Post-Leaving Certificate Courses Availability

Ceisteanna (36)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

36. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the plans in place to improve the regional distribution of PLC, post-leaving certificate, courses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4685/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Last month I published the ESRI evaluation of the PLC programme along with the SOLAS response, which sets out 45 recommendations to address the findings of the evaluation and improve the quality of the learner experience, learner outcomes and overall programme efficiency.

A SOLAS led PLC Programme Improvement Advisory Committee, comprised of PLC partners, will shortly be established by SOLAS to oversee development and implementation of a three year programme improvement plan, based on the recommendations set out in the SOLAS response. These include a review of the geographic distribution of PLC places in the context of the overall FET provision available to meet the needs of learners and employers in each ETB catchment area, taking into account a number of factors including population and deprivation index.

Post-Leaving Certificate Courses

Ceisteanna (37)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

37. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the evaluation of PLC, post-leaving certificate, programme provision published by the ESRI in January 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4896/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Last month I published the ESRI report along with the SOLAS response on the evaluation of the PLC programme. The ESRI report provides a solid evidence base to inform future policy development for the programme.  It will ensure that provision is planned to meets the needs of learners and employers, taking into account the changed context, particularly in the labour market, since the PLC programme was established in the mid 80s.

The evaluation confirms the positive role played by PLC courses in providing education for a diverse range of learners, highlighting that on average PLC learners are 16% more likely to be employed and 27% more likely to have progressed to higher education, than those who left education with the Leaving Certificate alone.  It also points to a greater need to develop systems to ensure that PLC courses focused on the labour market are aligned with employer requirements and are responsive to changing labour market needs.

Arising from the evaluation, SOLAS will shortly establish the PLC Programme Improvement Advisory Committee, comprised of PLC partners, to oversee development and implementation of a three year programme improvement plan. Based on the recommendations set out in the SOLAS response, implementation of the plan will ensure delivery of high quality education and training supporting learners to achieve their progression and employment goals.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (38)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

38. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the project brief for the building works at a school (details supplied) has been finalised; the commencement date of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4660/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that a project for St. Molaga’s National School is included in my Department's Capital Programme to primarily replace existing temporary accommodation with permanent accommodation. In that regard officials in my Department are currently preparing the project brief which will facilitate the progression of the project into Architectural Planning, including the appointment of a Design Team.  In this context I can confirm that a meeting has been arranged with the school authorities for early February in relation to their project. 

In the interim I am pleased to advise that my Department has approved additional temporary accommodation to meet the school’s immediate accommodation needs.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (39)

Pat the Cope Gallagher

Ceist:

39. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for sanctioning improvements to schools (details supplied) in County Donegal; his further plans for providing a new school building for two other schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4663/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy of the current position in respect of each of the four schools referred to.

In regard to the first school referenced, I can confirm that the school applied for funding under my Department’s Emergency Works Scheme in respect of structural works.  My Department has recently received the consultant’s report requested for the works involved.  This is currently under consideration and my Department will be in further contact with the school authorities on the matter as soon as possible. 

In regard to the second school referred to, I can confirm that an application under the Additional School Accommodation scheme was received and assessed in my Department.  In that instance the application for additional resource teaching spaces was not approved as it was determined there was no deficit of accommodation for the current staffing level.  Separately, an appeal in respect of an unsuccessful application for mechanical works under the Summer Works Scheme is under consideration and my Department will notify the school authorities directly of the outcome once the appeal process concludes.

I wish to advise the Deputy that an application under the Emergency Works Scheme, for essential roof repairs, for the third school mentioned was granted in January.  In addition, the Deputy will be aware my Department has included a major capital project for this school in the 6 year Capital Programme to provide a new two-storey eight classroom school on the existing site.  This project has commenced Stage 1, Preliminary Design State, of the Architectural Planning Process - the Stage 1 submission has yet to be submitted by my Department.

Finally, in respect of the final school referenced, I wish to advise that a major project is at an advanced stage of architectural planning, Stage 2b (Detailed Design), which includes the application for statutory approvals and the preparation of tender document.  In this regard, all statutory approvals have been secured.

The Stage 2b submission has been reviewed by my Department and comments issued to the school and it’s Design Team in December 2017. The Department has requested confirmations from the Design Team in respect of Tender Documents being complete, correct and in compliance with DoES and Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (BC(A)R) tender documentation requirements.

Upon receipt of the requested confirmations, the Department will revert to the school with regard to the further progression of the project.

Education and Training Boards Funding

Ceisteanna (40)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

40. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 103 of 18 January 2018, if his attention has been drawn to the fact that other education and training boards that have funded church youth leadership schemes for roles within a church; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4900/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Deputy will be aware that I have sent a follow-up reply in relation to Parliamentary Question No. 103 2013 of 18 January 2018 in which I indicated that I would ask for a review to be conducted into participation by students in certain youth leadership programmes.

The Deputy may also be aware that the representative body for the sector, Education and Training Boards Ireland, has established a working group which is considering, on a broad basis, issues related to religion in ETBs.  This may be an appropriate mechanism to consider the issues raised by the Deputy and the question of conducting a review in the light of changes in the composition of the student body and the need to ensure an inclusive environment for all students. My officials will bring same to the attention of that group.

My Department is currently working closely with the group on the preparation of a circular that will provide guidance to ETB Post Primary schools on the arrangements that should apply for students wishing to opt out of religious instruction or worship.

Capital Expenditure Programme

Ceisteanna (41)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

41. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is satisfied that schools infrastructure planning is keeping pace with demographic changes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4686/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Ireland has experienced a significant bulge in pupil enrolments going through our schools. This has seen a significant expansion in the rate of provision of new school places and this puts a high demand on the Department's capital budgets. Since 2011, some 340 major school projects and over 120,000 new and replacement places have been provided.

My Department’s capital programme continues to address the challenges posed by a rapidly-increasing school population. To meet this demographic challenge, my Department’s Capital Investment Programme (2016-2021), details the school projects that are being progressed through the architectural planning process. The Capital Programme also provides for devolved funding for additional classrooms for schools where an immediate enrolment need has been identified.

We are building more schools and providing more additional school places than ever before. This reflects the priority which this Government is putting on education.

In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas. My Department uses a Geographical Information System (GIS) to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. The GIS uses data from a range of sources.

The nationwide demographic exercises involving all school planning areas at primary and post-primary level, which will determine where additional school accommodation will be needed in the future, is ongoing at the moment. My Department is currently factoring into the demographic exercises critical updated data including updated enrolment data and up-to-date information on additional residential development from local authorities. The 2017/18 provisional enrolment data has just recently been made available and provides an important update on the available data which will inform the outcome of the demographic exercises. It is anticipated that decisions based on the review will be announced in the coming weeks.

In addition, my Department is included among the prescribed bodies to whom local authorities are statutorily obliged to send draft development and local area plans or proposed variations to development plans for comment and observations. This enables local authorities to reserve future school sites in areas designated for proposed housing development.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (42)

John Lahart

Ceist:

42. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the delivery of a school (details supplied); and the timeframe for same. [4643/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy will be aware, a building project to provide permanent accommodation for the school in question is included in my Department’s 6 Year Construction Programme.

My Department has been working with the local authority to acquire the site on which the school is currently located. It is intended to progress the building project for the school into the architectural planning process shortly. In this regard, a schedule of accommodation and project brief is currently being finalised. 

My Department has met with the school authority to appraise them of the current position and my officials will continue to liaise directly with the school in the context of progressing the new school building project.

Teachers' Remuneration

Ceisteanna (43)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

43. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the cost of reintroducing the island and Gaeltacht allowances for primary and post-primary teachers on payrolls operated by his Department and those employed by the education and training board; his plans to reintroduce same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4648/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As a consequence of the economic crisis, there was a need to enact a number of measures to reduce public expenditure so as to stabilise the country’s public finances. 

The Government approved a number of measures relating to public service allowances following a public service-wide review of allowances and premium payments conducted by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. As a result of the Government decision, certain allowances were withdrawn for new beneficiaries with effect from 1 February 2012. The details are set out in Circular 08/2013.

Any person who was in receipt of the relevant allowances on 31 January 2012 will continue to be paid that allowance except where that teacher ceases that job role or changes school or employer on or after 1 February 2012. Where a teacher is redeployed under the agreed redeployment scheme, this will not be regarded as a cessation.

The annual cost of restoring the allowances referred to by the Deputy to new entry teachers in Primary, Voluntary Secondary and Community and Comprehensive schools would be in the region of €0.38m, comprised of €0.37m to restore the Gaeltacht Allowance and €0.01m to restore the Island Allowance (Primary only).

This information relates to the teachers paid on payrolls operated by my Department. The information relating to teachers employed in Education and Training Boards would have to be obtained from the individual ETBs.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (44)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

44. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will report on the provision of school buildings and facilities in Dublin 15 and the Pelletstown, Navan Road and Ashtown areas of Dublin 7; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4894/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that my Department’s capital programme continues to address the challenge posed by a rapidly increasing school population. To meet this demographic challenge, my Department’s Capital Investment Programme (2016-2021), details the school projects that are being progressed to meet this need. The capital programme also provides for devolved funding for additional classrooms for schools where an immediate enrolment need has been identified or where an additional teacher has been appointed.

Since 2015, three new primary schools, Pelletstown Educate Together National School, Scoil Sinéad National School and Broombridge Educate Together National School have been established in the areas referred to by the Deputy to meet demographic growth.

The 6 Year Construction Programme also includes building projects at five further schools in the area, Mary Help of Christian's National School, St. John Bosco Junior and Senior Boys' National Schools, North Dublin Muslim School and Holy Family School for the Deaf.

While there was no requirement for a new post primary school in the area referred to by the Deputy, a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school opened in September 2017 in temporary accommodation in the adjoining school planning area of Carpenterstown/Castleknock.

The nationwide demographic exercises for all school planning areas at primary and post-primary level, including the area referred to by the Deputy is ongoing. The outcome will determine where additional school accommodation will be needed in the future. It is anticipated that decisions based on this exercise will be announced shortly.

Schools Building Projects

Question No. 46 answered with Question No. 29.

Ceisteanna (45)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

45. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which a company’s (details supplied) collapse might affect the school building programme here in the short, medium or long term; if specific action needs to be taken to minimise the impact in the medium or long term; if projects here which are the subject of normal conciliation are due for payment by his Department in the short term; if the process in this regard can be expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4889/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The liquidation of the company referred to by the Deputy does not directly affect any school building projects other than the Schools Bundle 5 Public Private Partnership (PPP) programme.

In the case of PPPs, the Department's contract is with a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) rather than with a construction contractor. The SPV then enters into a separate contract with a construction company to procure the construction element of the contract. In this way, it differs from traditional school building projects.

In particular, where a liquidation event arises with the construction contractor in a PPP project, it is the responsibility of the PPP operator to ensure that construction is completed. The PPP operator is incentivised to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, as the State does not commence payments under the contract until construction is complete.

In regard to conciliation, this is a form of dispute resolution which is included in the suite of Public Works contracts under which all major school building projects (except for PPPs) are delivered. The terms of the conciliation process, including the rights of the respective parties and the timeframes for the processing of conciliations, are laid out clearly in the Public Works Contract. My Department adheres strictly to these provisions in the processing of any conciliation on a school building project.

Dispute mechanisms in PPPs are set out in the Project Agreement and are different to public works contracts given the complexities associated with PPPs. In any event, responsibility for the resolution of disputes with sub-contractors in the context of PPPs rests with the SPV.

Question No. 46 answered with Question No. 29.

Irish Language

Ceisteanna (47)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

47. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he is taking to meet the shortage of second level teachers with Irish, particularly those teaching languages and science subjects in the Irish medium and Gaeltacht schools. [4652/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

One of the aims of my Department's Policy on Gaeltacht Education 2017-2022 is to increase the supply of newly qualified teachers with the competence to deliver high quality Irish-medium education in schools, particularly in Gaeltacht school settings. The Policy also seeks to improve the quality of teaching through Irish to ensure that existing teachers’ Irish-language proficiency and pedagogical knowledge, skills and competence are enhanced to a level that equips them to deliver high quality Irish-medium education.

In this context, my Department has been working with the Office of Government Procurement (OGP) to develop a Request for Tenders (RFT) for the design and delivery of two new Irish-medium teacher education programmes, comprising a full-time four-year Irish-medium initial teacher education B.Ed. (primary teaching) programme and a part-time two-year Irish-medium M.Ed. postgraduate blended learning programme. It is expected that the successful tenderer(s) will be announced in the coming weeks.  The M.Ed., which will provide up to 30 places annually, is due to commence from September 2018, while the B.Ed, with also up to 30 places annually, is due to commence from September 2019.

Also in implementing the Policy, my Department made arrangements for the secondment from September 2017 of two additional teaching posts to the Máistir Gairmiúil san Oideachas (MGO) programme at NUIG, which is an Irish-medium post-primary ITE programme. This initiative will allow for an increase in the supply of Irish-medium post-primary teachers through a range of measures including the upskilling of student teachers, outreach, online and blended-learning opportunities in the second year of the programme.

I will shortly be announcing the establishment of a Teacher Supply Steering Group to consider teacher supply issues at primary and post-primary levels, including the provision of adequate numbers of teachers in key subject areas such as languages and STEM subjects. The Group will consult with key stakeholders.

Schools Building Projects

Ceisteanna (48)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

48. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he is taking to address the shortage of primary school places in the catchment area of south-west Swords with a view to the 2018 enrolments; and his plans to provide a long term solution to the ongoing shortage of places to meet the needs of the community. [4659/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In order to plan for school provision, the demographic data for the Swords school planning area, as with other school planning areas nationwide, is being kept under ongoing review by my Department to take account of updated child benefit data and updated enrolment data. It is anticipated that decisions based on these exercises will be announced in the near future.

As the Deputy is aware, there are a total of 11 schools enrolling junior infant classes serving the Swords area, comprising 8 Catholic schools, one Gaelscoil, one Educate Together school and one Church of Ireland school. My Department is aware of the pressure on school places in recent years in the Swords school planning area. In that regard, my Department is monitoring the expected enrolment position in the school planning area with the aim of ensuring that there is adequate accommodation to cater for the demand for places in September 2018.

State Examinations Commission

Ceisteanna (49)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

49. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason for the State Examinations Commission annual deficit tripling during 2017 to more than €2.2 million; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4689/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations. In view of this I have forwarded your question to the Commission for direct reply to you.

Teachers' Remuneration

Ceisteanna (50)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

50. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the cost of reinstating pay equality for teachers within the public sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53244/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The public service agreements have allowed a programme of pay restoration for public servants to start. I negotiated together with my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform a 15-22% pay increase for new teachers. The agreements to date have restored an estimated 75% of the difference in pay for more recently recruited teachers and deliver full equality at later points in the scale.

As a result of the changes I negotiated together with my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, the current starting salary of a new teacher is €35,958 and from 1 October 2020 onwards will be €37,692. If full equalisation was achieved the starting salary for a post-primary teacher from 1 October 2020 would be €43,879 and for a primary teacher would be €41,511.

Differential pay scales were introduced by the then Government in 2010. It must be borne in mind that the pay reduction for post-2011 entrants to the public service applied to all public servants and not just teachers, and that any restoration of these measures in respect of teachers would be expected to be applied elsewhere across the public service. While I am not in a position to provide an estimate of the total cost of restoring all post-1 January 2011 entrants in all of the public service to the pre-2011 pay scale arrangements, I can say that in the case of education and training sector employees, including teachers, the estimated current full year cost would be in the order of €130 million. Clearly, the cost across the entire public service would be substantially higher.

To have gone further than the pay increases that have been negotiated for 2018 would mean I would have had less money available to hire over 1,000 extra SNAs in 2018, and over 1,000 extra teachers in 2018.

Any further negotiation on new entrant pay is a cross sectorial issue, not just an issue for the education sector. The Government also supports the gradual, negotiated repeal of the FEMPI legislation, having due regard to the priority to improve public services and in recognition of the essential role played by public servants.

A commitment is included in the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 to consider the issue of newly qualified pay within 12 months of the commencement of the Agreement. That process has now commenced with a first meeting on 12 October 2017.  The three teacher unions attended that first meeting.

In addition, the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017 provides that within 3 months of the passing of the Act, my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform will prepare and lay before the Oireachtas a report on the cost of and a plan in dealing with pay equalisation for new entrants to the public service.

Schools Building Projects

Ceisteanna (51)

Alan Farrell

Ceist:

51. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Education and Skills the action being taken to ensure adequate educational capacity exists to cater for future demand in view of the planned population and housing growth on the Donabate and Portrane peninsula; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4656/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas. My Department uses a Geographical Information System (GIS) to identify where the pressure for school places across these areas will arise. The GIS uses data from a range of sources, including the Central Statistics Office, Ordnance Survey Ireland, the Department of Social Protection and my Department's own databases. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises at primary and post-primary level to determine where additional school accommodation is needed.

Where demographic data indicates that additional provision is required, the delivery of such additional provision is dependent on the particular circumstances of each case and may, depending on the circumstances, be provided through either one, or a combination of, the following:

Utilising existing unused capacity within a school or schools;

Extending the capacity of a school or schools;

Provision of a new school or schools.

For school planning purposes, Donabate and Portrane are located in the Donabate school planning area. As with other school planning areas nationwide, the demographic data for Donabate school planning area is being kept under review by my Department to take account of updated child benefit and school enrolment data. My Department is currently engaging with local authorities in relation to additional residential development in all counties as part of this review. It is anticipated that decisions based on the demographic exercises will be announced shortly.

Island Communities

Ceisteanna (52)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

52. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to address the ongoing challenges facing island schools in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4819/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I am aware of the additional challenges faced by schools on the islands. In view of these challenges, in Budget 2017 I set out different appointment and retention figures for the appointment and retention of mainstream teachers in primary schools.

I have received a report (dated September 2017) from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Irish, the Gaeltacht and the Islands in which the Committee sets out its views concerning the challenges faced by schools on the islands. I have asked my officials to examine the report and the needs of all island schools, including post primary schools. The work of the group commenced in late 2017 and will progress in 2018. The working group will consider the report and see what assistance can be provided to these schools as a way forward.

Regional Development Initiatives

Ceisteanna (53)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

53. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the way in which his Department can help drive regional development nationally and in the north-west area through the regional skills forum. [4816/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Each of the 9 Regional Skills Fora which provide regional skills data for a number of sources including the National Skills Council,  encourages greater collaboration between a number of relevant stakeholders in each region including enterprise and the Education and Training System. One of the functions of each Forum is to identify and respond to existing and future skills needs at regional level in order to maximise regional development. 

In the North-west Region in 2017, among the sectors that have successfully engaged with the North West Regional Skills Forum include,  ICT, Retail, Manufacturing, Transport, Hospitality and Financial Services sectors and over 60% of engagement between the Forum and enterprise was with Small, Medium and Micro enterprises. 

As part of the Skills for Growth project which is being led by my Department in co-junction with Enterprise Ireland, Enterprise Ireland is providing tailored workshops to its client companies to help them to identify the skills needs of their own organisation by using the Skills for Growth skills audit took kit. Skills data from these audits are then made available for the Regional Skills Forum in that region.  Spotlight on Skills is the title for these workshops and  a workshop has recently taken place in the North-west region. The Skills for Growth initiative will increase the quality and quantity of data available on skills needs in individual enterprises, to allow for enhanced engagement between enterprise, education and training providers and other relevant members of each Regional Skills Fora. 

In addition, in the higher education sector, considerable progress has been made under the Technological Universities process, including in relation to the Connaught Ulster Alliance, consisting of Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, Institute of Technology Sligo and Letterkenny Institute of Technology. Technologicial Universities will have a vital role in driving regional development.

Teacher Recruitment

Ceisteanna (54)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

54. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps being taken to address the acute lack of availability of substitute teachers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4647/18]

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 (ITE) 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, primary schools in particular have reported difficulty in recruiting substitute teachers to cover for short term or temporary absences and I fully acknowledge the concerns that have been expressed about teacher supply,

I have already announced a number of measures to increase the pool of teachers available to schools, in particular to fill short term vacancies, including informing all teachers retiring in 2017 that in order to remain eligible for employment in a state funded teaching post for a period of more than five consecutive days or to supervise the State examinations, a teacher must maintain his/her registration with the Teaching Council.

I have also recently announced the temporary suspension of the limits for employment for a 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.

The Deputy should note that I will shortly be announcing the establishment of a Teacher Supply Steering Group to develop 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.

Third Level Fees

Ceisteanna (55)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

55. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the appeal options available to students who are not satisfied with a third level college's decision to charge them international student fees. [4856/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Where undergraduate students do not qualify for free fees they are required to pay fees to their higher education institution at either an ‘EU rate’ or a higher ‘Non-EU rate’.

As autonomous institutions, the determination of the fee rate applicable for individual students is a matter for the higher education institutions.

Due to a particular concern regarding people who have had, for occupational or economic reasons, to move abroad, requiring them to take their children out of the Irish education system in the process, in March 2014 the Department requested that the Higher Education Authority (HEA) advise the higher education sector that full-time undergraduate students who:

hold EU/EEA/Swiss nationality but do not meet the residency clause of the Free Fees Initiative; and

have completed five academic years of study (at either primary or post-primary level) in an EU/EEA/Swiss State; and

commence their first undergraduate course of study in an approved institution here from the following academic year onwards,

should be charged the EU rate of fee rather than the higher non-EU rate by their higher education institution.

This approach was implemented for new students from the commencement of the 2014/15 academic year and it is a matter for the institutions to apply this policy to such students. Higher education institutions are autonomous bodies and, are therefore responsible for the determination of the level of fees payable by students who are not eligible for free fees under my Department’s Free Fees Scheme.

The Department is not aware of any cases where any particular higher education institution has not agreed to the Department's request.

The final decision on this issue is a matter for the individual higher education institution.