Special Educational Needs

Questions (432)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

432. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has reviewed the use of Croke Park hours by school principals to ensure they are being used appropriately when designating tasks under these hours to SNAs. [31989/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

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. Accordingly, DES Circular 71/2011 was issued on 15 December 2011 which outlined that 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.

The scope of this circular is for all SNAs employed in recognised Primary, Secondary, Community and Comprehensive Schools and by ETBs. It doesn’t make any distinctions between any SNAs (whether standard or cover posts), except to provide for part-time SNAs only doing pro-rata Croke Park hours (i.e. percentage of the total 72-hours commitment).

While my Department published the Circular 71/2011 (see link below) in respect of the Croke Park Hours for SNAs, we do 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 an exhaustive listing) of the type of work that may be 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

Teachers' Remuneration

Questions (433)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

433. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to advocate for the eradication of pay inequality among teachers in the upcoming budget discussions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31990/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The public service agreements have allowed a programme of pay restoration for public servants to start. The starting salary for a new entrant teacher in 2012 was €30,702. As a result of the programme of pay restoration, the starting salary of a teacher is now €36,318 and from 1 October 2020 onwards will be €37,692.

Section 11 of the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017 provides that “the Minister [for Public Expenditure and Reform] shall, within three months of the passing of this Act, prepare and lay before the Oireachtas a report on the cost of and a plan in dealing with pay equalisation for new entrants to the public service.”

The report laid before the Oireachtas on foot of this provision by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform assesses the cost of a further change which would provide a two scale point adjustment to new entrants recruited since 2011. The total cost of such an adjustment across the public sector is of the order of €200 million, of which Education accounts for €83 million. The report also acknowledges that, during the financial crisis, there were policy changes which affected remuneration in different occupations across the public sector (including education).

The matter of new entrant pay is a cross sectorial issue, not just an issue for the education sector alone. The Government supports the gradual, negotiated repeal of the FEMPI legislation, having due regard to the priority to improve public services and in recognition of the essential role played by public servants.

On 24 September 2018, an agreement was reached between the Government and the public services committee of ICTU in respect of new entrant pay.

This agreement will benefit 16,000 teachers and nearly 5,000 SNAs within the education sector. The deal provides for a series of incremental jumps for new entrants.

I am aware that the teacher unions have outstanding issues of concern following the September 2018 agreement. These outstanding matters will be given full consideration. This will happen either in the context of any pay review mechanism agreed by the parties to the Public Service Stability Agreement, or in the context of the next round of pay talks. The positions of each of the parties on these matters must be given due regard in endeavouring to reach a mutually agreed resolution.

The current series of restorative measures for new entrants have been achieved through continued engagement and collective bargaining between the Government and the public service unions and shows the benefits that such engagement can bring.

Schools Building Projects

Questions (434)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

434. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if additional funding will be provided to carry out essential works at a school (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [31991/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy is aware the school in question was approved a grant under the Additional Accommodation Scheme 2015 to build a Library/Resource room, Staff Room & Toilets.

This project was completed in 2017 and the full grant has been paid to the school.

It is open to the school to apply for funding for the proposed works to the entrance under the next Summer Works Scheme.

School Transport Provision

Questions (435)

Seán Haughey

Question:

435. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Education and Skills if transport is provided directly or indirectly for preschool children attending crèches, Montessori schools and community early-learning centres, including children with special needs and intellectual disabilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32008/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills. 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 Primary and Post-Primary School Transport Schemes is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest primary school or post-primary school/education centre. Children are generally eligible for school transport if they satisfy the distance criteria and are attending their nearest recognised school as determined by the Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

The purpose of the School Transport Scheme for Children with Special Educational Needs is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children with special educational needs arising from a diagnosed disability. Children are generally eligible for transport where they have a diagnosed disability and are attending their nearest recognised mainstream school, special class/special school or a unit that is or can be resourced to meet their special educational needs. Eligibility is determined in consultation with the National Council for Special Education through its network of Special Education Needs Organisers.

Transport is not provided under the terms of my Department's School Transport Scheme to the facilities referred to by the Deputy.

All 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.

The terms of the schemes are applied equitably in a national basis.

Teacher Supply

Questions (436)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

436. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress of the analysis on teacher supply panels for primary schools; if such panels will be in place for the September 2019 term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32011/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I recently announced the creation of six substitute teacher supply panels for schools in urban and rural areas on a pilot basis for the 2019/20 school year

North and South Dublin, Cork, Galway, Kildare and Meath are being targeted in the new initiative to provide more certainty for schools experiencing staffing shortages. The scheme will see up to 18 teachers hired on full-time contracts. Each teacher will be based in one school and rotate among the other schools in a designated cluster.

Details of the scheme are being finalised and it is intended that the panels will be in place in the first term of the next school year. The scheme will be reviewed towards the end of the 2019/20 school year to determine whether it should be continued in 2020/21.

Education Policy

Questions (437)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

437. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if additional release days for teaching principals will be provided for in budget 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32012/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I recently hosted a symposium on Small Schools which gave me an opportunity to restate the Government’s commitment to small schools and to open a dialogue with all the key stakeholders.

The purpose of this work by the Department is to develop a policy proposal to help support and strengthen small primary schools throughout the country.

Since my appointment as Minister for Education and Skills I have met with a number of Teaching Principals, including at this year’s IPPN conference, and I appreciate the pressures they face.

In Budget 2019, school leadership is again supported with an additional release day for teaching principals in primary schools and a further four additional release days for teaching principals in schools with special classes. These additional release days - 18, 24, and 30 depending on the size of the school - will be effective from 1st September 2019.

This builds on measures in previous budgets, including €0.4 million made available in Budget 2018 to fund almost 4600 additional release days for teaching principals in primary schools. This funding provided an increase in the number of release days available to teaching principals in the 2018/19 school year to 17, 23 or 29 days depending on the size of the school.

Any additional increase in the number of release days will have to be considered as part of the annual budgetary process, alongside the many other demands in the education sector.

Special Educational Needs Data

Questions (438)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

438. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools directed in June and July 2019 to provide special classes in September 2019; the number of such schools per county; the additional resources to be provided to the schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32013/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Every child must have the opportunity to avail of his or her right to education pursuant to their constitutional and legal rights and in accordance with their identified needs.

I am aware that there is a need for additional specialist education placements in a number of areas for next September.

In each of these areas, local Special Education Needs Officers are working with parents and schools to ensure that these placements become available.

The Government would prefer that schools provide the necessary places voluntarily.

The Minister has certain legal powers under 37A (2) of the Education Act 1998 (as inserted by Section 8 of the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018) to direct schools to make new places available.

The Act outlines a number of steps that must be taken before a school can be directed to make additional places available including:

- The National Council for Special Education must first form the opinion that there is an insufficient number of places in an area and write to the Minister outlining the reasons and type of placements required.

- If the Ministers agrees, he then serves a statutory notice on the schools identified which then have the right to make representations to the Minister.

- Statutory notices issued under the Act together with the representations received from the schools are published on the Department’s website.

- The Minister considers the representations and following any consultations with the patrons involve, he may issue a further statutory notice to the schools

Last April, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) issued a report under the Act to the Minister outlining a shortfall in the number of specialist education places required in the Dublin 15 area.

It is the formal activation of section 37A. This allows for the capacity of schools in an area to be tested and ultimately it can allow the Minister to issue a direction that requires a school to provide additional special education places.

On 28th June, I served statutory notice under the Act on 18 schools in Dublin, and their patron bodies, requesting that they make additional places available.

The 18 schools and their Patron bodies had 14 days to make representations to me in respect of the notices.

I am currently considering these representations and I have the option to consult further with the schools and their Patron bodies before further action is taken.

There are extensive professional development and other supports available to schools who establish special classes.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) were requested to ensure provision is in place to support schools that establish new ASD special classes opening in Dublin 15 for 2019/20 school year. The NCSE and NEPS have committed to providing a high level of support to schools in the event that a new special class is established in the school.

A new special programme of professional support is being developed in collaboration with the Middletown Centre for Autism during the summer months which will be available in September.

This programme will provide a period of intensive upskilling, as well as ongoing mentoring, coaching and in-school support during the challenging start-up terms to teachers. The learning needs of SNAs will also be included in this process.

Schools Administration

Questions (439)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

439. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will grant administrative status to principals of schools with two or more special classes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32014/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous 30 September.

The criteria for the appointment of an administrative principal to a school is based on the number of pupils enrolled in the school.

There is a reduced enrolment requirement for those schools operating a specialist autism unit. In ordinary schools and DEIS Band 2 schools, the threshold for the appointment of an administrative principal is 113 pupils, compared with 176 and 143 pupils respectively in schools without special classes. DEIS Band 1 schools with a specialist autism unit are allocated an administrative principal upon achieving 81 pupils, rather than the 116 which applies to other DEIS Band 1 schools.

Budget 2019 has provided for an additional release day for teaching principals in primary schools and a further four additional release days for teaching principals in schools with special classes. These additional release days will be effective from 1st September 2019.

Schools Administration

Questions (440)

John Curran

Question:

440. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills if consideration will be given to a review of the school hours for children of junior and senior infants in all primary national schools that finish an hour earlier than the rest of the classes in the school, in view of the inconvenience of same for parents, after-school services and crèches with regard to transport; if a longer lunch break with more physical activity and-or music tuition will be allowed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32020/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Under the provisions of the Education Act 1998, the Board of Management is the body charged with the direct governance of a school.

Circular 11/95 “Time in School” paragraph 3 states that a typical school day for Junior classes is 4 hours and 40 minutes and Senior classes 5 hours and 40 minutes with appropriate recreation i.e. 30 minutes.

Under the Rules for National Schools, forenoon and afternoon breaks of five minutes each are allowed. Where a recreation interval or break of a longer duration than the foregoing are taken the length of the school day must be extended correspondingly.

Children in infant classes may have a school day that is one hour shorter than the length of the normal school day. This is a concession in the interests of young children and allows for a perceived inability on their part to sustain the work of the full day. The decision to apply this concession rests with the Board of Management.

Education Policy

Questions (441)

John Curran

Question:

441. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills if consideration has been given to the establishment and roll-out of a national primary school summer camp to take place in all national primary schools for one to two weeks during the school summer holidays in an attempt to alleviate the annual summer childcare costs for parents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32021/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department does not provide for primary school summer camps and I have no plans to introduce summer camps for primary schools.

As the Deputy may be aware my Department has a general policy of encouraging the use of school facilities by community and other groups where this is possible and following consultation with the relevant school authorities, in October 2017 published Guidelines on the use of School Buildings outside of school hours. These guidelines can be viewed on my Department's website at this link: https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/guidelines-on-the-use-of-school-buildings-outside-of-school-hours.pdf.

The purpose of these guidelines is to provide guidance for schools in relation to the use of school buildings outside of school hours and for those schools who are considering putting such arrangements in place.

The management of school premises at local level is a matter for the relevant school authorities. Any decision to make school premises available ultimately lies with the relevant Trustees/Property owners following a recommendation from the school authorities. However, as schools are often the centre of sustainable communities there can be mutual benefits in building links with the local community. It is recognised that schools play an important role in their wider communities and many schools make their facilities available outside of school hours for a variety of different uses and users.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (442)

Carol Nolan

Question:

442. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the actions he plans to address the shortage of school places for children with autism at primary and second-level schools in the midlands; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32139/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I want to assure the Deputy and Parents that concerns regarding a shortage of appropriate school places for next September are being taken very seriously.

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. The Council ensures that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

Individual school boards of management are responsible for the establishment of special classes. It is open to any school to make application to the NCSE to establish a class. In deciding where to establish a special class in an area, the NCSE take account of the current and projected demand and the available school accommodation both current and planned. In this regard, the SENO may approach individual schools to discuss the matter with a view to finding the optimal location in terms of convenience and sustainability.

When the NCSE sanction a special class in a school, the school can apply to my Department for capital funding to reconfigure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation.

Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) who are locally based are available to assist and advice parents whose children have special needs. Where parents have been unsuccessful in enrolling their child in a school, they should update their local SENO to inform the planning process.

SENOs are also available to assist and advise schools on special education supports and planning.

From time to time, the NCSE identifies local areas where additional special class provision is required. In those circumstances, Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) work with the schools and families concerned to resolve the issues involved.

This process is ongoing and the NCSE are actively engaging with schools in relation to establishing ASD classes where there is an identified need for the 2019/2020 school year.

As a result of these efforts, I expect progress will be made in the coming weeks in ensuring that every child has a placement available to them from September

I have asked the NCSE to keep in regular contact with the Parents of the children concerned and advise them of progress.

In short, ensuring that every child has a suitable placement available to them from September is a key priority for me and my Department.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Questions (443)

Carol Nolan

Question:

443. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if class sizes will be reduced by one in budget 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32140/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Budget 2019 marks the third year of a major reinvestment in the 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.

Budget 2019 will see numbers employed in our schools reach the highest ever level. Over 1,300 additional posts in schools will be funded, including more than 370 teaching posts to cater for growth in student population and additional special classes.

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.

Any further improvement in the pupil teacher ratio will have to be considered in the context of the annual budgetary process.

School Staff

Questions (444)

Carol Nolan

Question:

444. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all middle management posts lost in schools during the recession years will be restored; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32141/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Budget 2017 allowed for the commencement of restoration of middle management posts as part of an agreed distributed leadership model and meant lifting the long-standing moratorium on these posts with effect from the 2017/18 school year. This recognises the key role school leadership has in promoting a school environment which is welcoming, inclusive and accountable.

€2.75m was allocated in Budget 2017 to restore middle management positions i.e. the equivalent of approximately 1,300 middle management posts (Assistant Principal I and Assistant Principal II) at both Primary and Post-Primary (2,600 in total).

The lifting of the moratorium is an initial phase in the restoration of middle management posts and any future improvements to the number of posts allocated will be dependent on budgetary demands.

The circulars on leadership and management in both primary and post schools for the 2019/20 school year are currently being finalised and will be available on the Department website in due course. The Department has committed to revising the Posts of Responsibility table in the leadership and management circulars to take into account retirements during the school year. This ensures that the current level of Posts of Responsibilities are maintained in the school system.

The estimated cost of lifting the moratorium on posts of responsibility and restoring them to pre-moratorium levels would be in the order of €50m per annum.

Schools Administration

Questions (445)

Carol Nolan

Question:

445. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide for a minimum of one leadership and management release day per week to enable teaching principals to meet other demands and responsibilities associated with their role. [32142/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I recently hosted a symposium on Small Schools which gave me an opportunity to restate the Government’s commitment to small schools and to open a dialogue with all the key stakeholders.

The purpose of this work by the Department is to develop a policy proposal to help support and strengthen small primary schools throughout the country.

Since my appointment as Minister for Education and Skills I have met with a number of Teaching Principals, including at this year’s IPPN conference, and I appreciate the pressures they face.

In Budget 2019, school leadership is again supported with an additional release day for teaching principals in primary schools and a further four additional release days for teaching principals in schools with special classes. These additional release days - 18, 24, and 30 depending on the size of the school - will be effective from 1st September 2019.

This builds on measures in previous budgets, including €0.4 million made available in Budget 2018 to fund almost 4600 additional release days for teaching principals in primary schools. This funding provided an increase in the number of release days available to teaching principals in the 2018/19 school year to 17, 23 or 29 days depending on the size of the school.

Any additional increase in the number of release days will have to be considered as part of the annual budgetary process, alongside the many other demands in the education sector.

Teachers' Remuneration

Questions (446)

Carol Nolan

Question:

446. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the outstanding payment of the 2008 award to principals and deputy principals will be ensured; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32143/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

In the second report of the Public Service Benchmarking Body (issued in December 2007), the Body recommended pay increases for 15 grades, including changes to the allowance payable to Principals of primary schools and of small post-primary schools.

This measure was not implemented due to the State’s worsening financial circumstances. Implementation of recommendations of the Benchmarking Body are a public service wide issue and as such are a matter for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. In line with current Government policy, there are no plans to implement the recommendations set out in the second report of the Public Service Benchmarking Body as they apply to any public servant.

The Government has agreed that Principal allowances, which were reduced under the FEMPI legislation, will be restored to their previous levels in 2020.

Schools Administration

Questions (447)

Carol Nolan

Question:

447. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the criteria in respect of allocating release time and administrative status to principals of special schools and principals of schools with two or more special classes will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32144/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Since my appointment as Minister for Education and Skills I have met with a number of Teaching Principals, including at this year’s IPPN conference, and I appreciate the pressures they face. In Budget 2019, school leadership is again supported with an additional release day for teaching principals in primary schools and a further four additional release days for teaching principals in schools with special classes. This builds on measures in previous budgets, including €0.4 million made available in Budget 2018 to fund almost 4600 additional release days for teaching principals in primary schools.

The allocation of an administrative principal in ordinary schools is based on the number of pupils enrolled in the school. Those schools operating a specialist autism unit have a reduced enrolment requirement for the appointment of an administrative principal.

Since 2012, special schools are provided with teaching staff on the basis of individual pupil profiles and disability categories of those pupils, as opposed to being based principally on school designation, in accordance with Department Circular 0042/2011. Special school staffing allocations are reviewed and updated each year by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and schools are staffed on the basis of each year’s current school enrolments.

Administrative Principal status is granted in special schools at the point at which the sixth teacher (i.e. the fifth assistant teacher in addition to the principal) is appointed.

From the 2019/2020 school year, special schools may appoint an Administrative Deputy Principal on the basis of a teaching staff complement of Principal plus 15 or more class teachers. This change was introduced in recognition of the additional administrative needs of special schools.

I have requested that the NCSE undertake policy advice on the educational provision that should be in place for students educated in special schools and classes and make recommendations on the provision required to enable students in special schools and classes achieve better outcomes.

The NCSE have been asked to complete and submit its report to me no later than June 2020. There will be no change to the staffing arrangements currently in place in special schools, pending the receipt of this policy advice.

School Enrolments

Questions (448)

Carol Nolan

Question:

448. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the student enrolment bands of small primary rural schools with three and four teachers will be decreased in order to support them in attaining additional teaching staff and counteracting issues pertaining to overcrowding in classrooms and class splits; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32145/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I recently hosted a symposium on Small Schools which gave me an opportunity to restate the Government’s commitment to small schools and to open a dialogue with all the key stakeholders.

The purpose of this work by the Department is to develop a policy proposal to help support and strengthen small primary schools throughout the country.

Since 2015, measures have been introduced to improve the staffing of small schools which has seen improvements in the appointment and retention thresholds for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th classroom teacher and more favourable enrolment thresholds for one teacher schools situated 8km or more from the nearest school of the same type of patronage and/or language of instruction.

Budget 2017 announced two adjustments in relation to one teacher schools. Where the school is the sole primary school on an island the school will be able to appoint a second teacher. In relation to single teacher schools generally with an enrolment of 15 or more pupils the school can apply to the staffing appeal board for a second post where the single teacher has children across 6 or more class groups.

Small schools have also benefitted from the 1 point improvement to the primary staffing schedule for all schools implemented in 2016 and again in 2018. The staffing schedule at primary level currently operates on a general average of 26 pupils to every 1 teacher which is historically the lowest ever allocation ratio at primary level.

In addition, the staffing process includes an appeals mechanism for schools to submit a staffing appeal under certain criteria, including a specific appeal measure for small schools, to the Primary Staffing Appeals Board.

The latest figures in relation to pupil teacher ratio show an improved ratio of teachers to students from 16:1 to 15.3:1 at primary level when comparing the 2015/16 school year to the 2017/18 school year. Average class sizes at primary level improved from 24.9 to 24.5 in the same period. It is expected that the one point improvement in the staffing schedule, implemented in September 2018, will further improve the overall ratio of teacher to students.

Any further improvement in the pupil teacher ratio will have to be considered in the context of the annual budgetary process.

Capitation Grants

Questions Nos. 450 to 453, inclusive, answered with Question No. 336.

Questions (449)

Carol Nolan

Question:

449. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the school capitation grant will be restored to the pre-2010 level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32146/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I fully recognise the need to improve capitation funding for schools.

In the period 2011 to 2015 the capitation and related grants for schools were reduced by just over 11% in aggregate.

I am pleased to have been able to provide for a 5% increase in capitation funding for primary and post primary schools that will apply from the start of the 2019/20 school year. The first and full year costs of this increase is €4 million and €10 million respectively.

I must be prudent in the context of ongoing budgetary pressures. Where it is not possible to do everything that I would like to do in the education sector in any one year I have to prioritise, especially in the context of increasing enrolments.

It is my intention to seek funding for further capitation increases in future budgets.

Questions Nos. 450 to 453, inclusive, answered with Question No. 336.

Apprenticeship Data

Questions (454)

Carol Nolan

Question:

454. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of women who took up apprenticeships since 2016, in tabular form. [32152/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Details as requested by the deputy are set out in the tabular statement.

Female Apprentice Population at end:

2016

2017

2018

2019*

60

151

341

376

*As of 31st May 2019.

Apprenticeship Programmes

Questions (455)

Carol Nolan

Question:

455. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the actions he plans to take to increase the number of women taking up apprenticeships; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32153/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Currently there is a population of 376 female apprentices, more than double the 2017 figure of 151 and a substantial increase on the 2016 figure of 60.

It is acknowledged that the number of women employed in craft apprenticeships is low, reflecting the traditional low levels of overall female employment in the craft sectors. To address this, SOLAS offers a bursary to employers in these trades to encourage them to employ female apprentices.

In recent years there has been a welcome increase in the number of women participating in apprenticeships overall, mainly because of the expansion of apprenticeship into new areas. Many of our new programmes are in occupations that have greater gender balance in the workplace, such as financial services and auctioneering.

While the increase in the number of female apprentices is welcome, it is also important to address issues influencing the low level of recruitment of women in the craft sectors. SOLAS has completed a review on the pathways to participation in apprenticeship for underrepresented groups, including women. Areas highlighted for action include setting targets for female participation, considering extending the bursary to other apprenticeships which have less than 20% female participation and a specific focus on female participation as part of the Generation Apprenticeship promotional campaign. Action on these areas will be progressed this year.

Women feature prominently in all aspects of the Generation Apprenticeship campaign, where there is a specific focus on encouraging women and girls to consider apprenticeship as a means of launching or developing their careers. In addition, the recently published review of career guidance encourages the consideration of apprenticeship options by all second level students regardless of gender.

Apprenticeship Programmes

Questions (456)

Carol Nolan

Question:

456. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress made in attaining the target of 31,000 apprenticeships by 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32154/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Details as requested by the Deputy of the progress made to date of apprenticeship registrations are set out in the tabular statement.

Apprenticeship Registrations*

Female Apprentice Population at end:

2016

2017

2018

2019*

60

151

341

376

*As of 31st May 2019