Departmental Schemes

Ceisteanna (101)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

101. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the costs associated with undertaking a national audit of all learning centres in respect of the availability of potable water; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20564/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As there are no plans in my Department to carry out a national audit of potable water in schools, this has not been costed.

There are already several mechanisms under which schools can address any issues with regard to the availability of tap drinking that they might have. These are the Summer Works Scheme, the Emergency Works Grant Scheme or, for primary schools, the Minor Works Grant Scheme.

Schools Facilities

Ceisteanna (102)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

102. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the costs associated with undertaking a national audit of secondary schools in respect of the equipment, infrastructure and facilities available to cook, prepare and serve meals to students in addition to the facilities in which they can eat; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20565/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department has in place detailed design guidelines for primary and post-primary schools. These guidelines, which are available on my Departments web-site, currently provide for a standard range of servery and eating facilities in the design of new Post Primary schools. At Post Primary level a kitchenette, 25m² in area, is provided off the General Purpose/Dining Area. These facilities are not intended to be full commercial type canteens where food is prepared or cooked.

The Deputy will also appreciate that due to the competing demands on my Department's capital budget imposed by the need to prioritise available funding towards the provision of essential classroom accommodation, it is not possible to prioritise the provision of kitchen facilities. My Department has no plans to undertake a national survey along the lines referred to by the Deputy.

School Curriculum

Ceisteanna (103)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

103. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the costs associated with undertaking a national audit of all learning centres in respect of healthy school environments and conformation with the national obesity plan, national physical activity plan and Healthy Ireland; his plans for an audit of equipment, infrastructure and facilities in schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20566/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department fully supports the promotion of healthy lifestyles in schools and has issued circulars to support and strengthen schools’ efforts in developing in young people the skills and attitudes needed to make informed decisions about their health. Through the curriculum students are taught the key skills and knowledge to enable them to make healthier life choices and to develop the resilience to reject negative options. This can be seen through subjects such as Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE), Home Economics, as well as in Physical Education and as part of the new Junior Cycle Wellbeing Programme that was introduced to all first year students from September 2017.

My Department works very closely with the Department of Health in promoting the 'Healthy Ireland' agenda in schools and is represented on the Obesity Policy Implementation Oversight Group and the National Physical Activity Plan Implementation Group.

Another significant development in this area is the introduction on a phased basis from September 2018 of a new examinable Leaving Certificate Physical Education subject and a new non-examinable Framework for Senior Cycle Physical Education. 

As part of the National Development Plan 2018-2027, increased funding has being provided for the school sector capital investment programme. This funding will allow a continued focus on the generation of new permanent school places to keep pace with demographic demand.  The new funding will also provide for an additional focus on refurbishment of the existing school stock.  As part of the National Development Plan, I announced a PE build and modernisation programme. This will ensure that students in all Post Primary schools have access to appropriate facilities to support PE provision.

This ramp up in funding will take place progressively over the period of the Plan.

Legislative Programme

Ceisteanna (104)

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

104. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the progression of the Education (Admissions to Schools) Bill 2016; his plans to include a provision that will provide him with the power to require a school to open a special class and or increase the number of special classes in schools based on recommendations from the NCSE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20599/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Government is committed to helping all children, including children with special educational needs to fulfil their potential. We have increased the budget in the special needs area by 43% since 2011 and doubled the number of special classes.

As the Deputy will be aware the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2016 was published in July 2016. The Bill which passed Committee Stage on 28th June 2017 is an important piece of legislation which strives to create a new more parent-friendly, equitable and consistent approach to how school admissions policy operates for the almost 4,000 primary and post-primary schools in this country.

The Bill provides that where a school has places available it must admit all applicants. The Bill also provides for the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to designate a school for a child who has no school place for reasons related to the child’s special educational needs.

The Deputy may be aware that I yesterday published an amendment to the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2016 which will give the Minister the power to compel a school to open a special class or classes where the NCSE has identified a need for such provision within an area.

The Bill passed Committee Stage on 28th June 2017 and will shortly proceed to Report Stage.

Service Level Agreements

Ceisteanna (105)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

105. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the terms of the service level agreements that exist between appointed design teams and schools in the context of school building projects; if sanctions can be imposed on design teams that are failing to provide all of the services contained in the agreements; if his attention has been drawn to disputes between schools and their appointed design team; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20605/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Contracts between design teams and schools on school building projects subscribe to the standard conditions of engagement that are applied across the entire public sector. These conditions are set out in Pillar 2 of the Capital Works Management Framework on the Construction Procurement website in a document entitled COE1 - Standard Conditions of Engagement for Consultancy Services (Technical), which covers all related matters including issues of performance, progress and dispute.

If a school has concerns with the performance of a design team or a particular member of a design team, then the school authority can seek advice and assistance from my Department in dealing with those concerns.

Schools Building Projects

Ceisteanna (106)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

106. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to a school that is waiting a number of years for a 2B submission to be made by a design team in order to progress a school building project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20607/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Stage 2b Report for the major building project referred to by the Deputy was received in my Department in September 2017.

This report was subsequently reviewed and comments issued to the Board of Management.

In February 2018 my Department issued a letter to the school and its Design Team advising them of a timeframe for the progression of this project.  This project has recently been authorised to commence the Pre-Qualification of Contractors.

The pre-qualification and shortlisting of suitable contractors normally takes between 8 and 12 weeks to complete.

Thereafter, the tender process for the awarding of a construction contract will be carried out. This process takes between 7 and 8 months to complete.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (107)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

107. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of employees within his Department in receipt of a salary below the living wage of €11.70 per hour. [20616/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The issue raised by the Deputy would only impact on the grades of Services Officer and Cleaner at my Department. However, the staff presently engaged at these grades are on incremental pay scales and have extensive service and in recognition of this they are on the higher points of the scale which exceed the rate mentioned by the Deputy in his question. 

Departmental Agencies Staff Data

Ceisteanna (108, 109)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

108. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the disaggregation of salary scales or levels among agency workers within or through his Department. [20622/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

109. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of workers employed through his Department under the status of agency worker. [20628/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 108 and 109 together.

My Department does not have any agency workers engaged at the Department presently. As such, the matter of disaggregation of salary scales among such workers does not arise.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (110)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

110. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of progress of the design phase of a proposed new school for (details supplied) in view of the delays in the project to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20640/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The major building project referred to by the Deputy 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.

My Department recently completed the review of the Stage 2b submission for this project and comments have issued.  Each member of the design team has been requested to submit written confirmations that they have completed a final review and are satisified that the tender documentation is fully compliant with the Department's Technical Guidance Documents, Building Control (Amendment) regulations and new Public Works Contract (PWC) tender documentation requirements.

Upon receipt of the requested confirmations and providing no other issues arise it is currently projected that this project will then be authorised to complete pre-qualification of contractors.  Pre-qualification normally takes between 8 and 12 weeks to complete. When pre-qualification is complete and the design team's NZEB submission has been considered, the project will then be progressed to tender stage.

A tender stage normally takes between 7 and 8 months to complete.

This project has been profiled to commence construction in Q3 2019. The school indicated in the discussions at the Joint Committee on Education and Skills that it may be possible to commence construction earlier in 2019.  If this is feasible, my Department is agreeable to facilitating same.

Regarding the site, my Department is currently progressing the conveyancing process in consultation with the Chief State Solicitor’s Office.

At this point it is not anticipated that the completion of conveyancing will impact upon the timelines for the delivery of the building project.

Internet Safety

Ceisteanna (111)

Alan Farrell

Ceist:

111. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affair's Report on Cyber Security for Children and Young Adults; the action his Department is taking to implement the recommendations of this report; his views on the implications of this report on his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20667/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I welcome the recently published report by the joint Oireachtas Committee on children and youth affairs regarding Cyber security and Young Adults. The recommendations from this report are under consideration, and will underpin and inform the development of the draft actions in the new Action Plan on Internet safety. My Department is working with the Department of Taoiseach and a number of other Departments in the development of the Plan. The plan will be a whole of government initiative.

My Department promotes internet safety in a number of ways including the prescription of school curriculum, provision of teacher professional development programmes, development of specialist resources for teachers and schools and provision of advice and information.

The PDST (Technology in Education) is a dedicated team established and funded by the Department to advise and support schools in the area of digital technologies, including issues of internet safety. The PDST-TiE also oversee Webwise.ie. which is a major part of the Safer Internet Ireland Project coordinated by the Office for Internet Safety.  Webwise.ie has responsibility for national initiatives aimed at the promotion of the safer use of electronic media and the protection of the vulnerable, particularly children, against the downsides of the internet. 

The PDST also provide information, advice, and tools to parents to support their engagement in their children’s online lives and with the help of the Webwise Youth Advisory Panel they develop youth oriented awareness raising resources and campaigns that address topics such as social networking, sexting, cyber bullying. 

Under the Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020 one of the key objectives is to promote responsible and ethical use of the internet and related technologies and to continue to undertake awareness-raising actions and programmes that promote responsible and ethical use of the internet.

My Department will shortly publish a circular which will request schools to consult parents and students on the following:

- The appropriate use, if any, of tablet devices and smart phones in school

- If smart phones and tablet devices are to be allowed, in what circumstances e.g. recording videos, taking photos etc. and subject to what restrictions are they to be used

- The nature and scope of restrictions that might be applied by the school e.g. age grounds

- If smart phones should be allowed outside of class time i.e. during breaks, on school grounds after school

- Measures to ensure a shared approach on the appropriate use of digital technologies in the home and during students free time and possible awareness raising initiatives.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (112)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

112. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the demographics of south County Kildare remain under review for the purposes of the provision of a new secondary school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20670/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware, I announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022). This announcement follows nationwide demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country and the 4-year horizon will enable increased lead-in times for planning and delivery of the necessary infrastructure.

In addition to the new schools announced, there will be a need for further school accommodation in other areas in the future.  Based on the current analysis, this need can be addressed through either planned capacity increases in existing schools or additional accommodation or extensions to existing schools. 

I have highlighted that the requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and in particular would have regard for the increased rollout of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.

While the announcement did not include a new post-primary school in the South Kildare school planning areas, additional capacity in the region of 1,700 school places will be provided when projects at the following four schools in this area are completed :

- St. Conleth's Community College, Newbridge;

- Athy Community College, Athy;

- Cross and Passion Secondary School, Kilcullen; and

- St Paul's Secondary School, Monasterevin.

A building project for the Patrician College Newbridge is also included in my Department's 6 Year Construction Programme.

However, in line with the ongoing review of school planning areas generally, I  can confirm that my Department is currently reviewing the position in relation to post-primary provision for the South Kildare school planning areas.

School Accommodation Provision

Question No. 114 answered with Question No. 98.

Ceisteanna (113)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

113. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the criteria used in selecting the new schools included on the recently announced school building programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20677/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware, I announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022). This announcement follows nationwide demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country and the 4-year horizon will enable increased lead-in times for planning and delivery of the necessary infrastructure.

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, 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.

My Department also utilises the latest available enrolment data as well as the latest child benefit data available from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.  My Department also engages with each of the local authorities to obtain the up-to-date data on significant new residential development in each area.  This is necessary to ensure that schools infrastructure planning is keeping pace with demographic changes as there is a constantly evolving picture with planned new residential development, including additional residential developments arising from the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF).

In addition to the new schools announced, there will be a need for further school accommodation in other areas in the future.  Based on the current analysis, this need can be addressed through either planned capacity increases in existing schools or additional accommodation or extensions to existing schools.  Approximately 40% of extra school places are delivered by extending existing schools.

I have indicated that the requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and in particular would have regard for the increased rollout of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.

Question No. 114 answered with Question No. 98.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (115)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

115. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of works for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20685/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The school to which the Deputy refers is at an advanced stage of the tender process. My Department is currently awaiting the return of the supplementary tender report. Subject to no issues arising with the supplementary tender report the project is still on track to commence construction in the second quarter of 2018.

Departmental Strategies

Ceisteanna (116)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

116. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the projected increase or demand for workers and employees due to demographic changes for the years 2018 to 2028. [20700/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Demographic trends will have an impact across all areas of the education and training system, including special needs provision, administrative support and higher education. The IGEES paper "Budgetary Impact of Changing Demographics 2017 - 2027" outlines projected public expenditure implications across the education and training sector.  The paper is available online at: http://igees.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Demographic-Paper-Final-101016.pdf

With respect to the staffing implications of changing demographics in the education and training sector, information is available in respect of mainstream teacher requirements.  These are contained in the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service's (IGEES) 2015 staff paper entitled "Primary and Second Level Education: 2016-2033 Expenditure Implications of Demographic Change". The paper is available online at:  http://igees.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/IGEES-Paper-Expenditure-Implications-of-Demographic-Change-in-Primary-and-Second-Level.pdf

The paper outlines various projections for the numbers of teachers required in different scenarios depending on assumptions about fertility and migration. Broadly speaking, the projections assume decreases in the number of primary teachers required after 2018 (which represents peak enrolment in the primary system), and increases in post-primary teacher requirements up to 2025 (the peak year for post-primary enrolment) with an annual decline thereafter.  

As the paper notes, however, it does not take into account regional or local variations in population growth and decline which will have an impact on enrolment and teacher demand at school level, notwithstanding national-level trends. Furthermore, it does not take into account issues such as redeployment which will have an impact on the actual net growth or decline each year. Not does it include staffing implications for schools outside of mainstream teachers (e.g. special needs, administrative support etc.).

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (117)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

117. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the budgetary projection within his Department due to demographic change for the years 2018 to 2028. [20704/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

An analysis of demographic cost pressures from 2017 to 2027 is set out in the Irish Government Economic and Evaluation Service staff paper ‘Budgetary Impact of Changing Demographics 2017 – 2027’ published in September 2016 by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.  This paper is available at: http://igees.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Demographic-Paper-Final-101016.pdf  

This paper is based on figures from Census 2016 and focuses on the areas of education, health and social protection expenditure, which are particularly affected by the changing age profile of the population. 

An allocation to cover certain demographic costs pressures is included in my Department's pre-budgetary expenditure ceilings from 2018 to 2020 in the following amounts:

2018 - €57m

2019 - €49m

2020 - €58m

These allocations cover the costs associated with providing for increased numbers of teachers and capitation, arising from increased student numbers in schools, as well as provision for demographics in higher education. 

Teacher Training Provision

Ceisteanna (118)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

118. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the details of the announcement he made on 3 October 2017 in relation to the entry requirements into primary teacher training programmes; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this can disadvantage students who sat the leaving certificate in 2017 and are now on undergraduate degree courses in the four teacher training colleges in view of the fact that they will have to resit some leaving certificate examinations in order to apply for a master's degree in three years time; if the case of a student (details supplied) which has brought to the attention of his Department will be examined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20709/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I am aware of the case referred to by the Deputy. The background to this case is that in October 2017, I announced changes to the minimum entry requirements into primary teacher training programmes, as follows:

Entry 2018 - Irish: H5, English: H7/O5, Maths: H7/O6

Entry 2019 and entry 2020 - Irish: H4, English: H7/O4, Maths: H7/O4

The changes that I introduced took account of advice to me provided by the Teaching Council, which had engaged in a consultation process around a number of matters relating to entry to initial teacher education. Many of the issues identified were complex and the Council commissioned the ESRI (Economic and Social Research Institute) to carry out research to inform its deliberation.

Having relatively high minimum entry requirements (MERs) in core subject areas of Irish, English and Mathematics are one of the key policy levers that help ensure quality teaching and learning in primary schools.  The 2011 Literacy and Numeracy Strategy and subsequent review identified the need to raise standards of achievement and included decisions to raise the entry requirements in the core subjects over time.

Students with a wide variety of backgrounds and studies apply for the Professional Masters in Education (PME) which is a consecutive qualification for primary teaching undertaken by students who already hold an undergraduate degree. While some undergraduate courses may have more direct relevance to education than others, there is no course provided by any college that is recognised by the Department or the Teaching Council as being a necessary or natural precursor to taking on the PME.

In determining the revised entry requirements, care was taken not to disadvantage those students who have already commenced the senior cycle and who intend sitting the Leaving Certificate examinations in 2018.  Accordingly, I decided that the minimum entry grades for primary Initial Teacher Education programmes should be increased for 2019 rather than from 2018. However, to have applied this criterion to undergraduate students who might wish to apply for the PME at some time in the future would mean deferring the changes for four years or more.

In the case of graduates who do not meet the entry requirement in Irish, English or Math, it is open to the person to repeat the Leaving Certificate Examination or pursue a course of study leading to the one of the alternative qualifications in the subject(s) concerned outlined in the published Entry Requirements and Procedures for 2018.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (119)

Declan Breathnach

Ceist:

119. Deputy Declan Breathnach asked the Minister for Education and Skills the timeframe for the opening date of a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20711/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The building to which the Deputy refers had been scheduled to open in September 2018.  However, a slight delay has been occasioned due to a High Court challenge to planning permission for elements of the project.  This was unforeseen given that the building was well under construction before the legal challenge was taken.   The project is devolved for delivery to the local authority and my Department is working with that agency to ensure that the project is completed in the shortest timeframe possible.

General Data Protection Regulation

Ceisteanna (120)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

120. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the support his Department is providing to schools to deal with the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Bill 2018. [20753/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department is considering how best to provide support to schools taking into account the views and assessment of the relevant school management bodies.