School Accommodation Provision

Questions (168)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

168. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of written approvals given for extra accommodation for ASD classes since May 2016; and the number of ASD classes provided with the announced accommodation. [52651/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that my Department has, within the timeframe he sets out, issued 198 approval letters providing a total of 332 additional ASD classes.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (169)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

169. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated full-year cost of extending the school inclusion model nationwide. [52654/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

On 27th March I announced the trialling of the School Inclusion Model, a new model of support for students with special educational and additional care needs, which is being piloted in 75 schools in the Kildare/Wicklow/South Dublin region in the current school year.

The School Inclusion Model aims to build schools’ capacity and to provide the right supports at the right time for students with additional needs.

Budget 2019 allocated €4.75 million for the implementation of the recommendations of the Comprehensive Review of the Special Needs Assistant Scheme, including the implementation of the pilot which comprises:

- a frontloaded SNA allocation model based on schools’ profiled need having regard to the special education teacher allocation model introduced in 2017;

- an expanded National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) to support pilot schools;

- the continuation of the Pre-school and In-school Therapy Demonstration Project in the pilot area to ensure a wrap-around service for the pilot schools;

- the establishment of an NCSE Regional Support team in the pilot area to include speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and behaviour practitioners, in order to inform teacher Continuing Professional Development and best practice in schools;

- the development of a national training programme for SNAs with pilot roll-out; and

- the provision of nursing support for children with complex medical needs in schools. 

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (170)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

170. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated full-year cost of the school inclusion model pilot scheme; the number of schools included; and the average full-year allocation per school. [52655/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

On 27th March I announced the trialling of the School Inclusion Model, a new model of support for students with special educational and additional care needs, which is being piloted in 75 schools in the Kildare/Wicklow/South Dublin region in the current school year.

The School Inclusion Model aims to build schools’ capacity and to provide the right supports at the right time for students with additional needs.

The School Inclusion Model pilot, comprises:

- a frontloaded SNA allocation model based on schools’ profiled need having regard to the special education teacher allocation model introduced in 2017;

- an expanded National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) to support pilot schools;

- the continuation of the Pre-school and In-school Therapy Demonstration Project in the pilot area to ensure a wrap-around service for the pilot schools;

- the establishment of an NCSE Regional Support team in the pilot area to include speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and behaviour practitioners, in order to inform teacher Continuing Professional Development and best practice in schools;

- the development of a national training programme for SNAs with pilot roll-out; and

- the provision of nursing support for children with complex medical needs in schools. 

Budget 2019 provided €4.75 million to support implementation of the recommendations of the NCSE Comprehensive Review of the Special Needs Assistant Scheme, including the implementation of the new service pilot.

Capitation Grants

Questions (171)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

171. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated full-year cost of increasing the capitation grant for primary schools by 10%, 20%, 30%, 40% and 50%, respectively, in tabular form. [52656/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

This government has increased the capitation grant in each of the last two budgets.

I understand the need for improved capitation funding and I am pleased to have been able to provide for a further 2.5% increase in standard capitation funding for primary and post-primary schools that will apply from the start of the 2020/21 school year. This builds on last years 5% increase in capitation announced in budget 2019.

The combined increases given in 2019 and 2020 mean that circa 40% restoration will be achieved. 

All schools have received the benefit of the capitation increases awarded to date.  It is my intention to seek funding for further capitation increases in future budgets.

In addition to the increases above the estimated cost of increasing the standard capitation for primary school by 10%, 20%, 30%, 40% and 50% is set out in the following table.

% increase

Primary

10%

€11.6m

20%

€23.2m

30%

€34.8m

40%

€46.4m

50%

€58.0m

Capitation Grants

Questions (172)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

172. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated full-year cost of increasing the capitation grant for post-primary schools by 10%, 20%, 30%, 40% and 50%, respectively, in tabular form. [52657/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

This government has increased the capitation grant in each of the last two budgets.

I understand the need for improved capitation funding and I am pleased to have been able to provide for a further 2.5% increase in standard capitation funding for primary and post-primary schools that will apply from the start of the 2020/21 school year. This builds on last years 5% increase in capitation announced in budget 2019.

The combined increases given in 2019 and 2020 mean that circa 40% restoration will be achieved. 

All schools have received the benefit of the capitation increases awarded to date.  It is my intention to seek funding for further capitation increases in future budgets.

In addition to the increases above the estimated cost of increasing the standard capitation for post-primary school by 10%, 20%, 30%, 40% and 50% is set out in the following table.

% increase

Post Primary

10%

€10.6m

20%

€21.2m

30%

€31.8m

40%

€42.4m

50%

€53.0m

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions (173)

James Browne

Question:

173. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a school extension project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52658/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

A Stage 2b submission for the works referred to by the deputy has been received by my Department.  This submission is currently under review and subject to no issues arising, it is envisaged that the works will be tendered in Quarter 1 of 2020.

School Transport

Questions (174)

Alan Kelly

Question:

174. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the balance sheet buses are on regarding the €4.16 million spent on new dedicated school buses in 2016 from surplus payments from school transport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52666/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.  In the 2018/2019 school year over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €200m in 2018. 

The 1975 Summary of Accounting Arrangements form the basis of the payment to Bus Éireann for the operation of the School Transport Scheme.  In this regard, the Department reimburses Bus Éireann for a range of costs incurred in the operation and administration of the scheme.  Re-imbursement to Bus Éireann is on a cost recovery basis. The nature of the arrangements with Bus Éireann in respect of the School Transport Scheme involves the company recovering its direct costs and a payment in respect of its indirect costs based on a formula of 13% of certain direct costs. This charge for indirect costs and other direct costs is referred to as the Transport Management Charge.

In 2016 the Department approved €4.16m for the purchase by Bus Éireann of buses for the School Transport fleet. The cost was offset against an accumulated surplus on the Transport Management Charge.  

Monthly operational meetings are held between my Department and Bus Éireann at which expenditure headings and profiles are discussed.  As part of these monthly meetings a fleet register report, which is maintained by Bus Éireann, is provided to my Department.

Information relating to Bus Éireann statutory accounts are a matter for Bus Éireann and information in relation to these accounts is published annually and is available Bus Éireann's website.

The “Bus Éireann Annual Report and Financial Statements 2016”, as published, state that 20 new dedicated school buses entered service in 2016.

School Transport

Questions (175)

Seán Fleming

Question:

175. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a verification check of a type in the recommendation in the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General has been carried out independently of the assurances of Bus Éireann that the maintenance changes for school transport were being charged in accordance with the 1975 agreement; if not, if an alteration in the maintenance charges for school buses may have led to a previously undisclosed surplus or profit for Bus Éireann since commencement of services for each year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52673/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.  In the 2018/2019 school year over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €200m in 2018. 

The 1975 Summary of Accounting Arrangements form the basis of the payment to Bus Éireann for the operation of the School Transport Scheme.  In this regard, the Department reimburses Bus Éireann for a range of costs incurred in the operation and administration of the scheme.  Re-imbursement to Bus Éireann is on a cost recovery basis.   

Since the publication of the C&AG report the Department has undertaken a review of the apportionment methodology utilised by Bus Éireann for the School Transport Scheme. An independent expert was appointed to carry out a review of the apportionment methodology for the Transport Management Charge that is paid by the Department to Bus Éireann each year. This report was completed in March 2018 and has provided us with a detailed analysis and classification of costs incorporated into the Transport Management Charge. 

The 1975 Summary of Accounting Arrangements remain as the current arrangements in operation.  On an annual basis Bus Éireann provides the Department with the projected cost of school transport services together with a provisional spread of payments.  These costs are broken down under the headings agreed in the 1975 arrangement which include maintenance costs. 

In terms of maintenance, Bus Éireann vehicles are brought into the garage every six weeks for a full maintenance check.  The maintenance charges for these vehicles are based on identified required works and are allocated on a per vehicle basis.  Bus Éireann report the maintenance costs to the Department on a monthly basis as part of the monthly operational meetings.

State Examinations

Questions (176)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

176. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a person (details supplied) will be allowed accommodation to sit their leaving certificate in a separate room due to a medical condition. [52687/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations.

In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you

School Transport

Questions (177, 178, 179)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

177. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 128 of 26 November 2013 and 233 of 3 December 2019, in which he stated that Bus Éireann has confirmed that it does not make a profit on school transport, the reason Dáil Éireann was not informed that there was a surplus and or profit being used in the day to day operation of Bus Éireann business according to the Comptroller and Auditor General; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52699/19]

View answer

Catherine Murphy

Question:

178. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a cost benefit analysis has been undertaken of the school transport scheme operated by Bus Éireann; the reason for the high cost of operating the scheme compared to school transport systems in other jurisdictions; if Bus Éireann makes a profit from the scheme; the latest accounts provided to him by Bus Éireann; his views on the perceived market distortion by the presence of Bus Éireann in the school transport market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52701/19]

View answer

Catherine Murphy

Question:

179. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount held by way of an uncommitted reserve by Bus Éireann to be used solely for the purposes of the school transport scheme which the Comptroller and Auditor General report referenced in a report as a surplus in the transport management charge element of the costs; if the uncommitted reserve that was repaid fully to his Department in December 2018 will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52702/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 177 to 179, inclusive, together.

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department. In the 2018/2019 school year over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €200m in 2018.

The 1975 Summary of Accounting Arrangements form the basis of the payment to Bus Éireann for the operation of the School Transport Scheme. In this regard, the Department reimburses Bus Éireann for a range of costs incurred in the operation and administration of the scheme. Re-imbursement to Bus Éireann is on a cost recovery basis only and the Department of Education and Skills do not pay any profit to Bus Éireann relating to the School Transport Scheme.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) carried out an examination of the provision of school transport and completed its report in August 2017 – the C&AG Special Report 98. The C&AG report referenced a surplus in the Transport Management Charge element of the costs. This amount was held by way of an uncommitted reserve by Bus Éireann to be used solely for the purposes of the School Transport Scheme. The balance on the uncommitted reserve of €6.7m was repaid fully to the Department in December 2018.

The school transport scheme is a demand-led service based on the number of eligible children who apply to avail of transport. My Department works with Bus Éireann to analyse costs to the scheme on an on-going basis while each year the company produces an audited statement of account. This ensures that the financial information provided by Bus Éireann is in accordance with the relevant summary of accounting arrangements.

Bus Éireann provide the Department with an annual projected cost of school transport services together with a provisional spread of payments. These figures are incorporated into the Department’s annual profile of expenditure and are monitored on a monthly basis both in terms of the Department’s monthly profile of expenditure and Bus Éireann information based on actual costs versus projected costs. Expenditure headings and profiles are discussed at monthly meetings held between the Department and Bus Éireann. Where changes in projected expenditure occur a new year-end forecast is submitted by Bus Éireann and reflected in a revised spread of payments.

Actual expenditure is finalised in the Bus Éireann annual statement of account which is independently audited by the Bus Éireann auditors in accordance with the 1975 Summary of Accounting Arrangements. Balances, where they occur, are accounted for in the following year’s projected cost.

In October 2019, I announced a review of the school transport scheme as it currently operates with a view to ensuring funds are being spent in the most effective way to meet the objectives of the scheme. Terms of reference and the scope of the review are being considered by my officials and it is expected that a cross-departmental steering group led by my Department will be established shortly to oversee the review.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Questions (180)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

180. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application by a school (details supplied) for an extension to ASD classes which was approved by his Department in June 2018. [52735/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

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.

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.

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.

In Meath alone, there are 60 special classes and 3 Special Schools providing specialist support to children with more complex special educational needs.

As approximately 1% of the school population require the support of a special class, it is not possible or practical that a special class placement would be available in every school.

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

Before approaching a particular school to request the establishment of a special class, the NCSE take into account both present and future potential need within the area and must be satisfied that the class is sustainable and appropriately located.

The NCSE has planned further expansion of special class and school places in Meath to meet demand for the coming years, which will include additional primary special class provision.

It is open to any school to make an application to the NCSE for the establishment of a specialised provision and where sanctioned, there is a range of supports including capital funding available to the school.

The NCSE team of locally based Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) are available to assist and advise schools to plan for special class provision. 

As the matter raised by the Deputy refers to a particular school, I have arranged for the Deputy's question to be forwarded to the National Council for Special Education for their attention and direct reply.

Scoileanna Lán-Ghaeilge

Questions (181)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

181. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Catherine Connolly den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna an gcinnteoidh sé go mbeidh scoil (sonraí tugtha) ag fáil an deontais caipitíochta níos airde arb é €202 an páiste mar atá leagtha amach i gciorclán 34/2019 [52759/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Íoctar ráta caighdeánach an deontais chaipitíochta, is é sin  €179 do gach dalta, le gach bunscoil seachas Gaelscoileanna atá lonnaithe lasmuigh de cheantair Ghaeltachta mar a mbíonn €23.00 sa bhreis ar an ngnáthráta deontais ar fáil do gach dalta.

Tarlaíonn a leithéid chun spreagadh breise a thabhairt do chothú úsáid na Gaeilge i gceantair lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht.

Gheobhaidh an scoil atá luaite ag an teachta an ráta caighdeánach an deontais chaipitiochta, is é sin €179 an dalta.

School Funding

Questions (182)

Denis Naughten

Question:

182. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Skills the funding provided for new schools and upgrading work in schools in Oranmore, Maree, Claregalway and Clarinbridge, County Galway, since 2011; the details of the schools involved; the figure provided for each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52766/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the current status of building projects being delivered by my Department may be viewed on my Department's website, www.education.ie.

Large scale projects, including new schools, being delivered under the school building programme are listed by county along with school name and address. The current status of each school project is also provided and is updated on a regular basis to reflect their progress through the various stages of design, tender and construction.

School Accommodation

Questions (183)

Brendan Smith

Question:

183. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills when an application by a school (details supplied) for upgraded and additional accommodation will be approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52776/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that my Department has recently issued approval, in writing, to the school authority in question, to proceed to the design phase of a building project.

School Accommodation

Questions (184)

Brendan Smith

Question:

184. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills when an application by a school (details supplied) for additional accommodation will be approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52777/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department is in receipt of an application, for grant aid, under the Additional School Accommodation Scheme from the school authority in question.  Once the assessment process has been completed my Department will contact the school authority directly with a decision.

Departmental Funding

Questions (185)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

185. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an application has been made or is under consideration to the European Globalisation Fund further to the announcement of proposed job losses at a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52783/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Applications for EGF support can be made in respect of workers made redundant as a result of major structural changes in world trade patterns due to globalisation or as a result of a global financial and economic crises.  Each application must provide a reasoned analysis of the link between the redundancies and major structural changes in world trade patterns due to globalisation, demonstrated by:

- A substantial increase in imports into the EU;

- A serious shift in EU trade in goods or services;

- A rapid decline of the EU market share in a given sector; or

- A delocalisation of activities to third countries.

Furthermore, the Regulation ordinarily restricts eligibility to redundancy situations involving at least 500 redundancies in a specific company (including suppliers and downstream producers) within a 4 month period, or at least 500 redundancies in a specific sector in a 9 month period. However, in exceptional circumstances applications can be considered where the number of redundancies is not entirely met, when the redundancies will have a serious impact on employment and the local, regional or national economy. EGF applications must specify the number of redundancies that have occurred within the applicable reference period and must be submitted within 12 weeks of the end of that period.

The collective redundancy notice for the company concerned refers to 420 potential redundancies during 2020 as a consequence of the closure of the plant.  My officials have sought details on the circumstances leading to the plant closure to clarify if it would come within the scope of the EGF.  In the event that a reasoned analysis of the link between the redundancies and globalisation can be demonstrated it would appear that the minimum qualifying number of redundancies within a 4 month period might not be met.  Accordingly it would be necessary to consider any exceptional circumstances that apply.  In this regard the ILO unemployment rate in Q3 2019 for the Mid-West region at 4.8% was slightly below the national average unemployment rate of 5.2%.

The EGF Managing Authority will continue to monitor developments in relation to the proposed redundancies, particularly the number and timing of redundancies, and their impact on the local, regional and national economy.

Teaching Council of Ireland

Questions (186)

Maurice Quinlivan

Question:

186. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) has still not had their registration with the Teaching Council processed; the reason for the delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52806/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

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

Teachers whose applications meet all the necessary requirements are registered by the Teaching Council under Section 31 of the Teaching Council Act and the Teaching Council (Registration) Regulations 2016.

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

Education and Training Boards

Questions (187)

Jackie Cahill

Question:

187. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Education and Skills the educational or training opportunities available to a young person over 16 years of age who has not completed the junior certificate either through an ETB or another training or education provider; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52831/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Youthreach is the primary programme offered by Education and Training Boards (ETBs) and Community Training Centres for young people below the age of 21 who have not completed the Junior Certificate.  It is the Government’s principal response to early school leaving and educational disadvantage. Young early school leavers, are provided with an opportunity to progress their education and training and acquire certification. The programme is now an integral and vital part of the Irish education and training continuum. It is recognised that educational disadvantage results from a variety of factors and, reflecting this, programmes are tailored to accommodate the individual needs of participants and support services including counselling are provided.

ETBs also offer a wide range of programmes for adults with basic skills needs, including the Adult Literacy Programme, courses under the Back To Education Initiative and the Skills to Advance Programme. 

Each of the  Education and Training Boards (ETB) across Ireland have offer adult educational guidance services.  These services are free and confidential, and can help learners identify and overcome any challenges to accessing education and training and assist in choosing the best option for learning for the individual.

Further information on ETB guidance services and course provision is available at  https://www.fetchcourses.ie.