Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (482, 483)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

482. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the arrangements made for a child (details supplied) with autism in preschool due to start primary school and has no place in an ASD unit locally. [32599/19]

View answer

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

483. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if there will be an increase in the places available in an ASD unit (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32600/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 482 and 483 together.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has a statutory function to plan and co-ordinate the provision of education and support services to children with special educational needs, in consultation with the relevant education partners and the Health Service Executive (HSE). This includes the establishment of special class and special school placements in various geographical areas where there is an identified need.

The enrolment of a child in a school is a matter, in the first instance, for the parents of the child and then a matter for the school/ Board of Management having regard to their own enrolment/admissions policy.  The Department and the NCSE has no role in relation to processing applications for enrolment to schools.

Parents/guardians who may need advice or are experiencing difficulties in locating a school placement should contact their local Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO) who can assist in identifying an appropriate educational placement for their child.  Contact details are available on www.ncse.ie.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) have advised that for the 2019/20 school year there will be a total of 1,618 special classes of which 1,353 will be for children diagnosed with autism.

There will be 77 special classes in Co. Kildare for 2019/2020 school year, which includes 70 classes for children with Autism, of which 3 are new ASD classes.

Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs are available by county on the NCSE website www.ncse.ie.

As the matter raised by the Deputy refers to an individual child and a particular school, I have arranged for the Deputy's question to be forwarded to the National Council for Special Education for direct reply.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions Nos. 485 to 488, inclusive, answered with Question No. 336.

Questions (484)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

484. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the refusal to grant the July provision will be reviewed in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32628/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The purpose of my Department’s July Provision Grant Scheme is to provide funding towards an extended school year for children with a severe or profound general learning disability or children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) enrolled in recognised schools.

The eligibility criteria for the July Provision Grant Scheme 2019 is set out in the Department's Information Note on the Scheme which was published with the application forms and is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie 

In the case referred to by the Deputy an application for home based July provision was received in the Department.  Whilst the application was received too late to be considered for the 2019 Scheme, the child in question does not have the required diagnosis of a severe or profound general learning disability or ASD, and therefore would not qualify for the July Provision Grant Scheme. 

The parent was notified of the decision on 12 July 2019.

Questions Nos. 485 to 488, inclusive, answered with Question No. 336.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (489)

Mary Butler

Question:

489. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Education and Skills the specific criteria that determines whether a child in primary school with type 1 diabetes receives an allocation of a special needs assistant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32654/19]

View answer

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.

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.

School Curriculum

Questions (490)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

490. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on linking community and youth services with schools in a local area in relation to awareness programmes dealing with the dangers of addiction to gambling. [32672/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Through their primary and post primary education students are equipped with the key skills and knowledge to enable them to make life choices. Schools' efforts should be complemented by students' parents, families and community. Schools develop positive links with parents by involving them in the development of school policies, which support the development of these key skills and knowledge.

The syllabus for Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) at primary and post-primary level provides a framework for teachers and students to explore issues of concern to their personal wellbeing and development. SPHE is a mandatory curriculum subject at all levels, in all primary schools and in post-primary up to Junior Cycle. At Senior Cycle an SPHE Framework published by National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) is available to schools to use.

SPHE is designed as an enabling curriculum. Schools are enabled to develop an SPHE curriculum, which is informed, by the needs and concerns of students, parents and guardians. While gambling is not mentioned specifically in the SPHE syllabus, it fits readily under the Making Decisions strand at primary level, and in topics and modules which explore making decisions, and decisions and influences, at post-primary level. This allows teachers and students to explore issues, which relate to personal decision making, within SPHE lessons, in a context and age appropriate manner.

It is a matter for the management of schools to consider which programmes may best suit their individual needs, having due regard to  Circular 0042/18 for primary schools or Circular 0043/2018 for post primary schools.  These circulars set out best practice guidance for schools in the use of programmes and/or external facilitators in supporting the curriculum.

Third Level Admissions Assistance

Questions (491)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

491. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an appeal by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32678/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

HEAR is a college and university admissions scheme offering places on reduced points and extra college support to school leavers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. 

Admissions under the HEAR scheme are regulated by the institutions themselves and not by my Department.  Each institution determines its own admissions policy in relation to the scheme, the number of places they reserve and the allocation of those places.

As the HEAR scheme is operated by the Central Applications Office (CAO) (www.cao.ie), appeals under the scheme are also directed to the CAO who coordinate the scheme for participating institutions.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (492)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

492. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason for the closure of the life skills room in a school (details supplied). [32689/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

This Government is spending nearly one euro in every five of the education budget on special education – about €1.9 billion in 2019.

My Department's policy is that children with special educational needs should be included where possible and appropriate in mainstream placements, with additional supports provided.

In circumstances where children with special educational needs require more specialised interventions, special school or special class places are provided for.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of local SENOs, in consultation with the relevant education partners, is responsible for identifying the need for and sanctioning the resourcing of special classes and special school placements in various geographical areas where there is an identified need.

It is open to any school to make an application to the NCSE for the establishment of a specialised provision and where sanctioned, there is a range of supports including capital funding available to the school.

Special classes can be established within a school's existing accommodation. In such circumstances the school can apply to the Department for capital funding to reconfigure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation.

The NCSE  has advised that there will be a total of 1,618 special classes in mainstream primary and post primary schools for the 2019/20 school year. 

The NCSE continues to monitor and review the requirement for special class places in particular areas and has capacity to establish new special classes, retain current special classes where necessary, subject to the willingness of schools to open/retain classes or close special classes which are no longer viable.

The NCSE welcomes expressions of interest from schools in opening special classes to meet the demand for special class provision.  In deciding on the location of a special class, SENOs take into account both the present and the future potential need for special class provision, and they must also be satisfied that the special class is sustainable and appropriately located.  SENOs liaise with relevant professionals in their area to arrive at an informed decision.

Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs are available in tabular form by county on the NCSE website at https://ncse.ie/special-classes.

With regard to school referred to by the Deputy, the NCSE has advised my Department that a special class for children with emotional behavioural disorder will close, as it is no longer sustainable. My Department is not aware of a 'life skills' class/room in this school. 

The NCSE has been exploring options with the school for the re-designation of the special class to cater for children with other disabilities. However, to date, no agreement has been reached in relation to this. 

Should a local need be identified in the future for a particular special class, the NCSE will liaise with the school on the establishment of such a class.

No child is losing out on education support arising from this change.

Oibreacha Feabhsúcháin do Scoileanna

Questions (493)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

493. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Pearse Doherty den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna an bhfuarthas iarratas mar chuid de scéim na n-oibreacha samhraidh ó scoil (sonraí tugtha) i gContae Dhún na nGall chun a córas téimh a uasghrádú; cathain a dhéanfar cinneadh ina leith; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [32764/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

 Is féidir liom a dheimhniú go bhfuil iarratas ar Oibreacha Meicniúla - Athsholáthar Córas Teasa agus uisce Tí (Catagóir 4) curtha isteach ag an Scoil dá dtagraítear thuas faoi Scéim na nOibreacha Samhraidh (SWS) ilbhliantúil mo Roinne ó 2020 ar aghaidh.

I gcomhréir leis an leibhéal maoinithe a bheidh ar fáil don SWS in 2020 déanfar iarratais a mheas ar bhonn ó bharr anuas de réir na gcritéir tosaíochta atá mínithe san Imlitir ina leagtar síos rialacha na Scéime. Tá an Imlitir seo (0027/2019) ar fáil ar shuíomh gréasáin mo Roinne, www.education.ie.

Tá sé i gceist agam liosta na n-iarratasóirí ar éirigh lena n-iarratais a fhoilsiú i Ráithe 4 2019 maidir le hoibreacha a bheidh á ndéanamh sa Samhradh 2020.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (494)

Pearse Doherty

Question:

494. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of plans to build new school buildings at a school site (details supplied). [32788/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware that this project has been devolved to Donegal Education and Training Board (DETB) for delivery.

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that DETB has appointed a new architect to complete the delivery of the extension project. It will now work with the existing design team to finalise the Stage 2A process prior to lodging planning permission, which is still expected to take place in September/October.

I can also inform the Deputy that, in the meantime, approval has been given by my Department to carry out a series of works that will take place over this coming Summer. These works will include surveys of the existing main building to investigate issues with it, refurbishment works on the existing temporary accommodation on site, and works to address disabled access issues.

Home Tuition Scheme Staff

Questions (495)

Michael McGrath

Question:

495. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if persons that provide home tuition are considered employees of his Department or self-employed persons; the role of his Department in deducting income tax, USC and PRSI from the payments made to home tutors; the class of PRSI deducted and paid on their behalf by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32801/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The purpose of the Home Tuition Grant Scheme is to provide funding towards the provision of a compensatory educational service for children who, for a number of specific reasons , are unable to attend school.

It is a condition of the scheme that parents or guardians must source a suitably qualified tutor who is registered with the Teaching Council for the duration of the approved tuition.

Prior to September 2015, the home tutors were paid by the parent(s) from grants paid to them by my Department. 

As a consequence of a Revenue audit,  my Department agreed to operate the PAYE system on payments to the home tutors.  This commenced in September 2015. Since that time, the payment of emoluments to Home Tutors engaged by parents/legal guardians under the Home Tuition Schemes are being made directly on payrolls operated by my Department  and are subject to PAYE and other statutory deductions.

Home tutors should ensure that they hold a Certificate of Tax Credits and Standard Rate Cut off point in respect of these emoluments.

 The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection determined that PRSI Class S applies to the emoluments paid to Home Tutors governed by the Home Tuition Grant scheme.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (496)

Kathleen Funchion

Question:

496. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the schools waiting on capital funding for future school build works or the completion of ongoing school build works; and the length of time each school in question has been waiting for the full amount of capital funding granted to it by county in tabular form. [32824/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the current status of large-scale building projects completed or to be delivered under the school building programme is available on my Department's website. www.education.ie.  This information is updated on a regular basis. 

Once a major project commences on site, a Payment Certificate plus an invoice to cover the amount of work carried out in the previous four weeks is submitted to my Department by schools monthly and payment is made within a week of receipt of this paperwork. When the project reaches substantial completion, there is a twelve month defects period and the final payment cannot be made until the defects period has expired and confirmation is received that all snags have been successfully dealt with.

Under the National Development Plan (NDP), increased funding has been provided for the school sector capital investment programme.  This funding allows for a continued focus on the provision of new permanent school places to keep pace with demographic demand and also provides for an additional focus on the refurbishment of existing school buildings to include the building and modernisation of PE facilities in schools.

The immediate priority of my Department is providing 20,000 new and replacement school places each year, to ensure that every child has a school place.

Student Data

Questions (497)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

497. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of children in primary and post-primary education, respectively. [32837/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

In the 2018/19 school year, 567,772 pupils were enrolled in Mainstream and Special primary schools.

362,899 pupils were enrolled in Post-primary schools (this figure does not include CORE VTOS or PLC enrolments).

School Enrolments Data

Questions (498)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

498. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount allocated to capitation grants annually from 2009 to date. [32838/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Details of annual expenditure by my Department on capitation related grants for Primary and Post-Primary schools in the years 2009 to date are provided in the following document.

2009 Expenditure

2010 Expenditure

2011 Expenditure

2012 Expenditure

2013 Expenditure

2014 Expenditure

2015 Expenditure

2016 Expenditure

2017 Expenditure

2018 Expenditure

2019 Allocation

Sector

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

€m

Primary

                      184.7

                 193.6

                      187.2

                      183.7

                      186.5

                      188.3

                      190.3

                      197.1

                      202.7

                      208.2

                  218.5

Post Primary

                      165.9

                 176.3

                      170.3

                      168.1

                      166.5

                      167.8

                      170.0

                      173.9

                      177.4

                      180.8

                  186.3

Overall Total

                      350.6

                 370.0

                      357.5

                      351.8

                      353.0

                      356.1

                      360.2

                      371.1

                      380.0

                      389.0

                  404.8

Capitation Grants

Questions (499)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

499. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated full year cost of increasing the funding of the capitation grant by percentage values (details supplied) in tabular form. [32839/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

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.

Each 1% increase in capitation and related grants for primary and post-primary schools would cost approximately €2m.  The following table sets out the estimated cost of increasing the capitation grant by 10%, 20%, 30%, 40% and 50%.

% increase

Cost of increase

10%

€20m

20%

€40m

30%

€60m

40%

€80m

50%

€100m

School Textbooks Rental Scheme

Questions (500)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

500. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated full year cost of increasing the funding of the school books scheme by percentage values (details supplied) in tabular form. [32840/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Department provides a book grant to all recognised primary and post primary schools within the Free Education Scheme in order to provide assistance for books including Book Rental Schemes. Under this scheme, the Department provided funding of €16.9 million in 2019 to all of these schools. 

It is a matter for the Board of Management of each individual school to decide on its own policy in relation to the use of this funding in the school but they are expected to adopt a cost-conscious approach to the selection of books for use in their classes. The current arrangement relies on the local knowledge of the school in order to ensure a fair allocation of funds to those most in need.  The arrangements in relation to this scheme are set out in Circular 0046/2013 which is published on the Department's website at http://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0046_2013.pdf.

Each 1% increase in the book grant for primary and post-primary schools would cost approximately €170,000.  The following table sets out the estimated cost of increasing the book grant by 10%, 20%, 30%, 40% and 50%.

% increase

Cost of increase

10%

€1.7m

20%

€3.4m

30%

€5.1m

40%

€6.8m

50%

€8.5m

School Funding

Questions (501)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

501. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated amount taken in by schools annually in the form of voluntary contributions at both primary and post-primary levels by county in tabular form. [32841/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department’s position in relation to voluntary contributions is that they are permissible provided it is made very clear to parents that there is no question of compulsion to pay and that, in making a contribution, they are doing so of their own volition.

My Department does not hold records regarding voluntary contributions received by schools.

However, I intend to shortly publish the Student and Parent Charter Bill. One of the key concepts in the Bill is the need for schools to provide information to parents and students. Each school will be required to prepare, publish and implement a Student and Parent Charter in accordance with national guidelines to be made by the Minister. The charter guidelines will specify the content of charters, including the information to be provided to students and parents relating to the monies that the school receives (including voluntary contributions made by parents) and the expenditure of those monies.

School Transport Fees

Questions (502)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

502. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of abolishing school transport fees for primary and post-primary students. [32842/19]

View answer

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 at a cost of over €200m in 2018. 

The purpose of the School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school.  Children are generally eligible for school transport if they satisfy the distance criteria and are attending their nearest school as determined by the Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

In 2018, receipts from school transport charges amounted to some €15.9m or about 8% of the total cost of the scheme provided by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.  If school transport fees were to be abolished this would be the additional cost on the scheme.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (503)

Jack Chambers

Question:

503. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32869/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The building project referred to by the Deputy is being delivered under my Department's Design & Build programme.  This delivery programme uses a professional external Project Manager to progress the project through the relevant stages of architectural planning, tendering and construction.

The next step in the process will be the application for Planning Permission which is expected to be lodged in quarter 3 of 2019. Thereafter, the timeframe for delivery of the school will be dependent on the grant of planning permission. My Department is working to deliver the school's permanent accommodation at the earliest possible date.

Fund for Students with Disabilities

Questions (504)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

504. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of students that accessed the fund for students with disabilities over the past three years by educational institution; the average amount provided to each student; the estimated cost of increasing the fund by 20%; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32871/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The number of students who are beneficiaries under the Fund for Students with Disabilities has grown significantly. In 1999, approximately 300 students were supported by the Fund for Students with Disabilities. For the 2017/18 academic year, a total of 13,545 students were supported across higher education, further education and in other UK/EU higher education institutions.

Funding under the Fund for Students with Disabilities is allocated to the educational institution to support a student’s needs as determined by a needs assessment. The educational institution has full discretion on how funding is allocated at local level and remains responsible for the management of funding throughout each academic year.

The estimated cost of increasing the Fund for Students with Disabilities by 20% is €1.92 million, i.e. €9.6 million + 20% (€1.92m) €11.52 million. 

Please find the table in the following link setting out expenditure in relation to FSD over the last three years. 

FSD Beneficiaries.

Special Educational Needs Staff Data

Questions (505)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

505. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of resource teachers employed in primary schools over the past five years; the number of resource teacher vacancies; the unmet need of resource teachers; the estimated cost of employing an additional 100 resource teachers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32872/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

From September 2017, a new model for allocating special education teachers was introduced. This model allocates special education teachers to schools based on the profiled needs of schools, as opposed to the assessed needs of individual children.  

The revised allocation process replaced the generalised allocation process at primary and post primary school level for learning support and high incidence special educational needs, and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) allocation process which provided additional resource teaching supports to schools, to support pupils assessed as having Low Incidence disabilities.

The previous system which provides allocations of resource teaching support for individual pupils in particular disability categories, guided by the Report of the Special Education Review Committee (SERC Report), therefore no longer applies.

The new Special Education Teaching allocation provides a single unified allocation for special educational support teaching needs to each school, based on each school’s educational profile.

1,000 additional special education teachers have been provided for schools since 2017, while the total number of special education teachers has increased by 37% since 2011, from 9,740 in 2011, to over 13,400 at present.

9285 special education teachers were allocated to primary schools for the 2018/19 school year. For the 2017/19 school year, 9235 were allocated. For the 2016/17 school year there were a combined total of 8682 Resource Teachers and Learning Support Teachers allocated to primary schools. For 2015/16 this figure was 8238, and for 2014/15, a total of 7775 Resource Teachers and Learning Support teachers were allocated.

Once allocations of Special Education Teachers are made to schools, it is a matter for individual school Boards of Management to employ the teachers. My Department therefore does not have details of the number of temporary vacancies that may arise in schools while posts are being recruited.   

Adding an additional 100 special education teachers to the current level of provision would cost approximately €6 Million per year.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (506)

Danny Healy-Rae

Question:

506. Deputy Danny Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the threshold of income earned by students themselves during holidays under SUSI will be increased (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32876/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The assessment of means under my Department's student grant scheme is based on gross income from all sources, with certain social welfare and health service executive payments being exempt.

In the assessment of means, a deduction can be made for holiday earnings made by the applicant from employment outside of term time but within the reference period. The value of this income disregard was increased from €3,809 to €4,500 in the 2016 scheme.

The student grant scheme contains a number of qualifying thresholds for various grant values. These gradations allow students just over a threshold margin, to remain in receipt of a grant, albeit at a reduced rate that reflects their relative income vis-à-vis other applicants.

Students in third-level institutions experiencing exceptional financial need can apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund. 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. Information on the fund is available through the Access Officer in the third level institution attended. This fund is administered on a confidential, discretionary basis.