School Transport

Questions (347)

James Browne

Question:

347. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is satisfied with the school transport scheme; if changes to preserve the right of a student to a concessionary school transport ticket will be brought forward; if his attention has been drawn to the way in which the current scheme has affected as many as 20 students in the Gorey district area of County Wexford (details supplied) who are deemed concessionary in spite of their eligibility to enrol in the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35308/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

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 completed 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.

Minister McHugh has sanctioned an additional €1m on the school transport budget to allow for temporary alleviation measures to address a shortage of school transport capacity on the post primary scheme in 2019.  The cost of these measures is to be given to those areas where there is a significant concentration of post-primary children who have paid on time for the 2019/2020 school year and who are attending their second closest school.  A number of measures have been confirmed to alleviate some of the capacity issues in the areas of highest demand in some parts of the country.

Bus Éireann continues to work with the Department of Education and Skills to process applications and design routes to ensure that all eligible pupils who paid on time are facilitated with school transport.  In doing this they are endeavouring to facilitate as many concessionary pupils as possible where capacity exists.  Work is also ongoing with Bus Éireann to assess where limited resources can be invested to ease pressures in other parts of the country.

School Patronage

Questions (348)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

348. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will request a short review of an application made alongside certain proposals with a view to allowing a school (details supplied) to continue to operate under new patronage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35310/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy may be aware, this school was one of a number of schools for which a transfer to multi-denominational patronage was proposed this year.  Arrangements regarding staffing have been made by the outgoing and incoming patrons and I can confirm that the transfer of patronage has been effected.

Departmental Expenditure

Questions (349)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

349. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount expended on the renewal of licences (details supplied) by his Department since 2009 to date in 2019; the amount projected to be spent on the renewal of such licences by his Department over the next five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35339/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Expenditure by the Department of Education & Skills on Lotus Notes Licences from 2009 to 2019 is as per the following spreadsheet.

Expected expenditure on renewal of Lotus Notes Licences for the next five years is €115,000.

Department of Education and Skills - Expenditure on Lotus Notes Licences

Year

Total

2009

€30,345.67

2010

€25,039.96

2010

€32,103.73

2012

€29,716.09

2013

€35,018.81

2014

€36,469.30

2015

€35,982.42

2016

€27,852.02

2017

€37,034.19

2018

€26,600.60

2019

€22,088.34

Total

€338,251.13

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (350)

Seán Fleming

Question:

350. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position in relation to a school project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35379/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The major building project for this school is at an advanced stage of architectural planning, Stage 2b – Detailed Design, which includes the applications for Planning Permission, Fire Cert and Disability Access Cert and the preparation of tender documents. All statutory approvals have been obtained.

Following a legal challenge, authorisation to re-commence the pre-qualification process issued to the Design Team and school. The re-commenced process of compiling a shortlist of contractors for tender stage is currently nearing completion.

When the pre-qualification process for the main contract and reserved specialists contracts is complete, the project will then be progressed to tender stage. A tender stage normally takes between 7 and 8 months to complete.

In regard to the site acquisition, good progress is being made and it is anticipated that conveyancing will conclude in the near future. There is good ongoing engagement between both legal teams on finalising matters.  It is not possible to elaborate on specific details due to commercial sensitivities.  However, the Department will continue in its commitment to keep all parties generally appraised of progress in the transaction.

Professional Qualifications

Questions (351)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

351. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a matter (details supplied) will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35391/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The regulatory requirement in order to become a registered electrical contractor in Ireland is to hold an Advanced Craft Certificate following completion of a statutory apprenticeship.  The registration of electrical contractors is undertaken by Safe Electric and any recognition of foreign qualifications for that purpose is a matter for that body.

Foreign qualifications may be considered for exemptions within an apprenticeship by SOLAS under the Recognition of Prior Learning process if a person holding such a qualification is registered as an apprentice with a SOLAS approved employer but SOLAS is not responsible for offering a wider recognition process.

Further advice on Recognition of Foreign Qualifications can be found on the NARIC Ireland website www.naric.ie.

Schools Facilities

Questions (352, 353, 354)

James Lawless

Question:

352. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding proposed extensions, upgrading and-or replacement of school facilities and buildings at both primary and post-primary level in Clane, County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35438/19]

View answer

James Lawless

Question:

353. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding proposed extensions, upgrading and-or replacement of school facilities and buildings at both primary and post-primary level in Prosperous, County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35439/19]

View answer

James Lawless

Question:

354. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding proposed extensions, upgrading and-or replacement of school facilities and buildings at both primary and post-primary level in Kilcock, County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35440/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 352, 353 and 354 together.

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.

Gaelscoil Issues

Questions (355, 356)

Seán Fleming

Question:

355. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the provision of permanent status for a Gaelscoil (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35444/19]

View answer

Seán Fleming

Question:

356. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding acquiring a permanent site and discussions with his Department in respect of a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35445/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 355 and 356 together.

My Department is currently considering a request from the school referred to by the Deputy for permanent recognition status.  Upon completion of the process, an official from my Department will contact the school authority directly. It is not possible at this point to indicate when a site will be acquired.

Autism Support Services

Questions (357)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

357. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of autism spectrum disorder, ASD, special classes in secondary schools, by county, in tabular form; the number of new classes that will be established in the 2019-2020, 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35452/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has a statutory function to plan and co-ordinate the provision of education and support services to children with special educational needs. This includes taking account of the flow of students from primary into post primary.

The NCSE works with families and schools to ensure that advance planning is in place so that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

It is open to any school to apply to the NCSE to open a special class for children with special educational needs. There is a package of teaching, special needs assistant, training and funding supports available to assist schools. When the NCSE sanctions a special class in a school, the school can apply to the Department for capital funding to re-configure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation.

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.

Special classes for students with ASD provide 6 placements and are staffed with a lower pupil–teacher ratio of 6:1.5 at post primary level.

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. Of these, 370 are Post Primary ASD special classes, compared to 72 in 2011.

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

As the Deputy's question also relates to future projected need I have forwarded it to the NCSE for direct reply.

Autism Support Services

Questions (358)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

358. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his legislative powers have been used to date to ensure ASD classes are established throughout second-level education; if not, if a directive has been issued to the sector to establish such classes and ensure that no child is denied appropriate education at second-level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35453/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

As Minister I have a power under Section 37A of the Education Act 1998 to direct a school to provide additional provision where all reasonable efforts have failed.  

The legislation provides for a very transparent series of steps which can ultimately lead to the issuing of a legally binding direction to a board of management. 

The initial step in the process is for the NCSE to inform the Minister there is a shortage of places in a particular area. 

The NCSE has informed my Department that in general it is satisfied that there are placements available to meet identified need.

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. Of these, 370 are Post Primary ASD special classes, compared to 72 in 2011. 

Where Parents have been experiencing difficulty securing a Post Primary special class placement, they should contact their local SENO to help resolve the issue.

In such circumstances the NCSE SENO will actively engage at local level with schools, Patron Bodies and the families to ensure that a suitable placement is provided as soon as possible.

Funding towards home tuition is available as a short term measure if no suitable place is available. 

If, following completion of that work, the NCSE has not been able to establish the required school placements it can activate the provisions contained in section 37A of the Education Act 1998.

It should be noted that the continued growth in post primary special class numbers is a natural consequence of the earlier growth in primary special class numbers. However, it should not be assumed that the same levels of growth in post primary class numbers should apply. This is because, for children with Autism, transferring from a special class in a primary school to a special class in a post primary school may not always be the optimal choice. Many children can progress to mainstream post primary with support of SNA and Resource Teaching hours, while more may transfer from primary to a special school depending on their presentation and needs.

It should also be noted that there is a proportionally larger enrolment at Primary level due to the higher number of standard years.

I will continue to support the establishment of ASD Special Classes in all areas where the NCSE have identified the need to do so.

Autism Support Services

Questions (359)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

359. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of funding per student in ASD special classes in primary schools; the amount of funding provided per student in secondary schools; his plans to remedy the disparity in funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35454/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Capitation funding is intended to contribute towards the cost of heating, lighting, cleaning, insurance, general up-keep etc. Capitation funding provided to schools, including enhanced capitation grants for special classes, may be regarded as a common grant which the Board of Management can allocate according to its own priorities.

My Department recognises the need to improve capitation funding for schools. Capitation grants are the main funding mechanism for schools to enable them meet their day to day running costs.

Budget 2019 provided for a 5% increase in Capitation funding for primary and post primary schools which will apply from the start of the 2019/20 school year. Over the course of the school year 2019/20, an additional €10 million will be allocated to primary and post primary schools, of which €4 million will be allocated in 2019.

It is my intention to seek additional funding for capitation in forthcoming Budgets.

The full range of capitation grants, including post primary special class grants, are among the many grants being considered as part of the Budget 2020 process.

It should be noted that it is extremely difficult to make valid comparisons between the levels of grants paid and the actual costs of running schools at primary and post primary levels.  Primary ASD special classes receive an enhanced capitation grant of €849 per student enrolled inclusive of the mainstream capitation rate (currently €179 per student). Post Primary ASD special classes do not receive enhanced capitation.  However, the Post Primary mainstream capitation rate is €309 per student.

Autism Support Services

Questions (360)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

360. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of inspections of ASD special classes in primary schools and secondary schools; the number of inspections that have taken place by county in tabular form; if specialist inspectors are employed for such inspections; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35455/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

To date, in 2019, inspectors have conducted Evaluations of Provision for Pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN evaluations) in 41 schools, located throughout the country. This involved visits to 85 ASD special classes across these 41 schools.  The Inspectorate’s findings on the quality of education in these special classes were incorporated into the inspection reports on these schools, subsequently prepared for publication on the Department’s website.  

Almost all of the inspection reports arising from these SEN evaluations have completed the stages of the publication process. These reports have been issued to the schools inspected and they can also be accessed on the Department’s website.  

SEN evaluations are carried out by a small team of inspectors with specific expertise and experience in SEN and all team members have been fully briefed on the operation of the SEN evaluation model.

The number of SEN inspections conducted in 2019 is included in tabular format below by school sector and county.

  SEN Primary Inspections (2019)

County

SEN-P inspections

Westmeath

1

Dublin  

5

Galway

2

Limerick

1

Leitrim

1

Mayo  

2

Clare  

1

Roscommon

1

Wicklow

2

Kilkenny

1

Wexford  

2

Cork

3

Waterford

1

Kerry

1

Tipperary

1

Kildare  

1

Offaly

1

Longford  

1

Monaghan

1

Louth

1

Cavan

1  

Total SEN Primary

31

SEN Post-Primary Inspections (2019)

County

SEN-PP inspections

Cork  

2

Dublin  

5

Carlow

1

Kilkenny

1

Galway  

1

Total SEN Post-primary

10 

Schools Building Projects

Questions (361, 362, 363, 364, 366)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

361. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the immediate safety of the building users of a school (details supplied) will be guaranteed in view of the requirement for further construction works. [35504/19]

View answer

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

362. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the nature of the construction works at a school (details supplied); and the reason the work is being carried out. [35505/19]

View answer

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

363. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the alterative provisions being made for the crèche to operate fully in view of the requirement for further construction works at a school (details supplied) during the summer periods of 2020 and 2021. [35506/19]

View answer

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

364. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the engineers report relevant to the construction works carried out and required at a school (details supplied) will be provided. [35507/19]

View answer

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

366. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the temporary engineering solutions and other precautionary measures referenced in the press release on 14 August 2019 will be fully complete before 26 August 2019 when the crèche returns and before the beginning of the new school term. [35509/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 361 to 364, inclusive, and Question No. 366 together.

The works required to implement precautionary measures at the school to which the Deputy refers have been completed. The school opened as planned on the 28th of August last. I understand that the crèche returned on the 26th of August.

The work completed entails some internal engineering solutions and external precautionary measures such as protective decking. These works were carried out pending the implementation of permanent remediation solutions to address structural issues with the building.

My Department intends to pursue the contractor for the costs of the precautionary measures and the subsequent permanent remediation works. For legal reasons, therefore, engineering reports are not being released at this time. My Department has provided the school with written confirmation that the building is safe to occupy on the basis of the engineering advice.

The arrangement for the crèche to use part of the school building is a local private arrangement between the school authority and the crèche. The crèche itself is a private company. On that basis, it will be a matter for the company to make alternative accommodation arrangements when permanent remediation works are being carried out at the school. My Department will be giving the school authority as much notice as possible of the timetable for those works.

Crèche Facilities Provision

Question No. 366 answered with Question No. 361.

Questions (365)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

365. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the value placed on the crèche facilities which operate in school buildings. [35508/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department does not have any remit for the provision of crèche facilities in schools.

In some cases, school authorities have facilitated a pre-school service on school property which involves the use of spare capacity within an existing building. The priority for schools is mainstream educational provision for pupils and should schools require the space for school purposes, the space must be returned to full-time school use. This is very important in every instance but is of particular relevance where there is a growing school population and a school has not yet reached capacity and space is available which may be required in the future.

A set of guidelines in relation to the use of school buildings outside of school hours was published by my Department in October 2017.  These guidelines can be viewed on the Department's website at this link: https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/guidelines-on-the-use-of-school-buildings-outside-of-school-hours.pdf. The purpose of these guidelines is to provide guidance for schools in relation to the use of school buildings outside of school hours. The document also provides guidance to schools who wish to facilitate pre-school arrangements.

Question No. 366 answered with Question No. 361.

Consultancy Contracts Expenditure

Questions (367)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

367. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the names of external consultancies that delivered and continue to deliver advice and training on all aspects of GDPR in the context of preparedness and ongoing upskilling of staff regarding the regulation; the cost expended on the external advice and training of same to date in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35574/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department is committed to protecting the rights and privacy of individuals in accordance with both European Union and Irish data protection legislation. As part of this commitment my Department has proactively supported training and awareness of both key staff and the wider Department.

Beginning prior to the implementation date of 25th May 2018, my Department undertook a “GDPR Readiness” project involving officials from key Business Units working together to ensure the appropriate steps were taken and training was undertaken at that time. My Department paid Mr Dylan West, Law Library, a total of €2,880 in 2018 for advice in relation to that project.

Following the introduction of GDPR and the Data Protection Act, 2018, officials working in the data protection function of my Department have attended relevant conferences and undertook training to upskill and stay abreast of issues in what is an ever-developing area of law. Details of training undertaken and conferences attended are set out are set out in the tables below.

Training

Company

Attendees

Total Cost

CMG

11

4526.7

IPA

1

405

Government DPO Framework Training (IACT)

7

6771

Mason Hayes & Curran

1

295

Irish Centre for European Law

1

300

Privacy Laws & Business

2

800

European IPA

1

2070

Total

24 places

€15,167.70

 

Conferences

Company

Attendees

Total Cost

Legal Island    

1

155

Data Forum   

1

192.19

Iquest Ltd

5

1451.40

CMG

3

1420.65

Irish Computer Society

1

520

PDP  

2

1940.25

Total

12 places

€5,679.49

Officials in the Data Protection function work with Business Units in supporting compliance and pass on the relevant knowledge through briefing and direct engagement. The Department has also established a Data Stewards Network with representatives from each Business Unit who will act as a local resource and point of knowledge of Department policies and procedures.  Data Protection has also been the topic at a number of internal networking events and other engagements since 2017 with presentations and discussion led by relevant officials.

In addition to the ongoing development of the data protection function, the Department has sought to raise awareness amongst the wider Department through the procurement of a “GDPR and Data Protection E-learning module” for all staff (circa 1,500) at a cost of €13,750 from Legal Island ltd. This is being rolled out to staff on a phased basis at present.

Seven officials also attended a training course by Philip Lee Solicitors on “Data Protection Impact Assessment” in April 2018 at a cost of €1537.50.

On a related note, the Internal Audit function of my Department has entered into a three year contract with Deloitte to deliver IT technical internal audit services.  A multi-year IT technical audit plan has been agreed, of which an IT GDPR technical systems assessment is included.  This audit report was completed at a cost was €13,737 (VAT inclusive) and approved by the Audit Committee in May 2019.

Student Grant Scheme Administration

Questions (368)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

368. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason under the SUSI grant system parents are deemed legal guardians until persons reach 21 years of age; and the reason the rest of the State system recognises persons as independent adults from the age of 18 years of age. [35587/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Different State support schemes have different objectives. The Department's statutory based student grant scheme has its own particular objectives which is to provide additional assistance where parental income is below a certain threshold or, in the case of independent mature students, where the level of income of the student and his or her spouse warrants additional assistance by way of a grant.

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

A student may be assessed as an independent mature student if he or she has attained the age of 23 on the 1st of 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.

Only in exceptional cases, where compelling evidence of estrangement from parents/guardians is provided, can candidates who are under 23 be assessed without reference to their parents/guardians income or address, Article 21(3) (b) of the Scheme refers.

Schools Building Projects

Questions (369)

Jack Chambers

Question:

369. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for a site (details supplied) in Dublin 7; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35601/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

A building project at the schools referred to by the Deputy is in my Department’s Construction Programme which is being delivered under the National Development Plan.

The Department has completed the process for the appointment of a Design Team including an Architect, Civil/Structural Engineer, Building Services Engineer, Quantity Surveyor, and Project Supervisor Design Process for the Navan Road Schools Project, which includes St John Bosco Senior Boys National School, St John Bosco Junior Boys National School and Our Lady Help of Christians Girls National School.

The brief for the project is to provide the additional permanent accommodation, including 17 classrooms, 6 Special Education Tuition Rooms, 3 Multi-Purpose Rooms, 1 Shared General Purpose Room plus circulation space and lift; once the building project is complete all the existing prefabs currently on the site will be removed.

Due to the very confined nature of the site, and the likely restrictions to providing all the Residual Accommodation, priority will be given to the classroom accommodation in the first instance.

The Design Team is currently working on producing a Stage 1 – Site Suitability, Site Report & Initial Sketch Scheme Submission. A number of surveys have been approved by my Department and carried out at the school site including site Survey & geotechnical investigation.

Schools Establishment

Questions (370)

Michael McGrath

Question:

370. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to establish a new primary school in Carrigaline, County Cork; when the school will be established; the position regarding the patronage of the school; the location of the school; when the recruitment process for the position of principal and teaching posts at the school will be advertised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35602/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government recently announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022) including a new 16-classroom primary school to be established in 2020 to serve the Carrigaline school planning area. 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.  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. 

An Online Patronage Process System (OPPS) has been developed by my Department to provide objective information to all parents which will allow them to make an informed choice about their preferred model of patronage for their child’s education. Parental preferences will be collected based on direct engagement with patron bodies.

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 patronage process for schools due to be established in 2020, including the school referred to by the Deputy, will be run later this year. Updates in relation to further patronage processes will be announced on the OPPS website and the Department’s website (www.education.ie).

The school will be established in September 2020 in suitable interim accommodation. My Department is currently identifying site options and a determination regarding the permanent location for the school will be made as soon as possible.

Schools Building Projects Applications

Questions (371)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

371. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a funding application by a school (details supplied); when the application will progress to the next stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35605/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The major building project referred to by the Deputy is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning, Stage 2b – Detailed Design, which includes the applications for Planning Permission, Fire Cert and Disability Access Cert and the preparation of tender documents. All statutory approvals have been obtained.

The Stage 2(b) submission for this project has been reviewed and the Design Team has completed work on its NZEB submission for this project which will ensure the new school building will be a "Near Zero Energy Building" (NZEB) in compliance with the 2017 amendment to Part L of the current Building Regulations.

The Department’s capital programme continues to address the challenge posed by significant increases in the school population particularly in developing areas. To help meet this demographic challenge, during the course of 2019 over 80 large scale projects and 140 projects under the Additional Accommodation Scheme are under construction. 

There are currently 375 large-scale projects for delivery under the school building programme as part of the National Development Plan 2018 to 2027.  The current status of each of these projects is listed on the Department’s website and is updated on a monthly basis. 

To manage this volume of projects within the overall budget the Department must continuously profile projects to progress towards commencing construction and draw down of funding on a scheduled basis.

In this context, the Department will revert to the school in early September with prospective timelines for the further progression of this major building project, including pre-qualification of contractors and progression to tender stage.