Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (127)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

127. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a building project for a school (details supplied); if it can be considered for rapid build status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40959/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Deputy will be aware that a building project for the school in question is included on my Department's 6 Year Construction Programme.

I wish to inform the Deputy that the project is progressing to the architectural planning stage and is expected to be delivered by an external agency to my Department. Arrangements are currently being made in this regard and my Department will be in further contact with the school when these arrangements have been finalised.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (128)

Denise Mitchell

Ceist:

128. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Skills the funding that has been secured for a school (details supplied) in 2018; the way in which this funding is to be used; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40978/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that funding was recently approved to enable the school in question to build two mainstream classrooms with en-suite toilets and a separate assisted users toilet.

The project has been devolved for delivery to the school authority. This means that it is now a matter for the school authority to appoint a consultant and to advance the project through the design and construction phases.

School Funding

Ceisteanna (129)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

129. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if extra funding is available for primary schools that have a split campus in view of the additional costs involved in running buildings in two separate locations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40991/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Funding for all primary schools in the free education scheme is dealt with on a per capita basis.

The two main grants are the capitation grant to cater for day to day running costs such as heating, lighting, cleaning, insurance, general up-keep etc., and the ancillary services grant to cater for the cost of employing services staff.

Schools are permitted to regard the capitation and ancillary grant as a combined grant.

There is no provision for payments outside of what has been outlined above.

Education Grants

Ceisteanna (130)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

130. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated amount it would cost in 2019 if the ancillary grant rate increased by €5.50 per pupil; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41019/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The estimated full year cost of increasing the rate of ancillary grant by €5.50 per pupil in primary schools is circa €3.1m.

Improvements have been made for the restoration of grant funding that is used by schools to fund the salaries of ancillary staff. The ancillary grant was increased by €6 in 2016, €5 in 2017 and €5 in 2018, in order to enable primary schools to implement the arbitration salary increase for grant funded school secretaries and caretakers and to also implement the restoration of salary for cleaners arising from the unwinding of FEMPI legislation.

School Transport Provision

Ceisteanna (131)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

131. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that some children attending ASD units in mainstream schools and that were entitled to special school transport are not receiving such transport and that Bus Éireann states it cannot get taxi companies to provide the service in certain cases; the steps that will be taken to address the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41024/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.

In the 2017/18 school year over 117,000 children, including over 12,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 4,500 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually at a total cost of almost €190 million in 2017.

Under the terms of the School Transport Scheme for Children with Special Educational Needs, children with special educational needs are eligible for school transport if they are attending the nearest recognised mainstream or special school that is or can be resourced, to meet their special educational needs under Department of Education and Skills' criteria.

Eligibility is determined following consultation with the National Council for Special Education through its network of Special Education Needs Organisers. When applications are approved by my Department, Bus Éireann assesses the transport options available, taking into account the individual requirements of each child.

Where children can be facilitated on an existing service, applications are processed as soon as possible and arrangements put in place with the families involved.

Where a new service has to be established there is a lead in period for this process that includes the following:

- Route design

- Procurement/tender process for each new service required

- Contract award

- Possible vetting of a new Driver

- Time period for school to source a suitable escort

In some locations such as Dublin and Cork Bus Éireann has informed my Department that they are facing challenges on occasion in finding suitable vehicles, required to meet the transport needs of individual children.

Bus Éireann are very conscious of the challenges faced by Parents awaiting Special Needs transport and are continuing to work with my Department on a daily basis to source and provide transport where possible for all outstanding applicants.

Families of children who are eligible for special educational needs school transport may avail of the Special Transport Grant towards the cost of private transport arrangements until services are finalised.

School Transport Provision

Ceisteanna (132)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

132. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a school transport service will be provided for a person (details supplied). [41029/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.

In the 2017/18 school year over 117,000 children, including over 12,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 4,500 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually at a total cost of almost €190 million in 2017.

Under the terms of my Department's Post Primary School Transport scheme, children are eligible for transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kms from and are attending their nearest education centre as determined by the Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language Bus Eireann was advised of a change of address at the end of September by the family referred to by the Deputy, and their application for school transport is currently being processed.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (133)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

133. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter regarding a school (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41056/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware, my Department approved the provision of additional permanent accommodation, at the school in question, to replace prefabricated accommodation in poor condition.

Subsequently, the school submitted options to my Department to deliver additional specialist accommodation in addition to the accommodation previously approved. Having considered the school's proposal it was considered by my Department that there was no deficit of specialist accommodation and the school was advised accordingly.

Following further communication from the school the relevant Department Inspector was asked to visit the school and to report on the school’s accommodation needs, having regard to the project approved. The Inspector's report is currently with my Department and a decision on the scope of the project will be advised directly to the school authority when a final decision has been made.

Education and Training Boards

Ceisteanna (134)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

134. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41057/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that factors for membership of a Public Sector Pension Scheme include:

- Employment in a public service body

- Access to the scheme being a specific condition included in the terms and conditions attached to the position, or in a written offer of employment

- There being a whole time comparator in the sector (in the case of part-time workers)

It is a matter for each Education and Training Board (ETB) to determine eligibility of applicant members in accordance with the relevant rules and regulations of the scheme.

However I am aware that the ETBs, through the Pension Task Group facilitated by my Department, are engaged with my Department officials to provide clarity on the position with regard to superannuation for certain staff in certain outdoor education centres to which the ETBs provide some funding, including the centre referred to by the Deputy.

School Staff

Ceisteanna (135)

Kevin O'Keeffe

Ceist:

135. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if consideration will be given to a request made in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Cork. [41097/18]

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 criteria for the appointment of an administrative principal to a school, which are enrolment related, are set out in Appendix B of Circular 0010/2018. There is no scope to deviate from these arrangements.

The enrolment required for the appointment of an administrative principal in ordinary schools is 176 pupils on 30th September 2017, or 113 pupils if the school is operating a specialist autism unit. As the enrolment of the school referred to by Deputy was 109 on 30th September 2017, the school does not meet the requirements for an administrative principal for the current school year.

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

In Budget 2019, school leadership is again supported with an additional release day for teaching principals in primary schools and a further four additional release days for teaching principals in schools with special classes. These additional release days will be effective from 01 September 2019.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (136)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

136. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status and delivery time of the provision of a new primary school in Donabate; if the first of four schools to be provided as set out in the local area plan in Donabate is on the Spires East site in line with the policy (details supplied) on the use of State assets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41100/18]

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.

Following on from the announcement, the locations for all of the schools, including the new primary school announced to serve Donabate, will be determined as part of the site process. Decisions are now being made in relation to appropriate sites for the schools announced and will be confirmed at a later date.

Schools Administration

Ceisteanna (137)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

137. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has considered the introduction of a one day per week release for all teaching principals of national schools further to the recommendations at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Skills' 2018 summer meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41124/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Building on measures in previous budgets to enhance school leadership, Budget 2018 made €0.4 million available to fund almost 4600 additional release days for teaching principals in primary schools. This additional funding has provided an increase in the number of release days available to teaching principals in the 2018/19 school year to 17, 23 or 29 days depending on the size of the school.

I recently announced an extension to the arrangements for schools with teaching principals to cluster their release days into full-time posts, with one teacher covering the release days of all the schools in the cluster. Up to 50 principal release cluster posts will be put in place for the current school year. This measure will assist teaching principals to more effectively plan their release days for the benefit of the school.

Any additional increase in the number of release days has to be considered as part of the budgetary process, alongside the many other demands from the education sector.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme

Ceisteanna (138, 139, 140)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

138. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the 2017 annual report of Caranua's appeals officer will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41180/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

139. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question Nos. 423 of 20 June 2017 and 33 of 6 December 2017, the allocation of appeals officers at Caranua; the number of appeals officers working at Caranua; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41184/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

140. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to establish a contingency fund in the event that Caranua application decisions are delayed by having to take the case to court or otherwise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41185/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos.138 to 140, inclusive, together.

Section 21 of the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act 2012 provides for the appointment by the Minister for Education and Skills of one or more than one person to act as an independent appeals officer to consider appeals against decisions of Caranua. Mr Patrick Whelan was appointed as appeals officer in February 2014 and served in that role for a period of some three years. In May 2017, I appointed Ms Geraldine Gleeson and Mr Brendan O’Leary to serve as appeals officers for a one year period. In May 2018, I offered a further period of appointment as an appeals officers to both Mr O’Leary and Ms Gleeson. Ms Gleeson advised that she was not in a position to continue in this role and I acknowledged this decision on 5th July 2018.

The question of appointing a second appeals officer will be kept under review having regard to the level of appeals on hands.

The annual report of the Caranua appeals officers, covering the period May 2017 to April 2018, has recently been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas in fulfilment of the statutory requirement.

It is a matter for Caranua to ensure that appropriate arrangements are in place to make funding provision for any contingent liabilities that might arise from legal actions or for other reasons.

Special Educational Needs Staff

Ceisteanna (141)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

141. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated amount it would cost to recruit an extra 500 special needs assistants for the 2019/2020 school year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41186/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The cost of employing 500 new Special Need Assistants in the 2019/2020 school year is estimated at €13.8m. This estimated cost includes the pay increases due in 2019 under the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018 to 2020 and employers PRSI.

Home Tuition Scheme Funding

Questions Nos. 143 to 145, inclusive, answered with Question No. 79.

Ceisteanna (142)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

142. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the maximum home tuition hours will be allocated to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41202/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The purpose of the Home Tuition Grant Scheme is to provide a compensatory educational service for students, enrolled in schools, with a significant medical condition, or school phobia and/or associated depression/anxiety, which has caused, and is likely to continue to cause, major disruption to their attendance at school.

Eligibility is assessed having regard to, although not limited to, the following criteria:

- The student's attendance levels during the previous school year - A relevant medical/professional report -a separate report may be requested in some cases if required.

Generally, grant aid based on a range of between 2 and 10 hours tuition may be approved with the allocation reflecting the level of attendance in the previous school year and whether the attendance was at primary or post primary level. As a general guide, up to 5 hours may be granted to students at primary level while students at post primary level may be granted between 2 and 10 hours.

Officials in my Department have confirmed that an application under the medical strand of the Home Tuition Grant Scheme has recently been received in relation to the person referred to by the Deputy. A decision letter will issue to the applicant in the coming days.

Questions Nos. 143 to 145, inclusive, answered with Question No. 79.