School Textbooks Rental Scheme

Question No. 248 answered with Question No. 246.

Questions (247)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

247. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the cost of schoolbooks being provided by schools; and the estimated cost for schoolbook rental schemes to be provided by all schools. [34699/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

My 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.

School book rental schemes have an important role to play in reducing the cost of school books for parents and in order to support the establishment of book rental schemes my Department provided €15.7 million seed capital in 2014, 2015 and 2016 to primary schools.  Circa. 96% of primary schools and 68% of post-primary schools operate a book rental scheme 

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 book grant 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.  Therefore, my Department does not hold information in relation to these costs.

The arrangements in relation to the book grant 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.

Question No. 248 answered with Question No. 246.

School Guidance Counsellors

Questions (249, 293, 294)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

249. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of reversing cuts to guidance counselling; and the estimated cost to ensure one counsellor for every 500 students. [34701/19]

View answer

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

293. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost to restore guidance counsellors to one per 500 pupils ex-quota at post-primary level. [35213/19]

View answer

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

294. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost to restore guidance counsellors to one per 500 pupils ex-quota for DEIS schools. [35214/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 249, 293 and 294 together.

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 cost of restoring the remaining 100 posts is in the region of €4.8m. This will be considered in the context of future Budgets, however there are needs across the system which have to be balanced in the decisions made in each budget.

It is important to note that in previous changes to guidance counselling allocations in 2012, DEIS schools were effectively sheltered from the changes as a result of a more favourable staffing schedule which is more beneficial than an allocation of 1 per 500 pupils.

The provision of one guidance counsellor per 500 pupils in non DEIS schools would result in an estimated 200 additional posts at an annual cost of c. €9.6m.

The Department has committed considerable resources towards the restoration of guidance counselling hours to post-primary schools, to the provision of CPD for guidance counsellors and to the provision of a national guidance counselling supervision service for post-primary guidance counsellors.

Special Educational Needs Staff Data

Questions (250)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

250. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of an additional SENO or SNA. [34702/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department's policy aims to ensure that all children with Special Educational Needs can have access to an education appropriate to their needs.

In 2019, in the region of €1.9 billion is being invested in Special Education, nearly one fifth of the overall Education budget.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for the provision of a range of educational services at local and national level for students with special educational needs.

SENO responsibility includes planning and co-ordinating the provision of education and support services to children with special educational needs. Each SENO works in an assigned local area with parents, schools, teachers, psychologists, health professionals and other staff who are involved in the provision of services in that area for children with special educational needs. The SENO is available to parents to discuss any issues they have about the present or future educational needs of their child and to offer support and expertise.

The cost of employing a new Special Educational Needs Organiser on the first point of the salary scale is €34,981 per annum.

The Special Needs Assistant (SNA) scheme is designed to provide schools with additional adult support staff who can assist children with special educational needs who also have additional and significant care needs. Such support is provided in order to facilitate the attendance of those pupils at school and also to minimise disruption to class or teaching time for the pupils concerned, or for their peers, and with a view to developing their independent living skills.

The unit cost of employing a new entrant Special Needs Assistant  is €27,674 per annum.

Both of the above figures are inclusive of Employers PRSI.

School Enrolments Data

Questions (251)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

251. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the expected number of children in primary and secondary schools in September 2019. [34703/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The projected enrolment figures for September 2019 are:

Primary Level - 566,220

Post-Primary Level - 369,673

Projections are published by the Department in the report titled ‘Projections of Full-Time Enrolment Primary and Second level, 2018-2036’.

These reports can be found on the Department of Education website at https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Statistics/projections.

* Figures at primary level figures include both mainstream and special schools.

Autism Support Services

Questions (252, 308, 309)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

252. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the expected number of ASD unit places to be available in primary and secondary schools by county in September 2019. [34704/19]

View answer

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

308. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of autistic children enrolled at primary level for 2019/2020. [35230/19]

View answer

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

309. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of autistic children enrolled at post-primary level for 2019/2020. [35231/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 252, 308 and 309 together.

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

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

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

There were 567,772 students enrolled in Primary schools and 362,899 students enrolled in Post Primary schools in the 2018/19 school year. Enrolment data for the 2019/20 year will be available later in the year.

167 new special classes will be opened for the 2019-20 school year, which means there will be 1,622 special classes in place, compared to 548 in 2011. 1,355 are Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) special classes, including 134 ASD early intervention classes, 849 primary ASD classes and 370 post-primary ASD classes in mainstream schools.

124 special schools also provide specialist education for those students with complex special educational needs.

School Transport Provision

Questions (253, 254)

Eugene Murphy

Question:

253. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason school transport has been withdrawn from a school (details supplied) with effect from September 2019 in view of the fact it is still available for existing students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34705/19]

View answer

Eugene Murphy

Question:

254. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if school transport will be provided for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34706/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 253 and 254 together.

My Department's practice has been to respond to the needs of long term or repeat child patients in hospitals and HSE CAMHS facilities through the establishment of special schools or through the funding of part-time teaching hours.

The purpose of educational provision in HSE CAMHS Units is a short term intervention designed to provide for some continuity of education during the child/young person’s stay as an in-patient. Not all children/young people attending CAMHS are medically fit to avail of education during all of their stay.

Since 2014, my Department’s policy is to provide teaching staff in CAMHS facilities at a pupil teacher ratio of 6:1 on the basis of the number of inpatient beds in each CAMHS unit. The Special School referred to by the Deputy is one of a number of such special schools.

Current policy does not provide for an additional teaching allocation for CAMHS facilities for students attending such facilities as day or out-patients, as young people attending CAMHs as day patients can apply for Home Tuition support to provide for compensatory education in respect of time missed from school, due to medical reasons or attendance at a medical unit.

As not all inpatient beds in CAMHS Units may be filled at any given time, in such instances, subject to prior approval by my Department, CAMHS Units may utilise spare teaching capacity from their allocated 6:1 ratio to offer guidance or support for pupils attending CAMHS facilities as day patients, and to assist in maintaining some continuity of education from their base school or liaison with their base school on days that they attend the CAMHS Unit.

Students in the school referred to by the Deputy are attending the HSE CAMHS facility, in the first instance, as in-patients, day patients or out-patients for mental health issues rather than special educational needs.

While the special school in question was originally designated as a special school for Severe Emotional Behaviour Disorder, since the school’s re-location with the HSE’s CAMHS unit, the teaching staff allocation has been provided on the basis of the policy outlined above for CAMHS facilities.

The CAMHS team may refer patients to the school for short term education intervention, designed to provide for some continuity of education, while a patient of the CAMHS Unit. All students remain enrolled in their base schools while attending the CAMHS unit. Special schools attached to CAMHS Units do not enrol students on a full time basis, as their main education placement. Therefore, their enrolment remains transient.

The purpose of the Transport Scheme for Children with Special Educational Needs is to support the transport to and from school of children with special educational needs arising from a diagnosed disability.  Children are eligible when they are attending the nearest recognised mainstream school, special class in mainstream or special school that is or can be resourced to meet their special educational needs.  Eligibility is determined in consultation with the NCSE through its network of SENOs.

As students in a special school attached to a CAMHS facility, including the Special School referred to by the Deputy, are, in the first instance, attending CAMHS as in-patients, day patients or out-patients for mental health issues rather than special educational needs, transport to the HSE CAMHS unit does not come within the remit of my Department’s Transport Scheme for Children with Special Educational Needs.

Special School Transport was provided in error to a number of students who attended this school while day patients of the CAMHS unit. This arrangement was allowed to continue for these students until they completed their time in CAMHS. No new applications will be considered.

Education Grants

Questions (255)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

255. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the effect the housing crisis has on applicants that apply for SUSI grants but cannot apply as independent students in view of the fact they cannot provide an address of their own will be considered. [34708/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

For student grant purposes, students are categorised according to their circumstances either as students dependent on parents or a legal guardian, or as independent mature students.

For a dependent student, the reckonable income for grant purposes includes both his/her own income and that of his/her parents/legal guardians.

A student may be assessed as an independent mature student if he or she has attained the age of 23 on the 1st January of the year of first entry to an approved course, or of re-entry following a break in studies of at least three years, and is not ordinarily resident with his/her parents from the previous October. Otherwise he or she would continue to be assessed on the basis of parental income.

An applicant's class is defined at his/her first point of entry to an approved higher or further education course and this will continue to apply for the duration of his/her studies.

While it is not possible to appeal an applicant’s class during the course of his/her studies, an applicant may be assessed or re-assessed by the awarding authority in the event of a change of circumstances relating to the following:

- Permanent change in reckonable income;

- Number of dependent children residing in the household;

- Commencement of an approved course;

- Normal residence;

- Nationality or immigration status; and

- Change of course or institution. 

Whilst there is no discretion to deviate from the particular provisions of the Student Grant Scheme and governing legislation, SUSI implements procedures for the timely, sensitive and confidential handling of exceptional circumstances applications.

If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a student grant on the grounds of his/her initial classification as an independent or dependent student, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to SUSI. Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down in writing by SUSI and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal, outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board at www.studentgrantappeals.ie within the required timeframe.

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.

School Staff

Questions (256)

Peter Fitzpatrick

Question:

256. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a class size has been increased in a school (details supplied). [34721/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

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

The school referred to by the Deputy is due to have a teaching post suppressed due to a fall in enrolments in September 2018.

The staffing process includes an appeals mechanism for schools to submit a staffing appeal under certain criteria to an independent Appeals Board. The school referred to by the Deputy submitted a staffing appeal to the Primary Staffing Appeals Board.  The appeal was refused on the basis that the grounds of the appeal did not warrant the allocation of an additional post under Circular 0019/2019.

The configuration of classes and the deployment of classroom teachers are done at local school level. My Department's guidance to schools is that the number of pupils in any class is kept as low as possible taking all relevant contextual factors into account (e.g. classroom accommodation, fluctuating enrolment etc.). School authorities are also requested, where possible, to use their autonomy under the staffing schedule to implement smaller class sizes for junior classes.

Schools Refurbishment

Questions (257)

David Cullinane

Question:

257. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Education and Skills if funding is guaranteed to modernise a school (details supplied) in County Waterford; if the agreed plan to reunite the school on one site in the interim will be implemented; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34730/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

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

Following tender submissions from prospective building contractors , my Department has recently authorised the school to issue the Letter of Acceptance to the successful tenderer. Construction should commence later this month and subject to no issues arising it is envisaged that the school will be ready for occupation in the 1st quarter of 2021.

The project will be delivered in two phases: Phase 1 involves the construction of a new building and associated site works.  Phase 2 involves the refurbishment of existing buildings and associated site works.

Autism Support Services

Questions (258)

Robert Troy

Question:

258. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the fact that children diagnosed with high functioning autism have no suitable facilities to attend after primary school (details supplied) [34743/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department's policy is that all children with Special Educational Needs, including those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) policy advice on Supporting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (2016) found that students are generally well supported in schools with appropriate curriculum; extensive teacher and SNA supports; improving range of educational placements supported by improved accommodation and equipment; improved teacher knowledge and understanding and a generally good standard of provision at primary and post primary levels.

The greater proportion of children with ASD attend mainstream class, where they may access additional supports if required.

Special class placements are provided in mainstream schools for students with ASD and more complex needs, where it has been demonstrated that he/she is unable to learn effectively in a mainstream class for most or all of the school day even with appropriate supports.

Special school placements are provided for other students with ASD and very complex special needs who wouldn’t manage in a mainstream school even for part of the week.

Special classes for students with ASD are staffed with a lower pupil–teacher ratio of 6:1 at primary level and 6:1.5 at post primary level, and also have a minimum of two SNAs for every class of 6 children.

The NCSE found, however, that there was confusion in the system about the purpose and role of special classes for students with ASD. Some schools appeared to believe such classes are resourced only to cater for the more able students with ASD. Some schools had restrictive enrolment practices or policies which effectively excluded students – even in special classes – unless they were able to follow academic programmes and be included in mainstream classes for at least part of the week.

The NCSE pointed out that special classes are resourced to cater for the needs of all students with special educational needs who require to spend most or all of their week in a special setting. They are not resourced exclusively to support either students who are more able or those with more complex needs. It would therefore not be appropriate to refer to these classes as ‘low functioning units’ or ‘high functioning units’.

The NCSE advised that only those students with ASD with more complex needs and who are unable to access the curriculum in a mainstream class should be supported in special classes in post-primary. More able students with ASD (i.e. those who can access the curriculum in a mainstream class for most all of the day/week) should be supported in post-primary schools through resourced mainstream provision, i.e. through the SET model and with access to SNA support as required. There can be exceptions as some students with ASD may find it difficult to manage full-time placement in mainstream classes although academically able to access the curriculum there and these students may require support through the special class model for some of their day/week.

Some students with ASD who are able to attend mainstream classes will experience associated symptoms such as anxiety. When planning educational support for these students, it is important to consider the role that mainstream and special education teachers can play in their education and in assisting them to be included in school.

Other resources which are provided to schools to support children with Special Educational Needs including Autism include the following:

- The National Educational Psychological Service

- Assistive technology

- Access to the Special School transport scheme

- Access to special equipment and furniture where required

- Enhanced capitation grants at primary level

- Adapted school buildings

- ICT Grant for new classes

- Start Up grant for new classes

- Access to the extended school year scheme. (July Provision)

The NCSE has published guidelines for schools on setting up and organising Special Classes, which are available to download from www.ncse.ie. The guidelines include information on resources which may be provided to schools with special classes and links to information on the how funding is allocated.

In conclusion, a continuum of provision is provided in mainstream schools which should be operated in a flexible manner, to meet the wide range and diversity of student needs that present in these schools.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (259)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

259. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 360 of 8 May 2019, the status of the school building project; when it will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34762/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

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

This project is one of the school building projects on my Department’s ADAPT 2 (Accelerated Delivery of Architectural Planning & Tendering) Programme. My Department has completed the process of procuring a Project Manager for the ADAPT 2 Programme, which currently contains 16 school building projects.

The appointment of a Design Team for this school building project consisting of Architect, Quantity Surveyor, Civil & Structural Engineer, Mechanical & Electrical Engineer and Project Supervisor for the Design Process has recently been completed.

The next step is that the Project Manager and the Design Team will shortly hold a meeting with the school and then commence Stage 1 of Architectural Planning which includes Site Report, Site Suitability and producing Initial Sketch Schemes.

School Placement

Questions (260)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

260. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a second-level school place will be found to meet the requirements of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34797/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Educational Welfare Service (EWS) of the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) is the statutory body which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school placement for their child. The EWS can be contacted at 01 7718633 / 01 7718500.

The selection and enrolment of pupils is the responsibility of the management authorities in each individual school.  My Department’s main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking places in an area. However, this may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice. As schools may not have a place for every applicant, a selection process may be necessary. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants.

Under section 15(2)(d) of the Education Act 1998, each school is legally obliged to  disclose its enrolment policy and to ensure that as regards that policy the principles of equality and the right of parents to send their children to a school of the parent’s choice are respected.

Under Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 where a school board of management makes a decision to refuse enrolment, a parent or guardian can appeal that decision to the Secretary General of my Department. Where the appeal involves an Education and Training Board (ETB) school, the appeal must be made to the local ETB in the first instance. Further information on the Section 29 Appeals process is available on my Department's website at

www.education.ie/en/Parents/Services/Appeal-against-Permanent-Exclusion-Suspension-or-Refusal-to-Enrol.

Summer Works Scheme Applications

Questions (261)

Peter Burke

Question:

261. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a summer works scheme application will be granted due to the circumstances to a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34815/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department is in receipt of an application under Category 9 of the Summer Works Schemes (SWS) 2020 onwards, from the school in question, for window replacement.

Commensurate with the level of funding available for the Summer Works Scheme (SWS) 2020 onwards, all applications will be assessed on a top down basis in accordance with the prioritisation criteria outlined in the governing Circular Letter for the Scheme. This Circular Letter (0027/2019) is available on my Department's website www.education.ie for information.

Special Educational Needs

Questions (262)

Tom Neville

Question:

262. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the case and circumstances of a child (details supplied) will be addressed. [34816/19]

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.

The NCSE Appeals Process may be invoked by a parent or a school where it is considered that a child was not granted access to SNA support because the requirements outlined in Circular 0030/2014 were not complied with.  Schools may also appeal a decision, where the school considers that the NCSE, in applying Department policy, has not allocated the appropriate level of SNA support to the school to meet the special educational and/or care needs of the children concerned.

Where a school has received its allocation of SNA support for 2019/20, but wishes new enrolments or assessments to be considered, which were not taken into account when the initial allocation was made, they may continue to make applications to the NCSE.

The closing date for receipt of appeals in regard to SNA allocations is Friday, 27 September 2019.

As this question relates to a particular child, I have referred the question to the NCSE for its direct reply.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (263)

Kate O'Connell

Question:

263. Deputy Kate O'Connell asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of all school building projects for the Dublin 6W, 12, 14, 16 and 24 areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34826/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Under Project Ireland 2040, my Department continues to make progress to increase the infrastructural capacity in the schools sector, in order to meet demographic and other demands.

The Capital Programme details the school projects that are being progressed under project Ireland 2040. I wish to advise the Deputy that the current status of large-scale projects being delivered under project Ireland 2040 may be viewed on my Department's website, www.education.ie, and this information is updated regularly. In addition, a list of large-scale projects completed from 2010 to date may also be viewed on the website.   

The Capital Programme also provides for devolved funding for additional classrooms, if required, for schools where an immediate enrolment need has been identified or where an additional teacher has been appointed. Details of schools listed on this programme can be found on my Department's website, www.education.ie, and this information is also updated regularly.

School Patronage

Questions (264)

Kate O'Connell

Question:

264. Deputy Kate O'Connell asked the Minister for Education and Skills the forthcoming patronage process for the new post-primary school for Citywest and Saggart; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34827/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government announced plans in April 2018 for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022) including a new 1,000-pupil post-primary school to be established in September 2020 to serve the Tallaght & Newcastle-Rathcoole (Citywest/Saggart) school planning areas as a regional solution.

This announcement follows nationwide, demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country and the 4-year horizon will enable increased lead-in times for planning and delivery of the necessary infrastructure. 

A patronage process is run after it has been decided, based on demographic analysis, that a new school is required.  This patronage process is open to all patron bodies and prospective patrons. The application process for patrons to run this school has been completed. 

Parental preferences for each patron, from parents of children who reside in the school planning areas concerned, together with the extent of diversity currently available in these areas, are key to decisions in relation to the outcome of this process.

The Online Patronage Process System (OPPS) has been developed by my Department to provide objective information to parents and guardians which will allow them to make an informed choice in expressing a preference for their preferred model of patronage for their child’s education.

The OPPS for the new post-primary school in Citywest/Saggart will open for parental preferences shortly. Updates in relation to the patronage process will be announced on the OPPS website (https://patronage.education.gov.ie/) and my Department’s website (www.education.ie).

The patronage process for new schools is overseen by an external independent advisory group, the New Schools Establishment Group (NSEG). Following their consideration of my Department’s assessment reports, the NSEG will submit a report with recommendations to me for consideration and final decision. The assessment reports and the NSEG recommendations for all such patronage processes are made available on my Department's website.

Schools Site Acquisitions

Questions (265)

Kate O'Connell

Question:

265. Deputy Kate O'Connell asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the ETB-owned site at Fortunestown Lane, Dublin 24, on which temporary primary schools are located will facilitate the new primary school for Citywest and Saggart; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34828/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The school building project referred to by the Deputy is being delivered under the Department’s Design and Build programme.  Architectural planning has commenced for the delivery of a 16-classroom primary school and a 1,000-pupil post-primary school at a site at Fortunestown Lane, Citywest.

The two primary schools currently in temporary accommodation on this site will be moving into their permanent school buildings which are expected to be completed in Quarter 4 2019.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (266)

Kate O'Connell

Question:

266. Deputy Kate O'Connell asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the progress of the plans to construct permanent buildings for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34829/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The school building project referred to by the Deputy is being delivered under the Department’s Design and Build programme.  Planning permission has been secured and Tender documentation is currently being prepared.

Ministerial Advisers Data

Questions (267)

Michael McGrath

Question:

267. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the name of each person employed as an adviser or special adviser to him and the Minister of State in his Department; the salary of each in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34844/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The following tabular statement contains the information requested by the Deputy. In accordance with the terms of the Ethics Act, a copy of the respective Special Advisers’ contracts of employment have been laid before the Oireachtas.

Minister/ Minister of State

Special Adviser Name

Salary 1st Sept 2019

Joe McHugh T.D.

Mark O'Doherty

€99,177 pa

Joe McHugh T.D.

Ed Carty

€90,920 pa

Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D.

Roy Dooney

€101,114 pa

Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D.

Lynda McQuaid

€101,114 pa

John Halligan, T.D.

Anthony McFeely

€67,659 pa

Home Tuition Scheme Staff

Questions (268)

Michael McGrath

Question:

268. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 183 and 495 of 23 July 2019, the reason home tutors are not regarded as employees of his Department for the duration of their work as home tutors; his plans to address this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34888/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Under my Department's Home Tuition Grant Scheme, Home Tutors are engaged by the parents/guardian of the child who is to receive tuition.

Home tutors do not have a contractual relationship with the Department of Education and Skills.

The change in payment arrangements from September 2015 was on foot of instructions from the Revenue Commissioners that payments under the Home Tuition Scheme are subject to statutory deductions at source.

In order to facilitate parents, my Department agreed to act solely as payroll agents on their behalf. Payment of the home tuition grant now issues directly to the approved tutor via my Department's Non-Teaching Staff payroll.

Home tutors continue to be engaged by the parent/guardian to provide tuition.

Any further queries in relation to PAYE and USC should be directed to Revenue and queries in relation to PRSI Class should be directed to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

Educational Organisations

Questions (269)

Seán Haughey

Question:

269. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the bodies representing parents that are consulted by his Department on educational issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34894/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

There are two parents' bodies that are consulted by the Minister for Education and Skills in relation to educational issues. These are:

The National Parents Council Post-Primary (NPCpp) is the representative organisation for parent associations in the post-primary sector. At post-primary level the Council acts as the umbrella organisation for the parents’ constituent bodies within the different sectors at post-primary, voluntary secondary, community and comprehensive, ETB and the fee-paying schools. The 4 constituent bodies are:

1. ETBsNPA - National Parents Association for ETB Schools,

2. PACCS - Parents' Associations of Community & Comprehensive Schools,

3. FCSSPA-The Federation of Secondary Schools Parents Associations is the representative body for parents with children in Catholic Voluntary Secondary schools in Ireland,

4. COMPASS - The National Association of Compass representing all parents who choose to educate their children in schools or colleges which promote a Protestant or a minority ethos.

To ensure effective communications and consistency in approach the Department works with the National Council rather than the constituent bodies.

The National Parents Council Primary (NPCp) was set up in 1985 as the representative organisation for parents of children attending primary school and plays an important role as a channel of communication between parents and the Department of Education and Skills. The principle objective of the NPCp is to contribute to the advancement of the early education and primary education of all children in order to improve and enrich the education of each child and to support the involvement of parents in all aspects of the education of their children.

The Department is committed to ensuring that the education system continues to be developed on a partnership basis, involving a full role for parents.

School Management

Questions (270)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

270. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to provide extra support for teaching principals in primary schools in view of the increase in responsibilities, reports and paperwork that must be handled by teaching principals to date and the long hours involved in dealing with this work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34910/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Since my appointment as Minister for Education and Skills, I have met a number of Teaching Principals 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. 

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

The Department has committed to revising the Posts of Responsibility table in the leadership and management circulars to take into account retirements during the school year.  This ensures that the current level of Posts of Responsibilities are maintained in the school system.

Earlier in the year, I hosted a symposium on Small Schools which gave me an opportunity to restate the Government’s commitment to small schools and to open a dialogue with all the key stakeholders. The purpose of this work by the Department is to develop a policy proposal to help support and strengthen small primary schools throughout the country.

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

Education Grants

Questions (271)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

271. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) can change from independent status back to dependent status due to family circumstances immediately without a three-year wait; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34914/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Article 13 (2) of the Student Grant Scheme 2019 states that an applicant's class is defined at their first point of entry to an approved course or at their point of re-entry to such a course and this classification will continue to apply for the duration of his/her studies.

Article 13 (5) states that re-entry means a mature student entering an approved course following a break in studies of at least three years, having previously attended an approved course.

Neither the Appeals Officer or the Student Grants Appeals Board have discretion to deviate from the provisions of the Student Grant Scheme and governing legislation in making a determination on an individual appeal irrespective of the personal circumstances of the case.

Under the terms of the scheme the only eligible payments required to be held for 391 consecutive days is Jobseeker Allowance or Jobseeker's Benefit.  In general terms Jobseekers Allowance is considered to be a short-term payment unless it is held for 391 consecutive days at the 31st December 2017. The Scheme makes provision for combining periods of Jobseeker's Allowance, Jobseeker's Benefit and other eligible payments for the purposes of meeting 391 days as determined by the Department of Social Protection.

If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a student grant on the grounds of his/her initial classification as an independent or dependent student, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to SUSI. Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down in writing by SUSI and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal, outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board at www.studentgrantappeals.ie within the required timeframe.

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.