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Tuesday, 16 Jun 2020

Written Answers Nos. 251-275

Schools Site Acquisitions

Questions (251)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

251. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the provision of a new secondary school for the Swords area of County Dublin as announced in November 2015; if locations have been identified for the proposed school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11098/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that planning permission has been secured for a Post-Primary school (Swords Community College RN 76475D) on a site in North Swords (Mooretown).

A building contractor was appointed and construction commenced in April 2019. The anticipated handover of the school is Q3 2020.

Schools Site Acquisitions

Questions (252)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

252. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the provision of a new secondary school for the Malahide and Portmarnock areas of County Dublin as announced in November 2015; if locations for the proposed schools have been identified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11099/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is being delivered under my Department's Design & Build Programme. This delivery programme uses a professional external Project Management team to progress the project through the stages of architectural planning, tendering and construction

 It is anticipated that the project will proceed to tender shortly as part of a larger bundle of projects. My Department is working to have the first phase of the school's permanent accommodation handed over for occupation as early as possible in the 2021/22 school year.

Schools Site Acquisitions

Question No. 254 answered with Question No. 246.

Questions (253)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

253. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the provision of a permanent site for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11100/20]

View answer

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.

Officials in my Department are progressing the acquisition of a suitable site where the school will be permanently accommodated.

While a site acquisition process is underway, due to commercial sensitivities associated with land acquisitions generally I am not in a position to comment further at this time.

Question No. 254 answered with Question No. 246.

Schools Site Acquisitions

Questions (255)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

255. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the provision of a new site for a school (details supplied) as announced in November 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11102/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

As the Deputy is aware, a building project for the school in question is included on my Department's school building programme to be delivered under the National Development Plan (NDP).

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the acquisition of a site to facilitate the construction of a new school building has closed.   

This site will will accommodate this school as well as a post primary school and will act as a campus arrangement.

My Department is currently finalising the accommodation brief with the aim of progressing the project into the architectural planning process. My Department will be in direct contact with the school authority at that point.

Schools Building Projects

Questions (256)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

256. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the works to provide a new school building for a school (details supplied) along with the associated refurbishment works will be expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11103/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

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

This project is one of the school building projects on my Department’s ADAPT 2 Programme. My Department has appointed a Project Manager for the ADAPT 2 Programme, which contains 18 school building projects.  

A Design Team – (Architect, Quantity Surveyor, Civil & Structural Engineer, Mechanical & Electrical Engineer and Project Supervisor for the Design Process) has also been appointed for the school in question. The appointed Design Team is currently working through Stage 1 (Site Suitability, Site Report, Initial Sketch Scheme) of Architectural planning. A number of surveys have been approved by the Department and have been carried out at the school site.

Schools Building Projects

Questions (257)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

257. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the provision of a new school for a school (details supplied); the stage at which the project is at; when construction will commence on the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11104/20]

View answer

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.

The project is currently 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.

A revised Stage 2(b) report was submitted by the Design Team to my Department for review in November 2019. Upon commencement of the review my Department deemed it necessary to request further documentation from the Design Team in order that the report could be fully reviewed. The Design Team has since completed an Addendum report which has been received by my Department. 

Upon review of the revised Stage 2(b) report and addendum documentation, my Department will be in contact with the school regarding the further progression of this project.

Special Educational Needs

Questions (258, 259)

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

258. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the primary schools in Kinsealy, Malahide and Portmarnock, County Dublin that have ASD units; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11105/20]

View answer

Darragh O'Brien

Question:

259. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to establish needed additional ASD units in primary schools in Kinsealy, Malahide and Portmarnock, County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11106/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 258 and 259 together.

Ensuring that every child has a suitable school placement is a key objective of my Department.  Significant resources are allocated each year to ensure that appropriate supports are available for children with special educational needs.

Since 2011, the number of special classes in mainstream schools has increased almost threefold, from 548 to 1,618 for the 2019/2020 school year; with 1,353 of these catering for children with autism.

A list of special classes for the current school year, including special classes for children with autism, is available on the NCSE website.

Budget 2020 provided for an additional 265 special class teachers in 2020, which will allow for the opening of additional classes where required.

The National Council for Special Education has responsibility for coordinating and advising on the education provision for children nationwide; has well established structures in place for engaging with schools and parents; and seeks to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements. 

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

It is open to any school to make an application to the NCSE for the establishment of a specialised provision and where sanctioned, a range of supports, including capital funding, is made available to the school. My Department works closely with the NCSE in this regard.

Normally, special class and school places are established with the full cooperation of the schools in areas where they are required.  However there are some parts of the country where the NCSE has faced challenges in getting schools and their patrons to voluntarily agree to provide special class or school places. I know this can cause much anguish for parents and families involved. 

As Minister, I have power under Section 37A of the Education Act 1998 to direct a school to provide additional provision where all reasonable efforts have failed. This legislation has been used to good effect in the recent past. This experience  shows that real and practical challenges can be addressed by working together to provide additional special class and special school places.  

I would prefer to see schools volunteer to provide more places rather than places being secured on the back of an order or a direction from me. It is the right thing for the children in a community. 

The NCSE's local Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) are available to assist and advise both schools and the parents of children with special educational needs.  Parents may contact SENOs directly using the contact details available at: https://ncse.ie/regional-services-contact-list

Special Educational Needs

Questions (260)

Duncan Smith

Question:

260. Deputy Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the provision of the July programme; if there will there be changes to previous programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11125/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department has published details of a summer programme for children with special educational needs enrolled in special schools, special classes and mainstream classes.  The programme incorporates some aspects of the July Provision of previous years. 

Summer Provision 2020 – Reconnecting with Education, is a significantly expanded programme for children with complex special educational needs which aims to re-establish the child’s relationships and connection with school and their peers as a basis for learning and participation and to help the child to re-engage in learning and social activities and help them adapt to new routines and changes.  The programme aims to ensure, in so far as possible, that the child can reintegrate/transition into their planned education setting for the next school year with their peers.  In-school or home-based supports by teachers and SNAs will help to prevent regression among children with special needs. 

The eligibility criteria has been widened to include the following categories of children:

1. Pupils with a diagnosis of Autism

2. Pupils with severe and profound learning difficulties

3. Any child in a special class or special school

4. Children transitioning into a special class or special school from early year’s settings

5. Pupils in primary school mainstream classes who present with the following disabilities:

- Children with Down syndrome

- Children who are Deaf or most severe hard of hearing

- Children who are blind or have a most severe visual impairment

- Children who have a moderate general learning disability

- Children with severe emotional behavioural difficulties

All special schools and primary schools with special classes are invited to provide the school based summer provision for their students.  This programme will run for a minimum of two weeks and can extend up to four weeks where the schools, teachers and Special Needs Assistants are willing to participate. 

Home-based provision will be available where a child’s local school is not providing a programme or does not have the capacity to accommodate a child in a planned programme this year. In this situation my Department will provide grant funding towards the engagement by Parents of a registered teacher / SNA to provide home based support for 10 hours a week for 4 weeks.

The programme will be reliant on schools, teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) choosing to participate on a voluntary basis. 

A dedicated online registration system for families of children with special needs to access Summer Provision is now available on Gov.ie/summerprovision

Parents are asked to register their participation online, providing some outline information of the extent of their participation in the programme e.g. number of weeks.

Once registered, the parent is then free to plan and organise the programme for their child by consulting with the child’s school and securing the services of a teacher or SNA. 

I also announced a programme for DEIS schools for this Summer.

Full information on summer provision and its various strands, including guidance information for parents, is available at Gov.ie/summerprovision

Schools Building Projects

Questions (261)

Peter Burke

Question:

261. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 271 of 13 May 2020, if his Department has reviewed further information sent to it by a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11138/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department received a tender report from the school to which he refers.  My Department has been in contact with the school to request that potential savings be found within this project.  Information was obtained in this respect but further information has now been sought.  A decision on this matter will be made when this further information has been obtained.

Covid-19 Pandemic

Questions (262)

Seán Haughey

Question:

262. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Education and Skills if guidance will be issued to schools regarding measures to be taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in school buildings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11146/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

On Friday my Department published the report to Government “Planning for reopening schools in line with the Roadmap for reopening society and business” https://www.education.ie/en/The-Department/Announcements/framework-for-reopening-and-operating-schools.html. 

The report sets out the clear ambition to develop a sustainable plan to fully reopen schools at the start of the next school year in late August/September in line with normal timeframes.  

The report also sets out in brief the contingencies that must be considered during the coming period in the context of Covid-19. A key component to reopening schools safely is the development of guidance in relation to infection prevention and control in schools.  

These contingencies and guidance will be worked through in detail in the coming weeks with education partners and stakeholders to ensure that the return to school is safe for children and staff.

Schools Refurbishment

Questions (263)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

263. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills when prefabricated buildings that have been decommissioned on health and safety grounds will be removed from a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11176/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has no current record of receiving an application for capital funding, from the school in question, to have prefabricated units replaced.

Schools which identify that they have a shortfall in accommodation may apply for funding under my Department's Additional School Accommodation Scheme (ASA). The application form and information relating to this scheme are available on my Department's website www.education.ie.   

Since mid-2018 all schools approved for additional accommodation under the ASA scheme are also having necessary prefabs replaced as part of their additional accommodation project.

Department records indicate that the school in question did have a prefab leased from a prefab supplier which ceased in 2016.  The Department paid removal costs, for the prefab, to the school authorities.

Erasmus+ Programme

Questions (264)

Paul Murphy

Question:

264. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will request and urge UCD to revoke the cancellation of all outgoing Erasmus arrangements for 2020 in circumstances in which the receiving institutions are willing to accept students from Ireland and in view of UCD preparing to accept international students onto campus-based courses from September 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11199/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

2020-21 is going to be the most challenging year for all in education, at national and EU level.  All of our Higher Education Institutions are endeavouring to work towards a new normal for all delivery across all areas of education and training, including the Erasmus + programme.  

My Department is the National Authority for the EU Erasmus+ programme in Ireland and has an oversight role in the delivery and strategic direction of the Erasmus+ programme.  The Higher Education Authority is the National Agency for Erasmus+ for the higher education sector in Ireland and it engages on an ongoing basis with our Higher Education Institutions on implementation and planning of the Erasmus+ programme. 

Our Higher Education Institutions are independent bodies and they are responsible for delivery of their own activities and programmes and for decision-making on particular aspects of delivery.

In the context of COVID-19, all HEIs must, and are, adapting to the situation in light of public health guidance and advice.  I am advised by the HEA that UCD has decided that reciprocal exchanges under Erasmus are not viable for the Autumn Trimester 2020 taking into consideration public health advice in a number of countries and current travel restrictions.  This does not affect mobilities for the Spring Trimester 2021, which UCD hopes will proceed as planned. 

In support of, and to facilitate greater flexibility in, Erasmus mobilities, the HEA has offered to extend the eligibility period for mobilities from 16 months to 24 months to facilitate students and institutions. 

The European Commission is also suggesting that virtual mobilities be utilised where a physical experience is not possible.  This is another option that is available alongside the traditional mobility offering.  I hope that the flexibilities and options available will ensure that all students who wish to have a mobility experience in the next academic year can be facilitated to the greatest extent possible.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (265)

Martin Heydon

Question:

265. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to ensure that provision will be made for children with underlying health issues such as asthma (details supplied) when schools reopen in the autumn; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11205/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

On Friday my Department published the report to Government “Planning for reopening schools in line with the Roadmap for reopening society and business” https://www.education.ie/en/The-Department/Announcements/framework-for-reopening-and-operating-schools.html

The report sets out the clear ambition to develop a sustainable plan to fully reopen schools at the start of the next school year in late August/September in line with normal timeframes.  

The report also sets out in brief the contingencies that must be considered during the coming period in the context of Covid-19. A key component to reopening schools safely is the development of guidance in relation to infection prevention and control in schools.  

These contingencies and guidance will be worked through in detail in the coming weeks with education partners and stakeholders to ensure that the return to school is safe for children and staff.

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Questions (266)

Denis Naughten

Question:

266. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps being taken to refund school transport charges to parents for the part of the school year lost due to Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11207/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

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

In the current school year over 120,000 children, including over 14,200 children with special educational needs, are 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 €219m in 2019. 

Last autumn I announced a review of the School Transport Scheme with a view to ensuring funds are being spent in the most effective way to meet the objectives of the scheme. The terms of reference and scope of the review have been finalised and a cross-departmental steering group led by my Department established.

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.  

The decision taken by the Government to close schools with effect from 13th March 2020 was taken in the interest of protecting our pupils, their families, teachers and those members of the wider community and is one of the many measures taken to support efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19. 

Given that the school transport services have not been available to children from 13th March, it was recently decided that at the end of the current school year a refund for that period of closure will be issued to parents. The Department is currently engaging with Bus Éireann in considering how best to facilitate these refunds.

School Transport

Questions (267)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

267. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will address a matter regarding Bus Éireann contractors (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11215/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

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

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 current school year over 120,000 children, including over 14,200 children with special educational needs, are 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 €219m in 2019. 

Last autumn I announced a review of the School Transport Scheme with a view to ensuring funds are being spent in the most effective way to meet the objectives of the scheme. The terms of reference and scope of the review have been finalised and a cross-departmental steering group led by my Department established. 

Following the initial announcement that schools would be closed from the 13th to the 29th March to support efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19, and in light of the exceptional circumstances, it was agreed that school transport contractors operating on the School Transport Scheme would be paid at the normal rate for the period up to 29th March 2020.  It was further decided that a payment of 50% would be afforded for the week commencing Monday 30th March until Friday 3rd April 2020. Thereafter, the normal arrangements applied for the period of scheduled school closures associated with the Easter Holidays (6th April – 17th April inclusive). It was subsequently agreed that contractors should be paid for a further 5 days at 50% to cover the period Monday 20th April to Friday 24th. 

In light of the most recent announcement that schools will remain closed until the end of current school year it has been decided that contractors will continue to be paid at 50% while schools are closed in the current school year.  

My Department is not in a position to provide funding for private bus contractors not contracted to operate on the Department’s School Transport Scheme.

Schools Refurbishment

Question No. 269 answered with Question No. 221.

Questions (268)

Paul McAuliffe

Question:

268. Deputy Paul McAuliffe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review the application for a repair of the school roof under the summer works scheme by a school (details supplied); and the other options available to the school for assistance with this matter. [11232/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I can confirm that the school to which the Deputy refers submitted an application for capital funding under my Department's multi-annual Summer Works Scheme (SWS) 2020 onwards for Roof Works (Category 2). 

In late 2019, I announced details of the schools that will receive funding in Summer 2020 in respect of applications submitted for "Life Safety Systems projects" (Category 1).

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 this regard, applications submitted for other works/categories will be considered under future rounds of the Summer Works Scheme.

It is open to the school to apply for funding under my Department's Emergency Works Scheme if the works referred to by the Deputy, if not carried out, would result in the closure of the school or part thereof.

Question No. 269 answered with Question No. 221.

School Transport

Questions (270)

Anne Rabbitte

Question:

270. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his Department has an input into whether drivers over 70 years of age can operate Bus Éireann school contracts on routes which are operated by contractors; his plans to extend the age limit to 75 years of age; if the issue has been raised with his Department to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11238/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

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

In the current school year over 120,000 children, including over 14,200 children with special educational needs, are 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 €219m in 2019.  

Last autumn I announced a review of the School Transport Scheme with a view to ensuring funds are being spent in the most effective way to meet the objectives of the scheme. The terms of reference and scope of the review have been finalised and a cross-departmental steering group led by my Department established.

It is Bus Éireann company policy that normal retirement age for all Bus Éireann staff is currently 66 years.  However Bus Éireann Part-time School Bus Drivers and drivers nominated by private operators who operate service as part of the School Transport scheme may continue to perform in the role provided they hold the requisite licence and satisfy an annual medical examination until they retire at age 70.

This policy and criteria is applied to all drivers who provide school transport services on behalf of Bus Éireann equally.  

As the policy has already been reviewed to extend the retirement age from 66 to 70, there are no plans to have this age limit extended at present.

Apprenticeship Programmes

Questions (271)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

271. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills the arrangements being made for final year apprentices to enable them to complete their 12 weeks college training as soon as possible to ensure that their apprenticeships are not extended unnecessarily; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11247/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Department of Education and Skills, SOLAS and the education and training providers are actively working to put in place alternative learning and assessment solutions for all apprentices, and in particular for those apprentices who are in phase 6 of their programme, while maintaining the quality and integrity of the apprenticeship programme. 

Assessments for theory components of those craft apprenticeship programmes which were due to be completed in March this year are currently being delivered.  Planning is well advanced to support the completion of practical examinations and the recommencement of off-the-job training within health and social distancing guidelines once public health considerations provide for the return to campus based education and training. The issue of the timing of that return is under consideration at the current time, in the overall context of the reopening of the education sector. 

SOLAS will continue to provide ongoing updates for apprentices and employers in relation to the impact of Covid-19 on apprenticeship programmes. These may be found at www.apprenticeship.ie and also on Twitter @apprenticesirl.

Foirne Scoile

Questions (272)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

272. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna an mbeidh cead ag scoil (sonraí tugtha) an ceathrú múinteoir a choinneáil sa scoil más rud é go mbeidh idir 76 scoláire agus 80 scoláire ar an rolla an bhliain seo chugainn, de bharr an ghá a bheidh ann scoláirí a choinneáil scartha óna chéile de thairbhe Covid-19, toisc go bhfuil na seomraí ranga sa scoil an-bheag agus toisc nach bhfuil halla ná seomra ilúsáide ar bith sa scoil; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [11252/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Is í an phríomhthoisc don chinneadh ar na hacmhainní foirne a chuirtear ar fáil ag leibhéal scoile aonair ná an sceideal foirnithe don scoilbhliain ábhartha agus rolluithe na ndaltaí an 30 Meán Fómhair roimhe sin. Tá meicníocht achomhairc mar chuid den sceideal foirnithe inar féidir le scoileanna achomharc foirnithe a dhéanamh faoi chritéir áirithe chuig Bord Achomhairc neamhspleách.

Tá post ar achomharc foirne bronnta ar an scoil dá dtagraíonn an Teachta, ar bhonn sealadach ag brath ar dheimhniú rolluithe an 30 Meán Fómhair 2020. 

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 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 has been granted a staffing appeal post, on a provisional basis pending confirmation of enrolments on 30th September 2020.

Foirne Scoile

Questions (273)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

273. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna an bhfuil sé i gceist aige cead a thabhairt do scoileanna a chaillfidh múinteoir ranga de bharr titim sa tinreamh do scoilbhliain 2020/2021 an múinteoir sin a choinneáil, de bharr an ghá a bheidh ann scaradh sóisialta a chleachtadh i scoileanna agus chun an iomarca brú a sheachaint i seomraí ranga; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [11253/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Is í an phríomhthoisc don chinneadh ar na hacmhainní foirne a chuirtear ar fáil ag leibhéal scoile aonair ná an sceideal foirne don scoilbhliain ábhartha agus rolluithe na ndaltaí an 30 Meán Fómhair roimhe sin. Feidhmíonn an sceideal foirnithe go soiléir agus go trédhearcach agus pléitear go cothrom le scoileanna den chineál céanna beag beann ar an áit ina bhfuil siad lonnaithe. 

Is é an t-athimlonnú ar gach múinteoir buan/CTÉ barrachais an mheicníocht a úsáidtear chun poist mhúinteoireachta a líonadh agus tá a leithéid ríthábhachtach do chumas na Roinne bainistiú laistigh dá buiséad párolla. Tá na painéil athimlonnaithe i mbun gnóthaí faoi láthair agus tá folúntais do mhúinteoirí á líonadh ag scoileanna anois don scoilbhliain 2020/21. 

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 redeployment of all surplus permanent/CID holding teachers is the mechanism used to fill teaching posts and is key to the ability of the Department to manage within its payroll budget. The redeployment panels are currently transacting and schools are filling teaching vacancies for the 2020/21 school year.

Student Grant Scheme

Questions (274)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

274. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will address the case of a person (details supplied) regarding financial support for higher education; and if there are additional subsidies available. [11269/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The Student Grant Scheme, administered by SUSI (Student Universal Support Ireland), provides grant assistance to students attending an approved course in an approved institution who meet the prescribed conditions of funding, including those relating to nationality, residency, previous academic attainment and means.

Under the terms and conditions of funding, a student must be attending an approved full-time course at an approved institution. Access/Foundation courses are not eligible for support.

However, a student may apply to SUSI to have their eligibility for grant assistance assessed once he/she progresses to an approved undergraduate course pursued at an approved institution following the successful completion of the foundation/access course.

The definition of an approved institution is set out in Section 7 of the Student Support Act 2011 and Regulation 3 of the Student Support Regulations 2020. Private educational institutions do not come under the remit of the Student Grant Scheme.

Queries in relation to bursaries or awards administered by the Arts Council should be addressed directly to that body for answer.

Special Educational Needs

Questions (275)

Thomas Byrne

Question:

275. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to offer special education classes to children from Ashbourne, County Meath that cannot avail of them despite there being six primary schools in the town. [11286/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Ensuring that every child has a suitable school placement is a key objective of my Department.  Significant resources are allocated each year to ensure that appropriate supports are available for children with special educational needs.

Since 2011, the number of special classes in mainstream schools has increased almost threefold, from 548 to 1,618 for the 2019/2020 school year.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has responsibility for coordinating and advising on the education provision for children nationwide; has well established structures in place for engaging with schools and parents; and seeks to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements. 

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

It is open to any school to make an application to the NCSE for the establishment of a specialised provision and where sanctioned, a range of supports, including capital funding, is made available to the school. My Department works closely with the NCSE in this regard.

Normally, special class and school places are established with the full cooperation of the schools in areas where they are required.  However there are some parts of the country where the NCSE has faced challenges in getting schools and their patrons to voluntarily agree to provide special class or school places. I know that this can cause much anguish for parents and families involved.

As Minister, I have power under Section 37A of the Education Act 1998 to direct a school to provide additional provision where all reasonable efforts have failed. This legislation has been used to good effect in the recent past.

The NCSE is aware of an identified need for special classes at both primary and post-primary levels in the area and adjoining areas referred to by the Deputy. The NCSE is currently engaging with schools in this area with a view to accommodating students who require special class placements in those areas for September.

The NCSE's Local Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) are available to assist and advise both schools and the parents of children with special educational needs. Parents may contact SENOs directly using the contact details available at: https://ncse.ie/regional-services-contact-list

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