Departmental Agencies Data

Questions (207)

James Browne

Question:

207. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the agencies or organisations under the remit of his Department; the number that have boards; the number of positions on each board; the number of vacant positions; and the agencies or organisations that have boards whose members have an obligation to appear before committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas. [51493/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The information sought by the Deputy, in regard to the agencies under the remit of my Department, is contained in the following table.

State Bodies are required to follow the terms of the 2016 Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies and other Department of Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform guidance, where appropriate. In the 2016 Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies, Bodies are guided by the requirements for Board Chairs to make themselves available to the appropriate Oireachtas Committee in regard to their role as Chair (Section 2.8). Additionally section A.3.2.11 of the Department of Finance’s Public Financial Procedures guidance booklet offers guidance on the compellability, privileges and Immunities of witnesses under the terms of The Committees of the Houses of the Oireachtas (Compellability, Privileges and Immunities of Witnesses Act, 1997 (as amended in 2004).

 Name of  State Agency

Number of Board Members

Number of Board Vacancies, as at 06 December 2019, if any.

An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta (COGG)

12

Nil

An tSeirbhís Oideachais Leanúnaigh agus Scileanna (SOLAS)

13

1

Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (CICA)

6

Nil

Educational Research Centre (ERC)

5

1

Grangegorman Development Agency

15

3

Higher Education Authority (HEA)

15

Nil

Irish Research Council (IRC)

12

1

Léargas – The Exchange Bureau

9

4

National Centre for Guidance in Education (NCGE)

13

Nil

National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA)

25

Nil

National Council for Special Education (NCSE)

13

Nil

Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI)

10

Nil

Residential Institutions Redress Board (RIRB)

11

Nil

Residential Institutions Review Committee (RIRC)

5

Nil

Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board (RISF) Caranua

9

Nil

Skillnet Ireland CLG

13

Nil

State Examinations Commission

5

Nil

The Teaching Council

37

1

School Accommodation Provision

Questions (208)

Joe O'Brien

Question:

208. Deputy Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the expansion plans for a school (details supplied); if sanction has been given for expansion in 2020; and if sanction has been given for expansion beyond 2020. [51511/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that, in relation to the school to which he refers, my Department has approved funding for a permanent extension consisting of 3 general classrooms, 3 SET/offices, science laboratory and prep area, art room and toilets. This funding is being provided under the Additional Accommodation Scheme 2019. I can also inform him that, pending the delivery of the permanent extension, the Department of Education and Skills has also approved interim temporary accommodation consisting of 3 mainstream classrooms with toilets along with converting an existing space to create a science laboratory. This accommodation will be in place for September 2020.

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.

Departmental Staff Data

Questions (209)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

209. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the budget and number of staff working in his Department in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51564/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The information requested by the Deputy is set out in the attached tabular statement.

Staffing in the Department of Education and Skills – 2014 to date

End 2014

End 2015

End 2016

End 2017

End 2018

To date - 2019

Staffing Numbers (*FTE)

1185

1205

1242

1319

1372

1427

**Payroll

Outturn

Outturn

Outturn

Outturn

Outturn

Outturn

€71.2 m

€71.8 m

€71.6 m

€75.3 m

€79.6 m

***€78.5 m

*Full Time Equivalent

**Please note that the payroll figures include the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), overtime, salary scale increases in the form of increments and some pay restoration under the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA).

*** Figure is up to and including November but has not yet been audited.

School Accommodation Provision

Questions (210)

Robert Troy

Question:

210. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an application by a school (details supplied) for an additional school building will be expedited. [51624/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department is in receipt of an application for additional accommodation from the school in question.

The application is being considered and a decision will be conveyed to the school authority as soon as the assessment process has been completed.

Schools Building Projects Data

Questions (211)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

211. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the approved capital projects for new school buildings, refurbishments of existing school buildings and temporary classroom provisions in an area (details supplied); the location of each project in the capital project process; the estimated commencement and completion date for each project in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51647/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Under project Ireland 2040, my Department continues to make progress to increase the infrastructural capacity in the schools sector, in order to meet demographic and other demands.

The Capital Programme details the school projects that are being progressed under project Ireland 2040. I wish to advise the Deputy that the current status of large-scale projects being delivered under project Ireland 2040 may be viewed on my Department's website, www.education.ie and this information is updated regularly. In addition, a list of large-scale projects completed from 2010 to date may also be viewed on the website.

The Capital Programme also provides for devolved funding for additional classrooms, if required, for schools where an immediate enrolment need has been identified or where an additional teacher has been appointed. Details of schools listed on this programme can be found on my Department's website www.education.ie and this information is also updated regularly.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (212)

John Brady

Question:

212. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Education and Skills the timeframe for the construction of a new campus for a school (details supplied) on lands; the status of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51671/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware that an exercise is currently in train to develop a master plan layout for the proposed site. A project manager has been appointed to develop the masterplan. The process also includes engagement with the relevant education stakeholders and local authority. The master planning process is well advanced at this point. The outcome of this process will determine the next steps to be taken. My Department is continuing to engage with the school's patron in this matter.

School Accommodation Provision

Questions (213)

John Brady

Question:

213. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Education and Skills the temporary accommodation arrangements which will be made for a school (details supplied) in view of the fact the lease is due to expire on its premises in May 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51672/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department is currently considering the temporary accommodation needs of the school in question and will be in further contact with the school authority in this regard.

DEIS Scheme

Questions (214)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

214. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the additional improvements that will be made for DEIS schools; the resources that will be made available to them in 2020; the pupil-teacher ratio for the 2020/2021 school term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51707/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy is aware, 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.

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 and this level of support will continue in 2020.

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.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (215)

Imelda Munster

Question:

215. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the adequacy of the categorisation by SUSI of mature students as being dependent on their parents due to the fact they reside with them in cases in which they are independent financially and only living at home due to the fact they cannot afford to move out due to the housing crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51726/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

For student grant purposes, students are categorised according to their circumstances either as an independent student or a dependent student.

An applicant’s class is defined at his/her first point of entry or re-entry to an approved course and will continue for the duration of his/her studies.

In order to be classified as an independent applicant a student must:

- Be over 23 years of age on the first of January of the year in which s/he enters or re-enters an approved PLC or higher education course, and

- Not ordinarily reside with his/her parent(s) from October of the year before the first point of entry or re-entry to an approved higher education course.

If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a student grant on the grounds of his/her initial classification as an independent or dependent student, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to SUSI. Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down in writing by SUSI and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal, outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board at www.studentgrantappeals.ie within the required timeframe.

Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down in writing by SUSI and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board within the required timeframe.

Student Grant Scheme Appeals

Questions (216)

Imelda Munster

Question:

216. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the case of a person (details supplied) who was refused the SUSI grant due to the fact they were categorised as dependent will be addressed; if he will consider introducing a discretionary element into the rules-based SUSI system for some cases; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51727/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I have been advised by my officials that an appeal has been submitted by the student in question to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board (SGAB). Subject to no issues arising, it is anticipated that the SGAB will make a determination on this case within the statutory time period on or before the end of January 2020.

Summer Works Scheme Applications

Questions (217)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

217. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the €23,000 funding applied for by a school (details supplied) under the summer works scheme for the installation of toilets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51732/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

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

The Deputy may be aware that I recently announced details of the 405 schools that will receive funding in summer 2020 under the summer works programme.

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, including the school in question, will be considered under future rounds of the Summer Works Scheme.

Summer Works Scheme Applications

Questions (218)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

218. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the funding applied for by a school (details supplied) under the summer works scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51733/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has no record of receiving an application, under the Summer Works Scheme, from the school in question.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (219)

Martin Heydon

Question:

219. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress of school building projects (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51747/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The major building project referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of architectural planning Stage 2(b) - Detailed Design, which includes the application for statutory approvals and the preparation of tender documents. All statutory approvals have been secured.

The Design Team has confirmed that it is working on finalising the Stage 2(b) Report ensuring the new school building will be a "Near Zero Energy Building" (NZEB) in compliance with the 2017 amendment to Part L of the current Building Regulations.

The Design Team Leader currently envisages that the Stage 2(b) Report will be with the Department for review shortly.

Upon completion, receipt and review of the Stage 2(b) submission, the Department will revert to the school regarding the further progression of this major building project.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (220)

Martin Heydon

Question:

220. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress of a school building project (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51748/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

A major school building project to provide new accommodation for the school referred to by the Deputy has recently been authorized by my Department to proceed to tender for the appointment of a Main Contractor and Reserved Specialists.

The closing date for the completed tender returns for the Main Contractor was originally the end of December, this has now been extended to early January. Assuming no significant issues arise during the tender process, my Department expects that the project will progress to site towards the end of the second quarter of 2020 with a contract duration of approximately 20 months.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Questions (221)

Seán Haughey

Question:

221. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the habitual residence clause by which Irish citizens returning here to study higher education undergraduate courses are not entitled to free fees will be reviewed ; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51766/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

In order to qualify for funding towards tuition fees, students must be first-time undergraduates, hold inter alia EU/EEA/Swiss nationality or certain permission given by the Minister for Justice and Equality in their own right, and have been ordinarily resident in an EU/EEA/Swiss state for at least three of the five years preceding their entry to an approved third level course.

Where students do not qualify for free fees funding they must pay the appropriate fee - either EU or Non-EU, as determined by each higher education institution. These institutions are autonomous bodies and the level of fee payable by students who do not meet the requirements of the free fees scheme is a matter for the relevant institution to determine.

My Department responded previously to concerns about the impact of the Free Fees Initiative eligibility criteria on Irish nationals who had, for occupational or economic reasons, to move abroad, requiring them to take their children out of the Irish education system in the process.

To this end, in March 2014 my Department requested the Higher Education Authority (HEA) to advise the higher education sector that full-time undergraduate students who:

- Hold EU/EEA/Swiss nationality but do not meet the residency clause of the Free Fees Initiative; and

- have completed five academic years of study (at either primary or post-primary level) in an EU/EEA/Swiss State; and

- commence their first undergraduate course of study in an approved institution here from the following academic year onwards, should be charged the EU rate of fee rather than the higher non-EU rate by their higher education institution.

Tax relief is available on fees paid and students can apply to the Student Assistant Fund for financial support if needed.

There are currently no plans within my Department to amend the qualifying criteria of the Free Fees Initiative.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (222)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

222. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills if works at a school (details supplied) are to recommence in the summer of 2020; if so, the accommodation which will be made for a créche located in the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51767/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Deputy will be aware that the school to which she refers is among 40 schools in which structural and fire safety issues have been identified. All of these schools are included in my Department’s Schools Remediation Programme.

Significant progress has been made on this Programme over the summer months. Permanent structural remediation work was carried out at 14 schools with similar work for 6 more schools advancing since the start of the new school year.

During the summer holidays also, planned detailed structural investigations were carried out in 17 schools, including the school in question, and this school was among 13 schools where temporary precautionary measures and other engineering solutions were put in place before the start of the new school year.

The bulk of the permanent structural remediation works for these 13 schools and others are being planned for delivery in 2020 and 2021. Details will to be communicated to all of the schools when my Department’s plans in this regard are further developed.

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

Safety is the number one priority for pupils, staff, parents and others using the school buildings involved and this continues to be my Department’s focus under the Schools Remediation programme.

School Patronage

Questions (223)

John Brady

Question:

223. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a decision has been made regarding the patronage of the new secondary school in Greystones, County Wicklow which is scheduled to open in 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51776/19]

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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.

In April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the four years from 2019 to 2022, including a new 800 pupil post-primary school to serve the Kilcoole and Greystones school planning areas as a regional solution to be established in 2021.

As the Deputy may be aware, due to increased projected enrolments and capacity constraints in the area, the school will now open in September 2020.

A patronage process is run after it has been decided, based on demographic analysis, that a new school is required. This patronage process is open to all patron bodies and prospective patrons. Parental preferences for each patron, from parents of children who reside in the school planning areas concerned, together with the extent of diversity currently available in these areas, are key to decisions in relation to the outcome of this process.

The Online Patronage Process System (OPPS) has been developed by my Department to provide objective information to parents and guardians which will allow them to make an informed choice in expressing a preference for their preferred model of patronage for their child’s education.

The patronage process for new schools is overseen by an external independent advisory group, the New Schools Establishment Group (NSEG). Following their consideration of my Department’s assessment reports, the NSEG will submit a report with recommendations to me for consideration and final decision.

The Online Patronage Process System (OPPS) closed for parental preferences on the 4th October 2019 for the six post-primary schools to be established in 2020, including the school referred to by the Deputy. It is anticipated that the successful patrons will be announced shortly. The assessment reports and the NSEG recommendations will be made available on my Department's website.

Departmental Staff Remuneration

Questions (224)

James Browne

Question:

224. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 234 of 3 December 2019, the position regarding the postal delivery of payslips to teachers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51778/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

There are 120,000 staff paid on a fortnightly basis on the payrolls operated by my Department. The primary objective is to ensure that the staff are paid on time and correctly. My Department has a legal obligation with under Section 4 of the Payment of Wages Act to provide each school employee with a payslip. My Department is in compliance with this legislation.

It is my Department’s aim to provide more services online for school employees whilst at the same time being cognisant of delivering a service to those employees who do not wish to use, or are unable to use, digital services. .

The provision of a self-service facility where it will be possible for staff to access their payslips is included as part of the upgrading and modernisation of the schools employees payroll project which is being progressed at present.

In relation to Education and Training Boards (ETBs), currently ETB payroll is delivered through 16 local payroll processing locations and the aim of the ongoing ETB Payroll Shared Services project is to consolidate the payroll function across multiple sites into a single shared services environment in the Education Shared Business Services (ESBS) Centre. Following the finalisation of a detailed procurement process, a contract was signed in May 2018 with CoreHR for the provision of a payroll and T&S system. This system will be used to run the payroll function for all ETBs once the ESBS Centre becomes fully operational. Ultimately, this new system will pay the 27,000 payees that are currently being paid by 16 ETBs across Ireland. The migration of each of the 16 ETB payroll functions will happen in phases and the first of these migrations has commenced in 2019. As each of the 16 ETB payrolls migrate to the ESBS Centre all their employees will have access to online payslips only.

School Transport Appeals

Questions (225)

Niall Collins

Question:

225. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a decision will be made regarding a school transport appeal by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51780/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.

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.

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.

All children who are eligible for school transport and who completed the application process on time have been accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation for the 2019/20 school year. Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport on a concessionary basis only and may be facilitated where spare seats are available after eligible children have been accommodated. Where the number of ineligible children exceeds the number of spare seats available Bus Éireann allocates tickets for the spare seats using an agreed selection process.

Bus Éireann has advised that child referred to by the Deputy is not eligible for school transport under the terms of my Department's Post Primary School Transport Scheme. Bus Éireann also advise that the pupil referred to resides 7.5kms from the route of an existing school transport service and that there are seats available on this service that this child could avail of on a concessionary basis.

The case referred to by the Deputy is the subject of an appeal to the School Transport Appeals Board. The case is due to be considered at the next meeting of the Appeals Board which is scheduled for 19th December 2019. The Board will inform the family directly of their determination on the matter.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (226)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

226. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a purpose-built campus for a recently established school (details supplied) will commence construction; if it will be completed within the time period of the multi-annual building programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51782/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The building project for this school has been devolved for delivery to Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board (LCETB).

LCETB is currently in the process of preparing a Stage 2(a) Report for review and assessment by my Department. As the project is at an early stage in the delivery process, it is not possible at this time to give a date for its completion.