Public Parks

Ceisteanna (93)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

93. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the length of time a road and park will be closed for a concert (details supplied); the security to be provided for the event; the discussions his Department has had with both Fingal and Dublin city councils and local residents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10324/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Commissioners of Public Works can advise that the proposed concerts for Phoenix Park are still subject to a license from Dublin City Council. As part of the licensing process for this event, Dublin City Council received submissions and observations from the public, which are being considered in advance of a decision on the license. It is not possible to give information on possible road closures and security until this process is complete.

Meetings are ongoing between Fingal County Council, Dublin City Council, OPW and other prescribed statutory bodies in relation to the proposed event.

Heritage Projects

Ceisteanna (94, 95, 96, 97)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

94. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the heritage projects in the national development plan, NDP, in relation to the Botanic Gardens his Department has responsibility and funding for; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10325/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Joan Burton

Ceist:

95. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the heritage projects in the national development plan, NDP, in relation to the Phoenix Park his Department has responsibility and funding for; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10326/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Joan Burton

Ceist:

96. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the heritage projects in the national development plan, NDP, in relation to St. Stephen’s Green his Department has responsibility and funding for; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10327/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Joan Burton

Ceist:

97. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the heritage projects in the national development plan, NDP, in relation to Kilmainham Gaol his Department has responsibility and funding for; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10329/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 94 to 97, inclusive, together.

The National Development Plan is a framework document within which significant future capital development proposals, including a number related to the Heritage estate in State care, will be advanced over the next several years. At this early stage however, no formal projects are indicated and final decisions in relation to specific funding measures will only be made when viable proposals have been developed.

Public Sector Staff Retirements

Ceisteanna (98)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

98. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if a contract of employment in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry will be extended beyond their 66th birthday; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10339/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The employee is a member of the Non Contributory Pension Scheme for Non Established State Employees which provides that the employee may continue working up to age 66. Under the Scheme, retirement is compulsory at age 66.

Planning Issues

Ceisteanna (99)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

99. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the technical appraisal in relation to access routes for a school (details supplied) will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10211/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As previously outlined to the Deputy on 7 November 2017, this is a complex planning issue and my Department is in ongoing contact with the relevant parties with a view to finding an acceptable solution to the access issue.  My Department is fully committed to bringing this project to a satisfactory conclusion as soon as the planning issues have been resolved and will keep the school authorities informed as matters progress.

Schools Building Projects

Ceisteanna (100)

John Brady

Ceist:

100. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Education and Skills the timeframe for completion of a permanent school building for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10214/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The building project for Greystones Community National School is currently at advanced architectural planning. Tender documents are in preparation and the site acquisition is expected to be finalised shortly.

It is anticipated that the project will go to tender in Quarter 2 and for construction to commence in Quarter 3 2018.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (101)

John Brady

Ceist:

101. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) will have the requested extra two prefabs in place to allow the school to accommodate a second junior infants class for September 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10215/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to confirm to the Deputy that my Department has approved additional temporary accommodation to the school in question to facilitate increased enrolments. Responsibility for installing the accommodation has been devolved to the Patron, Kildare Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB). 

KWETB has confirmed that a planning application for the accommodation has been lodged with Wicklow County Council and a decision on the application is awaited.

Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board

Ceisteanna (102)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

102. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has satisfied himself with the content of the board minutes of a service (details supplied); the reason attendance at the December 2018 meeting was not recorded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10250/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Caranua regularly publish updates on its website. These updates include extensive details regarding the organisation’s activities including information regarding the number of applications received and the number of persons in receipt of supports, minutes of Board meetings and various related matters. In relation to the minutes of the December 2017 meeting I can confirm to the Deputy that the attendance at the meeting is now published on the website and can be accessed here http://caranua.ie/caranua-board-minutes-14-december-2017

Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board

Ceisteanna (103)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

103. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the recent resignation of two members of the board of a service (details supplied); and if his Department will respond to the issues raised by its members upon their resignations. [10251/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I am aware that 2 members of the Board of Caranua have resigned.  The Board of Caranua has the important job of securing the most beneficial, effective and efficient use of the resources available in the investment account while being fair to survivors, seeking to meet their needs and benefit as many people as possible.  It's a challenging and demanding role and in accepting the resignations of the two board members, I thanked them for their contribution to the work of the Board.  

Caranua has an important job in securing the most beneficial, effective and efficient use of resources available in the investment account while being fair to survivors seeking to meet their needs and to benefit as many people as possible. 

In 2016, following consultation with survivors, the Board changed their criteria to include household goods and funeral expenses.  This was in response to what survivors were calling for on how the fund should be utilised.

As well as having to comply with the Code of Governance for State Bodies, Caranua are in process of implementing the following measures:

- It is reviewing its customer charter in consultation with stakeholders;

- It is making data available on feedback and complaints received;

- It is working to increase the level of face-to-face engagement with applicants. It is doing this through scheduled face-to-face meetings in various venues in Dublin, in the regions and in the UK.

- It is working to enhance the level of statistics it provides to the Department and to the public on waiting times for processing and communicating decisions.

I would also like to point out that there are still 2 survivors on the Board of Caranua and my Department will be seeking to replace the Board members who resigned as soon as practicable.

Higher Education Institutions

Ceisteanna (104)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

104. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) cannot transfer the remaining fees of €1,500 from 2012 to the 2018-2019 academic year. [10256/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Higher education institutions are autonomous bodies and therefore the day to day operations including the determination of the fee rate applicable for individual students is a matter for the Governing Authority of each institution.

Accordingly, my Department has no function in relation to such matters. The final decision on this issue is a matter for the individual higher education institution.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Ceisteanna (105)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

105. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his Department imposes caps on secondary school transition year class sizes; if additional resources will be provided if the demand increases in a school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10266/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The management authority of each school carries responsibility for making decisions regarding the Transition Year Programme in that school. In some schools, the programme is compulsory for all students. In those that offer it as an option, circumstances may arise where it is necessary to limit the number of students who can avail of it.

It is the board of management of each individual school that decides the number of places available to students on programmes such as Transition Year. In cases where restrictions apply, schools should have clear procedures regarding how places are allocated to students. 

My Department has recently published Circular 0007/2018 setting out the staffing arrangements for post-primary schools for the 2018/19 school year. A proportion of posts allocated to post-primary schools are determined on the basis of ratios of recognised pupils to teachers for the various approved programmes including Transition Year. The pupil teacher ratio (PTR) applicable in respect of Transition Year pupils is equal to the PTR applicable in respect of pupils enrolled in programmes such as the Junior Certificate, Leaving Certificate, Leaving Certificate Applied and Leaving Certificate Vocational (LCVP) programmes.

Departmental Meetings

Ceisteanna (106)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

106. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the newspapers his Department officials have engaged with in relation to promoting or explaining Government business in his Department; when these meetings took place; if they are held on a regular basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10291/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Almost one quarter of the Irish population are learners which generates a significant level of interest with journalists that write and comment on the development of education policy and training services. Officials at my Department's press office on a daily basis respond to media queries and engage with national and regional commentators in the print, radio and television media regarding developments in the education sector that concern my Department.

DEIS Status

Ceisteanna (107)

Joan Collins

Ceist:

107. Deputy Joan Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a school (details supplied) was not allocated DEIS 1 status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10332/18]

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 methodology adopted to assess levels of disadvantage in schools is based on centrally held data with a uniform application across the entire school system to assess levels of disadvantage in Primary and Post-Primary schools. A detailed document explaining the methodology used in the Identification process is available on the Department’s website at https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/DEIS-Delivering-Equality-of-Opportunity-in-Schools-/DEIS-Identification-Process.pdf

The initial application of the model assessed all schools and found that most schools had pupils from disadvantaged areas but that the concentration of disadvantage varied significantly. It is important to note that the Department's assessment is not based on the location of the school but on the CSO small areas statistics from which a school derives its pupil cohort. Accordingly, the demographics of neighboring schools can differ in terms of assessed levels of need which are based on the pupil cohort within each school.

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 CSO Small Area Population statistics derived from the 2016 National Census. It is envisaged that this process will be completed by the end of Quarter 1 this year.

Should this exercise reveal that any school, including the school referred to by the Deputy, 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.

Special Educational Needs Data

Ceisteanna (108, 110)

Margaret Murphy O'Mahony

Ceist:

108. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of special classrooms for children with special educational needs or low incidence disabilities in each school in County Cork, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10357/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Margaret Murphy O'Mahony

Ceist:

110. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of special needs assistants assigned to each primary and secondary school in County Cork, in each of the school years (details supplied), in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10392/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 108 and 110 together.

My Department's policies focus on ensuring that all children can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network.

A range of placement options for pupils with special educational needs is provided, in order to ensure that all pupils can receive a school placement. Many pupils with special educational needs will be able to attend a local mainstream school, whereas for pupils who have needs which require more specialist interventions, special class and special school placements are provided for.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from primary and post primary schools for special educational needs supports, including the establishment of special classes in various geographical areas as required and for allocating a quantum of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support for each school annually taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support enrolled in the school.  The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. 

The NCSE welcomes expressions of interest from schools in opening special classes to meet the demand for special class provision.  In deciding on the location of a special class SENOs take into account both the present and the future potential need for special class provision and they must be satisfied that the special class is sustainable and appropriately located.  SENOs liaise with relevant professionals in their area to arrive at an informed decision.

The NCSE continues to monitor and review the requirement for special class places in particular areas and has capacity to establish such new special classes where necessary, subject to the willingness of schools to open classes.  All schools have the names and contact details of their local SENO. Parents are encouraged to liaise with the local SENO to discuss placement options for their child.

Special classes within mainstream schools are intended for children who, by virtue of their level of Special Educational Needs, cannot reasonably be educated in a mainstream class setting, but who can still attend their local school in a special class with a lower pupil–teacher ratio and access to Special Needs Assistant support.

The criteria by which SNA support is allocated to pupils is set out in my Department's Circular 0030/2014. In considering applications for SNA supports for individual pupils, the SENOs take account of the pupils' needs and consider the resources available to the school to identify whether additionality is needed or whether the school might reasonably be expected to meet the needs of the pupils from its current level of resources.

SNAs are not allocated to individual children but to schools as a school based resource. The NCSE has confirmed to my Department that the child to which the Deputy refers has never had access to SNA support allocated by the NCSE.

Details on the numbers of special classes and SNA allocations in each school per county for the 2012/13, 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18 school years are available on the NCSE's website at http://ncse.ie/special-classes and http://ncse.ie/statistics respectively.

The number of special classes in Co Cork increased from 73 in 2011/12 to 221 in 2017/18 while the number of SNA posts increased from 1,454 in 2011/12 to 1807 in 2017/18.

The 2011/12 figures for special class numbers and SNA allocations are unavailable at the links above, therefore, I will arrange for the NCSE to reply directly to the Deputy with this information.

Schools Data

Question No. 110 answered with Question No. 108.

Ceisteanna (109)

Margaret Murphy O'Mahony

Ceist:

109. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools, classrooms, pupils and teachers in whole time equivalents at primary and secondary level in County Cork, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10358/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The information requested by the deputy is contained in the following table.

Statistics for PQ 10358/18, for Margaret Murphy O'Mahony TD

Primary*

Post-Primary

No. of Schools

357

85

No. of Teachers**

4,099

3412.64 (WTE)

No. of Pupils

63,262

40,585

Table refers to County Cork (academic year 2016-17)

*Primary school figures include 15 special schools and 342 mainstream schools.

**Teacher allocations are compiled on an overall national basis and not on a county basis.

The criteria used for the allocation of teaching posts is published annually on the Department website.

The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous 30th September.

The staffing schedule operates in a clear and transparent manner and treats all similar types of school equally, irrespective of location.

The staffing schedule also includes an Appeals Mechanism for schools to submit an appeal, under certain criteria, to an independent Appeals Board.

https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/Teacher-Allocations/

Question No. 110 answered with Question No. 108.

Public Sector Staff Remuneration

Ceisteanna (111)

Peter Fitzpatrick

Ceist:

111. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to re-establish equal pay for equal work (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10396/18]

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, at a cost of over €200 million across the public service.

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 sectoral 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.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (112)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

112. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when prefabricated buildings which accommodate all the pupils at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare will be replaced; if a schedule for replacement has been finalised; if this is line with previously announced plans to replace prefabricated accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10414/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy will be aware, it is my intention to replace all purchased temporary accommodation with permanent accommodation, where the need is established, over the lifetime of my Department's Capital Programme (2016 to 2021). To enable this development, my Department will be carrying out an assessment of the number of prefabs being used in schools to deliver the curriculum. This will also determine whether or not individual prefabs need to be replaced in the context of the long-term accommodation needs of each individual school. When completed, this assessment will quantify the number of prefabs to be replaced.

It is intended that this assessment when finalised will enable the replacement of such prefabs to commence in 2019. A funding provision of €180 million is being made available from 2019 for this initiative in the programme.