Public Sector Pensions

Ceisteanna (243)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

243. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the terms of the new public service pension scheme for new teachers who commenced work since 2013; the contribution rates that will apply; when they will receive their pension; the way in which their pension will be calculated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21280/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Public Service Pensions (Single Scheme and Other Provisions) Act 2012 was enacted by the Oireachtas and became law on 28 July 2012. The Act provides for a Single Public Service Pension Scheme for the generality of new public servants including teachers. The Single Scheme was commenced with effect from 1 January 2013 by Order by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

The Single Scheme provides that new entrants to pensionable public service employment on or after 1 January 2013 are, in general, members of the Single Scheme. In addition former public service employees returning to the public service after a break of more than 26 weeks in pensionable public sector employment become members of the Single Scheme. (Persons in pre-existing public service pension schemes, returning directly from approved leave of absence do not become members of the Single Scheme.)

The contribution rates payable by Single Scheme members’ while in paid pensionable employment consists of 3.5% of net pensionable pay (i.e. pensionable pay less twice the rate of State Pension Contributory) plus 3% of pensionable pay.

Subject to having paid into the Scheme for at least 24 months, the minimum age at which pension will be payable is linked to the State Pension age, that is age 66 years currently, rising to age 67 years in 2021 and age 68 in 2028. A compulsory retirement age of 70 also applies.

The legislation provides a facility for early retirement from age 55 on cost-neutral grounds. In such cases the benefits payable will be actuarially reduced.

The single scheme also provides for benefits in the following circumstances:

- early retirement on medical grounds, subject to certain conditions;

- death in service benefit of twice annual pensionable remuneration;

- preserved benefits paid on application at the age at which a member would be eligible to receive the State Pension Contributory (SPC); The preserved benefits would be payable on reaching State Pension Age to a person who left public service employment before normal pension age having completed the vesting period.

- pensions for spouses or civil partners and eligible children where the Single Scheme member dies in service or following retirement.

Unlike pre-existing public service pension schemes where benefits are calculated by reference to pensionable pay at retirement, under the Single Scheme career average earnings are used to calculate benefits. A member builds up two types of benefits, called Referable Amounts, while in paid pensionable employment. Separate Referable Amounts are built up towards retirement lump sum and annual retirement pension.

For most public servants, including teachers, who are members of the Single Scheme the pension Referable Amounts accrue at the rate of 0.58% of pensionable pay up to a threshold of 3.74 times the value of the Contributory State Pension, plus, where pensionable pay exceeds that threshold, at the rate of 1.25% on the excess. (At this time the threshold equates to €47,480.77 per annum.)

The Lump sum Referable Amount accrues at a rate of 3.75% of pensionable pay.

Where a person is not working on a full-time basis the referable amounts are adjusted by reference to the proportion that the number of hours worked bear to the full-time hours.

For amounts earned during earlier years of membership of the Scheme, the legislation provides that these may be increased in subsequent years having regard to changes in the consumer price index.

The maximum gross annual pension that may accrues at retirement will be equivalent to the sum of the referable amounts together with adjustments in the period as provided for having regard to changes in the Consumer Price Index. Similarly the gross lump sum payable will be the equivalent of the sum of the lump sum referable amounts in respect of the period as adjusted by changes to CPI.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, which has overall responsibility for public service pension policy, has available on its website extensive information on the Public Service Single Scheme to assist Single Scheme members and other interested parties. The information may be accessed at the following link: https://singlepensionscheme.gov.ie/

Multidenominational Schools

Ceisteanna (244)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

244. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a statement (details supplied); and his further views on whether that to be truly multi-denominational a school must give equal weight to the background of all students and ensure the majority view is not allowed to dictate the ethos of the school. [20819/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

ETB schools are multi-denominational schools and as such are required to serve their communities however composed. This includes providing for religious instruction according to the profile of the students who attend the school.

In relation to religious instruction my Department recently published Circular letter 0013/2018 “Religious instruction and worship in certain second level schools in the context of Article 44.2.4 of the Constitution of Ireland and section 30 of the Education Act, 1998 ” which sets out a new approach to the arrangements that are made for religious instruction and worship in Education and Training Board (ETB) and Community post primary schools.

The new arrangements will require State multi-denominational post primary schools to consult with parents and, in the case of pupils who have reached the age of 18, the pupil, to ascertain their wishes in relation to religious instruction. Schools will be required to incorporate parental choice regarding religious instruction as part of the normal processes for planning and timetabling subject choices generally. Decisions in relation to alternative subject(s) offered for those who do not want religious instruction is a matter for each school concerned.

The key change is that those pupils who do not want instruction in line with the requirements of any particular religion should be timetabled for alternative tuition throughout the school year rather that supervised study or other activities. These changes will ensure that children who do not want to participate in religious instruction will have a meaningful alternative.

While Circular 13/2018 has immediate effect my Department acknowledges that it will take time for schools to reflect the new arrangements in their work of revising new timetables for the 2018/19 school year. Regard will also have to be made for existing curricular choices and arrangements in place for junior and senior years.

I believe that a school’s arrangements for those students who do not wish to attend religious instruction should be made clear to parents at the outset. In that regard, the Programme for Government contains a commitment to publish new school admission legislation taking into account current draft proposals.

I am bringing forward in the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill a specific requirement that school enrolment policies must include details of the school’s arrangements for any students who do not wish to attend religious instruction. I believe this is an important measure which will help ensure transparency from the outset as to how a school will uphold the rights of parents in this regard. The Bill passed Committee Stage on 28 June 2017 and will shortly proceed to Report Stage.

School Staff

Ceisteanna (245)

Seamus Healy

Ceist:

245. Deputy Seamus Healy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the allocation of an additional post under circular 0010/2018 for a school (details supplied) will be approved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20820/18]

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.

My Department has received a staffing appeal from the school referred to by the Deputy. The Primary Staffing Appeals Board will meet to review appeals for the 2018/19 school year in the coming weeks and the school will be notified of the outcome of the appeal.

The Primary Staffing Appeals Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

Departmental Budgets

Ceisteanna (246)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

246. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount set aside on an annual basis for contingent liability for the past 25 years to date; the way in which it is determined the amount that is forecast to be needed for contingent liability; if an actuary analysis is carried out for budgeting current and future contingent liability; if a risk assessment is conducted in the context of contingent liability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20833/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The following table lists the amount disclosed in my Department's Appropriation Accounts for contingent liabilities for the past 25 years as requested by the Deputy. Two categories of contingent liability have been disclosed in the accounts: those related to the Residential Institutions Redress Scheme and those related to the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.

The estimated liability in each year in relation to the Residential Institutions Redress Scheme was based on the average award and legal cost paid by the Redress Board and the estimated number of remaining Redress Board applications to be processed.

The estimated contingent liability in respect of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was based primarily on the anticipated settlement of outstanding legal costs associated with the Commission’s work.

As the work of both of these bodies draws to a conclusion the respective contingent liability estimate for each has considerably reduced in recent years.

Year

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme

Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse

2016

€0.5 m

€1.0 m

2015

€2.0 m

€1.5 m

2014

€13.0 m

€3.55 m

2013

€45.0 m

€15.0 m

2012

€107.0 m

€15-€20 m

2011

€150.0 m

€15-€20 m

2010

€90.0 m

€30-€35 m

2009

€75.0 m

€30-€40 m

2008

€200.0 m

€30-€40 m

2007

€360.0 m

€40-€45 m

2006

€600.0 m

€50-€60 m

2005

€950.0 m

€46 m

2004

€500-€550 m

€80 m

2003

0

0

2002

0

0

2001

0

0

2000

0

0

1999

0

0

1998

0

0

1997

0

0

1996

0

0

1995

0

0

1994

0

0

1993

0

0

1992

0

0

Departmental Contracts Data

Ceisteanna (247)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

247. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the value of contracts for goods or services from companies (details supplied) since 2010. [20851/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In response to the Question posed by the Deputy and in relation to the company (details supplied), there were no payments processed on my Department's FMS System.

Please note the contracts outlined relate to Hewlett-Packard Irl Ltd and not to the company details supplied by the Deputy.

The value of payments by year to Hewlett-Packard Irl Ltd is provided in the following table:

Supplier

Year

Description

Amount Paid

HEWLETT-PACKARD IRL LTD

2010

Contract for Hardware Maintenance Services

€22,303.74

HEWLETT-PACKARD IRL LTD

2011

Contract for Hardware Maintenance Services

€3,214.26

HEWLETT-PACKARD IRL LTD

2012

Contract for Hardware Maintenance Services

€4,802.48

Schools Data

Ceisteanna (248)

Mary Butler

Ceist:

248. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a special school (details supplied) located at three sites in counties Waterford, Wexford and Kilkenny; the enrolment numbers; the staff numbers; and the future plans for this school. [20866/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I recently received correspondence from the joint Patrons of the School in question indicating that the Board of Mangement has advised them that the School is no longer viable.

I understand from my officials that the staffing of the school is a Principal plus three assistants and that two pupils will need to be facilitated to transfer to another school for the next school year. The school have confirmed that they are in contact with Tusla's Educational Welfare service whose responsibility it is to assist in identifying school placements.

I have responded to the Patrons indicating that my officials will work over the coming weeks with the Board of Management to discuss arrangements regarding the matter.

Student Grant Scheme

Ceisteanna (249)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

249. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Education and Skills the third level grants that are allocated to students (details supplied); the way in which the system operates; if means are disregarded in these cases; the frequency with which these areas are reviewed; if full grants are issued in these instances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20867/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department will provide circa €450m for measures to help people to access further and higher education in 2018.

The principal support provided by my Department in financial terms is the Student Grant Scheme, which makes available means-tested financial assistance to students in further and higher education. The student grant scheme is administered by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) which is a business unit of CDETB. Under the terms of the student grant scheme, grant assistance is awarded to students on full-time courses who meet the prescribed conditions of funding including those which relate to nationality, residency, approved course, previous academic attainment and means. The grant scheme is complemented by the Student Assistance Fund and the Fund for Students with Disabilities, as well as a programme of scholarships and bursaries.

The means tested Scheme provides for higher income thresholds for larger families. In addition to this, further increases in the income thresholds are provided for where additional family members are attending further and higher education at the same time.

The criteria for the scheme are applied nationally and are reviewed annually.

SUSI’s online system for the 2018 Student Grant Scheme is now open. Students attending college in the academic year 2018/19 are required to submit their grant application to SUSI (via www.susi.ie) to have their eligibility for grant assistance assessed.

Third-level students who are experiencing exceptional financial need, can also apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund. This Fund assists students, in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise be unable to continue their third level studies due to their financial circumstances. Information on the fund is available through the Access Officer in the third level institution attended. This fund is administered on a confidential, discretionary basis.

Tax relief at the standard rate of tax may be claimed in respect of tuition fees paid for approved courses at approved colleges of higher education. Further information on this tax relief is available from the Revenue Commissioners at www.revenue.ie.

Education and Training Boards Data

Ceisteanna (250)

John Curran

Ceist:

250. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills the local and regional drugs taskforces that have a representative from his Department on the taskforce in each of the years 2016 to 2017 and to date in 2018, in tabular form; the number of meetings that took place; the number that were attended by the representative from his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20902/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department does not have any representatives on local and regional drug taskforces. However, local and regional drug task forces do contain representatives from Education and Training Boards (ETBs). I have requested the information sought from the ETBs regarding attendance at local and regional drugs taskforces and will forward it to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (251)

James Browne

Ceist:

251. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding school supports for children with dyspraxia here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20914/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department provides for a range of services and supports to ensure that children of school going age with Special Educational Needs, including children with Dyspraxia, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs. These supports include additional teaching and care support, enhanced capitation, specialist school transport arrangements, assistive technology and/or specialist equipment, adaptations for school buildings where necessary and additional training for teachers of children with special educational needs.

The functions of the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) include planning and coordinating the provision of education and support services to children with special educational needs in conjunction with schools and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

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. 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.

The NCSE’s SENO responsibility includes planning and coordinating the provision of education and support services to children with special educational needs, including supporting children and parents in identifying school placement options and resource 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.

From 21st March 2017, the Special Education Support Service (SESS), the National Behavioural Support Service (NBSS) and the Visiting Teacher Service for Children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing and Children who are Blind/Visually Impaired (VTHVI) transferred from my Department to the NCSE and joined with the services already being provided by NCSE’s SENOs and administrative staff to form a new NCSE Support Service. This new service aims to develop schools’ capacity to include students with special educational needs and to promote a continuum of educational provision which is inclusive and responsive.

Children with Dyspraxia may be entitled to additional teaching provision in school, under the new model for allocating special education teachers, which was introduced since September 2017. Under this model, schools are provided with an allocation for special educational support teaching to support all students who need such support.

Schools now have greater discretion as to how they can deploy resources, to take account of the actual learning needs students have, as opposed to being guided by a particular diagnosis of disability.

My Department recently published guidelines for schools as to how they should utilise and deploy their resources under the new allocation model. These guidelines are available at http://www.education.ie/en/The-Department/Announcements/Guidelines-for-Schools-Supporting-Children-with-Special-Educational-needs-in-Mainstream-Schools.html

The guidelines will support schools in how they identify students, including students with Dyspraxia/DCD for additional teaching support, and decide how much support to provide, taking into account the extent and severity of their needs.

Where students have additional care needs, which are so significant that they require additional adult support in order to attend school and access the curriculum, they may be supported by Special Needs Assistants.

SNA support is provided specifically to assist recognised primary, post primary and special schools to cater for the care needs of students 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 student will require adult assistance in order to be able to attend school and to participate in education, in accordance with the criteria set out in my Departments Circular 30/2014.

In circumstances where students with Dyspraxia/Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) have care needs to the extent that the school considers SNA support is required for them to attend and access the curriculum, the school may apply to the NCSE for SNA support.

Funding is also provided to schools towards the cost of assistive technology, for children with special educational needs which is essential for educational purposes, to assist children with special educational needs in Primary, Post Primary and Special schools, in accordance with the criteria set out in my Department's Circular 0010/2013.

The NCSE provides for support for additional training needs in the area of Dyspraxia for teachers through the Special Education Support Service (SESS) which manages, co-ordinates and develops a range of supports in response to identified teacher training needs. The SESS provides Continuing Professional Development (CPD) support for teachers of pupils with Dyspraxia through an Inclusive Learning Resource Teachers course as well as an online resource facility and an online book borrowing facility.

All primary and post primary schools have access to psychological assessments either directly through the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), or through the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments (SCPA), full details of which are available on the Department's website. Where a NEPS psychologist is not assigned to a school, authorities therein may access psychological assessments through SCPA. Under this scheme schools can have an assessment carried out by a member of the panel of private psychologists approved by NEPS, and NEPS will pay the psychologist the fees for this assessment directly.

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.

At third level, the National Office for Equity of Access to Third Level Education, within the Higher Education Authority (HEA), administers a number of access measures including the Fund for Students with Disabilities (FSD), the purpose of which is to assist students with disabilities. A range of supports are available at third level colleges to support students who have disabilities or special educational needs. Details of the additional support and services that are available for students with medical conditions/disabilities at third level colleges will be provided by the Disability Officers at each college.

The supports which will be provided for students with special educational needs, including Dyspraxia/Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), will take account of the needs that each pupil has and the type of college or course that they are attending.

Students with disabilities or severe medical conditions should contact the Disability Office before the beginning of the academic year to find out what disability supports will be available to them and will need to discuss with the Disability/Access Officer in the college/university details of their needs based requirement in college.

Teacher Redeployment

Ceisteanna (252)

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

252. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a proposal for the establishment of panels for second level teachers has been examined; and if such a proposal has been discussed by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20930/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Redeployment schemes currently exist at post-primary level in school closure situations, where there are surplus teachers in a school/Education and Training Board in situations other than school closure, and to address mismatch between curricular needs and staffing resources in a school/ETB. A pilot voluntary redeployment scheme is also in operation this year. Voluntary redeployment arrangements are put in place on an annual basis as necessary, as an adjunct to the compulsory redeployment process.

The establishment of a supplementary panel at post-primary and extensions to the voluntary redeployment scheme are the subject of ongoing discussions at the Teachers Conciliation Council, to which the Department, school management bodies and teacher unions are all party. As the proceedings of the TCC are confidential, it would not be appropriate for me to make any further comment.

School Staff

Ceisteanna (253)

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

253. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if there are vacancies for teachers under the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board; and if so, the details by subject; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20931/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Teacher allocations for all schools are approved annually by the Department in accordance with established rules based on recognised pupil enrolment. The Department provides a staffing allocation to each ETB.

The recruitment and appointment of teachers to fill teaching posts is a matter for the individual school authority, in this instance the Limerick and Clare ETB, subject to procedures agreed under Section 24(3) of the Education Act 1998 (as amended by the Education (Amendment) Act 2012).

School Admissions

Ceisteanna (254)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

254. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a matter (details supplied) will be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20933/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In relation to school admissions, parents can choose which school to apply to and where the school has places available the pupil should be admitted. However, in schools where there are more applicants than places available a selection process may be necessary.

This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants. However, this may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice.

Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 provides for an appeal by a parent or guardian to the Secretary General of my Department, or in the case of an Educational Training Board (ETB) school to the ETB in the first instance, where a Board of Management of a school, or a person acting on behalf of the Board, refuses to enrol a student in a school, expels a student or suspends a student for 20 or more days in any school year. Further information on the Section 29 appeals process is available on the Department's website www.education.ie.

The Education Welfare Service of the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The EWS can be contacted at 01-7718500.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (255)

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

255. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a complaint in relation to the non-provision of a SNA that was lodged with the National Council for Special Education on 15 March 2018 by a school (details supplied) in County Kerry has not been responded to; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20953/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) are provided to assist recognised schools to cater for pupils with disabilities, who have additional and significant care needs, in an educational context and where the nature of these care needs have been outlined in medical and other professional reports as being so significant that a pupil will require additional adult assistance in order to be able to attend school and to participate in education.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) which is an independent agency, is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) 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 allocates SNA support to schools in accordance with the criteria set out in Department Circular 0030/2014, which is available on the Department's website at www.education.ie, in order that students who have care needs can access SNA support as and when it is needed. My Department’s policy is to ensure that every child who is assessed as needing SNA support will receive access to such support.

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 deadline for applying for SNA support for the 2018/19 school year was extended from 28 February to 7 March 2018 due to the effects of adverse weather. The NCSE continue to receive applications after this date and they are processed according to date of receipt. the NCSE aim to respond to valid applications received later this month.

The NCSE Appeals Process may be invoked by a parent or a school where it is considered that a child was not granted access to SNA support on the grounds that Department policy was not met in accordance with Circular 0030/2014.

Schools may also appeal a decision, where the school considers that the NCSE, in applying Department policy, has not allocated the appropriate level of SNA supports to the school to meet the special educational and/or care needs of the children concerned.

I have arranged for the NCSE to respond directly to the Deputy, as this relates to an individual school and the NCSE's complaint procedures, which is available at

http://ncse.ie/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Comment-and-complaint-Procedure-FINAL13.05.15.doc.pdf

Institutes of Technology

Ceisteanna (256, 257, 258, 259, 260)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

256. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason an external facilitator has yet to be appointed to oversee the implementation of the recommendations of the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, GMIT, working group report published in December 2017 in regard to the Mayo campus of GMIT; and if a date will be set for same to ensure the appointment of the appropriate person. [20992/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

257. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the Mayo campus of GMIT has not hired a head of campus. [20993/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

258. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills the recommendations of the GMIT working group report published in December 2017 that have been implemented to date; and the timeline for the implementation of outstanding recommendations. [20994/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

259. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the ring-fenced funds promised and allocated to the Mayo campus of GMIT can be drawn down to spend at the campus; and the reason for the delay. [20995/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

260. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills if no cuts are planned to courses, staff and staff relocations for the Mayo campus of GMIT for the academic year 2018-2019. [20996/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 256 to 260, inclusive, together.

The Government is committed to the future sustainability of the Castlebar Campus of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT). This is the reason why I established the Working Group in March 2017 to develop a plan that would safeguard the future of the Castlebar campus.

The Report of the Working Group was published in December 2017. It provides a wide-ranging assessment of the context within which the Campus is currently operating, and outlines a proposed vision for the future of the Mayo Campus. It also provides a strategic and comprehensive plan to address the financial and sustainability issues which have been experienced by the GMIT Mayo Campus in recent years.

The Working Group recommendations are primarily for GMIT to implement. However, there are recommendations that relate specifically to my Department for action. In response to this my Department has prioritised these recommendations including the provision of ring fenced funding for the Castlebar campus for each of the next five years while the plan is being implemented. I wish to advise that the provision of this additional funding is contingent on GMIT progressing the implementation of the recommendations of the report, and is subject to review by the HEA.

My Department and the HEA are working with GMIT to ensure that the other recommendations are being progressed. These include the appointment of an external facilitator and the appointment of a head of campus for the Mayo campus.

I understand that the recruitment campaign for the head of campus will be initiated by GMIT shortly. A previous recruitment process had to be cancelled by GMIT.

The appointment of an independent external facilitator who will oversee the transition to the new structural and operational arrangements is a significant recommendation. The facilitator will play an important role in supporting the implementation of a number of the other Working Group recommendations. The procurement of this expertise will be initiated shortly by GMIT.

GMIT has established a sub committee to ensure the implementation of the recommendations of the report. This committee and GMIT issue regular updates on progress to the HEA who will continue to oversee the implementation of the recommendations of the report.

As part of the implementation of the recommendations GMIT are currently considering the position and options relating to potential staff redeployment as part of a suite of measures. However it is envisaged that any measures will be on a voluntary basis. Any proposals in this area will also be subject to approval by my Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.