School Accommodation

Ceisteanna (240)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

240. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Education and Skills when approval will be given for an extension to a school (details supplied); the temporary arrangements that will be put in place to accommodate the projected growth in the school population in the 2018/2019 academic year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9481/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy that the school in question has submitted an application for capital funding for the provision of additional accommodation. My Department is currently considering the application and will convey a decision to the school authority as soon as the assessment process has been completed

Schools Building Projects Status

The deferred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.

Ceisteanna (241)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

241. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of school building projects (details supplied). [9492/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the information requested is currently being compiled by my Department and will be furnished to him shortly.

The deferred reply under Standing Order 42A was forwarded to the Deputy.

State Examinations Data

Ceisteanna (242)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

242. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the leaving certificate applied programme is being delivered in schools (details supplied) in County Leitrim; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9501/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) programme is one of a number of options made available by my Department for Senior Cycle students which schools can choose from, based on the education needs and interests of their students. The LCA programme is a two-year Leaving Certificate programme aimed at preparing students for adult and working life. The programme sets out to recognise the talents of all students and to provide opportunities for developing personal responsibility, self-esteem and self-knowledge, and to help students apply what they learn to the real world.

It is the responsibility and choice of each individual school to decide to put in place the LCA programme, based on the educational needs and interests of their students. It is also for schools to decide on the admittance of a student to the programme in their school. Schools are encouraged to provide maximum access to these options and to have clear procedures in place regarding how the available places are allocated to students.

A grant in respect of the LCA is paid annually to post-primary schools offering the programme in June of each year. It is paid to schools for the pupils enrolled in both year one and year two of the programme. The rate is €151 per pupil in accordance with Circular letter 0029/2016 which can be accessed on the Department's website.

In addition to the funding provided, schools that choose to organise the LCA programme are entitled to an additional fixed allocation of 0.5 of a teaching post, over the standard allocation. There is no minimum number of LCA pupils required for schools to secure the additional teaching allocation from my Department.

My Department is committed to supporting this programme, which is appropriate for members of the student cohort whose needs, aptitudes and learning styles are not fully catered for by the other two Leaving Certificate programmes (Leaving Cert Established and Leaving Cert Vocational Programme). That is why I have asked the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment to consider the LCA, as part of its review of Senior Cycle which commenced in 2017. This review will help to ensure curriculum development continues to respond to the changing needs of learners, society and the economy.

Departmental Funding

Ceisteanna (243)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

243. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills his Department's capital allocation in each of the years 2018 to 2022; and the areas to which funds will be allocated in each of those years. [9517/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department’s capital allocation for the years 2018 to 2021 is included in the table attached.

The National Development Plan signalled a capital allocation of €1.1 billion for the Department of Education and Skills in 2022. However, this total has not yet been allocated across the individual capital subheads.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (244)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

244. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review a matter in relation to a SUSI grant payment made to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9543/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Grant applications are subject to extensive quality controls and system checks within the SUSI assessment process. Grant renewal applications are also reviewed on a continuous basis. As part of this process, it can come to attention of SUSI that an incorrect rate of grant was awarded in a prior year, or that the circumstances that determine a student’s eligibility have changed. In all of these cases, the original grant application is reviewed and a revised decision is issued. 

I have been advised that the student to which the Deputy refers, submitted a grant application for the 2017/18 academic year. Following a review of the student’s grant application, the original grant awarded was revised. This revised decision was in line with the provisions of the Student Grant Scheme and the Student Support Act 2011, regarding the residency requirement to be living in the state for 3 out of the last 5 years ending on the day before taking up an approved course in an approved institution.

In accordance with the general policy and principle regarding the recovery of debt as set out in the Student Support Act 2011, all student grant overpayments are liable to be repaid to the Exchequer. SUSI implements a flexible repayment policy with minimum instalment amounts and timeframes that are designed to be as student-friendly as possible. SUSI actively manages all overpayments as debts due to the State and continues to engage with students to seek their recovery. The repayments policy is published to the SUSI website at www.susi.ie

Qualifications Recognition

Ceisteanna (245)

Eoin Ó Broin

Ceist:

245. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a qualification (details supplied) is not sufficient to allow a contractor to register with the Register of Electrical Contractors of Ireland (RECI); and the qualifications that are recognised by the RECI. [9562/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Decisions on the recognition of qualifications for access to the Register of Electrical Contractors of Ireland (RECI) is a matter for the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU).

The CRU is an independent regulator and was assigned responsibility for the regulation of the Irish electricity sector following the enactment of the Electricity Regulation Act, 1999 and subsequent amending legislation.  Section 4 of the Energy Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2006 provided CER with responsibility for the regulation of electrical contractors with regard to safety.

The Minister for Education and Skills has no role in this process.

Third Level Funding

Ceisteanna (246)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

246. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a technical study of the Cassells report recommendations has been completed. [9570/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As committed to in the Programme for Government, the Report of the Expert Group on Higher Education Funding (Cassells Report) was referred to the Education Committee as part of the process for formulating a plan for the future funding of the sector.

In order to inform its consideration of the report, the Committee has recently requested that my Department undertake an additional economic evaluation of each of the funding options identified by the expert group. My Department is currently considering the Committee’s request and will revert shortly.

The Government established an inter-departmental technical working group in 2017 to consider a range of technical and administrative issues underpinning possible new funding arrangements. The work of this group is intended to assist my Department in responding to the recommendations of the Oireachtas Committee.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (247)

James Lawless

Ceist:

247. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status and timeframe for the construction of a school building (details supplied); and his views on whether the existing buildings are unsuitable for modern primary school education. [9571/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The major building project for the school to which the Deputy refers is at an advanced stage of architectural planning Stage 2b (Detailed Design), which includes the application for statutory approvals and the preparation of tender documents. All statutory approvals have been secured.

The Stage 2b submission has been reviewed by my Department and comments have issued to the school and its Design Team. My Department requested confirmations from the Design Team that it carries out one final review of all of its tender documentation to ensure compliance with DoES requirements. The Design Team has been requested to submit written confirmation from each Design Team member including the PSDP that they have completed this review and are satisfied that the Tender Documents are complete, correct and in compliance with DoES and Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (BC(A)R) tender documentation requirements.

These confirmations have recently been received and my Department will revert to the school regarding a timeframe for progression of this project.

Teacher Recruitment

Ceisteanna (248)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

248. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the recommendations of the final report Striking the Balance will be implemented. [9627/18]

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, and the importance of education 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 7,600 second level teachers have graduated in the last five years and in 2018 it is estimated that approximately 3,300 primary and post primary teachers will graduate.

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

The final report of the Technical Working Group on teacher supply, ‘Striking the Balance’ focussed on the development of a model of primary teacher supply. The report outlined the work which will be required to establish a long term model of post-primary teacher supply.

I am establishing a Teacher Supply Steering Group which will consult with key stakeholders and consider all options to achieve the increases in teacher supply needed to address shortages of substitute teachers at primary level and shortages of teachers of certain subjects at post primary level.

Last month, I announced the suspension of restrictions on substitution limits for career breaks. 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, I have announced my intention to double the number of places on undergraduate courses for second level teachers, as well as a range of other policy interventions, including additional places at postgraduate level in areas of shortage and the further development of upskilling or reskilling courses.

I will also ask the Teaching Council to review subject criteria and processes for assessing out of state qualifications and to engage more with graduate fairs, and final year students.

School Accommodation

Ceisteanna (249)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

249. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the ongoing accommodation crisis in a school (details supplied); if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that the building is inadequate; the timeframe for the transfer of the school to new premises; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9628/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department is committed to providing a permanent accommodation solution for the school referred to by the Deputy. In that regard, a project to deliver a new school building on a green field site has been included the my Department’s 6 year Construction Programme (2016-21).

In this regard, my Department is working closely with Fingal County Council in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding in relation to the identification and acquisition of a suitable site to facilitate the school building project. A potential site option has been identified and engagement with the relevant landowner is currently underway. All parties are working to clarify some outstanding technical issues with a view to progressing with the proposed acquisition as expeditiously as possible.

My Department is in regular contact with the school in question and is currently making arrangements to meet with the school authority concerned

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (250, 251)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

250. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the arrangements in place for parents who cannot find places for their children with special needs in schools in Skerries and north County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9629/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

251. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the increasing demand for autism specific services for children in north County Dublin; if his Department has made projections on the future needs of this area; his plans to address the ongoing and increasing demands for autism specific services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9630/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to answer Questions Nos. 250 and 251 together.

Ensuring that children with special educational needs are supported and given the opportunity to reach their full potential is a key priority for this government.

My Department's policy aims to ensure that all children with Special Educational Needs, including those with Autism, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network.

Such placements facilitate access to individualised education programmes which may draw from a range of appropriate educational interventions, delivered by fully qualified professional teachers, with the support of Special Needs Assistants and the appropriate school curriculum.

Some students, although academically able to access the curriculum in mainstream, may find it too difficult to manage full-time placement there. This can be due to significant difficulties in areas such as behaviour or sensory needs which have not been ameliorated, even with appropriate intervention, in mainstream.

Other children may have such complex needs that the recommendation in their professional reports state that they are best placed in a special school.

The NCSE is aware of emerging need in the north Dublin area from year to year, and where special provision is required it is planned and established to meet that need.

The enrolment of a child in a school is a matter, in the first instance, for the parents of the child and the Board of Management of a school. My Department and the NCSE has no role in relation to processing applications for enrolment to schools.

In this regard, where Parents have been unsuccessful in enrolling their child in a school placement, for the 2018/19 school year, they should update their local SENO to inform the planning process. Contact details are available on www.ncse.ie

The NCSE is continuing to work with schools, parents, NEPS, health professionals and other staff who are involved in the provision of services in the North Dublin area for children with special educational needs, to ensure that each child has a school placement appropriate to their needs for the 2018/19 school year.

The NCSE published guidelines for Boards of Management and Principals of Primary and Post Primary schools which provide information on setting up and organising special classes in mainstream primary and post-primary schools. These guidelines are available to download from the website www.ncse.ie .

During the Committee Stage debate of the School Admissions Bill, I outlined my intention to include a provision that will provide, based on reports and advice from the NCSE, a power for the Minister to require a school to open a special class or increase the number of special classes in schools identified by the NCSE. My Department officials are currently engaging with the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel on the development of legislative proposals on this matter which they hope to bring forward to Government for approval.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (252)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

252. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the details of the site in Loughshinny, County Dublin for the relocation of a school (details supplied); if a site has been acquired for the purpose of relocation; the timeframe for construction to commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9638/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)