School Staff Appeals Mechanism

Ceisteanna (197, 204)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

197. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an appeal by a school (details supplied) will be examined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13051/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

204. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an appeal by a school (details supplied) in County Donegal will be considered in view of its need for extra staffing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13096/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

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 30 September.

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

The staffing schedule also includes an appeals mechanism for schools to submit a staffing appeal under certain criteria to an independent Appeals Board. Details of the appeal process and application form are available in Circular 0010/2018, "Staffing Arrangements in Primary Schools for the 2018/19 School Year", which is published on the Department website.

The school referred to by the Deputy submitted an application for consideration by the Appeals Board at its March meeting under the Class size criteria. The Appeals Board considered the appeal and determined that it did not satisfy all the published criteria as set out in Circular 0010/2018.

The school has been notified of the outcome of the appeal. The Appeals Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

Special Educational Needs Data

Ceisteanna (198)

Joe Carey

Ceist:

198. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the national schools in County Clare with ASD units; the capacities, enrolments and associated staff numbers for same; his plans for projected future requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13055/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

This Government is committed to ensuring 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.

In respect of children with ASD who cannot be accommodated in mainstream education, they may be enrolled in special classes or special schools where more intensive and supportive interventions are provided. Special classes are for students who have a recommendation for a special class placement in their professional reports.

The NCSE, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports as required, once a child has been enrolled in a school. The NCSE is aware of emerging need from year to year and where special provision is required it is planned and established to meet that need, including the establishment of special classes in mainstream primary and post primary schools.

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 of 6:1 at primary level and 6:1.5 at post primary level, and also have Special Needs Assistant support normally amounting to 2 SNAs for a class of 6 children.

With regard to Co. Clare, there are currently 21 ASD special classes in the County of which 3 are ASD Early Intervention classes, in which a total of 15 pupils are currently enrolled. Fourteen are ASD classes attached to mainstream primary schools in which 73 pupils are currently enrolled and 4 are ASD classes attached to post primary schools. The NCSE are planning to open 3 new classes in County Clare in the forthcoming school year.

Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs, including those in County Clare, are available on www.ncse.ie.

The NCSE, in looking to open special classes, must take into account the present and future potential need for such classes, taking particular account of the educational needs of the children concerned. The NCSE will also take account of location and sustainability in looking to establish special classes in certain areas.

In addition, the NCSE will consider:

- the school’s accommodation and accessibility

-the number of special classes, if any, already in the school.

Should the NCSE identify the requirement for additional special class placements in an area they will contact schools in the area in relation to establishing an ASD special class.

In order to identify need in any area for the forthcoming school year, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) refer to professional reports indicating students require the support of a special class. In this regard parents/guardians of students with ASD seeking a special class placement should provide the relevant professional report to their local Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) to inform the planning process.

The report must state that:

- S/he has ASD

- S/he has significant learning needs that require the support of a special class setting and the reasons why this is the case.

Parents/Guardians who may need advice or are experiencing difficulties in locating a school placement, including special class placement, should contact their local Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) who can assist in identifying an appropriate educational placement for their child. Contact details are available at http://ncse.ie/seno-contact-list.

The Department continues to work with the NCSE to ensure that there is appropriate planning in place to ensure that all children who require special class placements can access such placements in schools within their communities.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (199)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

199. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Education and Skills if assistance is available for a student (details supplied) in County Kildare. [13071/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

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 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.

All state-funded primary and post primary schools have been allocated additional resources to provide for children with special educational needs enrolled in school.

In 2018, almost €1.8 billion will be invested in Special Education, nearly one fifth of the overall Education budget, and up 43% since 2011.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), which is a separate statutory agency, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support. 

SENO responsibility includes planning and coordinating the provision of education and support services to children with special educational needs. Each SENO works in an assigned local area with parents, schools, teachers, psychologists, health professionals and other staff who are involved in the provision of services in that area for children with special educational needs. In dealing with parents of children with special educational needs, SENOs will keep parents informed of what resourcing decisions are being made on their child’s behalf. The SENO will also discuss any concerns that parents have about the present or future educational needs of their child. Contact details for all SENOs is available at http://ncse.ie/seno-contact-list.

All students with learning difficulties have access to additional teaching support in school. It is a matter for schools to monitor and utilise their allocation of additional teaching support to best support the needs of identified pupils, in accordance with the Department's guidance. The teaching time afforded to each individual pupil is decided and managed by schools, taking into account each child's individual learning needs.

On 1 September 2017, the new Special Education Teaching allocation model was introduced, which provides a single unified allocation for special educational support teaching needs to each school, based on a school’s educational profile. This allocation allows schools to provide additional teaching support for all pupils who require such support in their schools and for schools to deploy resources based on each pupil’s individual learning needs.

The new allocation model gives greater flexibility to schools in relation to the manner in which they use their resources. Schools may deploy special education teachers in a variety of ways in order to effectively meet pupils’ needs, for example, in-class support, small groups, team teaching or withdrawal.

The SNA scheme is designed to provide recognised schools with additional adult support staff to cater for the care needs of pupils with disabilities in an educational context, where the nature of these care needs have been outlined in professional reports as being so significant that a pupil will require adult assistance in order to be able to attend school and to participate in education and also to minimise disruption to class or teaching time for the pupils concerned, or for their peers, and with a view to developing their independent living skills.

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.

My Department provides funding to schools towards the cost of assistive technology for pupils with special educational needs in Primary, Post Primary and Special schools for personal computers and specialist software for educational purposes under the Assistive Technology scheme, as set out in my Department's Circular 0010/2013. This Circular states that equipment is provided under the scheme for children with more complex disabilities who require essential specialist equipment to access the school curriculum, which they do not already have, or which cannot be provided for them through the school's existing provisions.

Other supports available to schools include:

- the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) delivers a consultative, tiered service delivery model to schools, in line with international best practice for the effective and efficient delivery of educational psychological services that best meet the needs of all pupils/students in schools. This service delivery model allows NEPS psychologists to support schools to provide an effective continuum of support to meet the needs of pupils/students.

- NCSE's Support Service has brought under its control the Special Education Support Service (SESS), the National Behaviour Support Service (NBSS) and the Visiting Teacher Service for children who are deaf/hard of hearing and for children who are blind/visually impaired (VTSVHI). The Support Service provides advice and support to schools on the education and inclusion of students with special educational needs, providing in-school support for support teachers, continuing professional development for teachers, and support to schools on the management of challenging behaviour. It will also enhance the multi-disciplinary capacity of the education system through providing access to expert knowledge in areas such as autism, speech and language therapy and challenging behaviour.

- Special school transport arrangements.

- Enhanced capitation grants for special schools and special classes attached to mainstream primary and post primary schools.

- Modification of school buildings.

Post primary school students with special needs may have special arrangements made for them while sitting State examinations such as the Leaving Certificate and Junior Certificate. Candidates with disabilities can apply through their school for reasonable accommodation during examinations. Further details of supports are available from the State Examinations Commission (SEC) Reasonable Accommodations Section.

My Department is not aware of specific concerns relating to provision for the student to whom the Deputy has referred. I am also advised that the student has not come to the specific attention of the NCSE.

Details of supports provided by the NCSE to all schools is available on a county basis on its website at www.ncse.ie.

Schools Building Contractors

Ceisteanna (200)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

200. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills when approval will be given to pre-qualify contractors for a new school building (details supplied) in County Donegal. [13076/18]

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 applications for Planning Permission, Fire Cert and Disability Access Cert and the preparation of tender documents. All statutory approvals have been obtained.

The Design Team recently submitted the stage 2(b) report. Following examination of the stage 2(b) report, it became apparent that the submission was incomplete. A revised stage 2(b) submission has recently been requested from the school and its Design Team. Upon receipt and review of the revised 2(b) submission, my Department will revert to the school with regard to the further progression of the project at that time.

School Funding

Ceisteanna (201)

Mary Butler

Ceist:

201. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application for funding by a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13078/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department received an application from the school in question for temporary classrooms to accommodate two additional teacher appointments in September 2018. The application has been considered and my Department has recently conveyed approval in principle for this accommodation to the school.

The school has also submitted an application for significant capital funding for major building works at the school. The application will be considered and a decision will be conveyed to the school authority as soon as this process has been completed.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (202)

John Brady

Ceist:

202. Deputy John Brady asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a development for a new school (details supplied) in County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13082/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The new building for the school to which the Deputy refers together with a new primary school building on the same site has recently been devolved for delivery to the local Education and Training Board (ETB).

A Service Level Agreement for the delivery of the project is currently being finalised with the ETB. The next steps are for the ETB to procure a Design team to design the buildings, obtain the necessary statutory planning permissions and to move the project to tender and construction in due course.

School Enrolments

Question No. 204 answered with Question No. 197.

Ceisteanna (203)

Mary Butler

Ceist:

203. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the intake of students for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13095/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In relation to the school referred to by the Deputy, Educate Together and my Department had a constructive meeting on Friday 16 March, 2018 concerning the case put forward by Educate Together in relation intake of students and the case the Patron body had made to increase its enrolments.

Both parties reiterated their commitment to work together to increase diversity of school provision in line with the needs of the communities in these areas.

While it is acknowledged that this needs to be managed within the constraints of the accommodation that can be made available and having regard that these are areas of stable demographics, these schools, taking the above into account, can be facilitated to develop over time.

It is envisaged that the detailed response to the case submitted by Educate Together will issue from the Department in the next week.

Question No. 204 answered with Question No. 197.

Tionscadail Tógála Scoileanna

Ceisteanna (205)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

205. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna cén uair a cheadófar airgead chun síneadh a chur le scoil agus chun athchóiriú a dhéanamh uirthi freisin; cén fáth a bhfuil moill leis an gceadú sin; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [13122/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Cheadaigh mo Roinn deontas suntasach cineachta i mí Mheán an Fhómhair 2014 don scoil atá igceist le haghaidh síneadh buan agus oibreacha athchóirithe a d’éascódh le gach foirgneamh réamhdhéanta a bhaint ó shuíomh na scoile.

Tá mo Roinn ag fanacht le tuilleadh eolais maidir le scóip mhéadaithe na n-oibreacha. Déanfar an cheist a scrúdú níos mó nuair a fhaigheann mo Roinn an t-eolas agus nuair a dhéanfar measúnú air.

Departmental Properties

Ceisteanna (206)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

206. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his Department is in ownership of a common area (details supplied). [13150/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy that the area referred to is in my ownership; the property is leased to the Bishop of Meath for school use.