School Accommodation

Ceisteanna (261)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

261. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Education and Skills the way in which students from a school (details supplied) in County Meath who are due to enter second level education in September 2018 will be able to gain entry to second level schools in their area. [21012/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the primary school referred to in the details provided is located in a school planning area in which there are two post-primary schools, a co-educational and all girls' school.

The primary school in question is not part of the post-primary school planning areas where the post primary schools referred to in the details supplied are located. My Department understands however that there is some post primary school capacity in the Navan area.

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.

Departmental Reports

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

Ceisteanna (262)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

262. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will publish the report into the death of a person (details supplied) which was conducted by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21044/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I have asked officials to conduct a search to establish if any report on the death of Ann Lovett is held in the records of the Department. To date, no such report has been located but the search is not completed. I will reply fully to the Deputy when the search is concluded.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A
I refer to Parliamentary Question No. 262 of 15 May 2018 in which you requested if I would publish the report into the death of Ann Lovett which was conducted by my Department; and if I would make a statement on the matter.
In my reply on 15 May, I stated that searches were still ongoing in the Department to establish if a copy of any report concerning the death of Ann Lovett could be located. I wish to confirm that those searches have now concluded and that no report on the death of Ann Lovett has been located.

School Curriculum

Ceisteanna (263)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

263. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason history has been removed as a compulsory subject from the junior cycle curriculum. [21051/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

When schools in Ireland are implementing the new Framework for Junior Cycle, they have the autonomy and flexibility to design programmes within the parameters of the framework, mindful in particular of the needs of their students and their teaching resources. I am in favour of leaving the decisions on what is offered to the discretion of the school, and of students having as broad a range of options to choose from as possible.

Because the total number of full subjects which can be done for assessment in junior cycle is ten, it is likely that schools will retain most or all of their current subjects in their junior cycle going forward.

Currently, over 90% of students choose History, although it is compulsory only in voluntary secondary schools, not much more than half our post-primary schools. Curriculum choice is important in motivating students to learn and to remain in school to completion of senior cycle. Schools across all sectors offer History. History teachers attract students to their subject through their own love and passion for History, and by engaging the natural curiosity of their students in, for example, the lives of people, the origins of the modern world and in objects and documents from the past. History is generally the 5th most popular subject in the Junior Certificate examination.

I have every confidence that, through the implementation of the Framework for Junior Cycle the place of History will be retained and given a new impetus across the junior cycle curriculum. A new specification for Junior Cycle History is being developed by the NCCA. This involved extensive consultation with key stakeholders and the public, which finished recently, during which over 200 submissions were received. The new specification will be available for implementation in all schools from September 2018.

The Leaving Certificate History syllabus attracts about 25% of the total cohort of students. The aim is to make the new specification for Junior Cycle History more attractive, so young people can see it as a realistic option, rather than focusing on learning content by heart. Many people believe that uptake in senior cycle could be improved if the junior cycle History was made more attractive, more relevant and perhaps less of a race against time.

In the new Framework for Junior Cycle, all schools are expected to provide opportunities for students to achieve 24 statements of learning over the period of junior cycle These statements include valuing local, national and international heritage and understanding the importance of the relationship between past and current events, the forces that drive change, and understanding the origins and impacts of social, economic and environmental aspects of the world around them. Even where students do not take History as a full subject, it is to be hoped that opportunities to achieve such statements through other forms of historical study can be provided to them.

The minimum time allocated for subjects such as History will be 200 hours over the three years of junior cycle, or the equivalent of three 40-minute periods per week over three years. For many schools, this will lead to an increased time provision for History as a subject, and it will no longer be nominally linked to Geography as previously. This new minimum time stipulation for History as a subject should allow not only for a deepening of a student's historical knowledge but also of his or her ability to analyse, interpret, write and develop historical skills more thoroughly. Those very skills, and attitudes, can indeed be hugely important in ensuring that students are able to understand and interpret all forms of history, news and current affairs too.

Special Educational Needs Staff

Ceisteanna (264)

John Brassil

Ceist:

264. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the recent decision not to grant a special needs assistant for a school (details supplied) will be reviewed and reversed; the reason the NCSE has not responded to the school's complaint in the defined timeframe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21053/18]

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.

Teaching Council of Ireland

Ceisteanna (265)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

265. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application for a Teaching Council number by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21065/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In order to become registered with the Teaching Council a teacher must submit an original signed application form, provide additional qualification related documentation and complete the vetting process. The Council requests that only certified copies should be submitted for identification documents and transcripts of qualifications. On receipt of an application Council staff review the submitted documentation and, if required, write to the applicant regarding missing or incorrect documentation.

The Council is the independent regulatory body with statutory authority for the professional regulation of teachers in this State. My Department does not have any direct involvement in the registration of teachers by the Council.

Registration decisions are therefore a matter for the Teaching Council and the person referred to by the Deputy should continue to liaise directly with the Council regarding his application.

Schools Building Projects

Ceisteanna (266)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

266. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Skills if phase two of a school (details supplied) in County Galway will receive the necessary signatures from DEIS officials to ensure that the new school project continues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21071/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can advise that additional accommodation for the school referred to by the Deputy to provide phase 1 of a new school building was approved by my Department. Phase I will deliver 5 general classroom, 2 specialist rooms and some ancillary accommodation. The project was devolved to the relevant ETB and I understand construction is nearing completion.

In relation to Phase two of the project, this phase is currently being considered in the context of demographic demand in the area and the need to prioritise the limited funding available for essential classroom accommodation. My Department Officials are continuing to liaise with the ETB in the matter.

School Accommodation

Ceisteanna (267)

Shane Cassells

Ceist:

267. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of first-year second level places available in each school in County Meath for the 2018-19 school year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21095/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The configuration of classes and the deployment of classroom teachers is organised at local school level and my Department would therefore not hold details of the number of first year second level places available in each school in County Meath for the 2018/19 school year.

All schools supply details of enrolments to my Department as part of the October return process and the details for the 2018/2019 school year will be provided to my Department at that point.

School Funding

Ceisteanna (268)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

268. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the rationale for the policy of capping the grant for ancillary service staff for primary schools, that is, caretakers, cleaners and so on, at 500 students; the way in which this impacts on primary schools with significantly larger student populations; the number of primary schools that have a population of more than 500 students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21140/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department provides capitation funding to all recognised primary schools.

In 2018, the capitation grant is €170 per pupil and the ancillary services grant is €163 per pupil.

The amount of the grant paid to an individual primary schools for capitation and ancillary services is determined by the school’s enrolment. The minimum grants payable are based on an enrolment of 60 pupils. In the case of the ancillary services grant the maximum amount payable is €81,500 which is based on a maximum enrolment of 500 pupils. There is no maximum limit on the capitation grant.

Within the context of limitations on available resources, this funding of €81,500 is considered a reasonable amount to cater for the secretarial and caretaking needs of a large school.

The Deputy may wish to note that schools have the flexibility to use capitation funding provided for general running costs and ancillary funding provided for caretaking and secretarial services as a common grant as outlined in Circular 40/2009.

There are 135 primary schools that have an enrolment in excess of 500 students.

Site Acquisitions

Ceisteanna (269)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

269. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a site or specific community in which he plans to locate a school (details supplied) has been identified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21141/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware, I recently announced the opening of 42 new schools over the next 4 years. This announcement followed nationwide demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the current and future need for primary and post-primary school places across the country, and included provision for a new post primary school to serve the area to which she refers in September 2020.

Following on from the announcement, the locations for all of the schools will be determined as part of the site acquisition process.

In line with the policy on the use of state assets (Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Circulars 11/15 and 17/16), my Department will be seeking to maximise the use of sites already in my ownership and of available properties in the ownership of other State bodies, where these are considered suitable.

In addition as part of my Department's ongoing engagement with Local Authorities in respect of statutory planning processes and under the MoU on school site acquisitions, my Department will be examining all potential suitable site options, including appropriately zoned sites, to serve the relevant areas.

Taking into account all of the above, decisions will then be made as part of the site acquisition process in relation to appropriate sites for all the schools announced including the new post primary announced to serve the area in question, and will be confirmed at a later date.

School Patronage

Ceisteanna (270)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

270. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the lack of patronage diversity at second level in the Cabra, Phibsborough and Dublin 7 school planning area particularly for parents that seek a non-denominational education for their children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21142/18]

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.

While the announcement did not include a new post-primary school for the Cabra-Phibsborough-D7 school planning area, a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school was announced to open in 2022 in the adjacent Drumcondra-Marino-Dublin 1 school planning area. A patronage process is run after it has been decided, based on demographic analysis, that a new school is required. This patronage process is open to all patron bodies and prospective patrons. Parental preferences for each patron, from parents of children who reside in the school planning areas concerned, together with the extent of diversity currently available in these areas, are key to decisions in relation to the outcome of this process.

The Cabra-Phibsborough-Dublin 7 school planning area is currently served by 8 post-primary schools, including Cabra Community College which can bring significant existing capacity at post-primary level to this school planning area.

Child Abuse

Ceisteanna (271)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

271. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to cease the prior complaint requirement for eligibility for ex gratia payment to school sexual abuse victims; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21159/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As part of the implementation of the Judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in the Louise O’Keeffe case, in November 2017, I appointed Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill to act as an independent assessor in respect of cases where an individual has had an application for the ex-gratia scheme, established following the Judgement, declined by the State Claims Agency and who then applies for an assessment of the Agency’s decision.

Mr Justice O’Neill has looked for a submission on: "whether the imposition of the condition which required that there had to be evidence of a prior complaint of child sexual abuse on the part of the employee in question to the school authority (or a school authority in which the employee has previously worked), to establish eligibility for a payment under the ex gratia scheme, is consistent with and a correct implementation of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Louise O’Keeffe v. Ireland".

The submission forwarded to Mr Justice O’Neill on 27 April was prepared with the advice and assistance of the Attorney General and Senior Counsel and is now published on the Department's website.

The submission explains – based on the legal advice received and the State's interaction with the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers which is the body responsible for overseeing the implementation of judgments of the Court of Human Rights – that the requirement for evidence of a prior complaint of child sexual abuse on the part of the employee in question to the school authority (or a school authority in which the employee has previously worked), to establish eligibility for a payment under the ex gratia scheme is consistent with and a correct implementation of the judgment of the ECtHR in the O’Keeffe case.

Child Abuse

Ceisteanna (272)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

272. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the person or body that provided the interpretation of a judgment (details supplied) that showed that a prior complaint is a requirement; if this interpretation will be made available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21160/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As part of the implementation of the Judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in the Louise O’Keeffe case, in November 2017, I appointed Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill to act as an independent assessor in respect of cases where an individual has had an application for the ex-gratia scheme, established following the Judgement, declined by the State Claims Agency and applies for an assessment of the Agency’s decision.

Mr Justice O’Neill looked for a submission on: ‘whether the imposition of the condition which required that there had to be evidence of a prior complaint of child sexual abuse on the part of the employee in question to the school authority (or a school authority in which the employee has previously worked), to establish eligibility for a payment under the ex gratia scheme, is consistent with and a correct implementation of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Louise O’Keeffe v. Ireland’.

The submission forwarded to Mr. Justice O’Neill on 27 April was prepared with the advice and assistance of the Attorney General and Senior Counsel and is now published on the Department's website.

State Claims Agency

Ceisteanna (273)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

273. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason information relating to ex gratia scheme applications to the State Claims Agency is being refused in view of it being requested in November 2016 and after the State Claims Agency sent numerous reminders to his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21161/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department is making continuing efforts to assist the State Claims Agency in tracing information related to claims for ex-gratia payments. The material sought is historical in nature and relates to a period which predates electronic records. There has been difficulty to date in establishing the existence of and identifying the records which are being sought. However, efforts to trace these particular records will be prioritised in the coming weeks.

Departmental Staff Data

Ceisteanna (274)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

274. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of staff in his Department assigned solely or primarily to work on North-South issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21262/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The number of staff in my Department assigned solely to work on North-South issues is 2.5 whole time equivalent (WTE), composed of the following grades:

Assistant Principal Officer

Executive Officer

Clerical Officer

1

1

1 (0.5)*

*WTE

In addition and if required at particular times, other staff from the International Section of my Department are available to support the work of the North-South Unit.

State Bodies

Ceisteanna (275)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

275. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Education and Skills if there are vacancies on the board of the NUI; the process on the way in which these vacancies are normally filled; if his Department is involved in this process; when he expects the vacant positions to be filled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21319/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

There are currently 4 vacancies on the Senate of the National University of Ireland (NUI) which are nominated by the Government under Section 45(2) of the Universities Act.

As the Senate of NUI is not considered a State Board, the Public Appointments Service (PAS) is not involved in the process for filling the vacant positions.

In such cases my Department is responsible for undertaking the recruitment process which involves undertaking an advertising campaign to seek applications from interested persons from which suitable candidates will be selected, based on qualifying criteria. I will then select from the shortlisted candidates 4 potential nominees to bring forward for Government approval.

The recruitment process is underway in my Department with a view to having the positions filled as soon as possible. The Deputy will appreciate that it is important to follow a rigorous process to ensure the best calibre of candidates are selected for the positions.

Special Educational Needs

Ceisteanna (276)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

276. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a child (details supplied) who has missed their education for most of the past year due to section 29 processes can receive an additional year of education. [21370/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Special schools are classified as primary national schools and are intended to cater for children with special educational needs from 4 until 18 years old. The Health Service Executive then assumes direct responsibility for young adults with special needs who are over 18.

Some people with a disability, over the age of 18, and who have complex needs, may require specialised support throughout their lives. Ongoing care and support services within the community, in a post school setting, are provided by voluntary or statutory organisations; responsibility for such care and support rests with the HSE. My Department, at that stage, may allocate funding towards an education component of such provision.

Schools liaise with the relevant health authorities to ensure the young person’s successful transition to adult services by the time s/he reaches 18 years.

It is important to note that students who transfer to adult service settings can continue to participate in educational programmes through further adult educational programmes or in adult settings which are allocated resources towards educational provision.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has published information pamphlets on the main post-school education and training options for people with disabilities.

The pamphlets cover:

- Further Education and Training

- Higher Education

- Rehabilitative Training and Adult Day Services.

People with a disability may have a difficulty getting clear information and advice on the post-school options and pathways that are available and appropriate for them. The aim of the leaflets is to give parents and students and other adults an overview of the range of post-school options and supports available and how to get the relevant details and guidance to inform individual choice.

The pamphlets are available on the NCSE website www.ncse.ie.

The NCSE have advised that the student referred to by the Deputy has enrolled in a Special school placement. He can remain in this placement until the end of the current school year, however he cannot be enrolled for the 2018/19 school year due to his age.

It is a matter for his parents to seek the support of adult services through the relevant health authorities.

In this regard his Parents should continue to liaise with the NCSE, NEPS and the relevant HSE authorities.

Departmental Properties

Ceisteanna (277, 278)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

277. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding discussions between his Department and Meath County Council for the provision of lands for a public park in Ashbourne. [21388/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

278. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding Department-owned land in Ashbourne that has been identified by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government for housing purposes; and the status of negotiations. [21389/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to takes Questions Nos. 277 and 278 together. The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government established a Housing Delivery Office to focus on land and site supply aspects of “Rebuilding Ireland”. As part of that exercise my Department was asked to identify lands which could potentially be used for housing. The site to which the Deputy refers in Ashbourne, was identified as having the potential for housing development.

Officials from Meath County Council have been in contact with my Department in relation to the proposed acquisition of a portion of the site in my ownership for the delivery of housing and public park facilities.

In line with the provisions of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Circulars 11/15 and 17/16 in relation to inter-state transfer of assets, a valuation of the property has been procured from the Valuation Office. This valuation report has recently been provided to Meath County Council by my Department for consideration.

My Department anticipates that a formal response will be received from Meath County Council shortly in respect of this matter.