Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (92)

Robert Troy

Question:

92. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to include an ASD unit at a school (details supplied). [22485/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department has no plans to provide additional accommodation for special classes at the school in question and has not received an application for same. As the Deputy will be aware there are currently 2 ASD Early Intervention Class groups in the school.

Schools Site Acquisitions

Questions (93)

James Lawless

Question:

93. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of planning for a new school (details supplied). [22487/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department is actively engaged in trying to acquire a site in order to provide a permanent building for the school to which the Deputy refers. Kildare County Council are assisting my Department in this regard and have proposed a site option which is being examined in technical detail at present. Due to the commercially sensitive nature of site acquisitions generally, it is not possible to comment further at this stage. The acquisition of a site for this school is being prioritised by the Department.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (94)

Martin Heydon

Question:

94. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a review of an application for a SNA for a child (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22498/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for allocating a quantum of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support for each school annually taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support enrolled in the school.

The NCSE allocates SNA support to schools in accordance with the criteria set out in Department Circular 0030/2014, which is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie, in order that students who have care needs can access SNA support as and when it is needed.

In considering applications for SNA support for individual pupils, the NCSE take account of the pupils' needs and consider the resources available to the school to identify whether additionality is needed or whether the school might reasonably be expected to meet the needs of the pupils from its current level of resources.

SNAs are not allocated to individual children but to schools as a school based resource.

As this question relates to a particular child, I have referred the question to the NCSE for their direct reply. I do not have a role in making determinations in individual cases.

Summer Works Scheme Applications

Questions (95)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

95. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application for a building project for a school (details supplied) in County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22503/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I am delighted to confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers was successful in obtaining grant funding under the 2019 Summer Works Scheme. This project has been devolved to the school authority for delivery. I can also confirm that my Department does not currently have any outstanding applications for building works from the school in question.

Teacher Training Provision

Questions (96)

David Cullinane

Question:

96. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of paying 80% of the entry level rate to student teachers on placement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22505/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

School Placement is a critical part of initial teacher education (ITE) as it enables the student teacher to experience teaching and learning in a variety of contexts, and to participate in school life in a way that is structured and supported.

As you are aware, the Teaching Council is the statutory body that sets and upholds the standards for entry to the profession and reviews and accredits programmes of teacher education and training provided by Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in the State. The Teaching Council has determined that 25% (30 weeks) of student time over the four years of undergraduate programmes and 40% (24 weeks) of student time over the two years of postgraduate programmes should be allocated to school placement.

The estimated cost of paying 80% of the entry level rate to primary and post-primary student teachers on placement would be approximately €50 million.

Schools Refurbishment

Questions (97)

Tom Neville

Question:

97. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an application by a school (details supplied) for the hearing impaired for a new school or refurbishment works has been received; if so, the timeline for the decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22532/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise that my Department has no record of receiving an application for capital funding at the school referred to by the Deputy.

It is open to the school authorities to make an application for additional accommodation through the 'Additional School Accommodation' (ASA) scheme where an accommodation deficit is identified.

I also wish to advise the Deputy that the Summer Works Scheme (SWS) is currently open for applications and will remain open until 30 June 2019. The scheme is designed to allow School Authorities, on a devolved funding basis, carry out necessary improvement and refurbishment works to existing school facilities. Full details on the types of refurbishment works that schools may apply for under SWS is available on my Department's website www.education.ie.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (98)

John Curran

Question:

98. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an extension for a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; the timeline for the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22536/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The major building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning - Stage 2(b) Detailed Design which includes the application for statutory approvals and the preparation of tender documents. All Statutory approvals have been secured.

In the context of reviewing the revised Stage 2(b) report submitted to the Department it was noted that the estimated Stage 2(b) cost plan had increased substantially from the approved costs at Stage 2(a).

In accordance with Department Design Team Procedures, where the approved cost limits have been exceeded, a Brief Change Report is necessary.

The Design Team is currently working on the required Brief Change Report. Upon receipt, review and approval of the Brief Change Report the Design Team will commence work on necessary revisions to the Stage 2(b) submission.

Upon receipt and review of a revised stage 2(b) submission the Department will revert to the Board of Management of the school with regard to the further progression of the project at that time.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (99)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

99. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a school building project (details supplied) will commence. [22552/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The project referred to by the Deputy is currently in architectural planning. The school will be delivered under the Department's Design & Build Programme. This delivery programme uses a professional external Project Manager to progress the project through the relevant stages of architectural planning, tendering and construction in the shortest possible timeframe.

The design is being progressed in preparation for the planning application which will be the next key step in the progression of the project. It is intended that Planning Permission will be lodged within the second quarter of 2019.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (100)

Robert Troy

Question:

100. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if SNA assistance hours will be awarded to a person (details supplied). [22570/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for allocating a quantum of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support for each school annually taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support enrolled in the school.

The NCSE allocates SNA support to schools in accordance with the criteria set out in Department Circular 0030/2014, which is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie, in order that students who have care needs can access SNA support as and when it is needed.

In considering applications for SNA support for individual pupils, the NCSE take account of the pupils' needs and consider the resources available to the school to identify whether additionality is needed or whether the school might reasonably be expected to meet the needs of the pupils from its current level of resources.

SNAs are not allocated to individual children but to schools as a school based resource.

As this question relates to a particular child, I have referred the question to the NCSE for their direct reply. I do not have a role in making determinations in individual cases.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (101)

Willie Penrose

Question:

101. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Skills the timeframe for the completion of the construction of a school (details supplied); when it will be ready for occupation in full; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22579/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy is aware, the project to which he refers is devolved for delivery to Westmeath County Council (WCC).

The Deputy will be aware that the latest timeline for completion of the project that was provided by the contractor indicated a completion date of July 2019. WCC has raised a number of concerns with respect to progress on site since that timeline was provided. WCC has requested the contractor to furnish a revised programme of works by the end of this week.

I am satisfied that WCC is continuing to pursue the contractor for as speedy a delivery of the project as possible. Nevertheless, my Department, working with the school authorities, has put in place alternative arrangements to provide accommodation for the increase in enrolments in the school for the coming academic year should the project not be fully completed within that timeframe.

Schools Building Contractors

Questions (102)

Willie Penrose

Question:

102. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he is taking to curtail the ability of contractors to tender for projects with his Department in circumstances in which it is shown that they have failed to honour contractual commitments and obligations under previous contracts with his Department; the steps he is taking to address such situations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22580/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The EU Procurement Directives set the parameters for tendering processes and possible exclusion of contractors from same.

The Department of Education and Skills at all times acts in accordance with public procurement legislation. Under the EU Procurement Directives, it is very difficult to exclude a contractor from a tendering process.

In terms of future contracts, the Department will at all times act in accordance with the legislation governing public procurement and will take legal advice as necessary. My Department will continue to liaise with and be advised by the Chief State Solicitors Office on such matters.

Student Grant Scheme

Questions (103, 104, 105)

Mick Barry

Question:

103. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of students in receipt of an adjacent SUSI grant for students living at least 45 km away from the location where they study in the 2018-19 academic year; and the number of students in higher education in the same academic year. [22582/19]

View answer

Mick Barry

Question:

104. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of students in receipt of an adjacent SUSI grant for students living at least 24 km away from the location where they studied in the 2010-11 academic year; and the number of students in higher education in the same academic year. [22583/19]

View answer

Mick Barry

Question:

105. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of reversing the budget 2011 decision to increase the SUSI grant non-adjacency qualifying distance from 24 km to 45 km. [22584/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 103 to 105, inclusive, together.

The student maintenance grant is a contribution towards the living costs of a student. It is not intended to cover the full costs of attending college. The student grant scheme does however, provide for different levels of maintenance support, depending on means. Grants are also provided at adjacent and non-adjacent rates. The higher non-adjacent rates are intended to provide additional support to those students who may be living away from home.

Budget 2011 provided for a number of student grant measures which came into effect for the 2011/12 academic year, including the change in the assessment of the qualifying distance criterion for the non-adjacent rate of grant from 24 kilometres to 45 kilometres.

The 24km distance criterion was originally set in 1968 and had not been updated in more than 40 years. Since then, significant improvements have taken place in the road and rail network and it is considered that the revised distance criteria is more consistent with the type of distances that students may legitimately be expected to commute to college.

The current qualifying distance of 45km for the higher non-adjacent rate of student grant takes into account a reasonable radius within which students may commute on a daily basis.

The data for the 2018/19 academic year is currently being finalised. However, according to the Higher Education Authority, there were 159,823 full-time undergraduate students in HEA supported higher education institutions for the 2017/18 academic year, of which 77,430 were grant holders with 62,946 undergraduate students in receipt of a maintenance grant. In 2017/18, 52% of maintenance grant holders qualified for the non-adjacent rate and 48% for the adjacent rate.

In relation to the 2010/11 academic year, there were 161,361 full-time undergraduate students in HEA supported higher education institutions, of which 71,532 were grant holders with 53,226 undergraduate students in receipt of a maintenance grant. In 2010/11, 77% were in receipt of the non-adjacent rate of grant and 23% were in receipt of the adjacent rate of grant.

The cost of reversing the change to the distance criteria in the Student Grant, is estimated to be in the region of €26m.

School Staff

Questions (106)

Gerry Adams

Question:

106. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties presented to national schools due to the unqualified substitute five day rule (details supplied); his plans to re-examine the unqualified substitute five day rule; and if there is scope for schools experiencing difficulties in recruiting substitute teachers to extend the service of an unqualified substitute teacher beyond five days. [22585/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

It is the policy of my Department that only qualified personnel should be employed by schools as teachers. Unqualified personnel should not be appointed except in exceptional circumstances and only when all avenues for recruiting qualified personnel have been exhausted and only for quite limited time periods. Circular 0031/2011 issued by my Department details a cascade of measures for the recruitment of teachers by schools, prioritising registered teachers over retired registered teachers and unregistered people.

Other than the limited exceptions provided for, Section 30 of the Teaching Council Act, prohibits payment from public funds to people employed as teachers in recognised schools unless they are registered with the Teaching Council.

The limited exceptions include a provision which allows for an unregistered person to be appointed where an employer has made all reasonable efforts to appoint a registered teacher and no registered teacher is available to take up the position in question. An unregistered person, so appointed, may not be paid from public funds for a continuous period of more than 5 consecutive school days. The employer must be satisfied that any such person appointed is competent and capable of acting in the place of a registered teacher in the school.

The employer must also continue to make all reasonable efforts to employ a registered teacher.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (107)

Kathleen Funchion

Question:

107. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a school (details supplied) has been notified that it must close its doors completely and vacate its temporary site on 31 January 2020 and a company has instructed that no extension of this date should be granted; if his attention has been further drawn to the unnecessary stress this is causing parents, children and teachers at the school in view of the fact that no information has been provided to date regarding alternative arrangements while the site in question is under construction; his plans to ensure that the alternative provided does not break up the school and that the fabric of the classes, including the pupils and teachers, will remain as they are in order to avoid further stress and disruption; the options being considered for the school once circumstances change on 31 January 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22591/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The permanent site acquisition process for the school to which the Deputy refers is now complete.

A planning application for the permanent accommodation for the school was lodged in January 2019. A request for additional information received from the local authority was responded to on 26 April 2019 and a decision is awaited. Following receipt of planning permission the project will proceed to tender.

Provided no issues arise it is envisaged that the permanent accommodation will be completed in September 2020.

In relation to the need for the schools interim accommodation to move from its current location in February 2020 I can advise the following.

The school's interim accommodation is located on a privately owned site. The Landlord had required my Department to confirm that the school would vacate the property at the end of January 2020.

I am happy to announce that on Monday 27 May the Landlord contacted my Department to advise that they have carried out a review of the business plan and strategy for the site and are now agreeable to extend the Lease termination date from the 31 January 2020 to the 30 June 2020, so there is no longer a need for the school to move to alternative interim accommodation in January 2020.

I have already outlined the position in relation to the permanent accommodation for the school and the matter will be kept under review.

My Department is in regular contact with and holds monthly meetings with the school's Patron Body Educate Together in relation to this and a number of other projects under their remit and will continue to keep the school's Patron Body fully informed of progress.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (108)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

108. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an increase in special education teacher hours for a school (details supplied) will be approved; and if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the circumstances in the school have changed in the past number of years. [22616/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that DES Circulars 0007/2019 for primary schools and 0008/2019 for post primary schools provide details of how the allocations of Special Education Teachers have been updated for schools from September 2019, based on updated profile data.

All schools have now received revised allocations for September 2019.

As the re profiling occurred, some schools gained additional allocations, where the profile indicator data indicates these schools have additional needs. Some schools received slightly reduced allocations, where the data indicates less need, and some schools maintained their existing allocations.

Where adjustments have been made, they have been made in a graduated manner to minimise the impact for schools. Changes to Allocations have been capped to 20% of the adjustment to the retained element which would otherwise have occurred had a graduated approach not been applied.

No school has lost a full special education teaching post as a result of the re profiling process.

There has also been be no reduction to the overall number of special education teaching posts within the school system. There are currently over 13,400 special education teachers in schools, an increase of 37% since 2011.

Under the allocation model, schools have been provided with a total allocation for special education needs support based on their school profile.

The school referred to by the Deputy has 55 special education teaching hours, or the equivalent of 2.2 special education teachers (SETs), for an enrolment of 144 pupils at the time the profile was developed.

This gives an allocation ratio of 1 SET for every 65 pupils in the school, compared to a national average of 1 SET per 100 pupils across the primary school system.

This represents a proportionately a high allocation ratio, which takes into account the school profile.

Both my Department and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) are committed to ensuring that all schools are treated equally and fairly in the manner in which their school profiles have been calculated.

Accordingly, a number of review processes have been put in place to support schools.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) published details of an appeal process for the 2019 allocation process for schools on their website www.ncse.ie.

Schools were advised that the appeal will consider circumstances where schools considered that their school profile was calculated incorrectly, using the data set out in DES Circulars 007 and 008 2019. An appeal could be submitted for a review of the information used and of the calculation of the allocation.

A second process will be put in place to address circumstances where the school profile significantly changed following the allocation process e.g. a developing school where the net enrolment numbers significantly increased.

The criteria for qualification for mainstream school developing school posts are set out in the Primary and Post Primary School Staffing Schedule for the 2019/20 school year.

Schools who qualify for additional mainstream developing school posts, in accordance with these criteria, will also qualify for additional Special Education Teaching Allocations to take account of this developing status.

Finally, it is acknowledged that there are some circumstances, which may arise in schools, which fall outside the appeals process, or allocations for developing school status.

These relate to exceptional or emergency circumstances which could not have been anticipated e.g. where the school profile changes very significantly, or where other exceptional circumstances have arisen in a school and which may require a review of schools capacity to provide additional teaching support for all pupils who need it in the school, or of their utilisation of their allocations.

A process will also be available where schools can seek a review of their allocations in the coming months, including the utilisation of their allocations, in circumstances where a school considers that very exceptional circumstances have arisen subsequent to the development of the profile.

As revised updated allocations have recently been issued to schools, this process will recommence in September 2019.

I am satisfied that there are in place a number of processes which can review the special education teacher allocation for schools where necessary.

The very significant levels of additional provision we have made in recent years to provide additional Special Education Teachers means that all schools are resourced to provide for the special educational needs of children in their schools.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (109)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

109. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 158 of 16 April 2019, when a child (details supplied) will be accommodated with a special needs school place to meet the child's ongoing educational requirements in view of the fact that the primary school will no longer facilitate the child as the child has reached 12 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22618/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I understand from my officials that a placement has been sourced for September 2019 for the child in question.

The local Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO) has been in contact with the parent and remains available to provide advice and/or assistance with regard to special education supports for the child.