Student Data

Questions (224)

Gino Kenny

Question:

224. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of asylum seekers and refugees in higher education and further education, respectively; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23351/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The main support available to students is the statutory based SUSI grant scheme. In general, persons with refugee, subsidiary protection or leave to remain status can access the same supports as Irish nationals.

Persons in the asylum process are not eligible to access the statutory based SUSI grant scheme. However, the administratively based Pilot Support Scheme provides supports along similar lines to the SUSI grant scheme and is available to persons in the asylum, subsidiary protection or leave to remain process. Details of the 2019/20 Pilot Support Scheme can be accessed at

https://www.education.ie/en/Learners/Services/Pilot-Support-Scheme/Pilot-Support-Scheme.html

With regard to statistics, the Higher Education Authority has advised that higher education institutions do not collect data on the number of asylum seekers or refugees in higher education.

There are limited statistics available for students in the further education sector. However, the statistics are very much dependant on individual students self-declaring. For 2018, a total of 1,428 students self-declared as asylum seekers with a further 1,849 self-declaring as refugees.

Qualifications Recognition

Questions (225)

Gino Kenny

Question:

225. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills if there is a recognition of prior learning for asylum seekers and refugees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23352/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The recognition of prior learning (RPL) describes a process used to evaluate knowledge or skill acquired outside the formal education system for the purpose of recognising competence against a given set of standards, competencies or learning outcomes. 

Under the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012 individuals including asylum seekers and refugees can approach Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) directly to enquire about RPL opportunities and to seek information on gaining certification for existing knowledge, skill or competence.

QQI does not conduct RPL processes itself but relies upon education and training providers of relevant programmes who have the necessary expertise and experienced RPL assessors. These providers can assess learners for the purpose of recognising their existing knowledge, skill and competence for the purpose of access to a further or higher education and training programme or towards an award.

School Services Staff

Questions (226)

Jack Chambers

Question:

226. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a matter will be examined regarding a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23356/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Officials from my Department are looking into this matter and will respond to the Deputy directly.

Teaching Council of Ireland

Questions (227)

Eugene Murphy

Question:

227. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a matter regarding the case of a person (details supplied) will be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23361/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Under the Teaching Council Acts the Teaching Council is, since 2006, the body with statutory authority for the registration of teachers.

My Department does not have any direct involvement in the registration of teachers by the Teaching Council.

The charging of a registration fee is standard among professional regulatory bodies. The fee for initial registration with the Teaching Council is €90. The fee for renewal of registration was reduced to €65 per annum from 1 January 2013. This is substantially lower than for many other professions. The Teaching Council keeps all matters concerning registrants, such as fees, under review.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (228)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

228. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason for the reduction of special needs assistants in a school (details supplied). [23373/19]

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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.

SNA allocations to all schools can change from year to year as children with care needs leave the school, as new children with care needs enrol in a school and as children develop more independent living skills and their care needs diminish over time.

The NCSE Appeals Process may be invoked by a parent or a school where it is considered that a child was not granted access to SNA support because the requirements outlined in Circular 0030/2014 were not complied with.  Schools may also appeal a decision, where the school considers that the NCSE, in applying Department policy, has not allocated the appropriate level of SNA support to the school to meet the special educational and/or care needs of the children concerned.

Where a school has received its allocation of SNA support for 2019/20, but wishes new enrolments or assessments to be considered, which were not taken into account when the initial allocation was made, they may continue to make applications to the NCSE.  

The closing date for receipt of appeals in regard to SNA allocations is Friday 27 September 2019.

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

Physical Education Facilities

Questions (229)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

229. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the funding available to second level schools and educators for gymnasium and physical education equipment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23379/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that my Department provides funding toward the provision of furniture and equipment including PE equipment in both primary and post-primary schools. In relation to post-primary schools, where my Department provides a sports hall as part of a building project, the equipment provided forms part of the overall furniture and equipment grant to that school. This includes funding for appropriate equipment for a fitness suite consisting of exercise bicycles, treadmills, a rowing machine and elliptical trainers, as well as general PE equipment.

Childcare Services Provision

Questions (230)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

230. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on whether the new inspection and regulatory environment introduced for childcare providers of school aged children is reducing the availability of childcare provision; his plans to review the new regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23388/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Ministerial responsibility for the Childcare regulations concerned rests with my colleague Minister for Children & Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone T.D.  I understand that it is not expected that the new inspection and regulatory environment introduced for childcare providers will result in an overall reduction in the number of school-age childcare places.  A public consultation on school age childcare regulation has been launched by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs which is open until 5th July,  Further information and links to the online survey and call for submissions can be found on the DCYA website www.dcya.gov.ie.

Special Educational Needs Staff

Questions (231)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

231. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a school (details supplied) has suffered a significant reduction in SNA numbers; and if he will have the matter reviewed. [23422/19]

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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 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.

SNA allocations to all schools can change from year to year as children with care needs leave the school, as new children with care needs enrol in a school and as children develop more independent living skills and their care needs diminish over time.

The NCSE Appeals Process may be invoked by a parent or a school where it is considered that a child was not granted access to SNA support because the requirements outlined in Circular 0030/2014 were not complied with.  Schools may also appeal a decision, where the school considers that the NCSE, in applying Department policy, has not allocated the appropriate level of SNA support to the school to meet the special educational and/or care needs of the children concerned.

Where a school has received its allocation of SNA support for 2019/20, but wishes new enrolments or assessments to be considered, which were not taken into account when the initial allocation was made, they may continue to make applications to the NCSE.  

The closing date for receipt of appeals in regard to SNA allocations is Friday 27 September 2019.

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

SOLAS Expenditure

Questions (232)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

232. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the level of expenditure on travel and subsistence paid out by SOLAS to each ETB since the ETBs were formed in 2014; the allocated budget for each year since the formation of each ETB; the spend per year for each ETB; the allocated budget per year for each of the FÁS/SOLAS training centres; the spend per year; when the initial budget was expended and had to be topped up; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23423/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The funding allocation from SOLAS to Education and Training Boards (ETBs) supports the delivery of key functions within the further education and training sector. The provision enables the management, administration, coordination and delivery of training which is located within the overall geographical area of an ETB.  Former SOLAS training centres were transferred to 11 of the 16 ETBs but all ETBs fund and co-ordinate the delivery of training in their areas.

SOLAS allocates grants in respect of each training programme to the 16 Education Training Boards which includes provision for the travel and subsistence referred to by the Deputy.  SOLAS does not make a separate allocation for ETB travel and subsistence.

Details of travel and subsistence expenditure funded from the training budget has been sought from the individual ETBs and I have arranged that it will be compiled and forwarded to the Deputy when completed.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (233)

Robert Troy

Question:

233. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the new building for a school (details supplied) will be completed; the reason for the delays; and the number of labourers and tradesmen working on site. [23430/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I am aware of the delays in the project to which the Deputy refers which, as he knows, has been devolved for delivery to Westmeath County Council (WCC).  

Significant delays have been experienced in delivering this project.  These arose initially because the contractor encountered bad unforeseen ground conditions together with severe weather events last year. However, it appears from the latest programme provided by the contractor for this project that the building will now not be fully occupied until this coming October. This is extremely disappointing and frustrating for all concerned.

The contractor is responsible for resourcing and programming the construction works in question. In that respect, WCC, which is responsible for managing the contract, has expressed its disappointment with the level of resources on site and the slow progress of the construction programme.

I fully appreciate the anxiety and frustration of all the stakeholders awaiting the completion of the Curraghmore project that have been caused by the very significant delays in its delivery. I can assure them all that WCC, supported by my Department, is continuing to pursue the contractor for as speedy a delivery of the project as possible.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (234)

Robert Troy

Question:

234. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the fact that children diagnosed with autism have to travel to Kinnegad, County Westmeath, twice daily to attend school there due to the delay in the completion of a new school (details supplied). [23431/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I am aware of the delays in the project to which the Deputy refers which, as he knows, has been devolved for delivery to Westmeath County Council (WCC).  

My Department has worked closely with the school authorities and the patron of both schools in question to put in place contingency arrangements in the event that the project is delayed beyond September 2019. I am very disappointed to say it now appears that the building will not be ready then. The school authorities and patron for the relevant school in Kinnegad have also kindly agreed to temporarily provide accommodation for a number of special needs pupils as an alternative to home tuition for those children. The Department will be providing the funding needed to facilitate this arrangement.

I fully appreciate the anxiety and frustration of all the stakeholders awaiting the completion of the Curraghmore project that have been caused by the very significant delays in its delivery. I can assure them all that WCC, supported by my Department, is continuing to pursue the contractor for as speedy a delivery of the project as possible. Hopefully the arrangements in question will only need to be in place for a very short time.

School Starting Age

Questions (235)

Seán Haughey

Question:

235. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider increasing the age at which children start primary school; if he has considered the available research on this issue; the considerations to be taken into account when deciding on the starting age for primary school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23434/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

In accordance with the Education Welfare Act, 2000 the compulsory school starting age in a National School is 6 years of age and the Rules for National Schools provide that a child must be at least 4 years of age before he/she may be enrolled in a National School. If children are not in school by 6 years of age the Education Welfare Service must be satisfied that the child is receiving a minimum standard of education in a place other than a recognised school.  

The primary school curriculum is designed as an eight year course, including a two year infant cycle followed by six years in standards from first to sixth, with children progressing to the next grade at the end of each school year.

It has been a long standing tradition in Ireland to allow parents, the primary educators of children, to choose when is best for their child to enter formal education within the parameters outlined above. My Department has recognised and respected the right of parents to make that choice and the importance of leaving this choice with parents.

My Department is aware of research into school readiness which was commissioned by my colleague, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, information on which can be found here:

https://www.dcya.gov.ie/documents/earlyyears/20170118AnExaminationOfConceptsOfSchoolReadinessAmongParentsEducatorsIreland.PDF

As the Child and Family Agency (TUSLA) is the dedicated Statutory State Agency responsible for improving well-being and outcomes for children, any recommendations and proposals to amend the Education (Welfare) Act 2000 should be addressed directly with the Educational Welfare Service (EWS) of that body.

Emergency Works Scheme Applications

Questions (236)

Peter Burke

Question:

236. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a successful grant application by a school (details supplied) will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23445/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I can advise the Deputy that an application for funding under the Department's Emergency Works Scheme was submitted by the school to which he refers. This application, to replace its floors, was deemed to be outside the terms of the scheme and was refused.  The correct mechanism for applying for funding for works of this nature is my Department's Summer Works Scheme. This scheme is now open for receipt of applications. 

I also wish to advise the Deputy that, as per the Emergency Works Circular 0018/2011, the school authority is free to submit an appeal to my Department. This appeal will be considered only where additional relevant information is provided.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (237, 238)

Paul Murphy

Question:

237. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a person (details supplied) will be given an appropriate ASD unit for the senior cycle of primary school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23448/19]

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Paul Murphy

Question:

238. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) has no ASD unit for those in the senior cycle in view of the evident need for one; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23449/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 237 and 238 together.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for organising and planning provision for children with Special Educational Needs, including the establishment of special classes in mainstream primary and post primary schools.

Since 2011, the NCSE has increased the number of special classes from 548 in 2011 to 1,459 for the 2018/19 school year. 1,196 of these are ASD special classes.

Parents/guardians who may need advice or are experiencing difficulties in locating a school placement should contact their local SENO who can assist in identifying an appropriate educational placement for their child. Contact details are available on www.ncse.ie.  

As the matter raised by the Deputy refers to a particular child, I have arranged for the Deputy's question to be forwarded to the National Council for Special Education for their attention and direct reply.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (239)

Mary Butler

Question:

239. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application by a school (details supplied) since revised stage 2 drawings and details were submitted in February 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23480/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

In April 2018, my Department approved funding for the provision of one additional classroom and one Special Education Teaching room together with a WC for assisted users at the school to which the Deputy refers.

A Stage 2a submission (detailed design) for this project was received in my Department in February, 2019. This was assessed at that time and, following on from this, revised plans and costings were requested for submission by the school authority and its Design Team.

This revised submission, dated April 2019, was received in my Department in May 2019 and is currently being assessed.

When this assessment is completed, my Department will be in contact with the school authority directly.