Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (102)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

102. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a sports hall will be provided for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4997/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware, a building project for the school to which he refers is included in my Department's six year construction programme.

I wish to advise the Deputy that a school site visit, by my Department's technical staff, has taken place, in the context of progressing the school project concerned. Schedules of accommodation, for purposes of the school's project brief, are currently being devised and my Department will be in further contact with the school authorities when these have been finalised.

Schools Building Projects Applications

Ceisteanna (103)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

103. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills if funding for additional school accommodation for a school (details supplied) will be reconsidered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5001/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department received an application for the provision of additional accommodation at the school referred to in respect of both classroom and ancillary accommodation.

When assessing the application it was noted that the existing school accommodation comprises of four mainstream classrooms, two special education teaching, SET rooms, a library/computer room, staff room and a general office. With a staffing complement of four mainstream teachers and one SET teacher it was determined that, as there was no deficit of mainstream class accommodation, additional accommodation is not required at this point.

My Department has written to the school authority to convey the position.

It is open to the school authority to submit additional information that may not have been provided with the original application e.g. confirmation of the appointment of an additional mainstream teacher. Any additional information submitted will be considered by my Department and a response will be conveyed directly to the school.

DEIS Applications

Ceisteanna (104)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

104. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a DEIS application by a school (details supplied) in County Mayo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5003/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

We have, for the first time, introduced an objective, statistics based model for deciding which schools merit inclusion in the DEIS programme, so that all stakeholders can have confidence that we are targeting extra resources at those schools with the highest concentrated levels of disadvantage.

The key data sources used in the DEIS identification process are the DES primary online database, POD, and post-primary online database, PPOD, and CSO data from the National Census of Population as represented in the Pobal HP index for small areas which is a method of measuring the relative affluence or disadvantage of a particular geographical area. Variables used in the compilation of the HP index include those related to demographic growth, dependency ratios, education levels, single parent rate, overcrowding, social class, occupation and unemployment rates. This data is combined with pupil data, anonymised and aggregated to small area, to provide information on the relative level of concentrated disadvantage present in the pupil cohort of individual schools.

A detailed document explaining the methodology used in the Identification process is available on the Department’s website at

www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/DEIS-Delivering-Equality-of-Opportunity-in-Schools-/DEIS-Identification-Process.pdf.

Just to be clear, schools are not required to make an application for DEIS as all schools are assessed using the new uniform identification model.

It is important to note that schools included in DEIS with effect from September 2017 are those whose level of disadvantage has been identified as those schools serving the highest concentrations of disadvantage among their pupil cohort. Schools which have not been included at this stage are those which have not been identified as having the highest levels of concentrated disadvantage amongst their pupil cohort, under the new identification model.

It is also important to note that this is the first step in a process and the fact that a school has not been included now does not preclude its inclusion at a later date, should the assessment indicate a level of disadvantage that warrants additional supports.

An update of the identification model is currently underway. This will take account of updated school data as provided by schools for the current school year combined with the Pobal HP index of deprivation, based on small area population statistics derived from the 2016 National Census. It is envisaged that this process will be completed by the end of March this year.

Should this exercise reveal that any school, which did not qualify for DEIS in 2017, meets the criteria applicable to schools with the highest concentration of disadvantage based on the updated information then additional schools may be included subject to available resources.

Public Sector Pay

Ceisteanna (105)

Peter Fitzpatrick

Ceist:

105. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a higher pay scale to LTI co-ordinators will be set (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5007/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I am not aware of any plan to introduce a higher payscale to LTI co-ordinators.

On 21 March 2002, the Labour Court recommended that LTI community training supervisors should receive an increase in pay and that the total grant paid by FÁS to project sponsors for supervisor pay should be increased by 20%.  Sponsors were to be advised that the total increased grant, less employers PRSI, should be paid to supervisors.  This was implemented by FÁS. 

The recommendation also stated that for future pay increases, the supervisors should have a pay relationship with and be ‘linked proportionally’ to community training centre (CTC) managers.  Any benefit to the claimants arising from the pay relationship should be paid in accordance with the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, which was in place at the time.  Since then, LTI community training supervisors have received increases under national agreements, in line with CTC managers.

Remote Area Boarding Grant

Ceisteanna (106)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

106. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an application by a person (details supplied) for a remote area boarding grant will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5014/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The purpose of the remote area boarding grant scheme is to give students who are disadvantaged because of their remoteness from schools an opportunity to attend school on the same basis as students not so disadvantaged. 

The terms of this scheme are set out in Circular 16/2016 which is published on my Department’s website at

www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0016_2016.pdf.

The grant is paid to students whose normal place of residence is outside the range of public transport services to a school providing free second-level education. 

Under the terms of the scheme, a suitable second level school is a school which is recognised by the Department for the purpose of providing the prescribed certificate course which enters its students for the State examinations and is subject to inspection by my Department. The curriculum choices provided by a school within 25 km of the applicant’s normal place of residence is not a factor in the determination of eligibility for the award of a grant.

The application referred to by the Deputy does not meet the qualifying criteria as the student resides less than 25km from Gaelcholaiste Chiarrai, the nearest all-Irish medium second level school.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (107)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

107. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills the action he will take to ensure work is resumed at a club (details supplied) in Dublin 7 following the financial collapse of a company. [5020/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The works at the club to which the Deputy refers is part of a larger school building project which is nearing completion. The employers representative who leads the design team has informed my Department that a sub-contractors personnel who were involved in works on the all-weather pitch left the site last Thursday and have not yet returned.

My Department has instructed the employers representative to engage with the main contractor delivering the project to ensure that the remaining works at the club are completed as quickly as possible.

The company which the Deputy names in the details supplied is not involved in this school building project.

Defibrillators in Schools Provision

Ceisteanna (108)

John Curran

Ceist:

108. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills if funding will be made available to provide defibrillators in each school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5025/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The position is that under the provisions of the Education Act 1998, the board of management is the body charged with the direct governance of a school.

My Department currently has no plans to provide funding to schools to install defibrillators. The decision to install a defibrillator is made at local school level and is a matter for the board of management of each individual school. 

I understand that a national steering group on out of hospital cardiac arrest was established in 2017 and is representative of health professionals, patient groups, healthcare providers and other sectors.  It aims to strengthen the chain of survival for cardiac arrest.  The report from the group, due in 2018, will provide advice to the HSE and the Department of Health on the most effective ways of improving survival for cardiac arrest including training for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, building on the community first responder programme and making public access defibrillators more easily accessible in community settings and in schools.

Remote Area Boarding Grant

Ceisteanna (109)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

109. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a grant application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5029/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The purpose of the remote area boarding grant scheme is to give students who are disadvantaged because of their remoteness from schools an opportunity to attend school on the same basis as students not so disadvantaged. 

The terms of this scheme are set out in Circular 16/2016 which is published on my Department’s website at

www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0016_2016.pdf.

The grant is paid to students whose normal place of residence is outside the range of public transport services to a school providing free second-level education. 

Under the terms of the scheme, a suitable second level school is a school which is recognised by the Department for the purpose of providing the prescribed certificate course which enters its students for the State examinations and is subject to inspection by my Department. The curriculum choices provided by a school within 25 km of the applicant’s normal place of residence is not a factor in the determination of eligibility for the award of a grant.

The application referred to by the Deputy does not meet the qualifying criteria as the student resides less than 25km from Colaiste Ghobnatan, the nearest all-Irish medium second level school.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (110)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

110. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a building project at a school (details supplied); and if the matter will be expedited. [5076/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department approved funding to the school in question to provide accommodation for pupils with special educational needs.

The school has since written to my Department seeking significant further funding for additional works. The school's correspondence will be considered and a decision will be conveyed to the school authority subsequently.

Internal Audits

Ceisteanna (111)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

111. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his Department has completed an external quality assurance assessment of its internal audit function as required by the Institute of Internal Audit standards that were introduced in 2012 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5109/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm for the Deputy that, following a procurement process using an Office of Government Procurement (OGP) framework agreement, a contract was signed with external consultants in December 2017 for the process in question.  The external quality assurance assessment of my Department's internal audit function is currently underway.

Teacher Recruitment

Ceisteanna (112)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

112. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the degree to which he expects to be in a position to address the issue of the shortage of teachers at all levels throughout the country; if the situation is more severe in urban or rural areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5190/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Additional investment has allowed the successful recruitment of over 5,000 additional teachers in the last two years.   Since 2012/2013 there are 8,900 more teachers in our schools. No other part of the public service has seen this sort of growth, which is testament to the Government’s commitment to education and its importance in fulfilling our national ambitions.

The numbers of graduates from initial teacher education programmes have also remained broadly constant. Over 8,000 primary and 7,800 second level teachers have graduated in the last five years and in 2018 it is estimated that approximately 1,870 primary and 1,523 post primary teachers will graduate.

However, I fully acknowledge the concerns that have been expressed about teacher supply.  

Last Friday I announced the suspension of restrictions on substitution limits for teacher on career break. Schools have also been reminded that, in considering career break applications, the needs of pupils should take precedence and they must take account of the availability of appropriate qualified replacement teachers.

At post primary level, we are examining the operation of the PME and considering the introduction of subject quotas, targeted at areas of shortage. We are also considering the introduction of “top up” or conversion courses to upskill teachers. I have also stated that I want to double the number of second level teachers training at undergraduate level.

I will shortly be announcing the establishment of a Teacher Supply Steering Group to implement a strategy for teacher supply.  As part of its remit, the group will consult with key stakeholders.

In 2018 I will also ask the Teaching Council to review subject criteria and processes for assessing overseas qualifications and to engage more with graduate fairs and final year students. 

There is no evidence available to suggest that substitution issues are impacting more on urban or rural areas. The 5,000 teacher successfully recruited in the last two years have been both in rural and urban schools.

Schools Building Projects

Ceisteanna (113)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

113. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which he remains satisfied that the school building programme here will not be detrimentally affected by the collapse of a group (details supplied) in the United Kingdom in respect of which the works here are subcontracted to Irish builders; if clear lines are being identified to protect the builders and consequently the schools already under construction for his Department; if the completion date for the schools in question remain as indicated; if schools already completed and awaiting hand-over to his Department can have the processes prior to payment expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5191/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In respect of the Schools Bundle 5 PPP programme, a contract exists between my Department and the Principal contractor, Inspiredspaces.  Inspiredspaces is the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) responsible for the design, construction, finance, operation and maintenance of the school buildings. 

The company referred to by the Deputy has been a 50% shareholder in the SPV.  The other shareholder in the SPV is the Dutch Infrastructure Fund (DIF).

The Principal contractor for the SB5 programme continues to be Inspiredspaces.  Sub-contractors on the project are employed by Inspiredspaces in that respect or indirectly by Inspiredspaces through other sub-contractors. It is a matter for all sub-contractors to agree terms and conditions and a schedule of payments with their direct employer. 

DIF is currently developing a rectification plan to ensure completion of the school buildings in as timely a manner as possible. The outcome of this process will provide greater clarity for all involved in the individual projects.  

DIF has confirmed that resolution of the situation is its top priority.