Question No. 219 answered with Question No. 214.

School Patronage

Questions (220, 221)

Ruth Coppinger

Question:

220. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools each patron body is a patron of at primary school level. [50034/19]

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Ruth Coppinger

Question:

221. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools each patron body is a patron of at secondary school level. [50035/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 220 and 221 together.

The information requested by the Deputy is being collated and will be forwarded directly to the Deputy in the coming days.

School Accommodation Provision

Questions (222)

Catherine Martin

Question:

222. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to purchase outright or seek a licence for a vacant site near a school (details supplied) to enable the school to provide for a fourth stream of junior infants to be taken in September 2020; his further plans to allow for the construction of ASD units or to provide for a temporary site for the school while the major works necessary for the removal of pyrite from the foundations are carried out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50064/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department is currently exploring the option of accessing a site beside the school referred to by the Deputy.

The school's accommodation needs can be examined when this matter has been considered further.

National Educational Psychological Service Data

Questions (223)

Catherine Martin

Question:

223. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of pupils with regard to the 8,309 referrals for individual casework undertaken by National Educational Psychological Service Data, NEPS, psychologists during the 2016/2017 academic year that underwent direct assessment as part of the involvement of the psychologist. [50066/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy may be aware my Department’s National Educational Psychological Service provides educational psychological support to all primary and post-primary schools. This involves direct support in the event of a critical incident, access to national and regional support and development work to build school capacity to support students, access to a NEPS psychologist for responses to queries arising, and access to individual pupil casework via a NEPS psychologist or through the Scheme for the Commissioning of Psychological Assessments. (SCPA).

By way of context, Individual pupil casework involves engagement by the psychologist in relation to concerns raised in relation to particular named pupils by school authorities in respect of that pupil’s well-being, or educational, social or emotional development. This engagement is organised through a formal process and involves the submission of a Request for Involvement form by the school (consented to and informed by the parent/ guardian) setting out the nature of the concerns raised, his / her developmental history, previous clinical / professional oversight and school interventions to date, etc.

Detail of the NEPS psychologist involvement in a pupil referral is maintained on an individual Client file and on the NEPS Casetrack database which records shorthand detail of the engagement. The nature of the engagement commonly involves direct contact with the pupil concerned (in, for example, the application of psychometric tests, interview of subject and observation of him/her) but may, as appropriate to the facts known / information available on the pupil, require no direct contact with the child involved. In the latter situation the NEPS psychologist may engage with school staff, parents and other professionals before advising the school and parents of the child’s situation and recommending intervention(s) to ameliorate the concern raised.

In response to the Deputy’s question in the matter I can inform her that Casetrack records indicate that in 2016/17 some 74% (6,127 referrals) of the referrals conducted by NEPS psychologists involved direct contact with/assessment of the pupil concerned.

Schools Site Acquisitions

Questions (224)

Catherine Martin

Question:

224. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of plans for a permanent home for a school (details supplied); if a site for the school has been identified; and if so, the location of same. [50067/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy is aware, the building project for the school in question is included in my Department's capital programme.

With the assistance of officials in Fingal County Council, the proposed acquisition of a permanent site at Broomfield, Malahide to accommodate the school is being progressed.

While a site acquisition process is underway, given the commercial sensitivities associated with land acquisitions generally I am not in a position to comment further at this time.

Special Educational Needs Data

Questions (225)

Catherine Martin

Question:

225. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications for SNA access made nationwide to the NCSE during the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 school years, respectively by county in tabular form. [50076/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) are responsible for the management of the application process for Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support and I will forward the Deputy's questions for their direct reply.

The NCSE has published details of SNA allocations for all schools which are available to view on a per county basis. Details can be accessed on the NCSE website at www.ncse.ie or by using the following link http://ncse.ie/statistics.

Special Educational Needs Data

Questions (226)

Catherine Martin

Question:

226. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications for SNA access made since the May 2019 allocation of SNA posts by county in a tabular form. [50077/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) are responsible for the management of the application process for Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support and I will forward the Deputy's questions for their direct reply.

The NCSE has published details of SNA allocations for all schools which are available to view on a per county basis. Details can be accessed on the NCSE website at www.ncse.ie or by using the following link http://ncse.ie/statistics.

Special Educational Needs Staff Data

Questions (227)

Catherine Martin

Question:

227. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated number of extra special needs assistants that would be needed in order to ensure there is a SNA for each class at primary and post-primary level; the estimated cost of such an increase in provision for primary and post-primary level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50081/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department's policy is to ensure that every child who is assessed as needing Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support will receive access to such support. This policy ensures that children with special educational needs continue to participate in education and be supported in a manner appropriate to their needs. The SNA Scheme has been a major factor in both ensuring the successful integration of children with special educational needs in to mainstream education and the provision of support to pupils enrolled in special schools and special classes.

In line with this policy, 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.

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.

Budget 2020 has provided for 1,064 additional SNAs posts, for allocation in 2020, which will bring the total number of SNA posts in schools to over 17,000 in 2020, an increase of over 60% since 2011 at a cost in the region of €600m next year.

Given the current policy on the allocation of SNAs, based on identified needs of students and not staffing per class, the information sought by the Deputy is not readily available in my Department.

School Transport Provision

Questions (228)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

228. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the provision of school transport to pupils living in the Ballyboughal, County Dublin, area who will be attending a school (details supplied) which will open on the Rathbeale Road in September 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50120/19]

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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 having regard to language and ethos.

Parents/guardians of a child (children) wishing to avail of school transport services, for the first time, are required to apply on-line on Bus Eireann’s website at www.buseireann.ie.

Bus Éireann, which operates the school transport scheme on behalf of the Department, will contact all applicants regarding their eligibility for school transport:

- where there is a transport service available for eligible children, Bus Éireann will continue to liaise with eligible families regarding invoicing, payments, ticketing etc.

- where there is no transport service available for eligible children, Bus Éireann will forward the applicants’ details to the Department, which will then contact families directly regarding the Remote Area Grant.

The closing date for school transport applications for 2020/21 school year is the 24th April 2020.

It is important to note that an application for school transport must be made before a Remote Area Grant may be considered. Please apply on-line at www.buseireann.ie.

Bus Éireann have advised that they met with a number of families in the Ballyboughal area recently to outline the school transport scheme requirements.

Schools Building Projects

Questions (229)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

229. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the measures he is taking to resolve the shortage of secondary school places in Skerries, County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50134/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level.

Major new residential developments in a school planning area have the potential to alter demand in that area. In that regard, as part of the demographic exercises, my Department engages with each of the local authorities to obtain the up-to-date data on significant new residential development in each area. This is necessary to ensure that schools infrastructure planning is keeping pace with demographic changes as there is a constantly evolving picture with planned new residential development.

Where demographic data indicates that additional provision is required, the delivery of such additional provision is dependent on the particular circumstances of each case and may, depending on the circumstances, be provided through either one, or a combination of, the following:

- Utilising existing unused capacity within a school or schools,

- Extending the capacity of a school or schools,

- Provision of a new school or schools.

As the Deputy will be aware, in April 2018 the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022). While the announcement did not include a new post-primary school for the Skerries school planning area, the requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and in particular will have regard for the increased rollout of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.

My Department is aware of the enrolment issues in the Skerries area for 2020. In this context, my Department has been in direct contact with the Patron of Skerries Community College in respect of the capacity in the school. Skerries Community College has expressed a willingness to increase its long-term projected enrolment to 1,000 pupils. As a result a permanent extension consisting of 3 general classrooms, 3 SET/Offices, Science Laboratory and prep area, Art room and toilets has been approved by my Department.

Pending the delivery of the permanent extension my Department has also approved interim temporary accommodation consisting of 3 mainstream classrooms with toilets along with the converting an existing space to create a Science laboratory. The Patron of Skerries Community College is currently tendering for the interim accommodation approved. It is expected to have all interim accommodation in place for September 2020.

Schools Building Projects

Questions (230)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

230. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the measures he is taking to resolve the shortage of primary school places in Skerries, County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50135/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level.

The Government announced in April 2018, plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the four year period 2019 to 2022, including 5 new primary schools and 3 new post-primary schools in the North County Dublin/Fingal area. In addition, 4 new primary and 7 new post-primary schools were established in recent years in the area.

The requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and in particular will have regard for the increased rollout of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.

My Department is aware of the enrolment issues in the Skerries area for 2020. In this context, my Department has been in direct contact with the Patron of Skerries Community College in respect of the capacity in the school. Skerries Community College has expressed a willingness to increase its long-term projected enrolment to 1,000 pupils. As a result a permanent extension consisting of 3 general classrooms, 3 SET/Offices, Science Laboratory and prep area, Art room and toilets has been approved by my Department.

Pending the delivery of the permanent extension my Department has also approved interim temporary accommodation consisting of 3 mainstream classrooms with toilets along with the converting an existing space to create a Science laboratory. This accommodation will be in place for September 2020.

Summer Works Scheme Applications

Questions (231)

Brendan Smith

Question:

231. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a summer works scheme application by a school (details supplied) will be reviewed and approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50146/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy that the school in question submitted an application for External Environment under Summer Works Scheme (SWS) 2016 and an application for an Electrical Works Project under my Department's multi-annual Summer Works Scheme (SWS) 2020 onwards.

The Deputy may be aware that I recently announced details of the schools that will receive funding in summer 2020 in respect of applications submitted for External Environment Projects (SWS 2016) and Life Safety Systems (SWS 2020 onwards).

Commensurate with the level of funding set aside for the Scheme, applications are being assessed on a top down basis in accordance with the prioritisation criteria outlined in the Circular accompanying the Scheme. In this regard, applications submitted under the External Environment category under the SWS 2016 and other categories under SWS 2020 onwards, which were not successful on this occasion, will remain live and will be considered under future rounds of the Summer Works Scheme.

Summer Works Scheme Administration

Questions (232)

Brendan Smith

Question:

232. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if schools whose applications for grant aid under the summer works scheme external environment measure were not successful can appeal the decisions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50163/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware that I recently announced details of the schools that will receive funding in summer 2020 in respect of applications submitted for 'Life Safety Systems projects'.

Commensurate with the level of funding set aside for the Scheme, applications are being assessed on a top down basis in accordance with the prioritisation criteria outlined in the Circular accompanying the Scheme. In that regard, applications submitted for other works will be considered under future rounds of the Summer Works Scheme.

However, it is open to schools to appeal the decision in relation to their application if they wish to do so. Appeals can be emailed directly to sws_review@education.gov.ie where they will be considered by my Department.

School Transport Provision

Questions (233)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

233. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 128 of 26 November 2013, if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there was a surplus and or profit being used for day-to-day operations of the Bus Éireann business according to a special report on school transport by the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50205/19]

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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 1975 Summary of Accounting Arrangements form the basis of the payment to Bus Éireann for the operation of the School Transport Scheme. In this regard, the Department reimburses Bus Éireann for a range of costs incurred in the operation and administration of the scheme. Re-imbursement to Bus Éireann is on a cost recovery basis and the Department does not pay any profit to Bus Éireann relating to the School Transport Scheme. Actual expenditure is finalised in the Bus Éireann annual statement of account which is independently audited by the Bus Éireann auditors in accordance with the 1975 Summary of Accounting Arrangements .

The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) carried out an examination of the provision of school transport and completed its report in August 2017, the C&AG Special Report 98. The C&AG report referenced a surplus in the Transport Management Charge element of the costs. This amount was held by way of an uncommitted reserve by Bus Éireann to be used solely for the purposes of the School Transport Scheme. Any surplus was sealed in the school transport scheme and the uncommitted reserve was repaid fully to the Department in December 2018.

Departmental Staff Remuneration

Questions (234)

James Browne

Question:

234. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the postal delivery of payslips for employees of his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50218/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Salary payments to staff of the Department Of Education and Skills are made on our behalf by the National Shared Services Office. The Department does not provide payslips by post for these payments.

While they are not staff of the Department, I should also note that payslips are issued by post to school employees and retired personnel who are paid through the Department's payroll system.

Summer Works Scheme Applications

Questions (235)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

235. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) was refused funding under the summer works scheme; if the appeal will be accepted in view of the extenuating circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50221/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy that the school in question submitted an application for External Environment under Summer Works Scheme (SWS) 2016 and an application for an Electrical Works Project under my Department's multi-annual Summer Works Scheme (SWS) 2020 onwards.

The Deputy may be aware that I recently announced details of the schools that will receive funding in summer 2020 in respect of applications submitted for External Environment Projects (SWS 2016) and Life Safety Systems (SWS 2020 onwards).

Commensurate with the level of funding set aside for the Scheme, applications are being assessed on a top down basis in accordance with the prioritisation criteria outlined in the Circular accompanying the Scheme. In this regard, applications submitted under the External Environment category under the SWS 2016 and other categories under SWS 2020 onwards, which were not successful on this occasion will remain live and will be considered under future rounds of the Summer Works Scheme.