Special Educational Needs Staff Data

Questions (104)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

104. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of special needs assistants assigned to each primary school; the number of students that confirmed the need for special assistance in each of the schools in each of the years 2007 to 2018 and to date in 2019, by county, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50675/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department's policy is that every child assessed as requiring SNA support will have access to such support.

By the end of this year, there will be up to 15,950 SNAs working in our schools, an increase of over 51% since 2011, supporting in the region of 37,500 pupils.

Budget 2020 has provided for 1,064 additional SNAs posts which will bring the total number of SNA posts in schools to over 17,000 in 2020.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for allocating 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 publish statistics on SNA allocations, including allocations by county, for each school year and this information is available on their website, www.ncse.ie.

Third Level Institutions Governance

Questions (105)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

105. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the implementation of the Code of Governance for Irish Universities 2019; the date by which the universities must apply the code; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50749/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy that the Code of Governance for Irish Universities was endorsed by the Council of Presidents of the Universities in January 2019 and approved by each governing authority by 5 April 2019. Following approval, effective from the 2019-20 academic year, a gap analysis and a work programme is been undertaken by each university to support the implementation of the Code.

The revised Code, which is available on the Irish University Association's website, www.iua.ie, replaces the previous Code of Governance for Irish Universities 2012.

School Admissions

Questions (106)

Peter Burke

Question:

106. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a review of school places in a location (details supplied) will be carried out due to a deficit; if emergency measures will be put in place to facilitate access to education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50753/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy that 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. Approximately 40% of extra school places are delivered by extending existing schools.

The Deputy will be aware that there area number of major capital projects included on my Department’s school building programme to be delivered as part of the National Development Plan. 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 under the 'Additional School Accommodation Scheme' (ASA) for additional classrooms, if required, for schools where an immediate enrolment need has been identified or where an additional teacher has been appointed. The application form for this scheme is available on my Department's website www.education.ie. Details of schools listed under this scheme can also be found on my Department's website and this information is updated regularly.

I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department is not in receipt of a current application, from the school in question, for additional accommodation.

School Admissions

Questions (107)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

107. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if additional places for first year students will be allocated at a school (details supplied) for the 2020-2021 school year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50756/19]

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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. Approximately 40% of extra school places are delivered by extending existing schools.

The Deputy will be aware that there area number of major capital projects included on my Department’s school building programme to be delivered as part of the National Development Plan. 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 under the 'Additional School Accommodation Scheme' (ASA) for additional classrooms, if required, for schools where an immediate enrolment need has been identified or where an additional teacher has been appointed. The application form for this scheme is available on my Department's website www.education.ie, details of schools listed under this scheme can also be found on my Department's website, this information is updated regularly.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (108, 109)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

108. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will examine a case in which a child (details supplied) is without a place in school for September 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50772/19]

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Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

109. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will examine a case in which a child (details supplied) is without a place in school for September 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50773/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 108 and 109 together.

The provision of education for children with special needs, including those with Autism, 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.

Since 2011 investment in Special Education supports has increased by 50%, which is significantly above the 7% increase in total student numbers over the same period.

As a result the numbers of special education teachers, special needs assistants and special class and school places are at unprecedented levels.

The majority of children with Autism attend mainstream class, where they may access additional supports if required.

But some students may find it difficult to manage full-time placement in mainstream and so placement in a Special Class or Special School setting may be deemed appropriate where placement in mainstream class is not in the best interests of the child.

The NCSE has responsibility for coordinating and advising on the education provision for children nationwide and has well established structures in place for engaging with schools and parents. Accordingly, my Department is not involved in the placement of individual children in school.

The Council ensures that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

Nationally, 167 new special classes opened this 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.

Provision in our 124 special schools has also increased from 6,848 placements in 2011 to 7,872 this year.

In Kildare alone, there are 75 special classes and 4 Special Schools providing specialist support to children with more complex special educational needs.

The NCSE is planning a further expansion of special class and school places in Kildare to meet identified need for next year. This process is ongoing.

The NCSE has informed the Department that, in general, they are satisfied that they have planned sufficient ASD post primary special class placements to meet identified need in Kildare for next year.

I understand that the local Special Education Needs Organiser is working with the family and will continue to be available until a suitable placement has been secured.

Schools Building Projects Applications

Questions (110)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

110. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the planned extension for a school (details supplied) will be completed; if the works will be expedited in order to finish by September 2020 in view of the demand for places for September 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50792/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware that a building project for the school to which he refers is included in my Department's capital programme to be delivered as part of the National Development Plan.

In this regard, my Department has been liasing with the school authority with a view to arranging a site visit to the school in the new year.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (111)

Seán Fleming

Question:

111. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of persons employed on an agency basis in his Department and in each agency under his aegis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50802/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department does not employ agency staff. Where we have a requirement for temporary clerical support we have Temporary Clerical Officers assigned from the Public Appointments Service. I have requested information regarding agency staff from the aegis bodies of my department and will forward it to the Deputy as soon as it has been collated.

Educational Disadvantage

Questions (112)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

112. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to address educational disadvantage; if the principle of the DEIS approach to targeting resources at such schools in order to counter the impacts of poverty and social exclusion on educational attainment will receive a commitment; if so, the reason class sizes in DEIS band 1 schools have not been reduced in view of the fact other schools have benefited from such reductions; and if the issue will be addressed. [50830/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) is the main policy initiative of my Department to address educational disadvantage at school level. In order to tackle educational disadvantage, the DEIS programme provides for smaller class sizes and other supports including additional teaching posts, Home School Community Liaison Coordinators, DEIS grants, enhanced book grants, curriculum supports, priority access to Continuing Professional Development and the School Excellence Fund for DEIS. Evidence from the evaluations of the DEIS programme to date demonstrate that it is having a positive effect on tackling educational disadvantage.

The rationale for allocating resources and supports based on a schools’ level of concentrated disadvantage is based on the existence of a ‘multiplier effect’, whereby students attending a school with a high concentration of students from disadvantaged backgrounds have poorer academic outcomes, even taking account of individual social background. This approach is supported by national and international research and will continue to be my Departments approach to addressing educational disadvantage.

In the 2019/20 school year there are 891 schools in the DEIS Programme serving in excess of 185,000 pupils. This represents approximately 20% of the overall school population. My Department will spend in the region of €125 million in 2019 on the DEIS Programme.

As the Deputy may be aware, the DEIS Plan acknowledges that the allocation of teaching resources to DEIS primary schools with the highest concentrations of children at risk of educational disadvantage has served to improve learning outcomes. It also commits to the evaluation of the level of teaching resources for schools participating in DEIS to be undertaken to inform future policy in this area.

In order to facilitate this a Class Size Working Group was established comprising representatives from the Education Partners, the Educational Research Centre and the relevant Business Units in my Department. This group has met on a number of occasions to consider class size in the context of improved learning outcomes of those most at risk of educational disadvantage.

A report on the work of this group is currently being finalised and will take into consideration the feedback and observations of the working group members. It is intended that this will be finalised in the coming weeks and its findings will inform future policy direction in this area.

Language Schools

Questions (113)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

113. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans in respect of the regulation of English language schools in respect of both pay and employment conditions for teachers in the schools and the setting of educational standards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50832/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

A number of steps are being taken to strengthen the regulation of the English language education sector in Ireland. The recently enacted Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) (Amendment) Act 2019 contains provisions that will enable the introduction of the International Education Mark (IEM) alongside the establishment of a new national fund for the Protection for Enrolled Learners (PEL).

The IEM is a core component of the Government's policy for the English language sector. Only those providers who meet the robust quality assurance procedures of Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) will be allowed to carry the Mark and to recruit international students. Through the Code of Practice for the IEM, education providers will also be required to establish policies and procedures that address specific areas surrounding the employment of their education and teaching staff. This will include key matters such as the recruitment, training and the cessation of employment of staff.

This new legislation will also empower QQI to establish a Learner Protection Fund. The fund will be used to ‘teach out’ a programme in the event that a provider fails to provide it. Should this not be possible, the fund will be used to reimburse students for the most recent fees that have been paid.

In addition, this legislation also provides QQI with additional statutory powers to examine the bona fides and to perform corporate fitness checks of providers. This will allow QQI to assess the track record of providers in terms of their compliance with employment law, their financial robustness and the fit and proper person status of key personnel such as owners, directors and senior management.

The employment terms and conditions of teachers in the English language education sector was an issue that was debated extensively as this legislation passed through the Oireachtas. In addition to the measures outlined above, a mediator was appointed to engage with the English language education sector in January of this year. The mediator’s remit was to work with employer and employee representative bodies to explore whether there was scope for a set of appropriate employment standards which could be agreed for the sector. The mediator’s report, published in July 2019, recommended that an application be made to the Labour Court to establish a Joint Labour Committee (JLC), in accordance with industrial relations legislation, to address all aspects of the working conditions and pay of employees in English language schools with a view to the issuing of an Employment Regulation Order (ERO) for the sector.

Based on this report, Mr Pat Breen T.D., Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, referred the matter to the Labour Court for its consideration. Following the completion of its deliberations and in accordance with industrial relations legislation, the Labour Court provided its recommendation to Minister Breen in respect of the establishment of a JLC for this sector. Minister Breen has accepted this recommendation and has signed an establishment order for a JLC for this sector that came into effect on 2 December 2019.

Third Level Fees

Questions (114)

Peter Burke

Question:

114. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will request a university to review a decision not to reimburse student fees to a person (details supplied) due to the circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50835/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Under the Universities Act 1997, it is the function of the governing authority to manage and control the affairs of the institution. As autonomous bodies, the day to day operation of the institution including the procedures related to the withdrawal from courses and the refund of any fees paid are matters for the governing authority of each institution.

The Free Fees initiative provides funding towards tuition fees for all eligible students including students with accessibility requirements for the duration of their approved course. In situations where a student has identified specific needs which requires repeat or additional periods of study, cases will be assessed on an individual basis by the institute and there is discretion to waive conditions in particular or exceptional circumstances to assist a student to complete their course of study. Students who require a refund of fees or require assistance with access to or withdrawal from a course should contact the registry office in the relevant institution.

Schools Building Projects

Questions (115)

Frank O'Rourke

Question:

115. Deputy Frank O'Rourke asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the three new schools (details supplied) for Celbridge, County Kildare, that are to be core located on the same site; if the site acquisition has been completed; if the design process for the schools has commenced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50836/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department continues to engage with the landowner and Kildare County Council in regard to the technical considerations crucial to the delivery of the site and the commencement of architectural planning.

It is a priority for my Department to commence the architectural planning process for this site at the earliest possible stage. For the time being, and as previously indicated - given the commercially sensitive nature of site acquisitions in general, I am unable to elaborate further.

Home Tuition Scheme Provision

Questions (116)

Bríd Smith

Question:

116. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of home tuition hours applications still awaiting sanction under the home tuition scheme; the reason for the ongoing delays; the budget allocation for the scheme for 2020; the number of pupils involved; the number of teachers affected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50844/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The purpose of the Home Tuition Grant Scheme is to provide funding towards the provision of a compensatory educational service for children who, for a number of specific reasons, are unable to attend school. The Home Tuition Grant Scheme is not an alternative to a school placement and is provided in very limited and specific circumstances.

The Home Tuition Application form outlines that it may take the Department up to 15 working days to process home tuition applications. The Department is currently meeting these processing times. There are 25 applciations being processed at present.

There are currently 928 applications sanctioned on the Home Tuition Grant Scheme.

By its nature, the grant is intended to be a short term intervention until the school placement is available. 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.

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.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Questions (117)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

117. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the publication of the report of the class size working group; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50857/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy is aware, a Class Size Working Group was established comprising representatives from the Education Partners, the Educational Research Centre and the relevant Business Units in my Department. This group has met on a number of occasions to consider class size in the context of improved learning outcomes of those most at risk of educational disadvantage.

A report on the work of this group is currently being finalised, and will take into consideration the feedback and observations of the working group members. It is intended that this will be finalised in the coming weeks and its findings will inform future policy direction in this area.

School Curriculum

Questions (118)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

118. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the circumstances in which a campaign (details supplied) is providing health messaging to school students in respect of alcohol; if he has sanctioned the activity; his views on the appropriateness of the alcohol industry being involved in educational content; the existing arrangements for health education in respect of substance misuse; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50860/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department has no plans to engage with or promote any resources for schools that may be developed by the drinks industry.

It is a matter for schools and teachers in the first instance to determine what resources and supports they will use to support their implementation of the curriculum. Teachers are equipped to make such decisions as a result of their initial teacher education and the ongoing support provided by the Professional Developmeent Service for Teachers (PDST). There are also protocols in place to ensure that strict criteria are observed by schools when inviting external agencies to address students about particular issues.

The issue of alcohol misuse is addressed in the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) programme, which has a specific module on the use and misuse of a range of substances. As students progress through the SPHE programme, they encounter a wide range of issues, including substance misuse. Schools have a role to play in supporting their students to develop the key skills and knowledge to enable them to make informed choices when faced with difficult issues, including drugs, alcohol and gambling.

SPHE is currently mandatory in all primary schools and in Junior Cycle. It also forms part of the mandatory 'Wellbeing' area of learning for the new Junior Cycle which was introduced in September 2017. Schools are also encouraged to deliver the SPHE programme in senior cycle.

Relevant topics in SPHE include student decision-making skills and safety and protection. Students learn how to exercise judgement, weigh up different possibilities, examine the steps and choices that guide them towards considered decision-making, begin to understand their own rights and the rights of others, and explore decision-making. In respect of safety, students’ ability to assess the consequences of risky behaviour is also developed.

School Curriculum

Questions (119)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

119. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent of the provision of the SPHE programme in schools, by county and school, in which the programme is not being provided; the steps he is taking to address the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50875/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) is mandatory in all primary schools and in Junior Cycle. Relationships and Sexuality Education is mandatory up to and including Leaving Certificate but schools are also encouraged to deliver the SPHE programme in Senior Cycle. SPHE also forms part of the new mandatory 'Wellbeing' area of learning for the Junior Cycle which was introduced in September 2017 and which will be reported on for the first time in 2020.

It is the responsibility of a school's board of management to ensure that SPHE and RSE programmes are taught in the school. My Department's inspectorate conducts robust quality assurance of provision in SPHE and RSE through its programme of inspection in schools. Inspectors check: that the school timetable includes time for SPHE and RSE; that the RSE policy has been developed; that broad and balanced coverage of the SPHE and RSE curriculum is evident in school planning; and, in focused evaluations of SPHE and RSE lessons, that students are achieving the intended outcomes of the curriculum. During all whole-school evaluations, school management is required to confirm that the full Stay Safe programme (at primary), SPHE and RSE curriculum are being provided. Where there is evidence that provision is unsatisfactory, recommendations for improvement are made. In those cases where there is no or inadequate implementation of the SPHE and RSE curriculum, the inspectorate conducts a range of follow-through actions until such time as the relevant school is regarded as being compliant with the requirements in this area.

There is dedicated Continuing Professional Development (CPD) provision to teachers to assist them in delivering the SPHE programme. This is provided by way of training courses provided by the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) and by way of online resources, which can assist teachers, by providing methodologies for teaching SPHE.

Special Educational Needs Staff Data

Questions (120)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

120. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of SNAs assigned to each primary school by county; the students who have had a need confirmed by a professional report either from the HSE assessment of needs team, privately or from NEPS, for special assessment in each school in each of the years 2007 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50942/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for allocating Special Needs Assistat (SNA) support for each school annually taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support enrolled in the school.

The consideration of professional reports is an integral part of determining the extent of supports to be provided for pupils with special educational needs.

It is the role of the NCSE to process applications from schools for SNA support, taking into account the frequency and extent of the care needs as referenced in the professional report, the manner in which they arise in a school setting and in this regard, the evidence the school can provide to support the application.

By the end of this year, there will be up to 15,950 SNAs supporting in the region of 37,500 pupils who have been assessed as requiring access to SNA support.

The NCSE publish statistics on SNA allocations, including allocations by county, for each school year and this information is available on their website, www.ncse.ie.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (121)

Willie Penrose

Question:

121. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a school (details supplied) will be ready for completion and occupation; the date for occupation of the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51009/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware that this project has been devolved for delivery to Westmeath County Council (WCC).

The Deputy will also be aware that officials in my Department continue to support WCC in its engagement with the relevant contractor on progressing this project, including through a dispute resolution process under the Public Works Contract.

The project has been delayed as it has not proven possible to address some technical issues in a shorter timeframe. I can also say that the speed of completion of this project is directly related to the level of resources employed on site, that resource levels have increased lately, and that a continued high level of resources is essential for the timely completion of this project. I can assure the Deputy that we are focussed on ensuring that all issues are progressed as quickly as possible while also ensuring that the quality and integrity of the project is fully protected.

School Transport Data

Questions (122)

Peter Burke

Question:

122. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of children availing of the school transport scheme by primary and post-primary education between those that are parents and are exempted from paying the charge and those that are not; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51050/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills. In the 2018/19 school year there were over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually 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.

The annual charge for school transport services is €100 per annum for primary children and €350 for post primary children with a maximum family charge of €220 for primary children only or €650 overall.

Children who are eligible for school transport and who hold valid medical cards (GMS Scheme) are exempt from paying the annual charge. In addition, there is no charge for children who are eligible for school transport under the terms of my Department's School Transport Scheme for children with Special Educational Needs.

In the 2018/19 school year school transport services were provided to primary and post-primary schools for almost 76,000 eligible children. Of these, in the region of 29,000 children held valid Medical Cards and were exempt from school transport charges.

In general the unit cost for transporting mainstream children is some €1,000 per annum, while the unit cost for transporting children with special educational needs is €7,000 or €9,000 when the provision of escorts are included.

In 2018, receipts from school transport charges amounted to some €15.9m or about 8% of the total cost of the scheme provided by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.

School Transport Expenditure

Questions (123)

Peter Burke

Question:

123. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of exempting all parents from the costs of the school transport scheme by primary and post-primary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51051/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills. In the 2018/19 school year there were over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually 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.

The annual charge for school transport services is €100 per annum for primary children and €350 for post primary children with a maximum family charge of €220 for primary children only or €650 overall.

Children who are eligible for school transport and who hold valid medical cards (GMS Scheme) are exempt from paying the annual charge. In addition, there is no charge for children who are eligible for school transport under the terms of my Department's School Transport Scheme for children with Special Educational Needs.

In general the unit cost for transporting mainstream children is some €1,000 per annum, while the unit cost for transporting children with special educational needs is €7,000 or €9,000 when the provision of escorts are included.

In 2018, receipts from school transport charges amounted to some €15.9m or about 8% of the total cost of the scheme provided by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.