Question No. 382 answered with Question No. 380.

Home School Community Liaison Scheme

Questions (383)

Kathleen Funchion

Question:

383. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost to restore rural co-ordinator service under the home-school liaison service. [31686/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The DEIS Rural Coordination Service was discontinued with effect from 31 August 2011. At that time there were 46 Rural Coordinator Posts at a cost of €2,714,000.

Currently, all DEIS Urban Primary and DEIS Post Primary schools are included in the Home School Community Liaison (HSCL) Scheme, which serves 539 schools. The scheme is delivered by 416 full-time HSCL Coordinators who are teachers in these schools and assigned to HSCL duties either in individual schools or clusters of schools, catering for approximately 156,000 pupils.

The impact of socio-economic factors on educational outcomes can be different between urban and rural settings and the HSCL scheme takes account of that. While urban and rural disadvantage share many characteristics, such as poverty, unemployment and poor housing conditions, the evidence suggests that disadvantage in a rural context does not have the same impact on educational performance compared to urban schools.

My Department's objective in implementing DEIS Plan 2017 is to have the maximum possible impact on providing opportunities for students most at risk of disadvantage. To achieve this, additional resources must be targeted as closely as possible at those students with the greatest need in terms of concentrated levels of disadvantage.

The Deputy may wish to note that Rural DEIS primary schools continue to be supported through the DEIS programme with a range of additional supports, including grant aid in the form of a DEIS grant, enhanced book grant, access to the DEASP School Meals Programme and priority access for teachers to a range of professional development programmes as well as the Incredible Years and Friends programmes.

Apprenticeship Data

Questions (384)

Kathleen Funchion

Question:

384. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost to create 1,000 additional apprenticeship places. [31687/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The total estimated cost per apprentice in craft apprenticeships is €6,900. There were 904 apprentices registered on the new consortia led apprenticeships at the end of 2018, which is not sufficient as yet to derive a reliable average cost, however this will be kept under review as greater numbers come on stream.

Consequently, the estimated cost of providing an additional one thousand apprenticeship places is €6.9 million. It should be noted that there are also some standing costs associated with running training centres and other institutions that have not been apportioned between apprenticeship and other activity and are not included in this figure.

Student Assistance Fund

Questions (385)

Kathleen Funchion

Question:

385. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost to increase the student assistance fund and support scheme for students with disabilities by 20% each. [31689/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Student Assistance Fund (SAF) is designed to support students in third-level institutions who are experiencing exceptional financial need. This Fund assists students, in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise be unable to continue their third level studies due to their financial circumstances.

The current allocation for SAF amounts to €9.1m therefore an increase of 20% would be estimated at €10.92m, an increase of €1.82m from current allocation.

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 20% would be estimated at €11.52m, an increase of €1.92m from current allocation.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Questions (386)

Kathleen Funchion

Question:

386. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost to provide additional classroom accommodation in order to reduce primary school class sizes per each point reduction. [31690/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that Budget 2019 marks the third year of a major reinvestment in education. In 2019, the budget for the Department of Education and Skills will increase by €674 million, a 6.7% increase on last year. In total, the Education budget will have increased by €1.7 billion compared to 2016.

For the current school year, the staffing schedule at Primary level operates on a general average of 26 pupils to every 1 teacher (26:1), which is historically the lowest ever allocation ratio at primary level.

Each 1 point adjustment to the primary staffing schedule creates an approximate 300 additional mainstream posts. It should be noted that such an adjustment may not warrant provision of additional accommodation across all primary schools as some schools may have capacity within their existing buildings to cater for staff increases. However, where additional accommodation is needed the costs associated with providing permanent accommodation will vary depending on a range of factors including the extent of the accommodation to be provided, linking new permanent accommodation with existing facilities, site topography, geographical location of schools and costs associated with complying with statutory requirements.

The Programme for Government has a commitment to reduce class sizes at primary level and it is my intention to make further improvements to class sizes over the life of the Government.

School Enrolments Data

Questions (387)

Kathleen Funchion

Question:

387. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of students at primary and post-primary level, respectively, enrolled for the school year 2019-2020. [31691/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The statistics of enrolments in primary and post-primary schools in 2019/20 are not available at this time. Preliminary statistics for the 2019/2020 academic year will be available in December.

The most recent statistics are those from the 2018/19 academic year. In 2018/2019 there were 567,772 pupils at primary level, and 362,899 pupils at post-primary level.

School Enrolments Data

Questions (388)

Kathleen Funchion

Question:

388. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of autistic children enrolled at primary level for the school year 2019-2020. [31692/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Statistics of primary-school pupils enrolled for the 2019/2020 school year are not available at this time. In 2018/2019 there were 4,882 pupils enrolled in ASD classes in primary schools. This figure does not include children with autism who are enrolled in mainstream classes.

School Enrolments Data

Questions (389)

Kathleen Funchion

Question:

389. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of autistic children enrolled at post-primary level for the school year 2019-2020. [31693/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department does not hold information in relation to the number of children with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder in school.

The National Council for Special education (NCSE), an independent agency of my Department, is responsible for planning, coordinating and advising on education provision for children with special educational needs in consultation with the relevant education partners and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The NCSE’s policy advice on Supporting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (2016) noted a national ASD prevalence rate of 1.55% or 1 in every 65 students.

There were 362,899 students enrolled in Post Primary schools in the 2018/19 school year.

Third Level Admissions Data

Questions (390)

Kathleen Funchion

Question:

390. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of third level students registered in universities for the year 2018-2019. [31694/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The information requested by the Deputy is not available at this time. Third-level data for the 2018/19 academic year is being finalised and will be available later this year.

Third Level Admissions Data

Questions (391)

Kathleen Funchion

Question:

391. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of third level students registered with institutes of technology for the year 2018-2019. [31695/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Statistics of third-level students registered with institutes of technology are not available at this time. The 2018/19 data is being finalised and will be available later this year.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (392)

Kathleen Funchion

Question:

392. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools that appealed their SNA allocations for the school year 2019-2020 by county in tabular form. [31697/19]

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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 is also responsible for managing the appeals process.

As the matter to which the Deputy refers is a matter for the NCSE, I have referred the question to the agency for their direct reply.

Special Educational Needs Data

Questions (393)

Kathleen Funchion

Question:

393. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of SNA hours applied for or sought, by county, for the 2019-2020 school term in tabular form. [31698/19]

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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.

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 publish statistics on SNA allocations for each school year and this information is available on their website, www.ncse.ie.

Child Abuse

Questions (394, 395, 396, 397, 398, 399)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

394. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position with regard to the requirement that claimants for ex gratia payments from the State for historic sex abuse as school pupils must show that their abuser was the subject of a prior complaint; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31712/19]

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Thomas Byrne

Question:

395. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applicants to a scheme for ex gratia payments from the State for historic sex abuse as school pupils; the number that have been declined; the number that have been submitted for independent assessment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31713/19]

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Thomas Byrne

Question:

396. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the compensation paid to date applicants to a scheme for ex gratia payments from the State for historic sex abuse as school pupils. [31714/19]

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Thomas Byrne

Question:

397. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if prior compliant will remain a condition for applicants to a scheme for ex gratia payments from the State for historic sex abuse as school pupils; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31715/19]

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Thomas Byrne

Question:

398. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills when 13 applications to a scheme for ex gratia payments from the State for historic sex abuse as school pupils but did not qualify under the prior complaint criterion will receive payment under the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31716/19]

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Thomas Byrne

Question:

399. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an urgent review of the criteria of the scheme for ex gratia payments from the State for historic sex abuse as school pupils will be commissioned in view of the recent ruling regarding same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31717/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 394 to 399, inclusive, together.

In response to the Deputy's queries on the operation of the ex-gratia scheme, I should point out that the ex-gratia scheme operates in particular circumstances. In July 2015, the Government agreed that it would respond to those who instituted legal proceedings in relation to school child sexual abuse but had discontinued their cases by offering ex gratia payments. It was decided that such payments would be offered to those persons whose cases were not statute barred prior to their proceedings being discontinued and where the person can demonstrate that their circumstances involved sexual abuse of a school child by a primary or post-primary school employee in respect of whom there was a prior complaint of sexual abuse to a school authority (including an authority of a school in which the employee had previously worked) prior to the issue of the Department of Education guidelines to primary and post-primary schools in 1991 and 1992 respectively. As these cases had been discontinued by the Plaintiffs, the proceedings were no longer before the domestic courts and therefore there was no litigation in existence which could be settled.

In the four years of operation of the scheme, 50 applications were received. At the time of the Assessor’s making his Decision, 44 applications had been declined. In respect of the declined applications, the applicants were advised that they could apply for an independent assessment of their application.

No payments have been made under the Scheme to date. However, 19 applications have been assessed by the Independent Assessor who recently determined that, of those 19 applications, 13 should receive a payment under the ex gratia scheme. The Assessor set this out as part of a larger decision in relation to the prior complaint criterion within the scheme.

The payments in these 13 cases will be expedited. A small number of applications which are on hands and which remain to be processed under the Scheme will also be dealt with expeditiously.

Arising from the Decision of the Assessor, the scheme is now being reviewed. This process will take a number of weeks to complete.

Any applications received after the date of the Assessor’s decision will await the outcome of the review.

School Transport Appeals

Questions (400)

Timmy Dooley

Question:

400. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a decision will issue on the school transport appeals in respect of children attending a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31750/19]

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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 Department's Post Primary School Transport Scheme children are eligible for school transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kilometres from and are attending their nearest education centre as determined by my Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

An appeal was lodged with the School Transport Appeals Board on the 11th of June 2019. The Board will liaise directly with the family regarding the appeal date and their subsequent deliberations.

Disabilities Assessments

Questions (401)

Seán Haughey

Question:

401. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a person (details supplied) will receive an appointment to have an assessment of education needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31758/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Assessment of Need process falls under the Disability Act 2005 and within the responsibilities of the Health Service Executive (HSE) and therefore that matter should be addressed to my colleague, the Minister for Health.

Emergency Works Scheme Applications

Questions (402)

Peter Burke

Question:

402. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an application for emergency works due to the urgent circumstances will be expedited for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31760/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The school to which the Deputy refers applied for Emergency Works application for funding to carry out external works. As the scope of the works were outside the terms of the scheme, the application was refused. The mechanism for applying for funding for works of this nature is my Department’s Summer Works Scheme.

However, as per the Emergency Works Circular 0018/2011, the school authority is free to submit an appeal to my Department which will be considered only where additional relevant information is provided.

Schools Refurbishment

Questions (403)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

403. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to ensure that the extension and refurbishment of a school (details supplied) proceeds to the tender and build stage without further delay by granting the school rapid build status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31765/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy is aware, the project to which he refers is devolved to Dublin & Dún Laoghaire Education and Training Board (DDLETB) for delivery.

My Department is fully aware of the need to urgently progress this project. However, it is of the utmost importance that the final outcome for this project will be the correct one for both the school authority and the pupils. In that regard, I would like to inform the Deputy that arising from its due diligence in respect of the preparation of the revised pre-qualification process for this project, DDLETB has carried out a review of the project which puts forward an alternative option for progressing it. In that respect, DDLETB recently met on-site with officials from my Department who have now sought further documentation from the ETB. This documentation, when received, will further inform my Department’s active consideration of this proposal and will assist in determining the next steps to be taken in progressing the project.

In any event, I can advise the Deputy that as the delivery method for the project has already been determined, it is not possible to consider inclusion of the project in the Department's Design and Build Programme or, indeed, any other alternative method of delivery.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (404)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

404. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the provision of a new school building project for a school (details supplied); if the acquisition of a new site has been completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31766/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy is aware, the project to deliver the new school building for this school is on my Department's Capital Programme.

My Department is working to progress the proposed acquisition of the zoned site to accommodate the school and this is currently at the conveyancing stage. Once the site for the school has been secured the project to deliver the school's new accommodation can be advanced into the architectural planning process.

Due to the commercially sensitive nature of site acquisitions generally, it is not possible to comment further at this stage.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (405)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

405. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the refurbishment and provision of an extension for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31767/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The building project for the school in question is included in my Department’s Construction Programme which is being delivered under the National Development Plan.

This project is one of the school building projects on my Department’s ADAPT 2 (Accelerated Delivery of Architectural Planning & Tendering) Programme. My Department is currently in the process of procuring a Project Manager for the ADAPT 2 Programme, which currently contains 16 school building projects. The appointment of a Design Team – (Architect, Quantity Surveyor, Civil & Structural Engineer, Mechanical & Electrical Engineer and Project Supervisor for the Design Process) for the school in question will commence upon the completion of the Project Manager Appointment.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (406)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

406. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the start date for prefab replacement for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31768/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The building project for the school in question is included in My Department’s Construction Programme which is being delivered under the National Development Plan.

This project is one of the school building projects on my Department’s ADAPT 2 (Accelerated Delivery of Architectural Planning & Tendering) Programme. My Department is currently in the process of procuring a Project Manager for the ADAPT 2 Programme, which currently contains 16 school building projects. The appointment of a Design Team – (Architect, Quantity Surveyor, Civil & Structural Engineer, Mechanical & Electrical Engineer and Project Supervisor for the Design Process) for the school in question will commence upon the completion of the Project Manager Appointment.