Public Sector Staff Recruitment

Questions (93)

Eamon Scanlon

Question:

93. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the progress made to date in terms of appointments from the competition held for temporary clerical officers in the Civil Service for summer 2019 in counties Sligo and Leitrim; if candidates are still being drawn from the panel established from the clerical officer recruitment campaign; the number of officers to be recruited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24390/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Public Appointments Service (PAS) is an independent, statutory body which provides professional recruitment and selection services to the civil service.  

The Temporary Clerical Officer (TCO) competition for 2019 is currently underway and candidates are assigned as and when vacancies are notified to PAS.  The number of positions available to any particular panel depends on the demand from departments/offices and that demand is subject to their pay and numbers allocation.

While every effort is made to make sure that panels are not large, placement on a panel is no guarantee of appointment to a position.  

I understand that 10 assignments from the Leitrim panel and 133 from the Sligo panel have been made from the 2018 TCO competition.

Public Sector Staff Redeployment

Questions (94)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

94. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if, when a person transfers from one Department to another due to no fault of their own within the Civil Service, the person is entitled to bring his or her pay entitlement and emoluments with him or her; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24422/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I am reading this question as referring to moves under the redeployment scheme.

As the Deputy will be aware, the various Public Service Agreements (PSAs) provide for agreed redeployment arrangements to apply in the civil service and in other parts of the public service. Redeployment is primarily a mechanism for the transfer of surplus staff to areas where appropriate vacancies exist.

Redeployment allows staff to be moved as a result of the rationalisation, reconfiguration or restructuring of public service bodies or where activities have assumed lesser priority arising from changing business needs.

 My Department is responsible for redeployment in the civil service and non-commercial state bodies and these redeployments panels are operated on my behalf by the Public Appointments Service (PAS).

Pay

Staff who are redeployed take their own basic pay with them to the new employment. In practice this means that

- if they move to a post where the pay scale ends at a point lower than theirs, they continue on their own pay scale to its maximum, on a ring-fenced basis

- if they move to a post where the pay scale ends at a higher point than theirs, they continue on their own pay scale to its maximum.  

This pay approach allows for scope for staff in one grade to transfer across to a grade that does not exactly match their own. Where this has happened previously, the Public Service Pay and Pensions Division of the Department of Public expenditure and Reform is usually consulted in relation to the maximum and minimum pay variations for such assignments.

Allowances

The arrangements underpinning the PSAs provide for compensation for loss of regular and structured earnings which may result from the application of the pay approach set out above.  Such losses (if any) will be established after the redeployment has been in operation for 12 months and compensation will be paid equal to 1½ times the annual loss established in the case of the individual affected, payable in 2 instalments a year apart.

Public Sector Pay

Questions (95)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

95. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated number of persons employed in the public service who earn below the living wage which currently stands at €11.90 per hour; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24458/19]

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Written answers (Question to Public)

It is important that Ireland’s statutory National Minimum Wage and the Living Wage concept are not confused. The Living Wage has no legislative basis and is therefore not a statutory entitlement. It currently stands at €11.90 per hour, to be reviewed this month, according to the Living Wage Technical Group 2018 document.

The National Minimum Wage is a statutory entitlement and has a legislative basis. The Low Pay Commission annually assesses the appropriate level of the National Minimum Wage. The current national minimum hourly rate of pay, since 1 January 2019, is €9.80 per hour, as set out in the National Minimum Wage Order 2018.  

The actual number of employees working in the public sector with salaries below the living wage would require individual level data on the position of staff on each salary scale across the public service and details of the standard working hours per week for each individual grade. This data is not available to the Department. 

However, an analysis of the most recently available (Q2 2018)  pay band data indicates that some 96% of all public service staff are on salary points in excess of €25,000 per annum. The suggested wage at €11.90 per hour based on the Civil Service 37 hour standard net working week equates to an annual salary of €22,975.  

More detailed data on Civil Service staff indicates that only some 1% of staff (FTE) in the Civil Service are on salary points less than €22,975.   

Any of those currently on an annual salary of less than €22,975 may be receiving remuneration in excess of the suggested living wage through additional premium payments in respect of shift or atypical working hours or are on salary scales that progress to the suggested living wage and above through incremental progression.

Pay increases within the public service are set through collective agreement. Pay increases under the Public Services Stability Agreement 2018-2020 include: 1% October 2018; 1% for those earning under €30,000 January 2019; 1.75% in September 2019 and 2% in October 2020 which will further reduce those earning less than the suggested living wage. 

Public Sector Pay

Questions (96, 97, 98, 99)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

96. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of public sector workers working on the post-2011 salary scale disaggregated by pay scale and profession. [24470/19]

View answer

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

97. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the pathway of pay equalisation for post-2011 entrants into the public sector disaggregated by the number of public sector workers who will jump each of the two pay scales in the coming years. [24471/19]

View answer

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

98. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated cost of full pay equalisation by January 2020. [24472/19]

View answer

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

99. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated cost of pay equalisation over two years with post-2011 entrants having their positions increased by one point on 1 January 2020 and increased by one point on 1 July 2020. [24473/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 96 to 99, inclusive, together.

As the Deputy is aware, under the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 (PSSA), it was agreed by all parties that there would be an examination of remaining salary scale issues in respect of post January 2011 recruits at entry grades. The discussions were informed by a Report, of March 2018 to the Houses of the Oireacthas in accordance with Section 11 of the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017. A copy of the report and relevant data can be accessed at: http://opac.oireachtas.ie/AWData/Library3/PERdoclaid160318_152642.pdf.

The Report shows that there has been strong recruitment since 2011 to the estimated 237 recruitment grades across the public service, with over 60,500 new entrants hired. This includes over 16,000 teachers, nearly 5,000 Special Needs Assistants and almost 10,000 nurses.

The report also quantified the cost of a two point adjustment as approximately €200m and the potential benefit to the individual as €3,301 on average. Full restoration in January 2020 would equate to an estimated €200m cost in that year. An adjustment of one increment in January 2020 and one increment in July 2020 would have the effect of spreading the cost over 2 years, due to carry over costs.

Since the publication of the Report, my Department, in support of the discussions between the parties, engaged in further work to assess and model the potential budgetary implications and impacts through phasing of the overall quantum.

Discussions on the issue with public service trade unions and representative associations, commenced in October 2017 and agreement was reached, in September 2018, between the parties to the Public Service Stability Agreement on a measure which provides a credible pathway to addressing the concerns of those recruited to our public service since 2011 in a balanced and sustainable way. It provides a fair and affordable path to managing the cost associated with the issue.

The cost of this measure as agreed during the remaining term of the PSSA is €75m (€27m in 2019 and €48m in 2020). The full cost of the measure based on current data and public service numbers (2017) will cost €190m out to 2025. It is estimated some 58% (35,750) of ‘new entrants’ will benefit from this measure in year 1 rising to 78% (47,750) by year 2. Provision for the additional cost will be provided for in the upcoming budget 2019 and subsequent years.

In general, the agreement provides for two separate interventions which will take place at point 4 and point 8 of pay scales. The practical effect of this is that for ‘new entrants’ the relevant points on the scale will be bypassed thereby reducing the time spent (by bypassing two increment points) on the scale for progression to the maximum point.

This was brought to the Unions and Associations and their members to consider the measure in accordance with the procedures and processes provided for within those bodies and subsequently agreed upon.

The benefits under the measure became effective from 1 March 2019, and will be applied to each eligible new entrant as they reach the relevant scale points on their current increment date, and will be restricted to Parties adhering to the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020.

Departmental Bodies Data

Questions (100)

Alan Kelly

Question:

100. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of finance and strategy committee meetings which were held in the Institute of Public Administration in each of the years 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019; and the date and attendees of each meeting. [24536/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I am informed by the Institute of Public Administration that the Finance and Strategy Committee met twenty five times in total between 2011 to 2018 and to date in 2019.

Details of the date and attendees of each meeting is provided in the following table:

Year

Number of  Finance and Strategy Meetings 

Date of Meeting 

Chair 

Members in Attendance 

Apologies 

2011

6 meetings held

01/02/2011 - 57th Meeting 

Dr. J. Tierney

Dr. J. Tierney, (Chair), Dr. B.Cawley (Director General), Ms. S. Mc Namara, and Mr. D. Dowling.

Mr. M. Errity and Mr. G. D’Arcy.

06/04/2011 - 58th Meeting 

Dr. J. Tierney

Dr. J. Tierney, (Chair)

Dr. B. Cawley (Director General)

Ms. S. Mc Namara

Mr. D. Dowling

Mr. G. D’Arcy.

Mr. M. Errity

10/05/2011 - 59th Meeting 

Dr. J. Tierney

Dr. J. Tierney, (Chair) Dr. B. Cawley (Director General), Ms. S. Mc Namara, Mr. D. Dowling, Mr. G. D’Arcy, Mr. M. Errity

23/06/2011 - 60th Meeting 

Dr. J. Tierney

Dr. J. Tierney, (Chair) Dr. B. Cawley  (Director General), Ms. S. Mc Namara, Mr. D. Dowling, and P. Haran

M. Errity and Mr. G. D’Arcy.

31/08/2011 - 61st Meeting 

Dr. J. Tierney

Dr. J. Tierney, (Chair) Dr. B. Cawley (Director General)  , Mr. D. Dowling, and P. Haran

Ms. S. Mc Namara, M. Errity and Mr. G. D’Arcy.

30/11/2011 - 62nd Meeting

Dr. J. Tierney

Dr. J. Tierney, (Chair)

Dr. B. Cawley (Director General)

Ms. S. Mc Namara.

Mr. M. Errity

Mr. D. Dowling

Mr. P. Haran

Mr. G. D’Arcy.

2012

4 meetings held 

2/02/2012 - 63rd Meeting

Dr. J. Tierney

Dr. J. Tierney, (Chair)

Dr. B. Cawley (Director General)

Mr. D. Dowling

Ms. S. Mc Namara.

Mr. M. Errity

Mr. P. Haran

Mr. G. D’Arcy.

18/04/2012 - 64th Meeting 

Dr. J. Tierney

Dr. J. Tierney, (Chair)

Dr. B. Cawley (Director General)

Mr. D. Dowling

Ms. S. Mc Namara

Mr. P. Haran

Mr. G. D’Arcy.

Mr. M. Errity

9/10/2012 - 65th Meeting 

Mr. D. Connell

Mr. D. Connell, (Chair)

Dr. B. Cawley (Director General)

Dr. J. Tierney

Mr. D. Dowling

Ms. B. Doyle

Mr. D. Feeney 

Mr. B. O’Brien

6/12/2012 - 66th Meeting 

Mr. D. Connell

Mr. D. Connell, (Chair)

Dr. B. Cawley (Director General)

Dr. J. Tierney

Ms. B. Doyle

Mr. D. Feeney 

Mr. B. O’Brien

Mr. D. Dowling

2013

6 meetings held 

06/02/2013 - 67th Meeting

Mr. D. Connell

Mr. D. Connell, (Chair)

Dr. B. Cawley (Director General)

Ms. B. Doyle

Mr. D. Feeney 

Mr. B. O’Brien

Dr. J. Tierney

Mr. D. Dowling

5/04/2013 - 68th Meeting 

Mr. D. Connell

Mr. D. Connell, (Chair)

Dr. B. Cawley (Director General)

Ms. B. Doyle

Mr. D. Dowling

Mr. D. Feeney 

Mr. J. Fleming

Dr. J. Tierney 

2/05/2013 - 69th Meeting

Mr. D. Connell

Mr. D. Connell (Chair)

Dr. B. Cawley (Director General)

Mr. Michael Malone

Ms. B. Doyle

Mr. D. Feeney 

19/06/2013 - 70th Meeting

Mr. D. Connell

Mr. D. Connell (Chair)

Dr. B. Cawley (Director General)

Mr. Michael Malone

Ms. B. Doyle

Mr. D. Feeney 

10/10/2013 - 71st Meeting 

Mr. D. Connell

Mr. D. Connell (Chair)

Dr. B. Cawley (Director General)

Mr. Michael Malone

Mr. J. McCarthy

Mr. D. Feeney 

`Ms. B. Doyle

04/12/2013 - 72nd Meeting

Mr. D. Connell

Mr. D. Connell (Chair)

Dr. B. Cawley (Director General)

Mr. Michael Malone

Mr. J. McCarthy

Mr. D. Feeney 

Ms. B. Doyle

2014

3 Meetings held 

06/02/2014 - 73rd Meeting 

Mr. D. Connell

Mr. D. Connell (Chair)

Dr. B. Cawley (Director General)

Ms. B. Doyle,

Mr. J. McCarthy

Mr. D. Feeney 

Mr. Michael Malone

02/10/2014 - 74th Meeting 

Ms. N. O’Donoghue

Ms. N. O’Donoghue (Chair)

Dr. B. Cawley (Director General)

Ms. J. Sinnamon

Mr. O. Keegan

Mr. P.Lemass

Mr. M. Callanan.

Mr. D. Feeney

04/12/2014 - 75th Meeting 

Ms. N. O’Donoghue

Ms. N. O’Donoghue (Chair)

Dr. B. Cawley (Director General)

Mr. P.Lemass

Dr. M. Callanan. 

Mr. D. Feeney

Ms. J. Sinnamon

Mr. O. Keegan

2015

1 Meeting held 

08/12/2015 - 76th Meeting

Ms. N. O’Donoghue

Ms. N. O’Donoghue (Chair)

Dr. M. O’Sullivan (Director General)

Dr. M. Callanan

Mr. D. Feeney. 

Mr. O. Keegan

Ms. J. Sinnamon

Mr. P. Lemass.

2016

1 Meeting held

08/12/2016 - 77th Meeting

Mr. M. O’Halloran

Mr. M. O’Halloran (Chair)

Dr. M. O’Sullivan (Director General)

Dr. M. Callanan

Mr. S. Mulvany

Dr. F. Lynch

Dr.P. Gallagher

Mr. P. Lemass. 

2017

2 Meetings held

29/06/2017 - 78th Meeting

Mr. M. O’Halloran

Mr. M. O’Halloran (Chair)

Dr. M. O’Sullivan (Director General)

Ms. C. Gormley

Mr. S. Mulvany

Dr.P. Gallagher.

Dr. F. Lynch

Mr. P. Lemass

07/12/2017 - 79th Meeting 

Mr. M. O’Halloran

Mr. M. O’Halloran (Chair)

Dr. M. O’Sullivan (Director General)

Mr. S. Mulvany

Dr.P. Gallagher

Dr. F. Lynch

Mr. P. Lemass

Ms. C. Gormley

2018

1 Meeting held

19/12/2018 - 80th Meeting 

Mr. M. O’Halloran

Mr. M. O’Halloran (Chair)

Dr. M. O’Sullivan (Director General)

Mr. S. Mulvany

Ms. C. Gormley

Dr. F. Lynch

2019

1 Meeting to date 

18/04/2019 - 81st Meeting

Mr. M. O’Halloran

 Mr. M. O’Halloran (Chair), Dr. M. O’Sullivan (Director General), Ms. C. Gormley, Dr. F. Lynch,

Mr. S. Mulvany, Mr. P. Lemass. 

Departmental Bodies

Questions (101)

Alan Kelly

Question:

101. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on the corporate governance and compliance structures of the Institute of Public Administration; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24537/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I am advised by the Institute of Public Administration (IPA) that they are in compliance with the relevant corporate governance standards which apply to the organisation. I am also advised that the organisation’s Board are committed to ensuring that a corporate culture which supports high governance standards is fostered and maintained. 

The IPA is a Company Limited by Guarantee and as such is subject to the Governance framework as decreed by the Companies Acts 2014 including the publication of audited statutory annual financial statements in the format as laid down by FRS 102.  The IPA, as an organisation which is classified as a public body for the purposes of certain legislation, and in receipt of grant funding from my Department, has also adopted the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies, and reflects this in their Annual Report and Accounts. 

The IPA Board has an Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) whose terms of reference are compliant with the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies 2016. Two further committees, namely the Finance and Strategy Committee and the Administration Committee, also assist the Board in discharging its oversight role.  

The IPA annually undergoes the statutory audit of the IPA financial statements by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Finally, I can confirm that the Department has a written oversight agreement with the IPA, as set out in the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies, and confirm that my officials meet regularly with members of the IPA’s senior management team to monitor the implementation of this agreement.

School Accommodation Provision

Questions (102)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

102. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for increased school provision in Newcastle, County Dublin, to meet the expanding need for junior and senior school places in the coming years. [24562/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level. 

Major new residential developments in a school planning area have the potential to alter demand in an area. In that regard, as part of the demographic exercises, my Department engages with each of the local authorities to obtain the up-to-date data on significant new residential developments in each area. This is necessary to ensure that schools infrastructure planning is keeping pace with demographic changes as there is a constantly evolving picture with planned new residential development.

With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level.  Where demographic data indicates that additional provision is required, the delivery of such additional provision is dependent on the particular circumstances of each case and may, depending on the circumstances, be provided through either one, or a combination of, the following:

- Utilising existing unused capacity within a school or schools,

- Extending the capacity of a school or schools,

- Provision of a new school or schools.

As the Deputy will be aware, in April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022), including a new primary and post-primary school to be established to serve the Newcastle_Rathcoole school planning area as follows:

- a new 8 classroom primary school to be established in 2020 to serve the Newcastle_Rathcoole/Saggart school planning area; and

- a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school to be established in 2020 to serve the Tallaght and Newcastle_Rathcoole school planning areas as a regional solution.

This announcement follows nationwide, demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country and the 4-year horizon will enable increased lead-in times for planning and delivery of the necessary infrastructure. 

It is intended to deliver the two new schools as part of my Department's Design and Build programme in purpose-built accommodation on a shared site at Fortunestown Lane which is in the ownership of Dublin and Dun Laoghaire ETB.

The requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and in particular will have regard to the impact of the increased roll out of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.  My Department will also continue to monitor areas where the accommodation of existing schools may need to be expanded in order to meet the needs of the local population.

School Transport Provision

Questions (103)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Question:

103. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will reconsider the provision of a second pick-up point for over 20 secondary school students under the eligible criteria of his Department (details supplied). [24354/19]

View answer

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. 

The purpose of the scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school. 

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

Children who are eligible for school transport and who complete the application process on time will be accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation for the 2019/20 school year.

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

Children who are not eligible for school transport, under the terms of the scheme, may apply to Bus Éireann for transport on a concessionary basis only.  Concessionary transport is subject to a number of conditions including that routes will not be extended or altered, additional vehicles will not be introduced, nor will larger vehicles or extra trips using existing vehicles be provided to cater for children who are not eligible; no additional State cost will be incurred. 

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

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (104)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

104. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a school building project (details supplied); the remaining steps in the process that must be undertaken in order for grant approval; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24359/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The major building project for the school referred to by the deputy is at an advanced stage of architectural planning, Stage 2b (Detailed Design).  The Stage 2(b) submission has been reviewed by my Department and comments have issued to the school and its Design Team.

The Design Team is currently working on a submission to my Department outlining the steps required to achieve compliance with Part L of the Building Regulations 2017 (NZEB "Near Zero Energy Building").  This is a new requirement arising from the introduction of Part L (Conservation of Fuel and Energy) of the Building Regulations to ensure compliance with the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). 

When the NZEB submission has been received, my Department at that point will consider authorising this project to commence the pre-qualification process to create a shortlist of contractors to which the project will be tendered.

Pre-qualification normally takes between 8 and 12 weeks to complete. 

School Services Staff

Questions (105)

Denis Naughten

Question:

105. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the campaign by a union (details supplied) with regard to school secretaries; if a meeting has taken place between his Department and the union; if so, the outcome of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24402/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I recognise the very important work done by school secretaries, and indeed by other support staff, in the running of our schools and I am grateful to them for the contribution they make to our education system.  I have spoken to a number of school secretaries about their employment conditions and understand the issues they have raised.

I have recently relaxed the moratorium for those C&C and ETB schools with enrolments of 700 and more which allow them to employ an additional School Secretaries up to a maximum of two per school. There are 91 schools in the C&C and ETB Sector who meet this criteria, based on the information currently available to this Department. This is an initial step and has taken immediate effect.

Schemes were initiated in 1978 and 1979 for the employment of Clerical Officers and Caretakers in schools.  The schemes were withdrawn completely in 2008. 

These schemes have been superseded by the more extensive capitation grant schemes.  The current grant scheme was agreed in the context of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress, published in 1991. 

The majority of primary and voluntary secondary schools now receive assistance to provide for secretarial, caretaking and cleaning services under these grant schemes.  It is a matter for each individual school to decide how best to apply the grant funding to suit its particular needs. Where a school uses the grant funding for caretaking or secretarial purposes, any staff taken on to support those functions are employees of individual schools.  Specific responsibility for the pay and conditions rests with the school.

On foot of a Chairman’s Note to the Lansdowne Road Agreement, my Department engaged with the Unions representing school secretaries and caretakers, including through an independent arbitration process in 2015. The Arbitrator recommended a cumulative pay increase of 10% between 2016 and 2019 for staff and that a minimum hourly pay rate of €13 be phased in over that period.  This arbitration agreement covers the period up to 31 December 2019. 

The arbitration agreement was designed to be of greatest benefit to lower-paid secretaries and caretakers. For example, a Secretary or Caretaker who was paid the then minimum wage of €8.65 per hour in 2015 prior to the arbitration has from 1 January 2019, been paid €13 per hour which is a 50% increase in that individual’s hourly pay. 

Officials from my Department attended a meeting of the Joint Committee on Education and Skills on 9 April to discuss the status of non-teaching staff.

Officials from my Department recently had discussions with FÓRSA trade union representatives as part of a planned meeting. FÓRSA took the opportunity to formally table a claim.

This was tabled as a follow-on claim from the current pay agreement for this cohort of staff which lasts until December 2019. The Department will seek to establish the full current cost of the trade union’s claim. This is standard practice.

FÓRSA's claim will be fully considered once the current costings had been determined on completion of the survey.  The Department is fully open to having further dialogue with Forsa once this work has been undertaken.

Digital Strategy for Schools

Questions (106)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

106. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the focused evaluation that has taken place or is planned to take place on the way in which schools are implementing the digital learning strategy and its impact on the quality of learning and teaching and student performance in State examinations. [24404/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

A key priority of the Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020 is the adaptation of the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for the Irish context drawing also from other relevant European and international digital competency frameworks. The localisation of these frameworks led to the development of the Digital Learning Framework (DLF) which is currently being disseminated to all schools.

The DLF provides a roadmap to help schools embed the use of digital technologies in teaching and learning and in leadership & management. The Framework promotes student engagement in the teaching and learning process whereby students become engaged thinkers, active and discerning learners and where digital interactions are respectful and positive and conductive to wellbeing.  The DLF supports and complements the School Self Evaluation (SSE) process and will allow schools to evaluate their own progress and measure where they stand against benchmarks of effective and highly effective practices in the use of digital technologies in teaching and learning and leadership and management.

Prior to its national dissemination the Digital Learning Framework was trialled in a cross sectoral representation of 50 schools during the 2017/2018 school year accompanied by an external evaluation conducted by the Education Research Institute (ERC).

The ERC Evaluation Report, available at http://www.erc.ie/programme-of-work/dlf/, concluded that overall the DLF trial was a success. Feedback from schools participating in the trial was very positive. There was evidence of improvement to embedding Digital technologies in teaching. Learning and assessment in the short six-month period of the trial. The DLF and the related CPD resources were viewed positively. The ERC made a number of suggestions for improvements and those were incorporated into the final Framework document which is currently being disseminated to all schools.

My Department has also commissioned the ERC to conduct a more longitudinal study of the DLF of a three year duration. This study commenced in January 2019. The focus of the Evaluation will be the implementation of the Digital Learning Framework from the multiple perspectives of school principals, teachers, learners and Digital Learning Team leaders over a three-year period.

My Department’s Inspectorate is also planning a composite thematic evaluation on digital learning, across early years, primary and post primary sectors, across several models of inspection. This review will report on schools and settings engagement with digital technologies and on the opportunities provided for the enhancement of pupils and students’ learning as a result of digital learning.

The Deputy will appreciate that no one factor can specifically be attributed to the quality of teaching and learning and student performance in state examinations. However the effective use of digital technologies, as outlined in the Digital Learning Framework, will enhance teaching, learning and assessment practices in schools. The use of digital technologies, allows teacher to unlock and deepen learning across all areas including literacy, numeracy, languages, arts education and STEM. The Framework can be used as a planning tool by individual teachers, or groups of teachers to plan, and reflect on, their daily teaching and learning practices at all levels and across all areas of the curriculum.

Schools Building Projects Applications

Questions (107)

Seamus Healy

Question:

107. Deputy Seamus Healy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application for a new school building by a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24407/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The project referred to by the Deputy has been devolved for delivery to the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA).

I can inform the Deputy that the NDFA has started preparations for the appointment of a design team for the project.  This appointment will be a key first step in the design and construction stages.  While at this early stage it is not possible to provide a timeline for completion of the project, the NDFA will be engaging directly with the school authority to keep it informed of progress.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (108)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

108. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an appeal for a special needs assistant by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24410/19]

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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.

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 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.

Fund for Students with Disabilities

Questions (109)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

109. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost if the fund for students with a disability was increased by a further 15%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24417/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Fund for Students with Disabilities (FSD) provides financial support to higher education institutions to ensure that they are adequately resourced to cater for the needs of students with disabilities.

The Fund provides grants towards the individual needs assessment, provision of services, purchase of equipment and provision of academic supports for students with disabilities.  The scheme applies to students who have serious sensory, physical and/or communicative disabilities, including dyslexia.

The current allocation for FSD amounts to €9.6m therefore an increase of 15% would be estimated at €11.04m, an increase of €1.44m from current allocation.

Post-Leaving Certificate Courses Fees

Questions (110)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

110. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost if post-leaving certificate course fees were reduced by 50%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24418/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The only centrally determined payment for the Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) programme is the €200 PLC participant contribution. This amount is not payable by persons with a medical card, as well as a number of other categories, which means that approximately 60% of PLC participants do not pay the contribution. The estimated cost to reduce the PLC participant contribution by 50% is in the region of €1.2 million.

It should be noted that PLC colleges are also permitted to charge PLC participants for the following and these charges are set locally -

- Books, uniforms/clothing or other equipment which become the personal property of the participant

- Student Services

- Registration charges by professional bodies

- Examination fees.

School Services Staff

Questions (111)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

111. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of negotiations regarding the two-tier pay system with representatives of school secretaries in a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24460/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I recognise the very important work done by school secretaries, and indeed by other support staff, in the running of our schools and I am grateful to them for the contribution they make to our education system.  I have spoken to a number of school secretaries about their employment conditions and understand the issues they have raised.

I have recently relaxed the moratorium for those C&C and ETB schools with enrolments of 700 and more which allow them to employ an additional School Secretaries up to a maximum of two per school. There are 91 schools in the C&C and ETB Sector who meet this criteria, based on the information currently available to this Department. This is an initial step and has taken immediate effect.

Schemes were initiated in 1978 and 1979 for the employment of Clerical Officers and Caretakers in schools.  The schemes were withdrawn completely in 2008. 

These schemes have been superseded by the more extensive capitation grant schemes.  The current grant scheme was agreed in the context of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress, published in 1991. 

The majority of primary and voluntary secondary schools now receive assistance to provide for secretarial, caretaking and cleaning services under these grant schemes.  It is a matter for each individual school to decide how best to apply the grant funding to suit its particular needs. Where a school uses the grant funding for caretaking or secretarial purposes, any staff taken on to support those functions are employees of individual schools.  Specific responsibility for the pay and conditions rests with the school.

On foot of a Chairman’s Note to the Lansdowne Road Agreement, my Department engaged with the Unions representing school secretaries and caretakers, including through an independent arbitration process in 2015. The Arbitrator recommended a cumulative pay increase of 10% between 2016 and 2019 for staff and that a minimum hourly pay rate of €13 be phased in over that period.  This arbitration agreement covers the period up to 31 December 2019. 

The arbitration agreement was designed to be of greatest benefit to lower-paid secretaries and caretakers. For example, a Secretary or Caretaker who was paid the then minimum wage of €8.65 per hour in 2015 prior to the arbitration has from 1 January 2019, been paid €13 per hour which is a 50% increase in that individual’s hourly pay.

Officials from my Department attended a meeting of the Joint Committee on Education and Skills on 9 April to discuss the status of non-teaching staff.

Officials from my Department recently had discussions with FÓRSA trade union representatives as part of a planned meeting. FÓRSA took the opportunity to formally table a claim.

This was tabled as a follow-on claim from the current pay agreement for this cohort of staff which lasts until December 2019. The Department will seek to establish the full current cost of the trade union’s claim. This is standard practice.

FÓRSA's claim will be fully considered once the current costings had been determined on completion of the survey.  The Department is fully open to having further dialogue with Forsa once this work has been undertaken.

School Catchment Areas

Questions (112, 113)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

112. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a new primary school catchment area is defined by the school planning area; and if it is the responsibility and remit of the board of management to define the catchment area from which children living in those areas will be given priority particularly in the case of a school located on the edge of a school planning area. [24463/19]

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Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

113. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to revise the boundaries of school planning areas, specifically the Glasheen and Carrigaline school planning areas and the area where they meet. [24464/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 112 and 113 together.

In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data in a way that takes account of the significant local and regional variations in demographic trends and enrolment projections, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas.

Using school planning area boundaries within my Department’s Geographic Information System (GIS) allows data within those boundaries, including data for enrolments in schools, child benefit and other relevant data to be added to the mapping information, grouped and analysed. The GIS records the number of primary and post-primary schools within each planning area, the combined enrolments for all of the schools within each area, including total enrolment and enrolment in each class group, together with child benefit data for the 0-4 age group relevant to the area.

The school planning areas are used in the demographic exercise as a basis for the assessment of areas of growth and to inform recommendations on the establishment of any new schools required in that school planning area. There are no current plans to revise school planning areas.

New schools established to meet demographic demand are required to prioritise enrolments from within the school planning area which the school was established to serve. This does not preclude schools from enrolling pupils from outside of the designated school planning area, rather it reflects the need to accommodate in the first instance the demographic for which the school was established.

In relation to enrolment generally, it is my Department's responsibility to ensure that schools can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking school places in an area. Parents can choose which school to apply to and where the school has places available the pupil should be admitted. In schools where there are more applicants than places available a selection process may be necessary. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants. However, it may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in their school of first choice.

In this regard, a Board of Management may find it necessary to prioritise enrolment of children from particular areas or particular age groups or on the basis of some other criterion. For example, some schools give priority to applicants who have attended a particular primary school (known as a feeder school). The criteria to be applied by schools in such circumstances are a matter for the schools themselves.

As the Deputy may be aware, the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018, was signed into law by the President on the 18th July 2018. The overall objective of the Act is to provide a new framework for school enrolment that is designed to ensure that every child is treated fairly and that the way in which schools decide on applications for admission is structured, fair and transparent.

School Accommodation Provision

Questions (114)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

114. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to open a secondary school in the Togher and Lehenaghmore area of County Cork. [24465/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level. 

Where demographic data indicates that additional provision is required, the delivery of such additional provision is dependent on the particular circumstances of each case and may, depending on the circumstances, be provided through either one, or a combination of, the following:

- Utilising existing unused capacity within a school or schools,

- Extending the capacity of a school or schools,

- Provision of a new school or schools.

As the Deputy will be aware, in April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022). This announcement follows nationwide demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country and the 4-year horizon will enable increased lead-in times for planning and delivery of the necessary infrastructure. 

In addition to the new schools announced, there may be a need for further school accommodation in other areas in the future which can be addressed through either planned capacity increases in existing schools or additional accommodation or extensions to existing schools. Approximately 40% of extra school places are delivered by extending existing schools.

While the announcement did not include a new post-primary school for the areas referred to by the Deputy, the requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and in particular will have regard for the increased roll out of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.

Schools Establishment

Questions (115)

Tom Neville

Question:

115. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Education and Skills if permission will be provided for the opening of a community national school in Glenroe, County Limerick, (details supplied). [24481/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy will be aware, I met with members of the Glenroe school Working Group earlier in the year.  Following this meeting, my Department received supporting documentation from the Group which is currently under review.  A response will issue in due course once the information has been evaluated.

Schools Refurbishment

Questions (116)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

116. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a school (details supplied) has had ongoing issues regarding maintenance; if he has engaged with the school; and if this issue will be resolved as soon as possible. [24485/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that approval has been granted under my Department's Emergency Works Scheme to Gael Scoil Uí Riada to carry out necessary repairs to the school building.  The school authority, to whom the project has been devolved for delivery, has been notified of this decision directly.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (117)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

117. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) is in the capital programme for a new building or improvement works. [24575/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

A Major Building Project for the school referred to by the Deputy is included in my Department's Construction Programme which is being delivered under the National Development Plan.

The brief for this project is to provide a new 1000 pupil post primary school at the existing school site.

The major building project is at an advanced stage of Architectural Planning - Stage 2b (Detailed Design) which includes the application for statutory approvals and the preparation of tender documents. 

The design team is currently working on the Stage 2(b) report which on completion will be submitted to my Department for review.  In completing the Stage 2(b) report the Design Team is required to upgrade the current design to ensure that the new school building is a Near Zero Energy Building (NZEB) in compliance with the 2017 amendment to Part L of the current Building Regulations.

Upon receipt and review of the Stage 2(b) report my Department will revert to the school with regard to the further progression of this project at that time.