Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (167)

Brendan Ryan

Question:

167. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the provision of a primary school for the Donabate peninsula, County Dublin (details supplied); if a cost-benefit analysis has been carried out to justify the extra expense in building the school on private lands as opposed to public lands; the policy in respect of constructing schools on privately-owned lands when there is suitable publicly-owned lands available in the same area; the timeline for delivery of the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51172/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy is aware, agreement in principle has been reached with a landowner and a legal conveyancing process is currently underway in respect of the transfer of ownership of the selected site to The Minister. The site selection process undertook to examine all potential sites available, with particular consideration initially given to State-owned property, in line with protocols for the use of State-owned property assets.

The selected site in Corballis has been determined following detailed technical examination, also with the assistance and input of Fingal County Council. A key aspect of the consideration is deliverability, including the provision of the required infrastructure, and the Corballis site was significantly more advanced in that respect than other, State-owned, sites in the area. Furthermore, as you will be aware, the Donabate Distributor Road project anticipates 1200 housing units to be delivered in the short-term, which will be specifically in the Corballis area. It is significantly on that basis that the Department considered the site at this location - to meet the school place requirements expected to materialise from the planned housing.

Please rest assured that the Department's site selection protocols are thorough and that all appropriate considerations have been given to this project.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (168)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

168. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of new school buildings being built at a school (details suppled). [51179/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

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

This project is at an advanced stage of architectural planning - Stage 2(b) which includes the application for statutory approvals and the preparation of tender documents. All statutory approvals have been secured and the Design Team has recently submitted a Brief Change Request to my Department for review.

When the Brief Change Request has been reviewed the Design Team will proceed to incorporate the approved changes into the Stage 2(b) tender documentation.

Upon completion, receipt and review of the Stage 2(b) submission the Department will revert to the school with regard to the further progression of the project.

School Accommodation

Questions (169)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

169. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a technical assessment of a school (details supplied) will take place. [51184/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department recently received correspondence from the school in question requesting the provision of a new school building. The school is not currently included in my Department's Capital Programme.

My Department will be in contact with the school authority to arrange a meeting early in the New Year in the Department's offices in Tullamore.

In the meantime, my Department approved an additional temporary mainstream classroom to the school earlier this year. I understand that the school authority has begun the process of applying for planning permission for this classroom.

I also wish to advise the Deputy that it is open to the school to apply to my Department for additional temporary accommodation to cater for its immediate accommodation needs or Emergency Works grant to address any health and safety works at the school.

School Services Staff

Questions (170)

Robert Troy

Question:

170. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to introduce a scheme to provide for occupational pensions for school secretaries and caretakers who are paid by their board of management from grants. [51185/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I recognise the very important work done by these staff, and the other support staff in the running of our schools. I have spoken to a number of staff about their employment conditions and understand the issues they have raised.

In Budget 2020 I increased the number of secretaries and caretakers in certain schools, allowing schools with enrolments of 500-625 to fill secretary vacancies provided they have fewer than 1.5 secretaries; schools with enrolments of 626-699 to fill vacancies provided they have fewer than two secretary posts filled, and schools of 700 or more to fill caretaker vacancies provided they have fewer than two caretakers. These measures will take effect from September 2020.

Earlier this year I relaxed the moratorium for those C&C and ETB schools with enrolments of 700 and more which allow them to employ additional school secretaries up to a maximum of two per school. There are 91 schools in the C&C and ETB Sector who meet this criteria, based on the information currently available to this Department. This is an initial step and has taken immediate effect

Schemes were initiated in 1978 and 1979 for the employment of clerical officers and caretakers in schools. The schemes were withdrawn completely in 2008. These schemes have been superseded by the more extensive capitation grant schemes. The current grant scheme was agreed in the context of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress, published in 1991.

The majority of primary and voluntary secondary schools now receive assistance to provide for secretarial, caretaking and cleaning services under these grant schemes. It is a matter for each individual school to decide how best to apply the grant funding to suit its particular needs. Where a school uses the grant funding for caretaking or secretarial purposes, any staff taken on to support those functions are employees of individual schools. Specific responsibility for terms of employment rests with the school.

On foot of a Chairman’s Note to the Lansdowne Road Agreement, my Department engaged with the Unions representing school secretaries and caretakers, including through an independent arbitration process in 2015. The Arbitrator recommended a cumulative pay increase of 10% between 2016 and 2019 for staff and that a minimum hourly pay rate of €13 be phased in over that period. This arbitration agreement covers the period up to 31 December 2019.

The arbitration agreement was designed to be of greatest benefit to lower-paid secretaries and caretakers. For example, a secretary or caretaker who was paid the then minimum wage of €8.65 per hour in 2015 prior to the arbitration has from 1 January 2019, been paid €13 per hour which is a 50% increase in that individual’s hourly pay.

The increases recommended by the Arbitrator are binding and must be applied by all schools who employ staff to whom the Arbitrator’s recommendation applies. My Department receives informal correspondence by telephone in respect of grant-funded secretary and caretaker circulars, as regularly occurs with the publication of pay circulars. Advice is provided on the implementation of the circular and the appropriate steps to take. Secretaries and Caretakers who have queries regarding the application of the circular should raise queries directly with their individual employer / Board of Management.

In addition, the recent survey of Secretaries and Caretakers has identified some schools that are non-compliant with the provisions of the 2015 Arbitration Agreement, and my Department will be making contact with these schools to remind them of their obligations under the agreement, as implemented through various circulars. The links below will bring you to the most recent circulars in respect of the pay increases under the 2015 Arbitration Agreement.

https://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0076_2018.pdf

https://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0077_2018.pdf

Officials from my Department attended a meeting of the Joint Committee on Education and Skills on the 9th of April to discuss the status of non-teaching staff.

In May this year officials from my Department had discussions with FÓRSA trade union representatives as part of a planned meeting. FÓRSA took the opportunity to formally table a pay claim.

This was tabled as a follow-on claim from the current pay agreement for this cohort of staff which lasts until December 2019. The Department issued surveys on the 10th of July to establish the full current cost of the trade union’s claim. This is standard practice.

Officials from the Department met with FÓRSA representatives in September. Management Bodies representing the employers of schools impacted by the action were also in attendance at the meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to further explore the details of the pay claim as presented by FÓRSA and the nature of the industrial action.

On 30 September FÓRSA requested the Department to agree to use the services of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to resolve the dispute. As is normal practice the Department has agreed to use the industrial relations machinery of the state in an effort to resolve this matter.

In order to address the various issues within the claim and to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution, the Department is in discussions with FÓRSA under the auspices of the WRC.

School Accommodation

Questions (171)

Jack Chambers

Question:

171. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding extending the lease for temporary accommodation for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51197/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Discussions are ongoing between my Department and owner of the temporary school site for the school to which the Deputy refers. My Department will keep the school authorities fully informed as the discussions progress.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (172)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Question:

172. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress of the new school building for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51200/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Major Project at the school referred to by the Deputy is at Stage 1 of architectural planning which entails preliminary design of site and location suitability and initial sketch scheme.

A revised Stage 1 submission, including an up to date cost plan, was requested from the Design Team following an increase in the schedule of accommodation to cater for up to 1200 pupils. That submission has been received and a review has been completed with comments for action issued to the School and its Design Team.

A further review has yielded a proposal for an increase in accommodation to a 1300 pupil school, which has been accepted by the school. The Design Team has been instructed to provide an initial sketch scheme for a 1300 pupil school, and submit to the Department for review. Professional fees have been agreed with the Design Team members for this additional task.

Following this review my Department will then be in contact with the Board of Management of the school with regard to the progression of the project.

This project is included in my Department’s Construction Programme which is being delivered under the National Development Plan.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Questions (173)

Mick Barry

Question:

173. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider measures to reduce the class sizes in DEIS schools in view of evidence such as the study Addressing Education Disadvantage by the Educational Research Centre, that children have better outcomes from smaller classes sizes; the measures he will take to bring class sizes below 20 pupils for primary education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51210/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

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.

Schools Site Acquisitions

Questions (174)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

174. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the location of a permanent site for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51232/19]

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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.

Irish Language

Questions (175)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

175. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the new junior certificate Irish paper has been changed (details supplied); if so, if the long-term aim is that Irish will no longer be a subject for the leaving certificate in the future in view of the fact few will choose to study the subject for the leaving certificate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51236/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Framework for Junior Cycle (2015) presents new opportunities for teaching and assessment that should enrich the learning experiences of students and their teachers within all contexts.

Following feedback on a draft single specification in 2015, the decision was taken to develop two separate specifications catering for two distinct school and student contexts. These specifications are informed by extensive research. In addition a broad consultation process, that included the voices of teachers and students, was co-ordinated by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. Similar to the Primary Language Curriculum, the Policy for Gaeltacht Education and the actions planned by the Department as part of the 20-Year Strategy for Irish 2010-2030, these specifications seek to promote the provision of high quality education through the medium of Irish and the use of Irish among young people and in Gaeltacht school communities.

The T1 specification seeks to address, in the first instance, those students who study all of their subjects through the medium of Irish and therefore is expected to be delivered in Gaelcholáistí, Scoileanna Gaeltachta and in Aonaid LánGhaeilge. The T2 specification is intended for use in schools that operate through the medium of English. The provision of two separate specifications for the first time means that the teaching and learning experience can be tailored for very different categories of students. In particular, the provision of the T1 specification means that the learning needs of the learners in Gaeltacht schools, particularly the needs of first-language speakers of Irish (and all-Irish schools – gaelcholáistí and gaelscoileanna) can be catered for in ways that were simply not possible under the old arrangements. The provision of the T1 specifications has been widely welcomed by Gaeltacht communities and organisations in supporting the implementation of the Gaeltacht School Recognition Scheme.

The introduction of the new specifications for Junior Cycle Irish represents a significant departure from existing approaches to the teaching, learning and assessment of Irish at junior cycle level. The new arrangements emphasise the importance of oral skills in the language for all students and are deliberately designed to foster students’ ability to use the language. Classroom based assessment of students’ oral language skills are used widely in other countries as they offer a much more authentic assessment of the students’ communicative abilities. All of this is designed to strengthen teaching and learning of Irish in junior cycle.

Both specifications (T1 and T2) place significant emphasis on Irish as a spoken language. This is reflected in the integrated strands, which structure the learning experiences of students throughout the three years of junior cycle – Communicative Competence, Language and Cultural Awareness and Learner’s Self-Awareness. The provision of opportunities for students to speak Irish, including interaction with other users, will be a key aspect of the learning activities in which students will engage in order to achieve the learning outcomes associated with these strands.

The Department remains committed to encouraging the use of spoken Irish. It is important to state that the assessment of oral language skills in Irish forms an integral component of the overall language learning experience and will occur in a number of ways in the new Junior Cycle specifications. In addition to the completion of a range of tasks that will require students to use and demonstrate their oral language skills in order to achieve the stated learning outcomes, oral language skills will also be formally assessed in Classroom-Based Assessment

(CBA) 2, in third year. This task will be linked to ongoing classroom exchanges and, therefore, will be a more authentic reflection of students’ interests and competence levels in Irish. Furthermore, students can also include texts that demonstrate their oral language skills in Irish for the purpose of CBA 1 – Learning Portfolio where it is specified that one portfolio item based on sound/ video must be included. This could for example, be a presentation, a speech, or a poem. These CBAs will be formally reported upon in each students’ Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement.

The previous oral examination was optional and taken by less than one third of students. The new assessment arrangements on the other hand require all students to engage in an assessment of their oral skills through a classroom based assessment. This gives a greater opportunity for all students to develop and enhance their oral language proficiency skills and to foster their ability to use the Irish language.

As part of the consultation process during the development of the specifications, much feedback emphasised the lack of choice with the current Junior/Senior Cycle syllabi as an issue. Many students noted that they have no choice and/or no voice on what texts to read/study. The desire to provide students with a choice of more modern, accessible texts, which would afford rich and relevant learning opportunities for students, across a range of genres with due regard to dialect of region (or dialect of choice), was echoed across much of the feedback from teachers, students and stakeholders more generally.

The integration of literature is a central facet of teaching and learning. Students are given opportunities to sample a selection of literature to support their learning over the three years of junior cycle. The development of language skills and the exploration of literary texts should be integrated in the classroom to aid language development. Literature supports the development of language and literacy, critical and creative skills, cultural understandings and personal development.

There is a recommended list of appropriate texts to support learning in first year and a list of compulsory genres with an internal choice of texts for second and third year. These texts are not separate to the teaching of the language but are an integral part of language teaching and will support the development of students’ language skills by providing students with appropriate examples of ordinary language in context, and a range of opportunities to speak and use the language. They are not separate to the teaching of the language but provide important source material and rich learning opportunities for students learning the language.

Sample examination papers are produced by the SEC, in consultation with the Department of Education and Skills (DES) and the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), in advance of the first state examinations for any new subject or revised subject specification. These sample papers are produced as a guide to students, teachers and the public as to the structure and format of the new examination. Like ‘real’ examinations, they are produced with a high level of oversight and quality assurance to ensure their fitness for purpose. In addition, sample papers are previewed by subject experts in relation to the appropriateness of their content, the extent to which they are an appropriate assessment of the learning outcomes set out in the relevant specification, the language of their content, and the demand they present in relation to the time it would take to complete them.

In the case of Junior Cycle Gaeilge, sample papers were recently issued by the SEC to all schools. One Higher Level paper and one Ordinary Level paper was issued in respect of each of the T1 and T2 specifications. The sample papers highlight the features of the new examination structure and how the examination papers assess the level of student achievement of a significant sample of the learning outcomes contained in the specifications. To assist students manage their time during the examination, mark allocations are provided for questions and sections, and the spaces for responses to questions are indicative of the length of an appropriate response. The SEC is satisfied that the structure and content of the Junior Cycle Gaeilge sample papers are in full alignment with the thrust of Junior Cycle Reform, including the learning outcomes contained in the specification, and the overall reform of the assessment structures in place.

The SEC is confident that the published sample papers issued will assist students, teachers and the public, and in particular those presenting for the first “live” examinations in Junior Cycle Gaeilge in 2020, and is satisfied that they are in full accordance with the learning outcomes and assessment objectives set out in the subject specifications.

The Irish language is accorded special status in Ireland and is protected by various pieces of Legislation and in particular Article 8 of our Constitution which states that “The Irish Language as the national language is the first official language”.

The Education Act 1998 recognises the particular responsibility of the education system with regard to supporting the Irish language. The language has particular social, historical and educational importance and is part of the unique cultural heritage of the Irish people. It is an aim of Government to increase on an incremental basis the use and knowledge of Irish as a community language.

In recognising the linguistic, social and cultural importance of Irish and English in Ireland, both languages are included as core subjects in the national curricula for recognised primary and post-primary schools and centres for education in Ireland. This has been the case since the foundation of the State and the importance of the teaching of both languages in this way has been re-affirmed on a number of occasions by the State, including most recently in the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030.

Pension Provisions

Questions (176)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

176. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when an illness related early retirement pension will issue to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51239/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I am pleased to confirm for the Deputy that the calculation of pension benefits for the person to whom he refers is complete. It is intended that the pension benefits will be paid on the 12 December 2019 and each fortnight thereafter. My Department’s officials have informed the person accordingly.

Teaching Council of Ireland

Questions (177)

Ruth Coppinger

Question:

177. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a preschool (details supplied) in Dublin 15 is not closed due to processing of Teaching Council registrations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51261/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Departments Home Tuition Grant Scheme provides funding towards a compensatory educational service for children with special educational needs seeking an educational placement. Provision is also made for early intervention for children with autism.

By its nature, the grant is intended to be a short term intervention and should not be regarded as an optional alternative to a school placement.

In the case referred to by the Deputy, tuition is provided in a private setting arranged directly by the parents. These settings operate outside of the normal school oversight arrangements of my Department. However, it is an important requirement of the funding that the qualification standard of tutors engaged generally reflects that which would be provided in a school environment. In addition, tutors engaged by the provider must be registered with the Teaching Council of Ireland and vetted by the National Vetting Bureau via the Teaching Council of Ireland’s online vetting process, prior to the commencement of the delivery of tuition.

My Department has no flexibility in this regard and cannot approve the Home Tuition grant until it verifies that these conditions are met by the private provider.

The same conditions apply whether Parents use the grant to engage tutors to deliver tuition in their home or private providers to deliver tuition in a group setting.

The Teaching Council of Ireland outlines that it will endeavour to process applications for registration within 8 weeks. The Council has confirmed that it is currently meeting these processing times.

Third Level Funding

Questions (178)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Question:

178. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the level of university funding coming from the military-industrial complex has been investigated; his views on the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51291/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Irish universities are independent and autonomous statutory bodies established under the Universities Act, 1997 which while guaranteeing the principle of academic freedom, also requires detailed institutional level governance arrangements for the management, operation, policies and strategy of the relevant institution to be in place.

The issue raised by the Deputy is therefore a matter in the first instance, for the governing body of the institution as part of its responsibility to ensure that it is conducting its activities consistent with statutory requirements, institutional statutes and the Code of Governance for Irish Universities.

Home Tuition Scheme Provision

Questions (179)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

179. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) cannot obtain more home tuition hours; if additional hours will be allocated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51315/19]

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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.

In exceptional cases my Department will consider home tuition applications on behalf of students with diagnoses of school phobia and/or associated depression/anxiety which has caused major disruption to their attendance at school.

This exception will only apply where a continued absence from school is required to facilitate appropriate medical or therapeutic intervention with a view to the reintegration of the student in their school.

Home tuition is not an alternative to a school placement and is provided in very limited and specific circumstances.

Generally, grant aid based on a range of between 2 and 10 hours tuition may be approved with the allocation reflecting the level of attendance in the previous school year and whether the attendance was at primary or post primary level.

As a general guide, up to 5 hours may be granted to children at primary level while students at post primary level may be granted between 2 and 10 hours.

Based on the information provided in the application referred to by the Deputy, my Department sanctioned a Home Tuition grant towards the provision of 2 hours tuition per week.

The Home Tuition Grant Scheme provides for an appeal process and details are set out in the decision letter which issued to the applicant.

My Department received an appeal in relation to the application referred to by the Deputy on 3rd December 2019. My officials are considering the documentation supplied and the parent will be notified directly once a decision has been made.

School Transport Provision

Questions (180)

Tom Neville

Question:

180. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will address a matter regarding the provision of school transport (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51316/19]

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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 the 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. Under the terms of my Department's Post Primary School Transport Scheme children are eligible for school transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kilometres from and are attending their nearest education centre as determined by my Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language from their nearest school.

All children who are eligible for school transport and who completed the both the application and payment 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 the children referred to by the Deputy are eligible for school transport and that they are attending their nearest school but that no payment in respect of the 2019/20 school year has been received.

Bus Éireann is responsible for the planning and timetabling of school transport routes. Bus Éireann endeavours, within available resources, to ensure that each eligible child has a reasonable level of school transport service in the context of the Scheme nationally. Routes are planned on the basis of the locations of children who are eligible for school transport . Bus Eireann have advised that they will review the route mentioned by the Deputy for the next school year.

School Textbooks Rental Scheme

Questions (181)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

181. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated full-year cost of increasing the funding of the school books scheme by 10%, 20%, 30%, 40% and 50%, in tabular form. [51322/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department provides a book grant to all recognised primary and post primary schools within the Free Education Scheme in order to provide assistance for books including Book Rental Schemes.

Under this scheme, my Department provided funding of €16.9 million in 2019 to all of these schools.

It is a matter for the Board of Management of each individual school to decide on its own policy in relation to the use of this funding in the school but they are expected to adopt a cost-conscious approach to the selection of books for use in their classes. The current arrangement relies on the local knowledge of the school in order to ensure a fair allocation of funds to those most in need. The arrangements in relation to this scheme are set out in Circular 0046/2013 which is published on my Department's website at www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0046_2013.pdf.

The following table sets out the estimated full-year cost of increasing the funding of the school books scheme by 10%, 20%, 30%, 40% and 50%.

% increase

Estimated cost€m

10%

1.7

20%

3.4

30%

5.1

40%

6.8

50%

8.5

Special Educational Needs Staff Data

Questions (182)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

182. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of employing ten new resource teachers. [51323/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that a new model for allocating special education teachers was introduced for mainstream schools from September 2017.

The new Special Education Teaching allocation provides a single unified allocation for special educational support teaching needs to each school, based on that school’s educational profile.

What were previously referred to as Resource Teachers, and Learning Support Teachers, have now been incorporated into a single Special Education Teacher post.

The estimated salary cost for the employment of a Special Education Teacher, on a full-time basis, would be an average salary cost of €60,000 per annum. The estimated cost of employing ten new Special Education Teachers would therefore be approximately €600,000 per annum.

It should be noted that there are currently over 13,500 special education teacher posts allocated to mainstream primary and post primary schools.

The total number of Special Education Teachers has increased by 38% since 2011, from 9,740 in 2011, to over 13,500 at present.

Budget 2020 also provided for an additional 120 special education teacher posts, which means that 13,620 Special Education Teaching posts will be available for allocation to mainstream primary and post primary schools by the end of 2020.

Special Educational Needs Staff Data

Questions (183)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

183. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of employing ten new SNAs. [51324/19]

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.

In 2019, in the region of €1.9 billion is being invested in Special Education, nearly one fifth of the overall Education budget. 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. The additional cost of these posts is €13 million and the provisional 2020 total allocation to SNA pay is €602 million.

The pay at entry of a new entrant Special Needs Assistant, inclusive of employer PRSI, is €27,674 so the estimated cost of 10 SNAs would be €276,740.

National Educational Psychological Service Data

Questions (184)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

184. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of employing ten new educational psychologists. [51325/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I can inform the Deputy that the average direct pay and non-pay cost per annum of employing an Educational Psychologist in my Departments NEPS service is €75,000 per annum. The estimated annual additional cost, therefore, of employing ten psychologists would be €0.75m.

Speech and Language Therapy Data

Questions (185)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

185. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of employing ten new speech and language therapists. [51326/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the estimated salary cost for the employment of a speech and language therapist, on a full-time basis, would be an average salary cost of €55,000 per annum for a Speech and Language Therapist grade, or €70,000 per annum for a Senior Speech and Language Therapist grade.

The estimated cost of employing ten new speech and language therapists would therefore be either approximately €550,000 per annum, or €700,000 per annum, depending on the grade level of the therapists employed.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Questions (186)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

186. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of reducing the student teacher ratio by one point. [51327/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

In the current school year, the numbers employed in our schools have reached the highest ever level. Over 1,300 additional posts in schools have been funded, including more than 370 teaching posts to cater for growth in student population and additional special classes. This builds on the Budget 2018 measure which provided a one point improvement in the staffing schedule in primary schools which brings the position to a general average of 26 pupils to every 1 teacher, the lowest ever allocation ratio at primary level.

The latest figures in relation to pupil teacher ratio show an improved ratio of teachers to students from 16:1 to 15.2:1 at primary level when comparing the 2015/16 school year to the 2018/19 school year. Average class sizes at primary level improved from 24.9 to 24.3 in the same period. Corresponding statistics from post primary level show an improved ratio of teachers to students from 13.8:1 to 13:1 at post primary level in the same period.

Teachers are currently allocated to at an average of 1 classroom teacher for every 26 pupils at primary level, and at a ratio of 19:1 in the Free Education System and 23:1 to schools in the fee-charging sector. Each 1 point adjustment to the pupil teacher ratio at primary level is estimated to cost in the region of €14.4m per annum while at post primary the cost would be approximately €55.5m per annum.