Flood Relief Schemes

Questions (222)

Brendan Griffin

Question:

222. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on a matter concerning a flood relief scheme for County Kerry (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36524/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

In May, 2018, I launched the Catchment-based Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) programme, wherein 29 Flood Risk Management Plans were unveiled.  These Plans proposed 118 new outline flood relief projects on top of the 42 major projects already completed and the 33 major schemes within the existing capital works programme of the Office of Public Works (OPW).  These plans included a recommendation to progress a project-level development and planning of a Flood Relief Scheme for Tralee, which is included in the first tranche of schemes at an estimated cost of €31.27m. 

The Office of Public Works recently approved funding to Kerry County Council to appoint a Senior Executive Engineer, Executive Engineer and a Senior Administrator to work solely on all Flood Risk Management Plans for County Kerry.

A project steering group comprising OPW personnel and representatives from Kerry County Council is now in place to progress those schemes in County Kerry identified in tranche one. The role of this group is to advance the preparation of a Project Brief for the procurement of Engineering and Environmental Consultants for Tralee and Kenmare. In relation to Tralee it is proposed to go to the Office of Public Works’ Engineering and Environmental Consultants framework in Q1 of 2020.

Once consultants are appointed to progress the Flood Relief Scheme for Tralee, consultation with statutory and non-statutory bodies, as well as the public, will take place at the appropriate stages to ensure that all parties have the opportunity to input into the development of this scheme.

Homeowners Voluntary Relocation Scheme

Questions (223)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

223. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will address a matter regarding the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36548/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

The Office of Public Works received a notification from  Kerry County Council that is considering this property under the Voluntary Homeowners Relocation Scheme.

In line with the Scheme, Kerry County Council identified that the flooding issues at the property could, in the first instance, benefit from a remedial works solution and requested that a flood risk assessment of the property be carried out. A flood risk assessment of the property has been completed.

The Office of Public Works is currently considering the flood risk assessment and will be corresponding with Kerry County Council on this matter shortly.

Statutory Retirement Age

Questions (224)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

224. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if a person (details supplied) is likely to be allowed to continue their employment after retirement age which is their choice and in view of previous indications; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36605/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I refer the Deputy to my answer to his PQ 32729/19 on 23 July 2019, which is copied below for the Deputy's convenience. There has been no change to this policy matter since July.

As the Deputy is aware, on 5 December 2017, the Government made the decision to increase the compulsory retirement age to 70, for public servants recruited prior to 1 April 2004. Primary legislation was necessary in order to bring that change into effect. It was made clear at the time that until such legislation was enacted, the compulsory retirement age of 65, which applied to the vast majority of this cohort, remained in effect and pre-2004 public servants reaching that age would be required to retire.

Interim arrangements were provided for the cohort of public servants who reached their compulsory retirement age of 65 between the date of the Government Decision and the enactment of the legislation because, while they would be aware of the Government’s decision, they would be unable to avail of it. The interim arrangements permitted these individuals to be rehired post-retirement for a period of 1 year until they reached the age of eligibility for the State Pension (Contributory). Without those specific arrangements, they would have been required to cease working on reaching the age of 65.

The Public Service Superannuation (Age of Retirement) Act 2018 was enacted on 26 December 2018. Under the Act, any relevant public servant who had not already reached their compulsory retirement age of 65 before that date has a new compulsory retirement age of 70. Enactment of the legislation had no effect on those public servants who retired at 65 prior to the 26 December 2018 and who availed of a one year contract under the interim arrangements. Their contract terms continue to apply and they cease working when they reach the age of 66, as previously provided for.

Section 3 of the 2018 Act also provides that I, as Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, within three months of the passing of the Act, would prepare and lay before the Oireachtas a report on the public servants who were forced to retire between 6 December 2017 and the commencement of the Act, due to reaching the age of 65 years, and on potential remedies to assist this cohort of worker. This Report was laid before the Oireachtas on 26 March 2019 and is publicly available on the www.gov.ie website and in the Oireachtas Library online catalogue.

Having considered all of the issues outlined in the Report, I am satisfied that the interim arrangements were an appropriate temporary policy response at the time of the Government Decision, pending enactment of the legislation. The terms of those arrangements were clear, unambiguous and made known to those who availed of them. Accordingly, for the reasons set out in the report, I decided not to make any changes to those terms.

Individual public servants who wish to clarify issues regarding their retirement age are advised to contact their employer's HR office who are best placed to assist them.

Garda Station Refurbishment

Questions (225)

Aindrias Moynihan

Question:

225. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform when a carpark will be constructed at a Garda station (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36615/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I can confirm that the Office of Public Works (OPW) received an enquiry from local Gardaí about developing the parking facilities at the Garda Station in question.  A quotation for the work was provided to Garda Estate Management (GEM), which must approve funding before the work can be scheduled by OPW for delivery.  GEM has confirmed that the proposed car park works remain under consideration.

Public Sector Pay

Questions (226)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

226. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated cost of addressing pay equalisation in the public sector. [36684/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I refer the Deputy to Parliamentary Question No. 307 of 23 July 2019.

Under the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA) 2018 – 2020, it was agreed to examine the remaining salary scale issues in respect of post January 2011 entry grades. The attached report, laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas in March 2018, estimates the point in time cost of pay equalisation of new entrants to the public service.

The report estimated a cost of €199.8m for pay equalisation for 60,513 new entrants, an average cost of €3,300 per FTE.

Following this report, an agreement on new entrant salary scales was reached in September 2018.

The main components of the agreement are:

- where two additional scale points were applied to pay scales under the Haddington Road Agreement, it was agreed that there will be two separate interventions in the pay scales as they apply to new entrant public servants recruited since January 2011.

- the two separate interventions will take place at point 4 and point 8 of the pay scales. The practical effect of this is that for new entrants the relevant points on the scale will be bypassed, thereby reducing the time spent on the scale for progression to the maximum point.

- this measure will apply from 1 March 2019 and will be applied to each new entrant as they reach the relevant scale points (point 4 and point 8) on their current increment date.

The cost of this measure during the remaining term of the PSSA is €75 million, with the full cost of the measure based on current data and public service numbers (2017) accruing over the period out to 2026. It is estimated that some 58% (35,750) of new entrants will benefit from this measure in year 1, rising to 78% (47,750) by year 2.

Flood Relief Schemes Expenditure

Question No. 228 answered with Question No. 176.

Questions (227)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

227. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the amount of funding allocated to improving flood defences in each of the past five years. [36685/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

Capital investment/expenditure by the Office of Public Works (OPW) on flood risk management measures, primarily on flood defence schemes, amounted to €254million in total between 2014 and 2018. This is broken down as follows:

Year

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

Expenditure

€43.54m

€48.37m

€51.86m

€45.37m

€64.64m

Nine major flood relief schemes were completed or substantially completed during this period bringing flood protection to over 2,500 properties. This is in addition to the 35 major flood relief schemes that were completed up to end 2013 protecting some 7,000 properties. Seven major schemes commenced construction in the 2014 - 2018 period and will be completed over the next couple of years. In addition, many other schemes have been advanced though the design process and will commence construction in the next year or so, subject to approval under the appropriate planning processes.

The above capital expenditure figures include expenditure under the OPW's Minor Flood Mitigation and Coastal Protection Works Scheme during the period in question, where funding is provided to Local Authorities to carry out minor works up to a limit of €0.75m for individual projects. 203 projects were completed under the Minor Works Scheme over the five year period bringing flood protection to over 2,000 properties.

 In addition to the above capital spending in this period, over €78 million of current expenditure was incurred on the OPW's arterial drainage maintenance programme under which programmed maintenance is carried out of completed arterial drainage schemes throughout the country and their associated flood defence structures.

Question No. 228 answered with Question No. 176.

Departmental Budgets

Questions (229)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

229. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the increase in 2019 in the expenditure ceiling earmarked for each Department in 2020, by capital funding and current funding; the measures the additional funding is already committed to; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36741/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

Gross voted current and capital expenditure ceilings for the 2020 to 2022 period were published in July of this year in the Mid-Year Expenditure Report (MYER). Table 1.3 on page 8 of the MYER sets out gross voted current expenditure ceilings and table 1.4 on page 9 of the report sets out gross voted capital expenditure ceilings. These tables are also provided in appendix 1.

In terms of current expenditure, pre-committed expenditure for 2020 amounts to €1.2 billion. This is made up of:

- €0.5 billion for demographic pressures in the areas of Health, Social Protection and Education;

- €0.3 billion in carryover costs relating to current expenditure measures introduced in Budget 2019; and

- €0.4 billion for the Public Service Stability Agreement.

Demographic allocations have been included in the published Departmental ceilings for Health, Education and Social Protection. Other pre-committed expenditure, along with the remaining unallocated resources, will be allocated to Departments through the Estimates process, as is usual, with Table 1.3 of the MYER including an amount for unallocated resources of €0.3 billion. 

 In terms of capital expenditure, the ceilings published in the MYER are in line with the National Development Plan allocations. In addition, €0.2 billion has been set aside for an ‘Expenditure Reserve’ for 2020, to meet additional costs arising from the National Children’s Hospital and the National Broadband Plan.

PQ36741/19 - Appendix 1

Table 1: Pre-Budget Ministerial Gross Current Expenditure Ceilings 2020 - 2022

€ million

€ million

€ million

Agriculture, Food and the Marine Group

1,341

1,341

1,341

Business, Enterprise & Innovation Group

330

330

330

Children and Youth Affairs Group

1,478

1,478

1,478

Communications, Climate Action & Environment Group

392

392

392

Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht Group

265

265

265

Defence Group

901

901

901

Education & Skills Group

9,880

9,927

9,974

Employment Affairs & Social Protection Group

20,744

21,004

21,264

Finance Group

481

481

481

Foreign Affairs Group

781

781

781

Health Group

16,502

16,650

16,798

Housing, Planning & Local Government Group

1,919

1,919

1,919

Justice Group

2,574

2,574

2,574

Public Expenditure and Reform Group

1,053

1,053

1,053

Rural & Community Development

153

153

153

Taoiseach's Group

192

192

192

Transport, Tourism & Sport Group

756

756

756

Public Service Stability Agreement (Cumulative)

390

651

651

Carryover of Budget 2019 Measures (Cumulative)

311

311

311

Resources to be Allocated 20201

300

300

300

Resources to be Allocated 2021

-

724

724

Resources to be Allocated 2022

-

-

1,100

Total Gross Current Expenditure

60,743

62,183

63,738

Table 2: Ministerial Gross Capital Expenditure Ceilings 2020 – 2022

-

€ million

€ million

€ million

Agriculture, Food and the Marine Group

258

265

275

Business, Enterprise & Innovation Group

630

640

715

Children and Youth Affairs Group

31

32

33

Communications, Climate Action & Environment Group

297

317

400

Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht Group

76

80

110

Defence Group

113

120

125

Education & Skills Group

942

1,006

1,100

Employment Affairs & Social Protection Group

15

16

17

Finance Group

22

18

19

Foreign Affairs Group

13

13

14

Health Group

774

780

825

Housing, Planning & Local Government Group

2,205

2,269

2,280

Justice Group

265

208

216

Public Expenditure and Reform Group

214

223

232

Rural & Community Development

150

152

175

Transport, Tourism & Sport Group

2,058

2,526

2,405

Total

8,063

8,665

8,941

Flood Risk Management

Questions (230, 231, 232, 233, 234)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Question:

230. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding flooding defence plans for Ballybofey and Stranorlar, County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36807/19]

View answer

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Question:

231. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding flooding defence plans for Castlefinn, County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36808/19]

View answer

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Question:

232. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding flooding defence plans in Glenties, County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36809/19]

View answer

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Question:

233. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding flooding defence plans in Downings, County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36810/19]

View answer

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Question:

234. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the position regarding flooding defence plans in Lifford, County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36811/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 230 to 234, inclusive, together.

Fifteen projects were identified in County Donegal in the Flood Risk Management Plans that I announced in May 2018. Following consultation and discussions between the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Donegal County Council (DCC), six of the Donegal projects have been selected to be progressed in the first phase of implementation. These are:

Lifford, County Donegal

The proposed Lifford Flood Relief Scheme consists of a series of flood embankments and walls with an early stage estimated cost of €5.9m.

The tender process for the appointment of both Engineering and Environmental consultants is underway with an expectation that the appointments will be made in October, 2019 .

Castlefinn, County Donegal

The proposed flood relief scheme for Castlefinn consists of about 800m of flood defence walls and embankments and has an estimated early stage cost of €1.75m. Tendering for the required design consultants is expected to commence in the coming weeks.

Glenties, County Donegal

The proposed flood relief scheme for Glenties, Co. Donegal has an estimated early stage cost of €0.55m and the proposed measures consists of a series of flood embankments and walls and land use management. Tendering for the required design consultants is expected to commence in the coming weeks.

Downings, County Donegal

The proposed flood relief scheme for Downings, Co. Donegal has an estimated cost of €0.87m and consists of a series of flood embankments and flood walls. Tendering for the required design consultants is expected to commence in the coming weeks.

Flood defence projects for Burnfoot and Carrowkeel are also included in the initial six projects in the first phase of implementation.

The proposed schemes for Castlefinn, Glenties, Downings, Burnfoot and Carrowkeel are being progressed by Donegal County Council. The OPW is leading the progression of the proposed scheme for Lifford.

Ballybofey and Stranorlar, County Donegal

The proposed flood relief scheme for Ballybofey and Stranorlar is not in the first phase of projects to be advanced. However, both the OPW and Donegal County Council will work closely to ensure that the project will be progressed as early as possible in the coming years and within the 10-year timeframe for the programme of investment. The proposed scheme for Ballybofey and Stranorlar has an estimated early stage cost of €1.92m and consists of hard defences and improvement of channel conveyance.

Funding of €157,500 was approved in 2018 under the OPW's Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection Scheme for a project at Ballybofey and Stranorlar. The works comprise the removal of vegetation and trees on the embankment and construction of pumps / pumping areas.

National Training Fund

Questions (235)

Kate O'Connell

Question:

235. Deputy Kate O'Connell asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the mandate of the national training fund and the way in which its expenditure profile can be reoriented towards more effective in-employment training and modern apprenticeships; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34832/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The National Training Fund (NTF) was established by the National Training Fund Act, 2000, as a dedicated fund to support the training of those in employment, and those seeking employment.The Act also provides for the funding of research to provide information on existing and likely future skills requirements of the economy.

One of the key features of the NTF is its flexibility and the way it responds to changing economic/labour market conditions. During the recession, the focus moved sharply from training those in employment to supporting unemployed people back into the workplace.  However there has been a fundamental shift in the labour market over the last 6 years with unemployment falling from a 16% high in 2012 to 5.6% in February 2019.  This has been reflected in a changed and rebalanced suite of NTF-funded programmes to support the larger working population, to address the higher demand for lifelong learning as the influence of technology increases and to seek to address emerging areas of skills and labour shortage.

The NTF levy was increased by 0.1% in 2018 to 0.8% and by a further 0.1% in both 2019 and 2020 in order to fund investment in education and training relevant to the skills needs of the economy. These increases were accompanied by a package of reforms to the Fund. An independent report of the NTF which was commissioned by my Department and undertaken by Indecon contained a number of key recommendations on the future direction of the Fund such as additional support for close to labour market skills requirements and increased focus on supporting in-company training. As part of Budget 2019 a number of steps have been taken to align with these specific recommendations set out in the Independent report so that training for those in employment has risen from 17% of total NTF expenditure in 2013 to 41% in 2019:

- There has been significant additional funding provided to continue the expansion of apprenticeships, including new apprenticeships.

- The number of places on Springboard has been increased with an emphasis on meeting the demand for those in employment.

- Additional funding has been provided to support Skillnet Ireland, who actively work with businesses to meet the skills gaps in the economy.

- There has been investment in a new ETB employee development programme to upskill lower skilled workers and support SMEs.

The trend in continued support from the NTF for those in employment is likely to continue in 2020, complemented by targeted support in upskilling people to prepare them for entering the workforce.

Additional information on the fund can be sourced in the 2019 expenditure report for the fund which is available at the link:

https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Education-Reports/national-training-fund-expenditure-report-2019.pdf

School Transport Data

Questions (236, 237)

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

236. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of tickets issued by Bus Éireann for the Kildalkey to Trim school bus route for the 2019/2020 school year; the appeals process in place for students who have been declined a place on Bus Éireann school buses; and the means by which Bus Éireann accommodates a student who successfully appeals a decision to decline them a place on a school bus route in circumstances in which bus places are already full. [35381/19]

View answer

Peadar Tóibín

Question:

237. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of tickets issued by Bus Éireann for the Kildalkey to Trim school bus route for the 2019/2020 school year; the appeals process in place for students who are declined a place on Bus Éireann school buses; the means by which Bus Éireann accommodates a student who successfully appeals a decision to decline them a place on a school bus route in cases in which bus places are already full; the number of children availing of the B6180 and B6181 service; and if information (details supplied) in relation to the routes will be provided. [35386/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 236 and 237 together.

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department. In the 2018/2019 school year over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres 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.

All children who are eligible for school transport and who complete the application process on time have been accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation for the 2019/20 school year.

Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport on a concessionary basis only and will be facilitated where spare seats are available after eligible children have been accommodated. Where the number of ineligible children exceeds the number of spare seats available Bus Éireann will allocate tickets for the spare seats using an agreed selection process.

Bus Éireann have confirmed that the service that operates from Kildalkey to Trim Post Primary Centre is operated by a 53 seat vehicle.

There were 6 mainstream eligible tickets issued and 47 mainstream concessionary tickets issued for this service.

As part of the temporary alleviation measures, 12 mainstream concessionary pupils were given the opportunity to avail of transport on a minibus.

Of these 12 mainstream concessionary pupils, 10 mainstream concessionary pupils have made a payment and are availing of transport.

Schools Building Projects

Questions (238)

Jackie Cahill

Question:

238. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) will be allowed to seek permission to go to tender with a building design to prove it will be delivered on budget; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the board of management is willing to bear the cost of a full redesign and tender competition if it fails to deliver on budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36137/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

In April 2019, my Department approved the provision of a 2 Classroom SEN base at the school to which the Deputy refers.

The Stage 1/2a Design (Preliminary/Developed Design) which has recently been submitted shows a significant increase in the scope of works over and above that approved. 

The school has been advised to revise the scope of the project in line with that which has been approved.  Under the Additional Accommodation Scheme the grant approved for each project is calculated to cover the cost of the approved works.  It is unreasonable to expect that an increased scope of works would still cost the same. Furthermore, the Department considers that the proposal referred to by the Deputy would give rise to a serious delay in the delivery of the project.

Therefore, and until the scope of works is brought back in line with that approved, the project cannot proceed to planning stage.

Student Assistance Fund

Questions (239)

John Brassil

Question:

239. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to restore the student assistance fund to pre-2012 rates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36784/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

In December 2012, an additional €3 million was approved to supplement the Student Assistance Fund following a survey conducted by the HEA in relation to the demand for the Fund.

This supplementary funding was a once-off exceptional measure which was taken in the context of long grant delays/issues encountered by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) in the initial year of operation.

In academic year 2011/12 €9 million was allocated to the SAF.  The core allocation in 2019/2010 is €9.1 million. This includes an additional €1 million added in 2017 for part-time students who are lone parents or members of the access target groups.

A further once off €1 million was added to the fund in 2018/19 for students attending Professional Masters of Education courses who were experiencing financial difficulty. This additional funding will be continued for 2019/20. The total 2019/2020 allocation for the SAF therefore remains at €10.1 million.

Schools Facilities

Questions (241, 242)

Kathleen Funchion

Question:

241. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost to install kitchen facilities to all State-run primary schools which do not have those facilities. [36947/19]

View answer

Kathleen Funchion

Question:

242. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost to install kitchen facilities to all State run secondary schools which do not have those facilities. [36948/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 241 and 242 together.

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department does not hold details of schools with kitchen facilities or those without such facilities.

My Department has in place detailed design guidelines for primary and post-primary schools. These guidelines, which are available on my Department's web-site, currently provide for a standard range of servery and eating facilities in the design of new and refurbished Primary and Post Primary schools. In Primary schools, a servery of 8.0m² in area is provided. At Post Primary level a kitchenette, 25m² in area, is provided off the General Purpose/Dining Area. These facilities are not intended to be full commercial type kitchens where food is prepared or cooked.

Third Level Fees

Questions (243)

Catherine Martin

Question:

243. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if asylum seekers are regarded as international students for the purposes of third level fees; if so, his plans to change this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34685/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The fee payable by a student can vary depending on a variety factors including the type of course and the student's access route including previous education.

 Under the Departments Free Fees Initiative, the Exchequer pays tuition fees on behalf of eligible students attending approved full-time undergraduate courses. In order to qualify for funding under the Department’s Free Fees Initiative, students must meet the criteria of the scheme including the separate residency and nationality/citizenship requirements of the scheme.

Persons in the asylum application process are not eligible to access the Free Fees Initiative.

Where students do not qualify for free fees funding, they must pay the appropriate fee, either EU or Non-EU, as determined by each higher education institution. These institutions are autonomous bodies and the level of fee payable by students who do not meet the requirements of the free fees scheme is a matter for the relevant institution to determine in accordance with their own criteria; the Department therefore has no role in the decision.

Schools Inspections

Questions (244)

Catherine Martin

Question:

244. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools that provide leaving certificate applied level that have had subject key assignments externally inspected since the introduction of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34688/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) programme is one of a number of options made available by the Department of Education and Skills for senior cycle students. The LCA is a distinct, self-contained two-year programme aimed at preparing students for adult and working life.

It is the responsibility and choice of each individual school to decide to put in place the LCA programme, based on the educational needs and interests of their students. 

The LCA inspection, carried out by the Inspectorate division in the Department of Education and Skills, evaluates all aspects of provision of the LCA programme in the school. This includes planning for teaching, observation of lessons and a review of samples of key assignments and key tasks, in addition to reviewing record keeping.

Key assignments form part of the assessment of module completion. In order to obtain credit for a module the student must satisfactorily complete all 4 key assignments and provide evidence of them. In addition to this the student must have at least 90 % attendance for that module. It is the class teacher and LCA coordinator in the school who assess key assignments in the first instance.

Evidence of Satisfactory Completion of Modules (student attendance record for the specific module & student evidence of each of the key assignments) must be available for inspection by Department of Education & Skills until the individual student has completed the two years of the programme and the final result for all sessions has been issued.

Please see below table of the number of LCA programme Inspections carried out by this Department for the last five years:

 

Number of Programme Evaluations on LCA Programmes

2015

7

2016

4

2017

6

2018

7

2019 (YTD)

6

To note, a key theme of the Senior Cycle Review being carried out by the NCCA will be the future form and reform of the existing senior cycle programmes – which includes the LCA programme.

Alongside the overall review of Senior Cycle the NCCA has also developed updated LCA Module Descriptors in English and Communications, ICT (Introductory Module and Specialism), and Mathematical Applications. The revised module descriptors will be implemented in schools from September 2020.

School Services Staff

Questions (245)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

245. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of school secretaries paid through the ancillary grant; and the average wage of secretaries. [34697/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Boards of Management of schools are responsible for the employment of school secretaries and it is a matter for each school to determine the level of secretarial services required for the school.  Funding to cater for these services is made available from my Department through the Ancillary Services and Capitation Grants.

Within the grant programme, the level and extent of services provided is a matter for the school authorities who, through the discretion afforded by the scheme, apply their own arrangements for secretarial services as resources permit.  Given that employment of school secretaries is dealt with at local school level, my Department does not have a central record of the number of school secretaries whose salaries are funded by these grants or their average wage.

Capitation Grants

Questions (246, 248)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

246. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of increasing capitation for primary schools to 2011 rates per pupil. [34698/19]

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Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

248. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of increasing capitation for primary schools by €20 per pupil. [34700/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 246 and 248 together.

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

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.

In addition to the 5% increase above the estimated cost of restoring capitation to pre-2011 levels in primary schools is circa €12.2 million.  The estimated full year cost of increasing the capitation grant by €20 to schools at primary level is €11.7 million.

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.