme. 

It is expected that the Group will make recommendations shortly concerning a revised scheme.  Before any changes are made, there will be consultations with stakeholders,

The number of children availing of July Provision for the last five years is outlined in the table below.

July Provision Statistics 2014 - 2018

Year

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Number of children

6731

7893

8767

9446

10150

European Court of Human Rights Judgments

Questions (231)

Micheál Martin

Question:

231. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a report by a person (details supplied) to his Department will be completed; when the report will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21373/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

In 2015, the State responded to the ECtHR judgment by setting up an ex-gratia scheme to specifically address the position of persons who had discontinued their proceedings against the State the wake of a number of High Court Judgments and the Supreme Court judgment in the O’Keeffe case.

In 2017, an Independent Assessor, retired High Court Judge, Mr Iarfhlaith O’Neill was appointed to assess applications declined under the scheme. To date 20 applicants have sought an independent assessment.

The Assessor has been in communication with the Department in the course of last week and has indicated that he expects to be in a position to make his determinations in respect of the 20 cases by the end of June.

Education and Training Boards

Questions (232)

Michael McGrath

Question:

232. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position in relation to the appointment of a contractor for the construction of an education campus (details supplied) in County Cork; the value of the contract; the expected duration of the build period; when he expects the new schools to be ready for occupancy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21383/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The project to which the Deputy refers has been devolved for delivery to Cork Education and Training Board (CETB).

My Department recently gave approval to CETB to issue the Letter of Acceptance for the project to MMD Construction (Cork) Ltd.  It is expected that the contractor will commence works on site before the end of May 2019.  I am unable to release the details of the contract as this information is commercially sensitive at this time. The duration of the build is 21 months and is expected to be completed in Spring 2021.   

Home Tuition Scheme Provision

Questions (233)

Jack Chambers

Question:

233. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review the home tuition grant application process to make it less cumbersome and onerous for parents of children with autism; if his attention has been drawn to criticisms of the application process by parents which requires parents to acquire three refusal letters from schools; his views on whether the home tuition grant applications process could be more streamlined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21385/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Departments Home Tuition Grant Scheme provides funding towards a compensatory educational service for children where a school placement is not available as confirmed by the NCSE, through the local Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO).

The availability of a school placement is assessed by the NCSE local SENO having regard to documentary evidence provided by Parents in relation to enrolment.

The operation of the Home Tuition Grant Scheme is reviewed annually.

Officials in my Department are currently reviewing the terms of the Scheme, in consultation with the NCSE, and will take into consideration the issue raised by the Deputy.

School Transport Applications Data

Questions (234)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

234. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of children that applied for a school bus from Quin to Tulla, County Clare; the number refused the service (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21391/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

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

There are currently over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually.

The purpose of 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. 

Children are eligible for school transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kilometres from and are attending their nearest school as determined by my Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

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 is currently considering applications for the 2019/20 school year. 

The terms of the Post Primary School Transport Scheme are applied equitably on a national basis.

School Transport Administration

Questions (235)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

235. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Education and Skills the way a conclusion has been reached that Quin, County Clare is closer to Ennis than Tulla, County Clare for the purposes of school transport; the details of same; the route measured; the particular points from which the measurements were taken; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21395/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

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

There are currently over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually. 

The purpose of 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 where they meet the distance criteria and are attending their nearest school.

Bus Éireann determines distance eligibility by measuring the shortest traversable route, which may be either pedestrian or vehicular from a family's home to their nearest school.

The terms of the scheme are applied equitably on a national basis.

Oideachas trí Ghaeilge

Questions (236)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

236. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Catherine Connolly den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna cén gníomhaíochtaí atá ar bun ag a Roinn chun buntáistí an Ghaeloideachais a chur chun cinn i measc an phobail agus chun tuismitheoirí a spreagadh chun an Ghaelscolaíocht a roghnú dá bpáistí tríd an bPróiseas um Athchumrú Scoileanna; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [21407/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Chuir mo Roinnse go suntasach leis an Straitéis 20 bliain uile-Rialtais don Ghaeilge le plean Gníomhaíochta 5 bliana don Ghaeilge 2018 – 2022 a seoladh i samhradh na bliana 2018. Sa chaibidil dar teideal “Réimse Gnímh – Oideachas” tá 48 as 187 beart atá sa Phlean agus ainmníodh mo Roinnse mar phríomheagraíocht a bhfuil freagracht uirthi i leith 28 de na bearta sin.

I measc na spriocanna sa straitéis a bhfuil baint ag mo Roinnse leo, tá tacaíocht speisialta don Ghaeltacht mar cheantar labhartha Gaeilge; athchóiríu a dhéanamh ar churaclam na Gaeilge, soláthar don oideachas lán-Ghaeilge sna luathbhlianta, ar leibhéal na bunscoile agus na hiar-bhunscoile a leathnú; agus soláthar feabhsaithe a dhéanamh d’fhorbairt ghairmiúil do mhúinteoirí. Rinneadh spriocanna atá sa Straitéis 20 Bliain don Ghaeilge 2010-2030 a chorprú sa phlean gníomhaíochta cúig bliana.   Sna 20 bliain seo amach romhainn, is mian leis an rialtas go dtiocfadh méadú ó 83,000 go dtí 250,000 ar líon na gcainteoirí Gaeilge lasmuigh d’earnáil an oideachais. Is mian leis an rialtas freisin go dtiocfadh méadú 25% ar líon na gcainteoirí Gaeilge sa Ghaeltacht. Tá sé mar aidhm go mbeadh dhá mhilliún duine inniúil sa Ghaeilge faoin mbliain 2030.

Threoraigh an Roinn mórphróiseas taighde agus comhairliúcháin sna pobail Ghaeltachta chun Polasaí spriocdhírithe i dtaca le hOideachas Gaeltachta a fhorbairt, agus foilsíodh an polasaí sin in 2016. Tá sé mar aidhm ag an bpolasaí seo, ar polasaí é ar fháiltigh na pobail Ghaeltachta roimhe, tacaíocht a thabhairt d’oideachas lán-Ghaeilge ar ardchaighdeán sna scoileanna Gaeltachta agus cur leis d'fhonn scoláirí na Gaeltachta agus a gcuid tuismitheoirí a spreagadh chun an t-oideachas lán-Ghaeilge a roghnú. Tosaíodh ar réimse de ghníomhartha polasaí a fheidhmiú go luath in 2017, lena n-áirítear an Scéim Aitheantais Scoileanna Gaeltachta a sheoladh, ar scéim í a thugann deis do bhunscoileanna agus d’iar-bhunscoileanna sa Ghaeltacht rochtain a fháil ar thacaíochtaí agus ar acmhainní breise.  I measc  na ngníomhartha polasaí eile, tá cláir nua a thabhairt isteach maidir le hoideachas múinteoirí lán-Ghaeilge.

Tá forbairtí suntasacha tagtha ar sholáthar curaclaim don Ghaeilge ar leibhéal na bunscoile agus na hiar-bhunscoile ó foilsíodh straitéis 20 bliain an Rialtais don Ghaeilge. Cuireann Curaclam Teanga na Bunscoile (2015) cur chuige comhtháite chun cinn maidir le foghlaim an Bhéarla agus na Gaeilge.  Den chéad uair, foilsíodh sonraíochtaí faoi leith don Ghaeilge in 2016 do Ghaeilge na Sraithe Sóisearaí in iar-bhunscoileanna lán-Ghaeilge agus in iar-bhunscoileanna ina ndéantar an teagasc trí mheán an Bhéarla.

Ina theannta sin, tá comhairliúchán poiblí curtha i gcrích ag mo Roinnse le déanaí maidir le ciorcláin leasaithe a rialóidh an polasaí agus an cleachtas i dtaca le Díolúintí ó staidéar a dhéanamh ar an nGaeilge  Tá scrúdú neamhspleách á dhéanamh faoi láthair ar thorthaí an chomhairliúcháin agus cuirfidh siad sin bun eolais faoi chríochnú na gciorclán leasaithe.

D'fhógair mé tionscadal nua le déanaí maidir le Foghlaim Chomhtháite Ábhar agus Teangacha (FCÁT)  Cur chuige oideachasúil atá dírithe ar dhá aidhm is ea FCÁT, ina n-úsáidtear teanga bhreise chun idir theanga agus ábhar a theagasc.  Déanann cur chuige FCÁT soláthar chun gnéithe den churaclam a chur ar fáil i dteanga nach í teanga theagaisc na scoile í. Cé nach ionann FCÁT agus tumoideachas, cuireann sé solúbthacht agus deiseanna ar fáil i gcomhair cur chuige níos spriocdhírithe chun díriú ar fhoghlaim agus ar theagasc teanga.  Is tionscadal trí bliana a bheidh ann chun tacú le foghlaim na Gaeilge tríd an gCorpoideachas agus trí ábhair eile. 

Tugann an Próiseas Athchumraithe don Éagsúlacht do Scoileanna deis an líon scoileanna lán-Ghaeilge ar fud na tíre a mhéadú.  Tá an próiseas nua seo dírithe ar dhlús a chur le soláthar scoileanna il-sainchreidmheacha agus neamh-shainchreidmheacha i dtreo sprioc an Rialtais go mbeadh 400 scoil den sórt sin ann faoin mbliain 2030.  Ceapadh an próiseas, a bhaineann le haistriú beo a dhéanamh ar scoileanna atá ann cheana féin, chun scoileanna il-sainchreidmheacha /neamh-shainchreidmheacha sa bhreis a chur ar fáil i mBéarla nó i nGaeilge agus cuireann sé deis ar fáil do scoileanna ina ndéantar an teagasc trí mheán an Bhéarla scoileanna lán-Ghaeilge a dhéanamh díobh féin sa chomhthéacs sin, ag teacht leis na mianta atá léirithe ag tuismitheoirí agus ag an bpobal scoile áitiúil.  Tá céim 1 den phróiseas aitheantais beagnach curtha i gcrích sna 16 cheantar tosaigh agus beidh na tuairiscí ar an gcéim aitheantais á bhfoilsiú sa chéad leath de 2019. Tá an cion de thuismitheoirí na leanaí réamhscoile a ndearnadh suirbhéireacht orthu mar chuid den phróiseas seo agus a roghnódh scoil il-sainchreidmheach /neamh-shainchreidmheach dá leanbh san áireamh sna tuairiscí.

Ar leithligh ón bPríomhphróiseas Athchumraithe don Éagsúlacht do Scoileanna, féadfaidh pobail scoileanna dul i mbun caidrimh go díreach lena bpátrún scoile maidir le haistriú pátrúnachta, chun a bheith ina scoil il-sainchreidmheach, lena n-áirítear a bheith ina scoil il-sainchreidmheach lán-Ghaeilge.   Molaim d'aon phobal scoile atá ag iarraidh aistriú pátrúnachta teagmháil a dhéanamh lena bpátrún scoile maidir leis sin.”

School Transport Provision

Questions (237)

Niall Collins

Question:

237. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter regarding a person (details supplied); when Bus Éireann will be notified of a decision relating to a home pick-up; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21420/19]

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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.

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. 

The family should liaise with their local Bus Éireann office regarding the pick-up and set-down point for the 2019/20 school year.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (238)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

238. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the new ratio for SNAs to be allocated to schools (details supplied); the way in which it will be calculated; and the way in which it will work in practice. [21424/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

On 27th March I announced the trialling of the School Inclusion Model – a new model of support for students with special educational and additional care needs.

The School Inclusion Model, supported by €4.75m funding allocated in Budget 2019, aims to build schools’ capacity to include children with additional needs and to provide other supports for pupils.

The achievement of better education and life outcomes for all children including those with special needs is a key element of Government policy. In 2019, over €1.87 billion will be invested in Special Education, nearly one fifth of the overall Education budget, and up 49% since 2011.

Seventy-five schools, both primary and post-primary, in Kildare, Wicklow and South Dublin have been invited to participate in this new package of education and health supports to be piloted and evaluated in the 2019/20 school year.

One feature of the School Inclusion Model is the development of a frontloaded allocation model of SNAs to be allocated in line with profiled need having regard to the approach taken by the allocation model for Special Education Teachers which was introduced in 2017.

Frontloading SNA support eliminates the need for an individual assessment for each student, ending the link with the requirement for a formal diagnosis to gain access to support, and will reduce the delays in making supports available to schools.

Work on the development of the frontloading methodology for the allocation of SNAs is progressing in consultation with the Educational Research Centre.