Teacher Training Provision

Ceisteanna (225)

Margaret Murphy O'Mahony

Ceist:

225. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the changes he announced to the entry requirements for the professional master of education programme in 2017 will be implemented for the 2019 intake; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5093/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that last week I announced the deferral of the introduction of the new minimum entry requirements for primary Initial Teacher Education (ITE) students starting a Professional Master of Education (PME) from 2019 to 2020.

This deferral applies to students who have commenced an undergraduate degree (as distinct from a Bachelor of Education degree) and are planning to apply for the (postgraduate) PME for entry in September 2019.

The new minimum entry requirements are the appropriate standard but the original timing of their introduction may have caused difficulties for some students planning on undertaking a PME as an entry route to primary teaching.

The new minimum entry requirements were approved following detailed consultation and it is important that they continue to remain as the new higher standards in order to maintain the integrity of Initial Teacher Education and to support quality teaching and learning in primary schools. Having relatively high minimum entry requirements in core subject areas of Irish, English and Mathematics is one of the key policy levers that help ensure quality teaching and learning in primary schools.

The higher minimum entry requirements, announced in October 2017, will continue to apply from September 2019 for students planning on entering the undergraduate Bachelor of Education (Primary) programme.

School Accommodation

Ceisteanna (226)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

226. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application for additional accommodation by a school (details supplied). [5116/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I am please to inform the Deputy that additional accommodation has been sanction for the school in question and the school authority has been informed.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (227)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

227. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if children with Down's syndrome will be included in the July provision programme; his plans to ensure that individual education plans for children with Down's syndrome are provided as part of vital education supports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5132/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Schools have a legal duty to provide an appropriate education to all students, including young people with special educational needs, and obviously they need to plan to ensure this happens.

Planning is a normal part of a teacher’s work and planning tools, like the student support file, have been created as a resource to help schools provide for their students.

A new model for allocating special education teachers to schools was introduced in 2017.

Under this model, children can receive additional teaching support based on their learning needs, rather than on a diagnosis of disability.

Parents of children who have Down syndrome have certainty that their children can receive as much additional teaching support as required in school, taking account of school based assessments of their learning needs.

There is no constraint on the amount of additional teaching time that may be allocated to pupils with Down syndrome, based on their diagnosis, or because they may previously have been in the mild general learning difficulty category.

My Department's July Provision Grant Scheme provides funding for an extended school year for students with severe or profound intellectual disabilities and students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

The scheme was developed to reduce potential regression in learning associated with these specific categories of special education needs over the summer holidays. The scheme does not make provision for children with other categories of Special Education Needs.

The National Council for Special Education’s Policy Advice on Educational Provision for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders was published in July 2016.

The NCSE review found that in general parents value July provision because it provides day-time respite for families and a structured day for students.

However, the NCSE review found a number of problems with the scheme as currently organised.

These include concerns that the scheme may be inequitable because it is not provided to all students with complex special educational needs.

The Council recommended that the relevant Government Departments consider how an equitable national day activity scheme could be developed for all students with complex special educational needs.

The proposed scheme would provide a structured, safe, social environment for all students with complex special educational needs, which might include some children with Down syndrome.

The Department of Education and Skills has convened an Implementation Group with representatives of the NCSE, NEPS, the Inspectorate and representatives from other relevant Departments and agencies to ensure that the Report’s recommendations are fully and appropriately considered.

There are no plans to change the July provision scheme coverage until this work is complete.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (228)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

228. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the report being compiled by the NCSE regarding the provision of a special autism school for the Dublin 15 area; when the report will be available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5148/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I am aware of the demand for additional special class and special school placements in the North Dublin area.

I have asked the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to provide my Department with a report on current and future identified need in the area so that evidence based decisions may be made on the development of the necessary placements in the area for the short, medium and longer term. The report is expected shortly.

The NCSE is continuing to work with schools, parents, NEPS, health professionals and other staff who are involved in the provision of services in the North Dublin area for children with special educational needs, to ensure that each child has a school placement appropriate to their needs for the 2018/19 school year and beyond.

Funding for special education provision in 2018 will amount to some €1.75 billion, up 43% since 2011 and equivalent to 18.7% of the gross overall current allocation for education and training.

My Department's policy is to provide for the inclusive education of children with special educational needs, including Autism (ASD), in mainstream school settings, unless such a placement would not be in the best interests of the child concerned, or the children with whom they will be educated.

The greater proportion of children with Autism attend mainstream classes, but some require the environment of a special class or special school. This decision is based on a recommendation contained within a professional assessment and in consultation with the NCSE.

Special schools funded by my Department are intended to cater for children and young persons with special educational needs from the age of 4 years until the end of the school year in which they reach their 18th year.

The enrolment of a child to a school is a matter, in the first instance, for the parents of the child and the Board of Management of a school.

Accordingly, the NCSE advises parents, to seek to enrol their child, by applying in writing, to the school/s of their choice as early as possible. Where parents have been unsuccessful in enrolling their child in a school, they should update their local SENO to inform the planning process.

The NCSE is responsible, through it's network of Special Needs Organisers, for the development and delivery and co-ordination of education services to children with Special Educational Needs, including the establishment of special class and special school placements.

124 special schools provide specialist education for those students with the most complex special educational needs, including students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Since 2011, the NCSE has increased the number of special classes from 548 in 2011 to 1,459 across the country now, of which 1,196 are ASD special classes.

There are 37 special schools and 237 special classes attached to mainstream schools in Co. Dublin. Of these, 17 are ASD early intervention classes, 139 are primary ASD classes and 41 are post primary ASD classes. The number of ASD special classes in Co. Dublin have increased from 66 in 2011/2012 to 197 in 2018/2019. Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs are available on www.ncse.ie.

The NCSE is aware of emerging need from year to year, and where special provision, including special class provision, is required, it is planned and established to meet that need. This process is ongoing.

While it is not always possible or practical that a special class placement would be available in a child’s local school, the NCSE has informed my Department that, in general, they are satisfied that there are sufficient ASD special class placements to meet existing demand nationally. From time to time, the Council identifies local areas where additional provision is required. In those circumstances, SENOs work with the schools and families concerned to resolve the issues involved.

My Department is aware that the establishment of special class provision in some schools and communities can be challenging.

The Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 when commenced will assist in addressing this issue in areas where the NCSE is of the opinion that there is insufficient education provision for children with special educational needs.

Section 8 of the Act, which commenced Monday 3rd December 2018, will provide me with a power, after a process of consultation with the NCSE, the Board of Management and the patron of the school, to compel a school to make additional provision for the education of children with special educational needs.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (229)

James Browne

Ceist:

229. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills when an extension at a school (details supplied) will be constructed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5164/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Deputy will be aware that a building project for the school to which he refers is included in my Department's Capital Programme.

My Department is currently finalising the project brief with a view to progressing the project into the architectural planning process. The brief is expected to be completed shortly and my Department will be in further contact with the patron, who has agreed to deliver the project, when the process has been completed.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (230)

James Browne

Ceist:

230. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the installation of prefabricated accommodation for imminent school years at a school (details supplied) will be reconsidered; if the redeveloping of a building adjacent to the school will be considered rather than the costs associated with temporary accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5165/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has no record of receiving an application for funding, from the Patron, of the school in question. If an application is received it will be considered and the school authority will be informed of the outcome.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (231)

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

231. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of plans for a school (details supplied) considering the lack of school accommodation for children attending from September 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5166/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Officials at my Department are aware of the accommodation requirements of the school to which the Deputy refers. The school currently has sufficient accommodation and work is ongoing to ensure that there will be sufficient suitable additional accommodation available to the school for September 2019.

My Department has been seeking the landlord's permission to install the two prefabs which will be required for September 2019. The landlord has recently indicated that formal consent is forthcoming and my Department is currently working on the planning application which will be lodged with Dublin City Council shortly. My Department will continue to keep the schools Patron Body fully informed of progress.

School Management

Ceisteanna (232)

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

232. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to improve guidelines regarding lunch breaks and hygiene practice in primary schools; if his Department has a role in the establishment of healthy hygiene practices and healthy eating practices in schools; if consideration will be given to making it mandatory that children be supervised in classrooms in a scenario (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5167/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

At primary level, circular 11/95 “Time in School” paragraph 3 states that a typical school day for Junior classes is 4 hours and 40 minutes and Senior classes 5 hours and 40 minutes with appropriate recreation i.e. 30 minutes. Under the Rules for National Schools, forenoon and afternoon breaks of five minutes each are allowed.

Under the provisions of the Education Act, 1998, the Board of Management is responsible for the day to day running of a school. The arrangement within the recreation interval for pupils to eat their lunch is a matter for each Board of Management to determine and my Department has not issued guidelines to schools in this regard. Schools are required to supervise pupils during school time including during breaks and lunch breaks.

My Department acknowledges the commitment of schools in promoting healthy lifestyle choices for students in a number of ways - the curriculum – for example Physical Education and Social Personal Health Education (SPHE); through schools policy including healthy lunch policies and by the use of resources and programmes chosen by the school. The Active School Flag (ASF) is one such programme. Work by my Department in this area aims to equip students with the skills and knowledge to enable them to make the right choices for healthy lifestyles throughout their lives.

Time allocated for hygiene at primary is covered within the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) Curriculum which is allocated a minimum of 30 minutes a week at all levels of primary school. SPHE provides specific opportunities to enable the child to understand himself or herself, to develop healthy relationships and to establish and maintain healthy patterns of behaviour. It is a particular concern of the curriculum to develop in the child respect and care for his or her body. It also enables the child to acquire the knowledge and attitudes that help to promote a healthy lifestyle. As part of this the child should be enabled to recognise and practise basic hygiene skills such as: personal hygiene practices, hygienic eating habits, developing basic skills in dressing himself/herself and caring for clothes, taking proper care of teeth.

The primary curriculum is currently undergoing a process of review and redevelopment, which includes SPHE and the time allocated. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) will publish a draft overview of a redeveloped primary curriculum in autumn 2019. This draft will be the basis for an extensive consultation which will feed into the overall shape and direction of a redeveloped curriculum.

At Post primary, SPHE is compulsory at Junior Cycle and Physical Health is an element of SPHE. In year one, the module focuses on life-style patterns that support good physical health. Body care places emphasis on the importance of washing and body care, especially in adolescence and explores the links between personal hygiene and positive self-image. While in year two, this module revises basic hygiene practices and explores the link between good hygiene habits and self-esteem.

School Breaks Standardisation

Ceisteanna (233)

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

233. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the definition of a sufficient amount of time allotted to primary school children for eating their lunch; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5168/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

At primary level, circular 11/95 “Time in School” paragraph 3 states that a typical school day for Junior classes is 4 hours and 40 minutes and Senior classes 5 hours and 40 minutes with appropriate recreation i.e. 30 minutes. Under the Rules for National Schools, forenoon and afternoon breaks of five minutes each are allowed.

Under the provisions of the Education Act, 1998, the Board of Management is responsible for the day to day running of a school. The arrangement within the recreation interval for pupils to eat their lunch is a matter for each Board of Management to determine. My Department has not issued guidelines to schools in this regard.

School Guidelines on Obesity

Ceisteanna (234)

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

234. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on whether the rushed nature of lunch breaks and snack breaks in primary and post-primary schools is conducive to combatting the rise in obesity and other health issues in children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5169/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

At primary level, circular 11/95 “Time in School” paragraph 3 states that a typical school day for Junior classes is 4 hours and 40 minutes and Senior classes 5 hours and 40 minutes with appropriate recreation i.e. 30 minutes. Under the Rules for National Schools, forenoon and afternoon breaks of five minutes each are allowed.

Under the provisions of the Education Act, 1998, the Board of Management is responsible for the day to day running of a school. The arrangement within the recreation interval for pupils to eat their lunch is a matter for each Board of Management to determine. My Department has not issued guidelines to schools in this regard.

My Department works closely with the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive on the Healthy Ireland agenda. My Department is represented on a number of groups including the National Physical Activity Plan Implementation Group and on the Obesity Policy Implementation Oversight Group.

Healthy Lifestyles guidance issued to post primary schools in 2015 and primary schools in 2016. This guidance was drafted in consultation with the Department of Health.

My Department acknowledges the commitment of schools in promoting healthy lifestyle choices for students in a number of ways - the curriculum – for example Physical Education and Social Personal Health Education (SPHE); through schools policy including healthy lunch policies and by the use of resources and programmes chosen by the school. The Active School Flag (ASF) is one such programme. Work by my Department in this area aims to equip students with the skills and knowledge to enable them to make the right choices for healthy lifestyles throughout their lives.

The primary curriculum is currently undergoing a process of review and redevelopment, which includes SPHE and the time allocated. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) will publish a draft overview of a redeveloped primary curriculum in autumn 2019. This draft will be the basis for an extensive consultation which will feed into the overall shape and direction of a redeveloped curriculum.

At Post primary, SPHE is compulsory at Junior Cycle and Physical Health is an element of SPHE. In year one, the module focuses on life-style patterns that support good physical health.

School Management

Ceisteanna (235)

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

235. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the guidelines for teachers or school staff allowing television to be shown in the classroom; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5170/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Under the provisions of the Education Act 1998, the Board of Management is the body charged with the direct governance of a school.

The use of television and other forms of media either as a teaching aid or during break times by schools is a matter for the Board of Management of each individual school.

My Department has not issued specific guidelines on the use of televisions and acknowledges that the degree of usage required in any given school will depend on the school's particular circumstances and on factors such as the age and maturity of the pupils concerned. Where parents have a concern in relation to a school's media policy, they should raise the matter with the Board of Management of the school concerned.

School Curriculum

Ceisteanna (236)

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

236. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason time is not allocated for hygiene practice and eating within the primary and post-primary school curriculums; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5171/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

At primary level, circular 11/95 “Time in School” paragraph 3 states that a typical school day for Junior classes is 4 hours and 40 minutes and Senior classes 5 hours and 40 minutes with appropriate recreation i.e. 30 minutes. Under the Rules for National Schools, forenoon and afternoon breaks of five minutes each are allowed.

Where a recreation interval or break of a longer duration than the foregoing are taken (for example when children are allowed to have lunch in the classroom prior to the official commencement of the recreation interval) the length of the school day must be extended correspondingly.

Under the provisions of the Education Act, 1998, the Board of Management is responsible for the day to day running of a school. The arrangement within the recreation interval for pupils to eat their lunch is a matter for each Board of Management to determine. My Department has not issued guidelines to schools in this regard.

Hygiene is one of the topics covered within the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) Curriculum which is allocated a minimum of 30 minutes a week at all levels of primary school. SPHE provides specific opportunities to enable the child to understand himself or herself, to develop healthy relationships and to establish and maintain healthy patterns of behaviour. It is a particular concern of the curriculum to develop in the child respect and care for his or her body. It also enables the child to acquire the knowledge and attitudes that help to promote a healthy lifestyle. As part of this the child should be enabled to recognise and practise basic hygiene skills such as: personal hygiene practices, hygienic eating habits, developing basic skills in dressing himself/herself and caring for clothes, taking proper care of teeth.

At Post primary, SPHE is compulsory up to Junior Cycle and Physical Health one element of personal health and well-being. In year one, the module focuses on life-style patterns that support good physical health. Body care places emphasis on the importance of washing and body care, especially in adolescence and explores the links between personal hygiene and positive self-image. While in year two, this module revises basic hygiene practices and explores the link between good hygiene habits and self-esteem.

School Guidelines on Mental Health

Ceisteanna (237)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

237. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Education and Skills the current and future mental health initiatives to be put into practice in post-primary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5196/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy may be aware, mental health and well-being promotion is afforded a high priority and is one of the key goals within my Department’s Action Plan for Education in 2016/19. My Department is strongly supportive of the promotion of well-being in our schools and has a key role to play in the promotion of the well-being of children and young people in Ireland, in collaboration with the Departments of Health and Children and Youth Affairs, and with other Government Departments and Agencies.

My Department adopts a holistic and integrated approach to supporting post primary schools in promoting well-being and positive mental health. The process spans the curriculum in schools, whole-school ethos, quality of teaching, learning and assessment, student support and pastoral care and the provision of professional development for teachers. It also involves other supports such as educational psychological services and guidance services, and the interface with other agencies, both nationally and locally.

To support this holistic approach my Department has published a Well-being Policy Statement and Framework for Practice (2018-2023) for all schools which will inform how schools can best promote student well-being. The policy statement and framework for practice provides an overarching structure encompassing existing, ongoing and developing work in the area of Well-being Promotion in schools.

Best practice indicates that schools adopt a whole-school, multi-component preventative approach to Well-being Promotion that includes both universal and targeted interventions. A whole-school approach involves all in the school community engaging in a collaborative process to improve areas of school life that impact on well-being. This will be achieved through the use of a School Self-Evaluation process taking Well-being Promotion as its focus. It will allow schools to benchmark their practice against the statement of effective practice, and identify areas for development, implementation and review. It is envisaged that schools will engage with the statements and adapt and develop the best practice items as they meet the needs in their own school community.

A multi-component approach encourages schools to address areas, not only relating to Teaching and Learning but also relating to culture and environment, policy and planning and relationships and partnerships. These areas are embedded in the Well-being Framework for Practice. Working preventively and providing for both universal and targeted approaches is described as providing a ‘Continuum of Support’. Schools are encouraged to provide supports to promote the well-being of all within the school community as well as providing some targeted interventions for children and young people presenting with vulnerabilities in the area of well-being.

It is my Department’s aim that by 2023 all schools and centres for education will have embedded this dynamic School Self-evaluation process focusing on Well-being Promotion. The implementation of this Well-being Promotion Process is an ongoing process that will ensure the necessary focus on supporting children and young people in having a sense of purpose and fulfilment, and the skills necessary to deal with life’s challenges.

A Well-being Policy Implementation Plan, which has specified seven high level goals, has been agreed for achievement over the next five years. The seven high level goals are as follows:

1. Strengthen and align current structures within the Department and between the Department and other relevant Departments to ensure the coordinated implementation of this Well-being Policy Statement and Framework for Practice.

2. Plan and provide for the national roll-out of a professional development process to facilitate all schools and centres for education to engage with and embed a Well-being Promotion Process which builds professional capacity and collaborative cultures from 2018-2023.

3. Provide for an aligned, comprehensive and easily accessible programme of support for all schools and centres for education to address school-identified well-being promotion needs.

4. Consider how the system is meeting current and future teachers’ learning needs relating to well-being promotion.

5. Develop a research based framework for the evaluation of well-being promotion in schools.

6. Improve use of supports for children and young people at key points of transition within and between education settings.

7. Promote the well-being of school and centre of education personnel.

The Well-being policy Statement encompasses the support for implementation of the Well-being in Post Primary Schools Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention (2013) and Well-being in Primary Schools Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion (2015). These guidelines to present in an integrated way the existing elements of good practice to promote positive mental health, and direct then to new practices as appropriate. They provide clear information for schools and for agencies supporting schools on how to address issues of mental health promotion. The European wide HSE supported, Health Promoting School Process (HSP) is also outlined, and the Well-being Guidelines show how the HSP can be introduced to schools to complement existing good practice. The Guidelines outline how schools support young people through early intervention and prevention, modelled on the NEPS Continuum of Support tiered approach (see appendices below for additional information).

Schools will be supported in this work by a national professional development programme currently being developed and trialed, and full roll out will commence in 2019.

In addition, our national support services will step up the investment made in building capacity within schools to deliver:

- Training for teachers and school staff (including the Incredible Years programme, the Friends programme and the SafeTALK programme)

- Improved curriculum content (through the Junior Cycle Well-being programme, improved resources for teachers to deliver Relationships and Sexuality Education)

- Best practice models of school based student support teams

- Protocols for connecting to wider support services

- A national training programme to support schools to implement the Self-Evaluation Well-being Promotion Process and the development of Well-being Resources, including self-evaluation planning and feedback templates.

The Framework for Junior Cycle 2015 includes an area of learning at junior cycle called Well-being encompassing Physical Education (PE), Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and Civic, Social and Political Education (CSPE). Up to 400 hours is available for learning in the area of Well-being in junior cycle beginning with a minimum of 300 hours of timetabled engagement from 2017 and moving to the full complement of time as the new junior cycle is fully implemented. The Well-being Policy Statement 2018–2023 is the overarching context in which the implementation of the Junior Cycle Well-being Programme is situated in post primary schools. Within this policy and framework implementation, it is expected that the Junior Cycle Well-being Guidelines will be the focus for implementation with the Junior Cycle cohort. The NCCA has developed Guidelines for Junior Cycle Well-being to support schools in planning and implementing their Well-being Programme. The Guidelines situate curricular provision in CSPE, SPHE and PE within the broader context of whole-school provision for well-being. There is a suite of supports provided to post-primary schools to enable them to implement the Well-being Programme. My department works in partnership with the HSE, Health promotion Services in developing lesson plans which will focus on mental health promotion to support implementation of the social personal and health education curriculum in Junior Cycle well-being Programme.

The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), is leading work in supporting schools with review and development of student support teams in reviewing and developing support structures for teachers and students through the implementation of the Guidelines on Student Support Teams in Post- Primary Schools (2014). This guide provides practical support for schools in the implementation of significant elements of the Well-being in Post-Primary Schools Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention (2013) and is in line with current national priorities in relation to the Well-being and mental health promotion among young people.

The third edition of Responding to Critical Incidents: Guidelines and Resource Materials for Teachers issued to all schools in autumn 2016. This document provides comprehensive advice for schools in preparing for and dealing with a crisis situation. Of particular note in the revised edition is the attention to inclusion of advice in relation to use of social media in crisis situations. The Guidelines are an essential support to school communities in preparing for and attending to Critical Incidents that challenge the coping mechanisms of schools. Training is provided by NEPS for all post primary

New resources to tackle cyberbullying “UP2US”, “My Selfie and the wider world” and “Lockers” were launched in 2016 through the internet safety initiative, Webwise and an UP2US social media roadshow was run in collaboration with Beat 102-103. “Being LGBT in School” A Resource for Post-Primary Schools to Prevent homophobic and Transphobic Bullying and Support LGBT Students was developed by the Gay and Lesbian Network Equality (GLEN) as part of the implementation of the Action Plan on Bullying. It will support schools in the implementation of the Department’s Anti-Bullying Procedures. The production of guidelines for boards of management in relation to homophobic bullying is also being supported.

The Department of Education and Skills (through the Teacher Education Section), in conjunction with the National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) has introduced a training model for the delivery of SafeTALK suicide prevention training. This training aims to prepare people to identify those with suicidal thoughts and connect them to people and agencies that can help. SafeTALK has an awareness and training focus; participants learn to recognise and engage persons who might be having thoughts of suicide and to connect them with individuals in the community who are trained to provide suicide intervention(s).

By providing this Well-being Policy Statement and Framework for Practice and capacity building initiatives I believe that we can fulfil our mission to enable individuals to achieve their full potential and contribute to Ireland’s social, cultural and economic development into the future 2026.

In order to support schools in the implementation of this Well-being Policy Statement and Framework for Practice it is planned to develop and roll out a comprehensive programme of professional development, commencing in 2019. This will include facilitating the engagement of schools in the school self-evaluation for well-being promotion process, which will build professional capacity in schools. Work is underway to map the range of existing supports that schools can already access through the PDST, Health and Well-being Team, the Junior Cycle for Teachers and NEPS, with a view to ensuring that there is a comprehensive and easily accessible set of resources to address school-identified well-being promotion needs.

Education and Training Boards Data

Ceisteanna (238)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

238. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of students who have passed the course in the context of the funds in 2016, 2017 and 2018 that ETBs received from an association (details supplied) in order to run the level 5 Quality and Qualifications Ireland training programme; the number of staff required to run the programme; the number of programmes nationally in each of the ETBs; the commencement and end points of the salary scale for the persons staffing the courses; if staff are paid by the ETB; if not, if they are directly employed by the association; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5241/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The training courses that the deputy refers to are run under the Local Training Initiative programme (LTI). This programme is a project-based training and work experience programme carried out in the local community run by local community groups and associations. Staff delivering courses are typically employed by the relevant community group or association. The programme is designed for people who are unemployed, primarily those aged 18 – 35 years who are experiencing difficulty in gaining entry to the labour market due to personal, social or geographic disadvantage. Participants on LTI programmes are entitled to a training allowance and the training is certified and leads to recognised awards on the National Framework of Qualifications at levels 3, 4 and 5. These projects are full-time, 35 hours a week and the duration of the projects varies. Participants must be unemployed and over 16 years of age.

SOLAS allocated over €23m to the 16 Education Training Boards in respect of the Local Training Initiative programme in 2018. This includes funding for the association referred to by the Deputy. The information sought has been requested from the individual ETBs and will be compiled and forwarded to the Deputy when completed.

School Curriculum

Ceisteanna (239)

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

239. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the parts of the primary and secondary level curriculums in which the protection of mental health is taught; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5286/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum is the context in which social and emotional learning is addressed in primary and post primary schools. A wide range of supports and programmes are available to support schools in the implementation of the SPHE curriculum.

My Department is strongly supportive of the promotion of positive mental health awareness in schools. This Department adopts a holistic and integrated approach to supporting schools in promoting positive mental health.

My Department published guidelines for Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention in 2013 and my Department also provides other supports such as educational psychological services and guidance and counselling services, and an interface with other agencies.

My Department has published a Well-being Policy and Framework for Practice (2018-2023) for all schools which will inform how schools can promote student well-being.

The Well-being Policy also builds on the work already taking place in schools including the new Framework for Junior Cycle which places a clear emphasis on overall student health and well-being. This Framework is underpinned by eight principles, one of which is "Well-being" covering the development of key skills of “Managing Myself" and "Staying Well" which cover issues such as mental health and mental ill-health, dealing with tough times, loss and bereavement.

Third Level Costs

Ceisteanna (240)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

240. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the issues faced by pharmacy students who will now have enormous tuition fees for the fifth year of their course will be addressed; his views on whether the changes will result in students not pursuing studies in pharmacy in the future for purely financial reasons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5317/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In Ireland, the Pharmacy Act 2007 conferred responsibility on the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI), the pharmacy regulator, with respect to pharmacy education and training. The PSI is an independent statutory body and is responsible for defining and ensuring the standards of education and training for pharmacists qualifying in Ireland. This includes developing standards, policies and carrying out accreditation of pharmacy degree programmes.

In August 2014, the Minister for Health approved changes to the education and training of pharmacists. This change in Pharmacy education has come about because the regulatory body, the PSI, now requires graduates to have completed a Masters degree before entering the PSI Register and practising as a Pharmacist. The new programme was intended to keep pace with changing healthcare needs in Ireland and offer an improved student experience through its evidence-based and experiential-based learning approach

For those students that commenced their pharmacy course from September 2015, the structure of the pharmacist qualification changed from a four-year Bachelor degree programme followed by a one-year Internship Programme (which resulted in the award of a Level 9 degree) to a five-year fully integrated pharmacy degree programme.

This programme structure supports the dispersal of placements throughout the five years (rather than focussed on the final year) and culminates in the award of a Masters in Pharmacy (M. Pharm) following successful completion of the fifth year.

State funding under the Free Fees initiative is available for undergraduate awards only. In practice, this means that the first four years of the pharmacy programme are funded for those students who satisfy the Free Fees criteria. A full tuition fee is then payable by all students for the final year of the programme, as this is a postgraduate Level 9 award.

SUSI grant support is available for those students who meet the qualifying criteria such as means, residency, nationality and progression. Different supports are available to undergraduate and postgraduate students. Qualifying students attending integrated/intercalated courses, will be initially assessed in respect of the undergraduate portion of the course. A separate application will be required in respect of the portion of the course deemed to be the postgraduate element.

Any students in third-level institutions experiencing exceptional financial need can 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. Details of this fund are available from the Access Office in the third level institution attended.

In addition, tax relief is available on postgraduate tuition fees paid. Details in relation to this relief are available from the Revenue Commissioners.

School Funding

Ceisteanna (241)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

241. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position on fee-paying secondary schools receiving financial assistance to support certain capital building projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5322/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I will arrange for a reply to issue directly to the Deputy in the coming days.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (242)

Martin Heydon

Ceist:

242. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application by a person (details supplied) for a special needs assistant for a child in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5361/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible 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 my 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.

In considering applications for SNA support for individual pupils, the NCSE 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.

As this question relates to a particular child, I have referred the question to the NCSE for their direct reply. I do not have a role in making determinations in individual cases.