Special Educational Needs

Questions (474)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

474. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Education the number of autism spectrum disorder, ASD, units in operation in primary and secondary schools in County Tipperary; the details of same; and the primary and secondary schools in the county in which plans are under way to develop ASD units. [37810/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

Enabling children with special educational needs to receive an education appropriate to their needs is a priority for this Government. Next year, over 20% of the total Education budget or €2bn will be invested in supporting children with special educational needs.

This investment will support the provision of over 1,200 additional special class places.

Notwithstanding the extent of this investment, there are some parts of the country where increases in population and other issues have led to concerns regarding a shortage of school places.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has responsibility for coordinating and advising on the education provision for children nationwide. Through better planning at both national and local level, it is my objective that specialist education places should come on stream to meet emerging demand on a timely basis.

The NCSE is actively working with schools in Tipperary to establish special classes. It is open to any school to make an application to the NCSE to open a special class. The active collaboration of school communities is vital to the effective inclusion of students with special educational needs.

NCSE has advised that there are currently 39 ASD classes in primary schools and a further 25 at post primary level giving a total of 64 ASD classes supporting students with autism in Tipperary. Information on special class provision for the current school-year can be found on the NCSE website at: https://ncse.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/List-of-Special-Classes-September-2020.15.09.2020-1.pdf.

Parents should also be advised to contact their local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENO) if they experience any difficulty in getting a suitable placement. SENO contact details are also available on the NCSE website at : https://ncse.ie/regional-services-contact-list.

Schools Building Projects

Questions (475)

Emer Higgins

Question:

475. Deputy Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Education the status of the completion of the permanent building for a school (details supplied) in view of the fact the temporary accommodation is not a substitute for a permanent school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37821/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The project referred to by the Deputy is currently at advanced architectural planning stage and being progressed towards submission of a planning application. Prior to lodging the application, the School Authority will be invited to attend a meeting with officials from my Department to review the plans. Until such time as planning permission has been secured, it will not be possible to provide a timeframe for the progression of the project through tender and construction stages.

Teaching Council of Ireland

Questions (476)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Question:

476. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Education when an application to the Teaching Council for a teacher number by a person (details supplied) will be processed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37851/20]

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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 regulation of the teaching profession in Ireland including the registration of teachers in the State.

The Teaching Council inform me that the application of the person referred to by the Deputy has been successfully concluded with effect from the 16th of November 2020. Should the individual have any queries regarding their registration I would advise they liaise directly with the Teaching Council.

School Accommodation

Questions (477)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

477. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the increased demand for secondary school places at a school (details supplied) as the school is at capacity and requires additional space in order to accommodate would-be 2021 first year students from the catchment area; the date on which funding will be allocated to allow school officials proceed with the erection of two temporary Portakabins prior to the commencement on works on a permanent building in the future; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37877/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I can confirm that my Department is in receipt of an application for capital funding, under the Additional School Accommodation (ASA) scheme, from the school authority referred to by the Deputy. The assessment process will consider the need for additional, permanent accommodation and also for interim accommodation, as appropriate. Once the assessment is completed, a decision will be conveyed directly to the school authority.

Legislative Process

Questions (478)

Carol Nolan

Question:

478. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education the details of all applications made by her Department to the Oireachtas Business Committee to waive pre-legislative scrutiny of primary and secondary legislation sponsored or initiated by her Department from 1 January 2017 to date; the outcomes of such applications; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37891/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department has not made any applications to the Oireachtas Business Committee to waive pre-legislative scrutiny of primary and secondary legislation from 1 January 2017 to date.

Departmental Staff

Questions (479)

Patrick Costello

Question:

479. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Education the grade at which the chief data protection officer in her Department is employed. [37921/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The official responsible for the Departments Data Compliance and Support Section is the designated Data Protection Officer for the Department and is at the grade of Principal Officer. The unit supports the Department in being compliant with data and information regulations in relation to FOI, Records Management, GDPR and the Data Protection Act and provides corporate support services to business units on these matters.

School Transport

Questions (480)

Marian Harkin

Question:

480. Deputy Marian Harkin asked the Minister for Education if she will address the case of a person (details supplied) regarding school transport. [37939/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education. In the 2019/20 school year over 120,000 children, including over 14,200 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 €219m in 2019.

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. Under the terms of the Post Primary School Transport Scheme, children are eligible for school transport where they reside not less than 4.8kms from and are attending their nearest Post Primary School/Education Centre as determined by the Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport on a concessionary basis only. Concessionary transport is subject to a number of terms and conditions including the availability of spare seats on an existing service and payment of the annual charge. The availability of concessionary transport may vary from year to year, is not available on public scheduled services and cannot be guaranteed for the duration of a child’s education cycle. Where the number of applications for transport on a concessionary basis exceeds the number of seats available, Bus Éireann will determine the allocation of the tickets. Routes will not be extended or altered, additional vehicles will not be introduced, nor will larger vehicles or extra trips using existing vehicles be provided to cater for children travelling on a concessionary basis.

Bus Éireann has advised that the pupil referred to by the Deputy is not eligible for school transport as he is not attending his nearest post primary school. The existing school transport service is currently operating to capacity and there are no seats available at present. A refund of the school transport charge was processed on 8th September 2020.

Schools Building Projects

Questions (481)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

481. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Education when a school (details supplied) will open. [37941/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I would like to inform the Deputy that the school in question has been granted funding through my Department's Summer works scheme and as this is a devolved project it is the responsibility of the school authority to progress the works.

School Enrolments

Questions (482)

Richard Bruton

Question:

482. Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Education the extent to which there is spare capacity for enrolments in secondary schools in a catchment area (details supplied); the extent to which there is a pattern flow of pupils within the catchment area leaving for secondary school and of those from outside entering; and her plans to assess the need for more places based on the lack of available capacity. [37946/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that it is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of all schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act 1998. In schools where there are more applicants than places available, a selection process may be necessary.

The selection process used by schools and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants. However, it may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in their school of first choice.

In accordance with the provisions of the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018, all schools have drafted new policies to be published on the school’s website.

The act requires schools to clearly set out their selection criteria for application in the event of oversubscription, in their admission policies. The criteria to be applied by schools and the order of priority are a matter for the schools themselves.

Further information on the new admission process is available on the Department’s website at www.education.ie/en/Parents/Information/School-Enrolment.

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 (GIS). The GIS uses data from a range of sources, including Child Benefit Data from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection and the Department's own school enrolment databases, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise.

The process has been strengthened this year through three specific initiatives:

(i) enhanced engagement with local authorities in relation to the information on residential development incorporated in the analysis process;

(ii) additional engagement with patron bodies in relation to their local knowledge on school place requirements. Education and Training Boards, Diocesan offices and national patron bodies such as Educate Together, An Foras Pátrúnachta etc. can also be an important source of local knowledge. This will add to information also provided to the Department by local authorities or individual schools.

(iii) utilising the information gleaned from schools under the national inventory of school capacity completed by individual schools last year as part of POD, P-POD returns process.

Similar to the process adopted for September 2020 readiness, the Department will be engaging further with patron bodies shortly in advance of identifying specific September 2021 capacity pressure points priorities which will necessitate specific action.

In a ‘normal’ year, addressing the increase demands for school places, whilst challenging, is manageable – generally through utilisation of existing spare capacity within schools, rental, temporary accommodation or other short term measures pending the delivery of permanent accommodation.

Based on analysis of recent enrolment trends, there appears to be a significant pattern of both inward and outward transfer for the Killester_Raheny_Clontarf school planning area. Such transfer patterns are combined with data on current enrolments at both primary and post primary level, as well as with information on planned and current residential development in order to project post primary school place requirements in a school planning area.

Schools Building Projects

Questions (483)

David Stanton

Question:

483. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education the projected timeline for the issuing of the tender and appointment of a contractor for the development of schools (details supplied); the anticipated timeline for the construction of the schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37950/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The building project referred to by the Deputy is being delivered under my Department’s Design and Build Programme which tenders to pre-established frameworks of D&B contractors.

My Department is currently in the process of establishing a Framework of Design and Build Contractors to which Design and Build projects can be tendered. Once this framework is established, it is intended that this project will be tendered as soon as possible thereafter.

In the interim, my Department and it's Project Management team are liaising with a third party developer to establish a joint programme for the construction of the required road network to service the site. This is a condition of the planning permission and both my Department and the third party developer will be liaising with Cork County Council over the coming months with regard to satisfying those planning conditions. It is envisaged that the construction of the required roads and the construction of the schools will be progressed in tandem.

The school authorities will be kept informed as the project progresses.

Special Educational Needs

Questions (484)

David Stanton

Question:

484. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education the efforts made by her Department between 2015 and 2017 to construct a special school in the east Cork area; the reason this proposal was not developed further; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37962/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that in 2017, consideration was being given to establishing a special school in the east Cork area. A potential property was mentioned but the owner subsequently disposed of the property. My Department is currently exploring how the needs of those children requiring a special school placement in Cork can be met.

Special Educational Needs Staff

Questions (485)

Carol Nolan

Question:

485. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education if she will assist in the provision of an additional special needs assistant for a child (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37964/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The NCSE has responsibility for planning and coordinating school supports for children with special educational needs including the allocation of SNAs and reviews. The Department does not have a role in making individual school determinations. Accordingly, the question and correspondence has been referred to the NCSE for direct reply.

The Special Needs Assistant (SNA) scheme is designed to provide schools with additional adult support staff who can assist children with special educational needs who also have additional and significant care needs. Such support is provided in order to facilitate the attendance of those pupils at school and also to minimise disruption to class or teaching time for the pupils concerned, or for their peers, and with a view to developing their independent living skills.

SNAs are not allocated to individual children but to schools as a school based resource. The deployment of SNAs within schools is a matter for the individual Principal/Board of Management of the school. SNAs should be deployed by the school in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated.

It is a matter for schools to allocate support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilised.

Schools were notified of the arrangements for the allocation of SNA support in respect of students in mainstream classes for the current school year. The arrangements include the following provisions:

- 2019/20 mainstream class SNA allocations were frozen, from the date of issue of Circular 0030/2020, and have automatically rolled over into the current school year. This means that no school will receive an allocation less than that which they have on the date of issue of this Circular and existing SNAs currently in standard SNA posts were allowed to continue in these posts for the current school year in the normal way.

- A diagnosis of a disability, or a psychological or other professional report, is not be necessary for this process.

- The role of the SNA to support the care needs of students in mainstream classes, as set out in Circular 0030/2014, remains unchanged.

It is expected that schools will review and reprioritise the deployment of SNAs within mainstream settings and allocate resources to ensure those with the greatest level of need receive the greatest level of support. Providing access to SNA support continues to be based on primary care needs as outlined in DES Circular 0030/2014.

Schools may apply to the NCSE for additionality where they can demonstrate that the current allocation does not meet additional care needs within the mainstream classes in the school. Applications for additionality arising from significant new or emerging additional care needs, which cannot be catered within existing allocations, are dealt with by way of the exceptional review process.

The exceptional review process for mainstream allocations is available to schools throughout the current school year.

Detailed information on the NCSE exceptional review process is published on the NCSE website www.ncse.ie.

A school can appeal the outcome of an exceptional review and details of how to do this are here https://ncse.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/GuidanceSchoolAppealing-Exceptional-Review-outcome.docx.

Special Educational Needs Staff

Questions (486, 487)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

486. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education the number of current permanent English as an additional language, EAL, posts in primary schools nationally; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37969/20]

View answer

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

487. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Education the number of current permanent English as an additional language, EAL, posts in primary schools in County Donegal; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37970/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 486 and 487 together.

Each primary school receives a Special Education Teaching allocation. The Special Education Teaching allocation provides a single unified allocation for special educational support teaching needs to each school, based on each school’s educational profile and also encompasses the Language Support (EAL) allocation that schools were allocated in previous years.

The Department also provides additional allocations for schools with high concentration of pupils that require language support. Prior to the 2012/2013 school year, these posts were allocated on a temporary basis by way of applications by individual schools. The reforms introduced in the 12/13 school year provided for permanent EAL posts to be allocated to schools who had previously held temporary posts. There are 375 permanent EAL posts in primary schools, with 4 schools in Co. Donegal having a permanent EAL position.

Further temporary Language Support is also provided, as necessary, to schools that have high concentrations of pupils that require language (EAL) support. At primary level, these allocations are made on the basis of appeals by schools to the Primary Staffing Appeals Board.

Special Educational Needs

Questions (488)

Eoin Ó Broin

Question:

488. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the case of a person (details supplied) whose educational needs are not being met in a mainstream educational setting; and the steps she is taking to ensure the person receives the necessary placement and supports to obtain their education. [38020/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

Enabling children with special educational needs to receive an education appropriate to their needs is a priority for this Government. Next year, over 20% of the total Education budget or €2bn will be invested in supporting children with special educational needs.

This investment will support the provision of over 1,200 additional special class places.

Notwithstanding the extent of this investment, there are some parts of the country where increases in population and other issues have led to concerns regarding a shortage of school places.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has responsibility for coordinating and advising on the education provision for children nationwide. Through better planning at both national and local level, it is my objective that specialist education places should come on stream to meet emerging demand on a timely basis.

The NCSE is actively working with schools to establish special classes. It is open to any school to make an application to the NCSE to open a special class. The active collaboration of school communities is vital to the effective inclusion of students with special educational needs.

I understand that the local Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) has been in regular contact with the family of the student referred to by the Deputy and continues to support them to address concerns regarding a specialist placement.

Tribunals of Inquiry

Questions (489)

John McGuinness

Question:

489. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education the number of tribunals, inquiries or investigations being undertaken currently by her Department; the number that are in the process of being set up; the number in which the terms of reference are not complete or not agreed; the cost of all to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38037/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy that there are no tribunals, inquiries or investigations being undertaken currently, or in the process of being set up, by my Department.

The Deputy may wish to note that on 3 October I announced that I had asked that a comprehensive independent review of the design and implementation of the Leaving Certificate Calculated Grades process should take place when the process is complete. I want the review to consider key aspects of the Calculated Grades process. This will include: the initial decision to adopt the calculated grades model; whether the process met its objectives; how effective the process was; how that process worked in terms of design and implementation; and how effective were the governance and oversight procedures. I also want the review to include what lessons can be learned for the future. Some initial scoping of the review has taken place to date and the full scope of the review will be clearly set out in advance.

Home Tuition Scheme

Questions (490)

Holly Cairns

Question:

490. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Education the reason tuition was provided on a household basis rather than an individual basis under the summer provisions when there were two or more eligible children in the same family; the reason the appeals mechanism was removed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38108/20]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The terms and conditions of home based Summer Provision 2020 were set out in the Information Note and FAQ published on my Departments website:

www.education.ie/en/Parents/Services/summerprovision/home-based-information-faqs-for-parents.pdf.

This sets out that the allocation of hours for siblings are broadly reflective of the school grouping principle. This is where one teacher is allocated to a class of six pupils with complex needs in schools.

However to provide for the differentiated needs of siblings with special needs in the home, an increased shared allocation was provided for siblings as set in the below Table

Number of siblings

2 Children

3 Children

4 Children

Number of Hours p/week

15 per week for 4 weeks

20 per week for 4 weeks

25 per week for 4 weeks

In addition, the scheme provided for separate allocations of 10 hours per week to siblings in the following circumstances

- One child is attending school at a different educational level to their sibling – (i.e. One child is primary and the other is post primary)

- One child is in a specialised setting (i.e. a special class or a special school)

- Or where one sibling is living in a separate home.