Physical Education Facilities

Questions (633)

Brendan Howlin

Question:

633. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of second level schools with no physical education hall; the number that require replacement halls; the number of new halls or facilities that will be built in 2019; the number he expects to fund in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34481/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

As Minister for Education and Skills I believe that the positive impact of a student’s participation in physical Education at both primary and post-primary level on the physical and mental well-being of that student cannot be underestimated. I welcome the Government’s proposals in Project Ireland 2040 to invest in this area.

To identify the number of second-level schools with no physical education hall or requiring a replacement hall, my Department’s approach is to do so as part of a national sports facilities audit that is due to be undertaken as part of the National Sports Policy 2018-2027 that was published by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTS) in July 2018.

This audit will enable a town approach and a cross-Government approach to be taken in relation to PE facilities. It may be the case that a particular school may not have a PE facility but there might be a facility adjoining the school or in that town, provided as part of the sports capital programme or otherwise, that is accessible and can be maximised to make the best use of an asset which has been provided with State funds.

My Department is currently engaging with DTTS on this and is represented on the Sports Leadership Group established by DTTS to oversee the implementation of the National Sports Policy.

The National Sports Policy document envisages the audit being undertaken by local authorities and it being completed by July 2020.   Once completed, the audit will feed into the work of my Department in relation to the PE build and modernisation programme that is outlined for delivery during the second half of the National Development Plan 2018 to 2027.  In the meantime, the provision of modern PE facilities is incorporated into large-scale building projects under my Department's school building programme. It is anticipated that construction in 2018 and 2019 involves the provision of 48 PE Halls at post-primary level and 82 GP Rooms at primary level.

Special Educational Needs Data

Questions (634)

John Brady

Question:

634. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of ASD school units provided for in the Bray municipal district; the number on the waiting list for a place within an ASD unit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34484/19]

View answer

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 re-configure 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.

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.

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.

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 is a key priority for me and my Department.

Teachers' Professional Development

Question No. 636 answered with Question No. 335.

Questions (635)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

635. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Skills if ongoing training or CPD training is offered to teachers on online bullying, harassment or illegal behaviour among children and appropriate responses to this behaviour within a school setting; and if so, the details of training provided. [34491/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Action Plan on Bullying sets out my Department's approach to tackling bullying in schools. The actions focus on support for schools, teacher training, research and awareness raising and aim to ensure that all forms of bullying, including cyberbullying, are addressed.

My Department, though its teacher support services, provides extensive training, supports and resources to schools to assist with the development of policies and practices on the safe and ethical use of the internet.

The Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) offers professional learning opportunities to teachers and school leaders in a range of pedagogical, curricular and educational areas. This includes supports on the prevention of bullying and harassment using the internet. The PDST is funded by my Department and operates under its remit. It is managed by the Dublin West Education Centre.  

The PDST has a dedicated Health and Wellbeing team comprising 22 full time personnel. This team supports teachers and schools, through the Social Personal Health Education (SPHE) curriculum to develop and promote the personal development, health and well-being of the student; to create a positive school environment and culture; and to prevent and tackle bullying including online bullying and harassment. 

The support provided to schools and teachers includes seminars, workshops, face-to-face courses and in-school support. Support material can be located at:

https://pdst.ie/sites/default/files/Anti-Bullying%20prevention%20and%20intervention%20strategies_support%20materials%20-%20Primary%20Final_0.pdf.

Webwise.ie is a key educational resource for schools. managed by the PDST, that promotes the autonomous, effective and safer use of the internet by young people through a sustained information and awareness strategy targeting school leaders, teachers, parents and children themselves with consistent and relevant messages. The Webwise team work closely with the Health and Wellbeing team in the development of SPHE and other curriculum resources. Resources available from Webwise include a Teachers Hub; A Parents Hub; and a Youth Hub.  Statistical information from Webwise advise that in 2018 there were some 904,249 users of Webwise with 1,395,700 page views. More information and resources from Webwise can be viewed at https//www.webwise.ie  

The national Anti-Bullying website, www.tacklebullying.ie provides a single point of information and support for young people, parents and teachers affected by bullying.

A website designed to be a single point of contact for all relevant online safety resources with links to a range of websites and online resources, was launched as part of the Action Plan for Online Safety and is available on www.gov.ie/besafeonline.

Question No. 636 answered with Question No. 335.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (637)

Jack Chambers

Question:

637. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills when development works on a school (details supplied) will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34504/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Department made arrangements with the school to which the Deputy refers to have access to its building for 5 weeks over the summer holidays to carry out planned detailed structural investigations in the school. 

 The Department expects to know how matters stand with the investigation within the planned five-week period and it will be communicating with the Patron and the Principal within that timeline in this regard.

Special Educational Needs Data

Questions (638)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

638. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of ASD school units provided for in south central areas of Dublin; the number on the waiting list for a place within an ASD unit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34592/19]

View answer

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 re-configure 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.

The number of ASD special classes in County Dublin have increased from 66 in the 2011/2012 school year to 197 in the 2018/2019, a threefold increase.  There are 15 ASD classes in the areas referred to by the Deputy: 2 Early Intervention classes, 8 Primary ASD classes and 5 Post-primary ASD classes.

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.

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.

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 is a key priority for me and my Department. 

Departmental Advertising Budgets

Questions (639)

Shane Cassells

Question:

639. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Education and Skills the expenditure by his Department on social media advertising and promotional material within the past year in tabular form. [34611/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Department’s only social media advertising expenditure to date in 2019 relates to the Teaching Transforms Campaign which aims to help address the shortage of teachers in specific subjects and the increasing need for more qualified graduates. Figures are set out below.

Teaching Transforms Advertising Expenditure

2019 Total

Creative Costs

€6,503.63

General Online

€42,114.50

Twitter

€5,404.56

Youtube

€9,385.33

Facebook

€12,829.67

 

€76,237.69

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Questions (640)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

640. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which he envisages the reduction of class sizes and pupil teacher ratios at both primary and secondary level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34652/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

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.

The current teacher allocation ratio at primary level is at its lowest ever, at a general average of 26 pupils to every 1 teacher.  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.  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.

A pupil teacher ratio (ptr) of 19:1 is applied to all second-level schools in the Free-Education System.  A ptr of 23:1 is applied to the 52 schools in the fee-charging sector.  Each 1 point adjustment to the pupil teacher ratio at post primary level is estimated to cost in the region of €63m per annum.

Any additional improvement in the pupil teacher ratio would have to be considered as part of the annual budgetary process, alongside the many other demands from the education sector.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Questions (641)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

641. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of reducing the pupil-teacher ratio at primary school by five points to the EU average. [34663/19]

View answer

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.

It is the annual staffing schedule which determines the allocation of teachers to schools.  For the current school year, it 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.

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.

Each 1 point adjustment to the primary staffing schedule is estimated to cost in the region of €13.5m per annum.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Questions (642)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

642. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of ensuring maximum class size in most disadvantaged schools is 15:1in primary and 20:1 in secondary. [34664/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

In the 2018/19 school year there are 3,106 mainstream primary schools of which 698 (22.47%) are participating in the DEIS Programme.

Each one point adjustment to the primary staffing schedule is estimated to cost in the region of €13.5m per annum.

Appendix A of Circular 19/2019 sets out the schedule of enrolment of pupils governing the appointment and retention of mainstream class teachers and is available on my Department’s website at the following link

www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/circular-0019-2019-appendix-a.pdf.

In relation to post-primary schools, I wish to advise the Deputy that in the 2018/19 school year there are 722 post-primary schools of which 198 (27.42%) are participating in the DEIS Programme. A pupil teacher ratio of 19:1 is applied to all second-level schools in the Free-Education System. 

Each 1 point adjustment to the pupil teacher ratio at post primary level is estimated to cost in the region of €63m per annum. 

DEIS post-primary schools are allocated an enhanced guidance provision. The relevant Circulars governing the staffing arrangements for post-primary schools for the 2019/20 school year are available on my Department’s website at the following link:

www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/Teacher-Allocations/Teacher-Allocations-Post-Primary.html.

School Guidance Counsellors

Questions (643)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

643. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost to reverse cuts to guidance counselling and to ensure one counsellor for each 500 students. [34665/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Measures announced by my Department as part of Budgets 2016, 2017 and 2018 mean that 500 of the 600 guidance posts that were withdrawn in Budget 2012, were restored to schools from September 2018.

These 500 posts are allocated separately and transparently on each school's staffing schedule.  These posts have been ring-fenced so they can only be used for guidance activities and to meet the guidance needs of the school. 

The estimated cost of one guidance counsellor per 500 pupils would require approximately 250 posts in addition to the 500 posts which have been restored in Budgets 2016, 2017 and 2018 in the region of €15 million per annum.

Teachers' Remuneration

Questions (644, 646)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

644. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of restoring pay for teachers to pre-2011 levels. [34666/19]

View answer

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

646. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of restoring pay for principals to pre-2011 levels. [34668/19]

View answer

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. 

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

School Management

Question No. 646 answered with Question No. 644.

Questions (645)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

645. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of providing school principals one management day per week. [34667/19]

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. 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. 

Enabling teaching principals to have one release day per week would cost an estimated €7.5m per annum.  

Question No. 646 answered with Question No. 644.

School Services Staff

Questions (647)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

647. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of a pay increase for school secretaries. [34669/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was tabled as a follow-on claim from the current pay agreement for this cohort of staff which lasts until December 2019. The Department issued surveys on the 10th of July to establish the full current cost of the trade union’s claim. This is standard practice.

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

Third Level Fees

Questions (648)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

648. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of abolishing higher education fees. [34670/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Student Contribution, was introduced with effect from the 2011/12 academic year. While the student contribution now stands at €3,000, it is important to recognise that there has been no increase in the contribution since 2014/15.

It is estimated that the net cost to my Department of abolishing the contribution would cost approximately €229 million.

This figure is based on the number of students that qualified for free fees funding in the academic year 2017/18 (and were therefore liable to pay the Student Contribution), and taking into account projected growth in student numbers for the 2019/20 academic year.  

It should be noted that this figure incorporates the resulting reduction to my Department's Student Grant Scheme budget, as the exchequer pays this contribution (or part of it) on behalf of almost 50% of undergraduate students who are in receipt of student grant assistance.

Tax relief provisions are also available so that second and subsequent siblings do not have to bear the full cost. In addition, higher education institutions have provisions in place to allow students to pay the contribution in two moieties.

Apprenticeship Data

Questions (649)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

649. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of abolishing apprenticeships fees. [34671/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

An Annual Student Contribution (ASC) is levied on all students attending Institutes of Technology (IoTs).  Previously this ASC was paid by FÁS/SOLAS with apprentices themselves paying the part of the contribution relating to examination fees. As part of Budget 2014, SOLAS ceased making payments to IoTs and apprentices pay the full pro rata ASC.

The amount charged to apprentices is calculated on a pro rata basis of the time which they spend in IoTs during the academic year. For craft apprenticeships, this cost would typically be one third of the €3,000 ASC paid by students attending for the full academic year and so amounts to approximately €1,000 per apprentice per period spent in the IoT.  In the case of the new consortia led apprenticeships the contribution varies for each programme as their off-the-job training has a more flexible structure.   In cases where training is delivered in an Education and Training Board there is no contribution made by the apprentice. 

Based on projected apprenticeship provision in higher education institutions, apprentices or their employers will make up to €6.6 million in ASCs in 2019. If the arrangement in place prior to Budget 2014 were to be reinstated, where the apprentices paid the proportion of the ASC deemed to relate to examination fees, the total cost of not charging the ASC to the State would be €4.8 million in a full year. 

Student Grants Data

Questions (650)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

650. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of a decrease grant in adjacency rates from 45km to 24km. [34672/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The cost of reversing the change to the distance criteria for the student grant is estimated to be in the region of €26m.

The above costing assumes that a change to the distance criterion would result in a similar percentage of students qualifying for the higher non-adjacent grant support, as existed pre Budget 2011.

Student Grants Data

Questions (651)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

651. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of restoring grants for student-teacher attendance at mandatory Gaeltacht courses. [34673/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The decision to stop the Gaeltacht placement grants was taken during the economic crisis when, unfortunately, very difficult decisions had to be made to stabilise the nation's finances.  At the time, priority was given to protecting resources for front line education services as far as possible.

The annual cost of fully funding the reconfigured Gaeltacht Placement on Primary initial teacher education (ITE) programmes for 1,200 student teachers in the four state-funded providers is estimated at €1.8m per annum. 

While there is no provision currently in my Department's budget for this grant or an element thereof in 2019, because of ongoing budgetary pressures which continue to be acute, the matter remains under consideration in my Department.

To assist with the costs of the Gaeltacht placement, students who are in receipt of a student grant which includes a 100% fee grant, or who would have qualified for a full fee grant but for the Free Fees Scheme, can apply for funding towards travel and accommodation costs under the field trip element of a fee grant, subject to the normal terms and conditions of the student grant scheme.  Apart from this, in circumstances of particular need, students may apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund.  Information in relation to this fund is available through the Access Officer in the third level institution attended.