Home Tuition Scheme Provision

Questions (189)

Charlie McConalogue

Question:

189. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills if home tuition will be approved for a child (details supplied) in County Donegal from September 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44452/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The matter raised by the Deputy relates to preschool education and childcare. These matters fall within the remit of my colleagues, the Minister for Children & Youth Affairs.

My Department does not provide funding to preschool services other than to early intervention for children with Autism.

Supports for childcare, including preschool education, are provided by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA).

Special Educational Needs Data

Questions (190)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Question:

190. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of special school places available in an area (details supplied); the number of children waiting for a special school place in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44809/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The provision of education for children with special needs is an ongoing priority for Government.

Currently, almost 20% of the total Education Vote or €1.9bn is invested in supporting children with special needs. The numbers of special classes, special education teachers and Special Needs Assistants are at unprecedented levels. Nationally, 167 new special classes opened for the 2019/20 school year, which means there are 1,618 special classes in place, compared to 548 in 2011. Of these 1,353 special classes cater for students diagnosed with ASD.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has a statutory function to plan and co-ordinate the provision of education and support services to children with special educational needs, in consultation with the relevant education partners and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The Council has well established structures in place to plan and coordinate special education provision throughout the country. This includes identifying the need for and establishing special class placements in various geographical areas where they are required. The Council ensures that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

Normally, special classes are established with the full cooperation of the schools in areas where they are required. However there are some parts of the country where the Council has faced challenges in getting schools and their Patrons to voluntarily agree to provide special class or school places. I know that this can cause much anguish for parents and families involved.

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 was used for the first time back in April in respect of the Dublin 15 area. We have made significant progress in a relatively short period with the opening 7 new special classes and a new Special School that will provide 88 places for children with special needs. The new places will help these families and ensure that the children concerned have access to education.

The legislation contains a procedure through which the capacity of schools in an area can be tested and through which ultimately a Ministerial direction can be made requiring a school to make additional special education provision available. The initial steps in this procedure are currently being progressed.

The experience of Dublin 15 shows that real and practical challenges that can be addressed when opening new special classes and how we can resolve these challenges by working together and in partnership.

To this end, the NCSE is continuing its engagement with schools, patron bodies, parents and others across south Dublin to bring the required additional special class and special school placements on stream.

Public Sector Pensions

Questions (191, 253)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

191. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason seasonal part-time employment is not recognised for pension purposes in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44941/19]

View answer

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

253. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will address a matter regarding the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44940/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 191 and 253 together.

The person concerned retired from teaching service last year and is currently in receipt of retirement benefits.

Officials from the Pension Unit of my Department have been in contact with the person concerned on a number of occasions to discuss the calculation of her benefits.

The person concerned has also been informed that they may transfer previous public sector pensionable service from another public sector organisation to the teachers’ pension scheme. However, in order to have this service included in the calculation of retirement benefits, verification of the service from the previous employer should be forward to my Department for consideration. I have requested my officials to again contact the person concerned and advise her how to progress this matter.

School Libraries

Questions (192)

Peter Burke

Question:

192. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Education and Skills if grants are available for rural schools to provide library books for use by students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45232/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

There is no specific grant funding available in relation to provision of library books to schools from this Department.

Public Sector Pensions

Questions (193)

Brian Stanley

Question:

193. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider allowing qualified school teachers that have worked abroad to buy teacher pensions credits for their time spent abroad (details supplied). [45280/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

There is currently no provision to reckon teaching service provided abroad for pension purposes.

However, it is open to serving teachers to purchase additional service known as notional service, in accordance with the rules of the pension scheme of which they are a member.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (194, 227, 228)

Jack Chambers

Question:

194. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school construction (details supplied) will proceed to tender in quarter 1 of 2020; the date on which construction will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44191/19]

View answer

Jack Chambers

Question:

227. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills the specific reason for the delay in progressing a school capital project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44582/19]

View answer

Jack Chambers

Question:

228. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason for the delay in the opening of a new school (details supplied); the arrangements that will be put in place to ensure the purpose built ASD units catering for 12 spaces in the school will be progressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44583/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 194, 227 and 228 together.

The building project to provide permanent accommodation for the school referred to by the Deputy will provide a 16 classroom primary school with a 2 classroom Special Educational Needs unit.

The project is being delivered under my Department's Design and Build Programme. The current Design & Build framework of contractors is due to expire in January 2020 and a tender exercise to establish a new framework of Contractors is required.

The procurement process for a bundle of projects which includes the building project referred by the Deputy is due to commence shortly with the publication of a contract notice to determine a shortlist of interested contractors. This procurement process will also establish a new framework of Contractors for the 2020 and 2021 programmes. The new school building for the school referred to by the Deputy is included as part of this tender exercise.

The procurement process (and the associated tendering to short-listed contractors) for this bundle of projects will be ongoing during Q4 2019 and Q1 2020.

It is anticipated that construction of this school building project will commence in Q2 2020. A phased construction programme is planned to facilitate occupation of the new permanent school building as early as possible in the 2020/2021 school year

School Accommodation

Questions (195)

Jack Chambers

Question:

195. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills when his Department will commence negotiating the extension for the lease for the temporary school accommodation of a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44192/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Officials at my Department have made contact with the landlord with regard to seeking an extension of the lease for the temporary school accommodation for the school to which the Deputy refers.

My Department will keep the school authorities fully informed as these discussions progress.

Teaching Council of Ireland

Questions (196)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

196. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will address concerns in relation to a registration issue (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44203/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Under the Teaching Council Acts 2001-2015, the Teaching Council is the body with statutory authority and responsibility for the registration of teachers.

It is a function of the Council under the Teaching Council Acts (s7(2)) to act as the competent authority for the recognition of qualifications obtained by a person who has applied under this Act for registration as a teacher. Teachers whose applications meet all the necessary requirements are registered by the Teaching Council under Section 31 of the Teaching Council Act and the Teaching Council (Registration) Regulations 2016.

Under section 30 of the Teaching Council Acts, a teacher in a recognised school is required to be registered with the Teaching Council in order to be paid from Oireachtas-voted funds.

Where a registered teacher is not available SI 32/2014 enables a school managerial authority to employ a person who is not registered as a teacher for up to five consecutive days.

The person referred to by the Deputy should continue to liaise directly with the Teaching Council and follow their guidance regarding curricular subject requirements for registration.

School Curriculum

Questions (197)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

197. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a reply will issue to a query by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44204/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I refer to your recent correspondence regarding RSE in schools.

Access to Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) is an important right for students. Schools have a responsibility to provide for this vital aspect of education to young people. Importantly, a school’s RSE programme should be planned in consultation with parents and having regard to the ethos of the school.

At all times RSE will be based on what is appropriate for a child’s age or their development. It is about many things but at its heart will be respect.

Under no circumstances will the Department of Education and Skills impose a curriculum whereby young children are exposed to instruction or information in relation to sexual activity that is inappropriate.

The entire focus of RSE is on preparing young people for life, on emphasising the importance of respect for themselves and each other, developing healthy relationships, understanding the importance of consent and helping young people to develop and mature in a positive light.

In April 2018, a review of RSE in schools was announced by the previous Minister for Education and Skills, Mr. Richard Bruton TD. The Minister asked the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) to undertake a review, not just of the content of the curriculum but of how it is taught in schools.

The 2010 World Health Organisation (WHO) document, ‘Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe’ was referred to in a research paper which fed into the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment’s (NCCA) review of RSE in schools. The approach taken in this WHO document has not been endorsed by the NCCA.

The bill referred to is the Provision of Objective Sex Education Private Members Bill, initiated by Opposition T.D.s. That Bill has not been passed by the Oireachtas and is not part of the NCCA review of RSE in schools.

As Minister for Education and Skills, I am committed to ensuring that any RSE curriculum will be appropriate to the age and developmental stage of the children in our schools.

Departmental Programmes

Questions (198)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

198. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications made through the skillnets stream for funding in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of successful and unsuccessful applicants in respect of funding; the amount allocated to the stream in the context of budget 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44210/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Skillnet Ireland is funded by my Department through the National Training Fund (NTF) to act as an enterprise-led support body dedicated to the promotion and facilitation of enterprise training and workforce development. Skillnet Ireland operates a joint funding model where training is funded by combining contributions from employers with Skillnet grants.

Skillnet Ireland has been allocated €36 million in 2020, an additional €8 Million in NTF funding over 2019. This increase was allocated to support 7,000 additional participants on Skillnet Ireland programmes including a new digital skills initiative to assist with ICT shortages across the country and an SME upskilling scheme to assist in addressing productivity issues of indigenous SMEs. Skillnet Ireland will provide training to 69,000 participants in 2020.

During the period 2017-2019, Skillnet Ireland funded the following number of networks: 68 Networks in 2019 , 65 in 2018 and 66 in 2017. The average approval rate for applications for funding was 93% over these three years, as set out in the table below.

The new Skillnet networks established since 2017 are active in industry sectors that include sustainability, design, freight & logistics, retail and technology, along with mixed sector networks in the North East and in Fingal.

Year

Applications for Funding from Established & New Skillnet Networks

Skillnet Networks Approved for Funding

% of applications approved

2017

70

66

94%

2018

68

65

96%

2019

75

68

92%

TOTAL

213

199

93%

Springboard Programme

Questions (199)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

199. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications made through the Springboard+ stream for funding in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; the number of successful and unsuccessful applicants in respect of funding; the amount allocated to the stream in the context of budget 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44215/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Springboard+ which incorporates the ICT skills conversion programme, is a targeted initiative which is used to provide funding for higher education courses aimed at meeting the need for in-demand skills in the economy. Springboard+ supports jobseekers to return to employment and those in employment to upskill or reskill.

All courses approved for funding under Springboard+ are selected, following a competitive call for proposals, to public and private higher education providers across the country.

Decisions on proposals to be approved for funding are made by a panel of experts with industry and educational experience, which is established by the Higher Education Authority. The assessment and selection process is overseen by an independent process auditor.

Courses approved for funding in 2019 are in the following areas, ICT, Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction, Hospitality, and Business, Administration and Law.

Year

Proposals received

Proposals approved for funding

Amount of funding allocated to Springboard+

2017

420

198

€27,438,000

2018

496

227

€30,438,000

2019

517

275

€34,438,000

Under Budget 2020, €34,438,000 has been allocated to Springboard+ 2020.

School Inspection Reports

Questions (200)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

200. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason he has not made public a copy of a report prepared by his officials in relation to a school (details supplied) following a visit by his officials to the school on 11 June 2019; when he plans to make this report publicly available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44221/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The report to which the Deputy refers follows an inspection visit to the school by a member of my Department's inspectorate on 11th June 2019.

Officials of my Department are due to meet with the school authorities later this month to discuss the recommendations contained the Inspector's report and related matters.

My Department will also engage with other stakeholders involved with the school, including the NCSE, HSE, patron and trustees, to ensure appropriate educational provision is in place for the students in the school.

The report will not be available to the wider public until my Department has completed its work with the school, patron, trustees and HSE in relation to the recommendations of this report.

Digital Strategy for Schools

Questions (201)

Tony McLoughlin

Question:

201. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the processes small schools have to go through to avail of improved information and communications technology equipment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44234/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020, sets out a plan to embed the use of digital technology in teaching, learning and assessment, and affirms that the use of digital technology can enhance the teaching and learning experience. The Strategy recognises that schools require investment in their ICT infrastructure. Funding of some €210m been designated to support the implementation of this strategy with €60m issued to schools over the 2016/17 and 2017/18 school years and a further €50m issued earlier this year to schools in respect of the 2018/19 school year.

My Department also pays an ICT grant of €5,000 for each new mainstream classroom or SEN Class base approved for a school. The minor works grant can also be used for the purchase of IT equipment.

Decisions regarding the use and deployment of digital technology in schools is a matter for the Board of Management of each school. Where the introduction of digital devices is planned, consultation with members of the school community including parents is advised. Consultation between parents, students and schools is now underpinned through the recently published Education (Student and Parent Charter) Bill 2019.

The Professional Development Service for Teachers Technology in Education (PDST-TIE) offers advice to schools and have developed an advice sheets on digital technology in education, including on the adoption of Laptops and tablets in schools.

Sign Language and Deaf Services

Questions (202)

Ruth Coppinger

Question:

202. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills if funding will be made available to part-time students for Irish Sign Language interpretation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44238/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department allocates funding annually to the Fund for Students with Disabilities (FSD), which supports circa 14,000 students annually. The Fund provides financial support to approved higher education institutions to ensure that they are adequately resourced to cater for the needs of students with disabilities.

In the 2018/19 academic year, the Fund began supporting students on part-time courses on a pilot phased approach and this has continued into the 2019/20 academic year.

Deaf supports, including sign language interpreters, are covered under the Fund where students are attending an approved course in an approved institution. The institution to which the Deputy refers is not an approved institution.

School Transport Eligibility

Questions (203)

Denis Naughten

Question:

203. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a reply will issue to correspondence (details supplied) which issued to his office; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44241/19]

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 my Department’s 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.

Children who are eligible for school transport and who have 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.

Bus Éireann has confirmed that while the pupil referred to by the Deputy did apply to Moore National School which is now deemed to be their closest school, the application was made after the deadline and as such the pupil was not allocated a ticket for the 2019/20 school year. Bus Éireann has also confirmed that the service in question is currently operating to capacity.

Summer Works Scheme Applications

Questions (204)

Dara Calleary

Question:

204. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a summer works application by a school (details supplied) in County Mayo has been received; if the fact that the school has not received a reply to the application to date will be acknowledged; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44266/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I can confirm that the school referred to by the Deputy has submitted an application for (Toilet Facilities) under my Department's multi-annual Summer Works Scheme (SWS) 2020 onwards.

I wish to advise the Deputy that commensurate with the level of funding available for the SWS in 2020, 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.

It is my intention to publish a list of successful applicants in Q4, 2019 for works to be carried out in summer 2020.

School Accommodation Provision

Questions (205)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

205. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to provide more resources to a school (details supplied) to enable it to meet the clear demand for first year places for the 2020-2021 academic year; the reason a cap of 48 places has been introduced for the 2020-2021 academic year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44311/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The school referred to by the Deputy opened in September 2019 in interim accommodation pending delivery of its permanent accommodation as part of my Department's Design and Build Programme.

In an interim situation it is not possible to provide the same level of accommodation which will be delivered as permanent accommodation. This may mean that the schools intake in its first few years of operation will by necessity be less than would be possible in permanent accommodation.

My Department's main priority is to ensure that all pupils have access to a school place, however, this may not always result in a school place of first choice. A range of factors including parental choice, school location and commuting patterns can contribute to oversubscription of certain schools within an area.

School Transport Data

Questions (206)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

206. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applicants for the school transport scheme on route from Drogheda, County Louth to a school (details supplied) over the past five years; and the number of applications refused school transport on the route over the past five years. [44314/19]

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.

Bus Éireann has confirmed that the detail requested by the Deputy is as set out in the following table.

School Year

No. of applicants (Including rollover applicants)

No. of pupils that did not receive a ticket

No. of eligible pupils that did not receive a ticket (due to late payment)

No. of concessionary pupils that did not receive a ticket

2019/20

82

10

0

10

2018/19

78

23

1

22

2017/18

81

36

1

35

2016/17

74

19

0

19

2015/16

60

39

1

38

Departmental Programmes

Questions (207)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

207. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a schedule of online and on-street gambling companies that have participated in the skillnets programme in 2018 and to date in 2019; the return amount from learning centres due to underspends in 2018 and to date in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44326/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Skillnet Ireland is funded by my Department through the National Training Fund (NTF) to act as an enterprise-led support body dedicated to the promotion and facilitation of enterprise training and workforce development. The NTF is resourced through a levy on employment collected as part of employer PRSI. The primary role of Skillnet Ireland is to increase participation in enterprise training by companies to upskill the workforce and provide greater access for workers to skills development. Skillnet Ireland operates a joint funding model where training is funded by combining contributions from employers with Skillnet grants.

Skillnet Ireland have indicated that staff from three companies in the online and on-street gambling industry participated in training with Skillnet Ireland funded learning networks in 2018 with staff from two companies undertaking training in 2019 to date. All private sector companies are eligible to participate in Skillnet learning networks in order to access upskilling opportunities for their staff.

Of the 65 Skillnet Ireland networks that received grants in 2018, nine networks were required to refund grant payments to Skillnet Ireland due to an underspend. These refunds totalled €163,380 which represent 0.9% of the total 2018 grant issued by Skillnet Ireland for 2018. Any potential grant refunds related to the 2019 funding period will be established after year-end.

Schools Property

Questions (208)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

208. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide a schedule of school buildings that are not occupied by county; the duration the buildings have been unoccupied; his plans for the buildings that are not going to be occupied going forward; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44328/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The majority of school buildings are in private ownership.

Where a school relocates or closes, the future use of the old building is a matter for the property owner. In general, where former schools are not required for educational use, such properties may be used for community or other purposes or may be sold. Therefore, the Department does not hold details of current usage of former school buildings in private ownership.

A schedule of unoccupied school buildings in my ownership, all of which have plans for development, is available at the following link:

School Buildings