Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Questions (547)

Mark Ward


547. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Minister for Education the provisions in place for primary school children awaiting to be assigned PPS numbers in cases in which it is mandatory for enrolment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [36978/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Circular 25/2015 lays out the rationale for the introduction of the Primary Online Database (POD) and the use of the PPSN as a unique identifier, extract below:

“The Primary Online Database will serve as a vital administrative and management tool in efficiently meeting the Department’s obligations under Sections 6 and 7 of the Education Act 1998. Individualised data on pupils at primary level is of fundamental importance to fulfil our need for relevant and timely information to ensure the educational welfare of primary school children, to monitor adequately and cater for the needs of vulnerable subgroups, and ensure that all children are making the transition from the primary to post-primary system.

Using PPS numbers as unique identifiers, the database will assist the Department in compiling vital information about the progression of primary pupils through the education system, and the impact of educational interventions. It will be used to provide indicators on what is working and what is not in our educational system, as well as relevant, up-to-date information for future planning and resource allocation. Similar databases are in place already at other levels of education. In time, the Department is very confident that the database will not only reduce administrative burden and form filling for both schools and parents, but will play a vital role in underpinning the provision of education for all primary school pupils.”

It should be noted, however, that it is not necessary for a child to have a PPSN to be enrolled in a school and to have their details entered on POD. In a case where a pupil is waiting for a PPSN to be issued to them their details can still be entered on the POD system to create a pupil profile. In this instance the mother’s maiden acts as a placeholder until the PPSN is received and the pupil's POD profile can be updated at that stage. Such a pupil will still be counted towards capitation and allocation purposes provided they are enrolled in the school on the Census date, 30th September for academic year 2020-21, and are expected to continue to remain in attendance for the remainder of the school year.

Provision is also made, as per POD Circular 25/2015, for parents of children who do not want their details recorded on POD, extract below:

1. Parents/guardians who continue to object to the onward provision of data to POD need to put their objections in writing to the school in order for their wishes to be carried out. Note that verbal objections will not be sufficient in this regard, as schools will be required by the Department to maintain written records of objections, and parents who do not put their objections in writing should be informed by the school that their record will be otherwise transferred to POD within a four week timeframe. Parents/guardians who object should be given every opportunity to provide their objections in writing to the school.

2. Schools that are in receipt of a letter from a parent outlining their objections to the onward provision of data to POD can create a partial record for that pupil on POD, using the guidelines available on request from the POD Helpdesk. This will ensure that a record is created for the pupil which will be counted for grant payments and teacher allocation purposes.