School Transport

Questions (407)

Marc MacSharry

Question:

407. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Education when a school transport summer provisions grant will be awarded to a person (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6477/21]

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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 current school year over 113,100 children, including over 14,500 children with special educational needs, are transported on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country at a cost of over €224.7m in 2020.

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.

With regard to transport arrangements for the Summer Programme, my Department committed to providing grant funding to support families with the cost of transport arrangements for those children who were eligible for school transport and who were approved to participate in the school based Summer Programme.

All families who were eligible for transport at that time and who availed of the school based Summer Programme 2020 are entitled to recieve the grant in question. School Transport Section has commenced processing payment of these grants to the families in question and I can confirm that payment has recently been made to the family referred to by the Deputy.

Schools Amalgamation

Questions (408)

Cathal Crowe

Question:

408. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Education the status of the project to amalgamate schools in Ennistymon, County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6480/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The project to which Deputy refers is at an advanced stage of the tender process and a preferred bidder has been identified.

Subject to no issues arising during the balance of the tender process, it is anticipated that work will commence on site in Quarter 2 of 2021, with a construction period of approximately 30 months.

School Transport

Questions (409)

Cathal Crowe

Question:

409. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Education if she has considered overhauling the existing post-primary school transport scheme in order that antiquated rules and metrics relating to qualifying distances are removed in favour of a new model based on bus scheduling being centred on local demand; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6490/21]

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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 current school year over 113,100 children, including over 14,500 children with special educational needs, are transported on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country at a cost of over €224.7m in 2020.

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 scheme, children are eligible for school transport where they reside not less than 4.8kms from and are attending their nearest school/post-primary centre as determined by the Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

In October 2019, my predecessor 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. Terms of reference and the scope of the review have been drafted and a Steering Group has been established.

Given the evolving situation with Covid-19 the work of the Steering Group had been delayed. Plans are now in place for the initial meeting of the Steering Group, with a view to agreeing the terms of reference and commencing the review process.

The Review will build on the proposals in the Programme for Government as they relate to school transport, including examining the options to reduce car journeys and assessing how the School Transport Scheme can work in liaison with the Safe Routes to Schools Programme; examining the options for providing a better value and a better service for students, including and examining issues such as the nearest or next-nearest school.

DEIS Scheme

Questions (410, 440)

Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

410. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Education if her Department will carry out a review of a school (details supplied) to ascertain if DEIS status can be given to the school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6538/21]

View answer

Richard Bruton

Question:

440. Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Education her plans to consider admitting new schools to DEIS status based on the new model developed by her Department; if so, when same will be scheduled; and if her attention has been drawn to the anomalous exclusion of a school (details supplied) from the scheme. [6872/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 410 and 440 together.

My Department is in the final stages of refinement of the new DEIS identification model, based on school enrolment data and the latest data available from Census 2016 using the HP Deprivation Index. A detailed analysis of the data has been carried out by members of the DEIS Technical Group which contains representatives of the Department’s Statistics and Social Inclusion Units, the Inspectorate and the Educational Research Centre. The work of this group is at an advanced stage and a consultation process with education stakeholder representatives on the technical aspect and implementation of this model has commenced. It is envisaged that this will then provide the basis for development of a DEIS resource allocation system to match resources to identified need.

I am confident that the culmination of this work will facilitate the ultimate aim of matching resources to identified need and will allow us to target extra resources at those schools most in need. Until this work is complete, it is not intended to extend the DEIS programme to any further schools.

School Catchment Areas

Questions (411)

Colm Burke

Question:

411. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for Education the secondary school catchment area for children living in Kerry Pike, Cork, given the fact that the number of families living in the area has grown by a large amount in the past number of years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6552/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data in a way that takes account of the significant local and regional variations in demographic trends and enrolment projections, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas (SPAs).

Using school planning area boundaries within my Department’s Geographic Information System (GIS) allows data within those boundaries, including data for enrolments in schools, child benefit and other relevant data to be added to the mapping information, grouped and analysed.

The school planning areas are used in the demographic exercise as a basis for the assessment of areas of growth and to inform recommendations on the establishment of any new schools required in that school planning area. In urban areas, in particular, data relating to adjacent school planning areas is also used to inform our consideration of requirements. There are no current plans to revise school planning areas.

For school planning purposes, Kerry Pike is located over two school planning areas, Blarney and Ballincollig.

The new post primary school in Ballincollig was announced in 2018 following nationwide demographic analysis which identified an emerging demand at post primary level in the Ballincollig SPA. This school will be established in 2021 under the patronage of Le Chéile Schools Trust.

All new schools established since 2011 to meet demographic demand (including the aforementioned new school in Ballincollig) are required to prioritise the enrolment of children from within the designated school planning areas which the school is being established to serve. However, it is important to note that this does not preclude schools from enrolling pupils from outside of the designated school planning area, rather it reflects the need to accommodate in the first instance the demographic for which the school was established. Parents may apply directly to the school in relation to their child’s enrolment in the normal way.

Schools Data

Questions (412)

Colm Burke

Question:

412. Deputy Colm Burke asked the Minister for Education the percentage of students who progressed from secondary school to third level in Cork from 2011 to 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6560/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The only available transtition rates from post-primary level to thrid level of education are compiled on a national level. The total transtition rates for years 2014-2018 are shown in table below. In order to arrive at an accurate rate of transfer of students from second to third level,the set of post-primary pupils who finished school in the most recent year and from preceding fours years were concidered; this is to account for students who do not go directly to third levelfor various reasons (such as repeating the Leaving Cert, doing a PLC, working, ortravelling). The latest available transition rate is for year 2018/19. The detailed results are published as part of Department of Education Projections for full time Third level enrolments and can be found here: www.education.ie/en/Publications/Statistics/projections/.

Transfer rates to Third level 4

2014/15

2015/16

2016/17

2017/18

2018/19

Transition rates from post-primary to higher education

63.8%

64.0%

64.4%

63.6%

63.4%

Schools Building Projects

Questions (413)

David Cullinane

Question:

413. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Education when a preferred contractor will be approved for appointment at a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6562/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The school to which the Deputy refers was granted funding under the Additional Accommodation Scheme 2018 to provide one mainstream classroom with en-suite toilets, one SET and one WC Assisted User.

This project has been devolved for delivery to the school authority and was recently approved to go to Construction. It is now a matter for the Board of Management to advance this project in that context.

School Curriculum

Questions (414)

David Stanton

Question:

414. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Education further to Parliamentary Question No. 179 of 21 January 2021, to clarify the post-primary schools mentioned in the response; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6575/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The full list of the post-primary schools referred to in the response to Parliamentary Question No. 179 of 21 January 2021 are set out in tabular form in the attached spreadsheet. This includes all 359 post primary schools that are offering Spanish and the various programmes that Spanish is being offered at - Leaving Certificate, Leaving Certificate Applied and Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme.

The information is based on the most recent October Returns which were submitted to the Department.

Spanish Programmes

Departmental Funding

Questions (415)

Peter Burke

Question:

415. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Education if guidance will be provided to a school (details supplied) relating to grant funding available to treat extreme damp in a school building; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6591/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I wish to inform the Deputy that the school in question may apply for funding under my Departments Summer Works Scheme when it next opens for applications as this would be the most appropriate mechanism for addressing this issue.

If the school or any part thereof is forced to close because of the issue mentioned they should apply for funding under my Departments Emergency Works Scheme via the Esinet portal.

Schools Refurbishment

Questions (416)

Peter Burke

Question:

416. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Education the process for applying for an upgrade of electrical works for a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6592/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I would like to inform the Deputy that the correct mechanism for applying for the upgrade of the schools electrical system would be my Departments Summer Works Scheme which can be applied for via Esinet when the scheme is next open for applications.

However if the situation is deemed an Emergency which poses an immediate risk to health, life, property or the environment, which is sudden, unforeseen and requires immediate action and in the case of a school, if not corrected, would prevent the school or part thereof from opening, the school should immediately apply for funding under the Emergency Works Scheme which is available via the Esinet portal under the Devolved Projects tab.

DEIS Scheme

Questions (417)

Peter Burke

Question:

417. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Education the way a school (details supplied) can be considered for DEIS status; the reason one school in an area might have DEIS status while another school does not; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6593/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

When DEIS was first introduced in 2006 and the identification of primary schools for inclusion was based on a survey of school principals using a selection of socio-economic variables. Following the review of DEIS and an extensive consultation process, my Department introduced a new objective, statistics based identification model for assessing schools levels of concentrated disadvantage.

My Department is now in the final stages of a refinement of the DEIS identification model, based on school enrolment data and the latest data available from Census 2016 using the HP Deprivation Index. A detailed analysis of the data has been carried out by members of the DEIS Technical Group which contains representatives of the Department’s Statistics and Social Inclusion Units, the Inspectorate and the Educational Research Centre. The work of this group is at an advanced stage and a consultation process with education stakeholder representatives on the technical aspect and implementation of this model has commenced. It is envisaged that this will then provide the basis for development of a DEIS resource allocation system to match resources to identified need.

I am confident that the culmination of this work will facilitate the ultimate aim of matching resources to identified need and will allow us to target extra resources at those schools most in need. Until this work is complete, it is not intended to extend the DEIS programme to any further schools.

Schools Refurbishment

Questions (418)

Catherine Murphy

Question:

418. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education the date on which refurbishment works on a school (details supplied) will be completed; and the estimated cost of the project. [6605/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

A major extension/ refurbishment project for the school referred to by the Deputy commenced on site in December 2020 and is progressing satisfactorily. The contract duration is 22 months and the contract award is circa €14m.

Special Educational Needs

Questions (419)

Louise O'Reilly

Question:

419. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education if a dedicated national helpline can be set up to answer queries from parents of children with special educational needs as pupils begin the return to school. [6656/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department is very conscious of the particular strain that school closures place on children with special educational needs and their families.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has created a dedicated phone line for parents to get advice and support from Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs), which has been operational since the 11th of January.

The SENO will provide support and advice to parents and where relevant provide specific resources e.g. behaviour strategies, National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) well-being resources.

Parents can book an appointment with the SENO assigned to their child’s school. The phone number is 01 603 3456.

School Transport

Questions (420)

Gerald Nash

Question:

420. Deputy Ged Nash asked the Minister for Education if a review of an application by a person (details supplied) for the provision of school transport for children with special educational needs will take place; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6659/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education. In the current school year over 113,100 children, including over 14,500 children with special educational needs, are transported on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country at a cost of over €224.7m in 2020.

The purpose of the School Transport Scheme for Children with Special Educational Needs, is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children with special educational needs arising from a diagnosed disability.

Children are eligible for transport where they have special educational needs arising from a diagnosed disability and are attending the nearest recognised mainstream school, special class/special school or a unit that is or can be resourced, to meet their special educational needs.

Eligibility is determined following consultation with the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) through its network of Special Education Needs Organisers (SENO).

In this case, it has been reported that the school of attendance is not the nearest school to the pupil’s home that is or can be resourced to meet their special educational needs and therefore the child is not eligible for school transport under the terms of the scheme.

School Enrolments

Questions (421)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

421. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Education the estimated number of children that will commence national school in September 2021; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6681/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The latest projection report published by the Department, "Projections of full time enrolment Primary and Second Level, 2020-2038", can be found on the Department website, links below. The report provides projections for the primary and post-primary sectors. The associated excel sheet also provides a breakdown of projections by standard and for different modeling scenarios.

As per the report and based on the Department's recommended model M1F2, 62,256 pupils are expected to commence in primary schools in 2021.

www.education.ie/en/Publications/Statistics/projections/projections-of-full-time-enrolment-primary-and-second-level-2020-2038.pdf.

www.education.ie/en/Publications/Statistics/projections/projections-of-full-time-enrolment-primary-and-second-level-2020-20381.xlsx.

Appointments to State Boards

Questions (422)

Darren O'Rourke

Question:

422. Deputy Darren O'Rourke asked the Minister for Education the number of vacancies in each State board under the remit of her Department in tabular form; the length of time each position has been vacant; the reason for the failure to fill the vacancy in each case; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6682/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

There is one board vacancy on three of the State Bodies under the remit of my Department.

The information requested by the Deputy concerning the number of vacancies as well as the dates the vacancies arose in the State Bodies is provided in the attached table. Details of board vacancies are regularly updated on my Department’s website.

The Deputy should note that individuals may be nominated for appointment by various organisations arising from the terms of the relevant Statutes of the Body concerned and accordingly board appointments made by me are not in all cases made at my discretion.

For the vast majority of the board appointments made by me, engagement is required with the Public Appointments Service (PAS) to run a competition, and an assessment process, which leads to the creation of a list of candidates suitable for appointment.

Board Vacancy Details of Bodies under the aegis of the Department of Education as at February 4th 2021

Educational Research Centre (ERC)

One Vacancy

31/08/2018

12/07/2021

Ordinary Member

PAS Process

n/a

As Government approval is required to make the appointment, the formation of a new Government was awaited before progressing. At this point, as the Board's term of office expires in July 2021, the filling of all board posts will be considered in that context.

National Council for Special Education (NCSE)

One Vacancy

13/09/2020

31/12/2022

Ordinary Member

Nominee of the Minister for Health. Appointed by Minister.

n/a

PAS process in train

The Teaching Council

One Vacancy

03/04/2020

03/04/2020

Ordinary Member

PAS Process

n/a

PAS process in train

Schools Building Projects

Questions (423)

Niamh Smyth

Question:

423. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education the status of the delivery of a new school (details supplied); if Covid-19 restrictions has had an impact on same; when works will be complete; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6718/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The major construction project at the school referred to by the Deputy is progressing satisfactorily on site and subject to no issues arising it is anticipated that substantial completion will be achieved in the second quarter of 2021.

The contractor is operating under the requirements of the Return to Work Safely Protocol which came into effect on the 18th of May 2020.

School Accommodation

Questions (424, 425, 426)

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

424. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Education further to the decision by her Department to relocate a school (details supplied), if the existing site from which the school operates is suitable for additional temporary accommodation in order to leave the school in the same location and avoid the obvious and unnecessary upheaval; if this has been examined as a viable proposal to minimise disruption to the school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6727/21]

View answer

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

425. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Education if the proposed 600 pupil school (details supplied) has been redesignated as a 1,000 pupil school; if so, the way in which the decision was reached; if meetings have taken place with persons on this increase in pupil capacity; if additional contractual obligations have been added to the previous patronage contract for 600 pupils; if so, the details of the additional obligations; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6728/21]

View answer

Fergus O'Dowd

Question:

426. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Education if an assessment has been undertaken in relation to the mental health impact on students currently attending a school (details supplied) in advance of a decision by her Department to relocate the school for a third-time in as many years; if not, if there are plans to undertake studies in advance of the move; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6732/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 424 to 426, inclusive, together.

The interim move of Drogheda Educate Together Secondary School (ETSS) from its existing temporary location to the Louth Meath Education Training Board (LMETB) owned site at Rathmullen Road, Drogheda (same location as St. Oliver’s Community College), is to facilitate Drogheda ETSS ultimately growing to a 1,000-pupil school upon the delivery of its new school building on a permanent site. This is important in the context of addressing the need for additional post-primary school places in Drogheda and Laytown School planning areas for the next 3 years including September 2021.

While the school was originally announced as a new 600 pupil regional solution for the Laytown & Drogheda school planning areas, it was indicated at the time that new school sizes would be responsive to patronage or demographic demand. Projections at the time indicated likely additional school place requirements and, following a patronage competition, Drogheda ETSS was established as a new 600 pupil (expandable to 1,000 pupil) school. Refreshed demographic data indicates that demand in both of these school planning areas supports the school growing to 1,000 pupil.

The level of interim accommodation to be provided on the St. Olivers Community School site will be in excess of 6,800m² and will consist of 13 general classrooms, 14 specialist rooms, 2 special classes, pastoral rooms and other ancillary accommodation. Providing enhanced facilities for Drogheda ETSS and the capacity to cater for increased enrolments over the next 3 years, including for September 2021, are particularly important aspects of the project.

The existing temporary Drogheda ETSS site is too small to facilitate the proposed accommodation and St. Olivers Community College site is the only LMETB owned site in the vicinity that has capacity. The school will remain on the ETB-owned site until its new permanent school building is provided. LMETB has agreed to deliver the project and a planning application will be submitted as quickly as possible.

In relation to a permanent site for Drogheda ETSS, the Department has undertaken and continues to undertake a site identification process in respect of suitable sites in the South Drogheda area. To date it has proven challenging to identify suitable available sites in the area. Currently, the Department is undertaking an assessment of two potential sites. Due to commercial sensitivities it is not possible to provide further information at this stage.

The Department envisages that the new permanent school will be provided under a Design & Build contract and has procurement frameworks in place to deliver this as quickly as possible. A typical construction period for a 1,000 pupil school is 18 months. However, the identification and acquisition of a permanent site and the associated design and planning permission processes are key first steps in facilitating construction of the new permanent school building.

My Department’s Wellbeing Policy and Framework for practice has given recognition to the importance of promoting wellbeing in education. It outlines a comprehensive, whole-school approach to the promotion of wellbeing and positive mental health. It focuses on the whole school community, as well as groups and individual young people with identified needs.