Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Questions (199)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

199. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools with either a secretary or caretaker directly employed by his Department in 2019; the number in each of the years 2000 to 2018; the criteria that apply to the allocation of these posts; the number of staff employed in schools under the ancillary services grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30341/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

A Scheme was initiated in 1978/79 for the employment of Clerical Officers in primary and post primary schools under which the school secretaries and caretakers are paid directly through the payroll operated by my Department.

The 1978/79 scheme is being phased out as posts become vacant and no new posts are being created. There are currently a total of 189 primary schools with either a school secretary or caretaker employed under this 1978/79 scheme. This is further broken down to 150 schools employing only a school secretary and 39 schools only employing a caretaker.

Currently there are 153 primary and 110 post primary whole time equivalent Clerical Officers (School Secretaries) employed in schools under the 1978/79 Scheme and paid through my Department’s payroll. There are also 86 whole time equivalent primary school caretakers employed under the 1978/79 Scheme and paid through my Department’s payroll.

This 1978/79 scheme has been superseded by a more extensive capitation grant Scheme. 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.

Within the ancillary services grant programme, the level and extent of services provided is a matter for the school authorities who, through the discretion afforded by the scheme, apply their own arrangements for secretarial services as resources permit. My Department does not have any direct role in the pay and conditions under which they are engaged. Given that employment of school secretaries and caretakers is dealt with at local school level, my Department does not have a central record of the number of school secretaries and caretakers funded by the ancillary services grant.

On a related matter the Deputy may be interested to know that today my Department announced an online survey for schools to complete regarding secretaries and caretakers employed by them and paid by grant funding. These surveys are being undertaken in response to a pay claim that has recently been tabled by the FÓRSA union.

The surveys will issue to over 3,500 individual schools. Given the scale of the task and the fact that schools are in the summer holiday period, my Department expects to have analysis from the surveys available in early October.

The closing date is Wednesday 4 September and my Department is encouraging all relevant schools to complete the surveys before that date.