School Staff

Questions (401)

Jennifer Whitmore

Question:

401. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will reconsider the decision not to provide an extra sixth class teacher to a school (details supplied) in view of existing overcrowding issues, lack of space and the need for extra teacher supports under Covid-19 health and safety measures for when pupils return to school in September 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6948/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The criteria used for the allocation of teaching posts is published annually on the Department website. The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous 30 September.

The staffing schedule operates in a clear and transparent manner and treats all similar types of schools equally irrespective of location. The staffing schedule includes an appeals mechanism for schools to submit a staffing appeal under certain criteria to an independent Appeals Board.

The school referred to by the Deputy initially submitted an appeal to the Primary Staffing Appeals Board which was deemed ineligible.  After that decision was issued, the school provided a new appeal due to a change in circumstances in the school.  The Primary Staffing Appeals Board has provisionally upheld the appeal, subject to September 2020 enrolments.  The school has been notified in this regard.

Home Tuition Scheme

Question No. 403 answered with Question No. 201.

Question No. 404 answered with Question No. 247.

Questions (402)

Jennifer Whitmore

Question:

402. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Minister for Education and Skills when home tuition grant based preschools will reopen; if he will consider re-opening them as soon as possible in view of the small class size and the impact that social and educational isolation is currently having on children with special needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6949/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that decisions in relation to schools re-opening and operating will be underpinned by the ongoing advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and the Department of Health.

Engagement is underway with stakeholders in the education sector to develop contingency plans for the re-opening and operation of schools, including schools for children with Autism, in an environment that may require social distancing and other public health requirements.

This work will be informed by the National Return to Work Safely Protocol as well as guidance and experience from other jurisdictions. A core objective of the contingency plans will be to ensure that schools and other education settings can re-open and operate in a safe manner that is consistent with public health advice.

In relation to the reopening of early learning and care and school-age childcare services my colleague, Dr. Katherine Zappone, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, has established an Advisory Group on Reopening Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare services. 

Amongst other roles, the Group will be developing guidelines to support providers, their staff, parents and children return to familiar, albeit different, environments, in a phased manner over the coming months.  

As the first step to prepare to re-open childcare services, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) is encouraging service providers to review the Return to Work Safely Protocol, published by Government this week, but to be aware that assistance will be made available to them in the coming weeks to meet its requirements.  

Various childcare specific guidance cleared by Public Health experts will be issued to services by DCYA over the coming weeks. DCYA is also planning an opportunity for public consultation. 

In the interim, funding for the provision of Home Tuition services will continue to be provided where tuition is delivered by distance learning.

Question No. 403 answered with Question No. 201.
Question No. 404 answered with Question No. 247.

Special Educational Needs

Question No. 406 answered with Question No. 275.

Questions (405)

Gary Gannon

Question:

405. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the July provision will be going ahead in 2020; and if so, the timeframe and manner for same in order to provide clarity to students, parents and teachers that are due to take part in the scheme. [7004/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I am committed to running a summer Provision type programme for children with complex needs this year as soon as it is safe to do so and in accordance with public health advice. 

My Department is exploring a number of options for a summer education programme for children with complex special needs.

The primary aim of the proposed programme would be to limit potential regression in learning thereby ensuring in so far as possible that these children can reintegrate and transition into their planned education setting for next year with their peers.   

This may be done through a targeted level of supports to address regression of social skills and re-establish tolerance of routines paving the way for reintegrating full time into education when schools reopen in the autumn.

Question No. 406 answered with Question No. 275.

Departmental Contracts

Questions (407)

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

407. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount spent on external consultants by his Department in 2019; the average hourly rate; if caps or limits on such spending are in place; the way in which conflicts of interest are managed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7279/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department complies with the Department of Finance’s guidelines for engagements of consultants by the civil service, having regard to public procurement guidelines, which include a requirement for the provision of a declaration on conflict of interest.

Contracts are awarded based on the most economically advantageous tender. 

The data in respect of 2019 is available on my Department’s website at

https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Corporate-Reports/Financial-Reports/Expenditure-on-Consultancy/expenditure-on-consultancy-by-DES-in-2019.pdf .