Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (272)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

272. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if tenders have now been invited from the shortlist of contractors for a school (details supplied); if so, the closing date for receipt of tenders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24019/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The process of Pre-Qualification of contractors for the project in question is underway.  The Pre-qualification process culminates in the compilation of shortlists of suitable candidates for each respective discipline. My Department has recently authorised the Design Team to complete the pre-qualification process.

When the Pre-Qualification process is completed the project will then be progressed to tender stage which normally takes between 7 and 8 months to complete.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (273)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

273. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when tenders will be invited from the shortlist of contractors for a school (details supplied); the closing date for receipt of tenders; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24020/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The major building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is currently at Stage 2(b) – Detailed Design.

The pre-qualification process to select a shortlist of suitable contractors has been completed and the Design Team is currently carrying out a final review of tender documentation.

Once this work is complete, my Department will be in contact with the Board of Management of the school with a view to progressing the project to tender stage.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (274)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

274. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of tenders received by the closing date of 5 June 2019 for the completion of a school (details supplied); when the tender report is expected; when a letter of intent will issue; when the contractor will be on site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24021/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Tender documents for the completion of the remaining works for the project to which the Deputy refers have issued to the seven shortlisted contractors. The extended deadline for the return of these tenders is today. It is expected that a tender report will be issued to the Department shortly in that context with a view to having a Letter of Intent ready to issue by the end of June.  The successful contractor will recommence work on site in early Q3 2019 and  the buildings will be available for occupation prior to September 2020.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (275)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

275. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of tenders received by the closing date of 7 June 2019 for the construction of a school (details supplied); when the tender report is expected; when a letter of intent will issue; when the contractor will be on site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24022/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The project to which the Deputy refers has been devolved to Kildare and Wicklow Education & Training Board.

We understand from KWETB that tenders have been invited from the shortlisted contractors and the closing date for receipt of same has been extended to 21st June 2019.  It is expected that a Tender Report will be issued to the Department shortly thereafter. 

A Letter of Intent will issue when the Department has approved the Tender Report.  The project will then proceed to construction.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (276)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

276. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of contractors that expressed an interest in tendering for a school (details supplied) by the closing date of 28 May 2019; when actual tenders will be invited for the project; when it is expected construction will commence on the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24023/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The major building project for the school in question is at an advanced stage of architectural planning, Stage 2(b) – Detailed Design which includes the application for Planning Permission, Fire Cert and Disability Access Cert and the preparation of tender documents.  All statutory approvals have been secured.

The Design Team is currently in the process of compiling a shortlist of contractors for tender stage.  In the circumstances, it would be inappropriate at this point in time for my Department to comment on the composition of the shortlist.

When the pre-qualification process is complete the project will then be progressed to tender stage.

A tender stage normally takes between 7 and 8 months to complete.

School Transport Applications

Questions (277)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

277. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a remote area grant will be processed for a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24074/19]

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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.

Under the terms of the School Transport Scheme children are generally eligible for transport if they meet the distance criteria and are attending their nearest school.  

Children who are eligible for school transport but for whom no transport service is available may, following an application for transport within the prescribed time limits, receive a Remote Area Grant towards the cost of private transport arrangements.

In this regard the family should contact their local Bus Éireann office at 066 - 7164750 or School Transport Section of the Department at 057 - 9325466/67.

National Educational Psychological Service Data

Questions (278)

Billy Kelleher

Question:

278. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated full year cost of recruiting 16 additional psychologists for the National Education Psychological Service. [24096/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I can inform the Deputy that the direct full-year cost of employing 16 additional psychologists (pay and non-pay) to my Department's National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) would be an estimated €1.2m.

Residential Institutions Statutory Fund

Questions (279)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

279. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to continue the operation of the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund, Caranua, in view of the outstanding moneys due and owing from religious congregations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24125/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy will be aware Caranua ceased to accept applications for support from former residents on 1 August 2018.  Since then, the organisation has been processing applications it has on hands.

Under section 29 of the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act 2012 contributions from religious congregations towards Caranua are capped at €110 million. To date a total of €105 million, comprising contributions of some €103.6 million plus added interest of €1.382 million, has been received by my Department and made available to Caranua. Accordingly a further €6.4 million in cash contributions is required to achieve the capped amount of €110 million. My officials are actively engaging with the Congregation of Christian Brothers in regard to the receipt of its outstanding contribution at an early date. Achievement of that outstanding contribution will ensure that the cap of €110 million provided for in the legislation will have been reached.

Caranua publishes regular updates on its website regarding expenditure, applications, etc. The most recent update shows that to end April 2019, Caranua had expended some €85 million on supports and services and that it had open applications on hands from 1,882 former residents. 

It is expected that it will take a number of months for Caranua to complete the processing of the applications it has on hands. The organisation will be wound down in due course and will be dissolved when it has completed the performance of its functions.

Caranua is being kept fully informed of the position in regard to the outstanding cash contributions and it is a matter for the organisation to prudentially manage the funds available to it.

Residential Institutions Statutory Fund

Questions (280)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

280. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for the balance of funds in the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund upon the wind-up of the fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24126/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Based on the information currently available to me it appears unlikely that there will be any significant balance of unspent funds remaining on the dissolution of Caranua. The position will however be kept under review and, if required, provision will be made in legislation for the usage of any remaining unspent funds.

Schools Data

Questions (281)

John Curran

Question:

281. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools built prior to 2008 nationally. [24138/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that 439 schools have been constructed since 2009. My Department does not hold details of the number of schools constructed prior to 2008. There are a total of 3,962 primary, special and post primary schools in the education system.

Schools Refurbishment

Questions (282)

John Curran

Question:

282. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools built prior to 2008 that applied to undergo a deep energy retrofit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24139/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

In the National Development Plan (2018-2027) €2.5bn is identified for the refurbishment and construction of schools. Part of this is intended for a deep energy retrofit of schools built prior to 2008.  As this scheme is currently in a pilot phase it is not currently open to schools to apply for inclusion.

My Department and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland are currently involved in an energy efficiency retrofit pilot scheme for schools.  Now in its third year, the aim of the pilot is to create a scalable model for energy efficiency retrofitting of schools. This is taking place in advance of the major programme of retrofits scheduled to commence in 2022, as outlined in Project Ireland 2040. Subject to resources, it is intended to expand the intake of schools in the pilot programme in the lead up to 2022. 

This pilot commenced in 2017 when ten schools received energy retrofits.  In 2018 six schools received retrofits and seventeen schools are set to benefit from this scheme in 2019.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (283)

Seán Haughey

Question:

283. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to a number of issues of concern to special needs assistants (details supplied); the measures he plans to take to address these concerns; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24146/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Comprehensive Review of the Special Needs Assistant Scheme – A New School Inclusion Model to Deliver the Right Supports at the Right time to Students with Additional Care Needs was published by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) on 30 May 2018.

The review found that the SNA scheme was working really well particularly for younger children and for certain types of care needs, for example, mobility and toileting.  It also found that a new and more widely based model of support involving both education and health supports was needed to meet the range of student need currently presenting in our schools. The review made a number of recommendations including the way SNA support is allocated to schools and the need to build school capacity through training. 

The NCSE concluded that a better model of support was required, one which provides the right support at the right time provided by a range of personnel with relevant qualifications and skill sets.  The review recommended a new school inclusion model where the response by the State to the additional care needs for students in our schools would be broadened and better tailored to individual needs.

On 27 March I announced the trialing of the School Inclusion Model in 75 schools for the 2019/20 school year.

One feature of the School Inclusion Model is the development of a frontloaded allocation model of SNAs.  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. The proposed arrangements when implemented will also improve job security for SNAs in schools ensuring greater certainty for SNAs in relation to their employment status.

In conducting their review, the NCSE consulted widely and consultation will continue to be a central feature of the development and implementation.  Over 50 people including SNAs and their representatives attended an information and consultation event on 30 April 2019.  Further consultation is being undertaken directly with the Forsa union. 

My Department published the Circular (number 71/2011, see below) concerning Croke Park Hours for SNAs, however, it does not get involved in the local management of how schools (as the employers) arrange the delivery of the hours from their staff (including SNAs).  However, point 9 of Appendix 1 of this circular does provide possible examples (not exhaustive listing) of the type of work that maybe undertaken by SNA’s to meet their Croke Park hourly obligations.

Link to DES Circular 71/2011 is as follows: http://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0071_2011.pdf

Where a full-time SNA post within a school is reduced to a part-time post, the issue of redundancy payment in respect of the loss of hours may arise.  Redundancy arrangements for SNAs are set out in Department Circular 0058/2006.

Where a school/ETB has an additional allocation of SNA hours/posts then that additional allocation of hours/posts must be offered to an existing part-time SNAs in that school, in order of seniority, before the employer has recourse to these arrangements. This means that before an employer opts to recruit a further person as an SNA(s), they must ensure that all existing part-time SNAs in their employment, in order of seniority, have been offered a full-time position in the school or, in the case of ETBs, a full-time position in a school within the ETB scheme. The only exception that can be made to this rule is where a school/ETB has a determination in writing from the NCSE / SENO stating that their allocation must be split amongst a specific number of SNAs and/or stating that the allocation must be implemented in a specific fashion to address the care needs of the pupil(s). These arrangements are set out in Department Circular 0030/2019 published on 22 May 2019, which is available via the following link: https://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0030_2019.pdf 

The position on working hours for SNAs is that there are no nationally set working hours for full-time SNAs. In this regard, the contractual position in respect of the working hours of SNAs is as outlined in their contracts of employment which were agreed with the school management authorities and the relevant Trade Unions representing SNAs (FÓRSA and SIPTU) prior to their introduction in 2005. The working week for SNAs is defined in paragraph 2.5 of their contract as follows: "You will be required to work normal classroom hours including class break periods and in addition to attend before and after school in order to help with the preparation and tidying up of classrooms, reception and dispersal of children etc. The hours of work will normally be from [xxxx] to [xxxx] daily during term time."

This standard contract has been designed to be flexible to cater for the different spectrum of working hours across all the various schools including primary, post-primary and special schools. No set hours were agreed but instead, full-time SNAs are expected to work for the normal school hours in the school that they are working in, and in addition to be available for a period of time before and after school in order to help with reception and dispersal of children and preparation and tidying up of classrooms etc. These times are set locally by the school management and will vary from school to school depending on the requirements of the school. 

In addition, all SNAs were required to be available for a number of days at the start and finish of each school term not exceeding 12 in total. Under the Croke Park Agreement it was agreed to introduce greater flexibility to the use of these 12 days. These 12 days now equate to 72 hours (pro-rata for part-time SNAs) to be used by schools as an additional bank of hours to be utilised and delivered outside of normal school opening hours and/or the normal school year.

Furthermore, the contract for Special Needs Assistants in the post primary sector (link below) specifically requires that SNAs are required to work the month of June on examinations and work appropriate to the grade including training. This was agreed with the Unions representing SNAs (FÓRSA and SIPTU) when the contract was devised in 2005. This condition of service places a clear onus and obligation on the SNA to attend at their place of work and be available for work during the month of June.

It is a matter for school management as their employer to determine the precise work that is to be completed by SNAs during the month of June. The utilisation of this period is not specifically for examinations or training purposes only, although these are two of the purposes for which the period of work can be utilised. 

Link to the SNA Contract of Employment for the Post Primary sector:

Department of Education and Skills Circular SNA 12/05 (Post-Primary) http://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/sna12_05.pdf.

This contract of employment is augmented by all of the relevant Departmental Circulars governing Special Needs Assistants which detail the standardised terms and conditions of employment for SNAs including leave entitlements.

Teacher Training Places

Questions (284)

Martin Kenny

Question:

284. Deputy Martin Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he will take in the case of a person (details supplied) who was refused access to a PME primary masters programme due to an insufficient level of Irish; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24173/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Having relatively high minimum entry requirements in core subject areas of Irish, English and Mathematics is one of the key policy levers that help ensure quality teaching and learning in primary schools.  The 2011 Literacy and Numeracy Strategy and subsequent review identified the need to raise standards of achievement and included decisions to raise the entry requirements in the core subjects over time.

In October 2017, changes were announced setting higher minimum entry standards to primary programmes of initial teacher education for Leaving Certificate Maths, English and Irish, with the key change to take effect from September 2019. The changes introduced took account of advice provided by the Teaching Council, which had engaged in a consultation process around a number of matters relating to entry to initial teacher education. The entry requirement for Irish is to increase from H5 to H4.

I am aware that the introduction of the new, higher, standards has posed difficulties in timing for students applying to the Professional Master of Education (PME), the post-graduate entry route to primary teaching that you refer to. These were further impacted by other changes to the application process, which involved students applying to the four State-funded providers (DCU, Mary Immaculate College, Maynooth University and Marino Institute of Education ) having to take the Teastas Eorpach Gaeilge (TEG) test.

I would like to inform the Deputy that the Minimum Entry Requirement for Irish for PME applicants will be H5 in 2020. The requirement for H4 for PME applications will not take effect until 2021.

In summary: any applicant to the PME for 2020 will have to have both the Minimum Entry Requirement H5 for Irish and have successfully completed the Teastas Eorpach Gaeilge in order progress their application with the relevant ITE providers

Teachers' Remuneration

Questions (285)

Michael McGrath

Question:

285. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a person who has a teaching qualification and is registered with the Teaching Council but is teaching a subject that is not on that person’s Teaching Council certificate is entitled to move along the pay scale for the hours worked teaching that subject; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24236/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department has issued a reply to this Parliamentary Question directly to the Deputy.

Schools Site Acquisitions

Questions (286)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

286. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress being made in acquiring land for a new building for a school (details supplied); the timeline for delivery; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24237/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy may be aware, a building project for the school in question is included in my Department's capital programme.

A preferred site for the school has been identified and negotiations are ongoing at present.

Due to commercial sensitivities relating to site acquisitions generally I am not in a position to provide further details at this time.  I can assure the Deputy that the school patron will be kept informed of progress.

Digital Strategy for Schools

Questions (287)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

287. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if schools are required to have a digital learning plan; the position regarding schools not having such a strategy; and if the matter is monitored by his Department. [24242/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Under the Digital Strategy for Schools, each school is expected to draw up a Digital Learning Plan using a whole school approach and taking account of its context and circumstances.

Support and guidance for schools on developing their Digital Learning Plan can be found at https://www.pdsttechnologyineducation.ie/en/Planning/. Direct school support is also available through the professional development support services for teachers (PDST) in particular through its Technology In Education Team. Information on the Digital Learning Framework, a resource, to support schools in embedding the use of digital technology in teaching and learning, can also be found at that link. The Digital Learning Framework, which supports and complements the School Self Evaluation (SSE) process is in its second year of dissemination and is accompanied by an intensive continuous professional development framework targeted at school leaders and teachers. The development of a digital learning plan is an important element of the DLF.

The outlay of the funding provided under the ICT Infrastructure Grant should also align with the schools Digital Learning Plan. To date, under the Digital Strategy for Schools, €105m has issued to schools for the provision of improved ICT Infrastructure.

Under the terms of Circulars 0040/2016 (post primary) and 0039/2016 (primary) all schools are required to complete the SSE legislative/regulatory checklist on an annual basis. The checklist for primary and post-primary schools was revised in 2018 and now contains reference to the requirement for a Digital Learning Plan and the implementation of the Digital Learning Framework. This checklist is included as an Appendix to their SSE Report/Improvement Plan.

My Department will also be arranging a sample audit of schools to check for compliance with the terms of the ICT Infrastructure Grant Scheme.