National Development Plan Administration

Ceisteanna (74)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

74. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to increase the size of the National Development Plan 2018-2027 to account for the unplanned expense of the national broadband plan; the amount that may be required; the estimated impact of this increase on the general Government balance in each affected year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22567/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Government's decision to proceed with the National Broadband Plan (NBP) was taken on the basis that additional expenditure that may be required, beyond that already allocated within the National Development Plan (NDP) framework, will be funded by future revenues and will accordingly not have funding repercussions for other planned projects within the NDP.

Based on preliminary assessments, current indications are that the NBP roll-out will require c. €1.6bn in additional funding over the period of the NDP out to 2027. If all other factors were to remain unchanged, this would result in a corresponding impact on the general government balance of approximately 0.1 per cent of both GDP and GNI* on an annual basis out to 2023 as compared with the projections published as part of the Stability Programme Update 2019.

As the Deputy will be aware, projections for general government revenue and expenditure beyond 2023 have not yet been compiled.

River Basin Management Plans

Ceisteanna (75)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

75. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of works on a river (details supplied). [22642/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Office of Public Works (OPW) is responsible for the maintenance of the Brosna Drainage Scheme and during maintenance works in May/June 2018, all blockages were removed from the OPW’s maintainable section of channels.

The area referred to by the Deputy is further upstream of the maintainable channel and does not fall within the remit of the OPW under the Arterial Drainage Acts. The OPW therefore has no responsibility for the maintenance of the channel, nor any authority to carry out any works there.

State Bodies Data

Question No. 77 answered with Question No. 68.

Ceisteanna (76)

Willie Penrose

Ceist:

76. Deputy Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the estimated full-year cost of recruiting eight additional laboratory analysts for the State laboratory; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22702/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I am informed by the State Laboratory that the estimated full year cost of recruiting eight additional laboratory analysts would be €289,890.16.

This calculation is based upon new entrants starting at the first point of the scale, and includes Employers' PRSI at 10.95%.

As set out in the 2019 Revised Estimates for Public Services, the State Laboratory's overall gross budget increased by 6% in 2019, and the budget allocation for Salaries, Wages and Allowances increased by 4%.

Question No. 77 answered with Question No. 68.

School Accommodation

Ceisteanna (78)

Timmy Dooley

Ceist:

78. Deputy Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Education and Skills when he will meet a group of school principals from Ennis, County Clare, and the surrounding area to discuss the lack of post-primary school places for September 2019 and subsequent years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22299/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department understands that post primary schools in Ennis have made offers of school places and that some of those offers have yet to be accepted. In addition, students may have applied to and been offered places in a number of schools and have yet to accept or decline these offers, or have accepted a place in more than one school.

As the Deputy may be aware, the Education (Admission to Schools) Act was signed into law by the President on 18th July 2018. The overall objective of the Act is to provide a new framework for school enrolment that is designed to ensure that every child is treated fairly and that the way in which schools decide on applications for admission is structured, fair and transparent.

Section 66 of the Act, which was commenced on the 3rd October 2018 and is now operational, relates to Co-operation of Boards. It provides for schools, for the purposes of facilitating the efficient admission of students, to share information with each other in respect of applications received, offers made and offers accepted. However, it is a matter for each school to decide whether they wish to share these details with the other schools for the purposes of efficiently processing applications for admission in an area.

It is open to any of the post primary schools in Ennis to submit an application to the Department for interim temporary accommodation should this be required to meet an immediate enrolment need.

An extension at Ennis Community College to cater for projected demographic growth in the area is due to commence on site shortly and when completed, will provide capacity for an additional 200 students.

Ministerial Meetings

Ceisteanna (79)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

79. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of times he has met formally with each chief executive officer and or chairperson or equivalent in each State agency under the remit of his Department to date in 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22316/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The information requested by the Deputy is provided in the table.

Agency

Date

Representative

National Council for Special Education (NCSE)

12/02/2019

Chairperson

14/05/2019

CEO & Head of Operations

National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA)

13/03/2019

CEO

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (80)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

80. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to ensure additional special needs assistant hours are allocated to a person (details supplied). [22324/19]

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.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (81)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

81. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that in the case of a child diagnosed as having complex needs (details supplied) his Department will not appoint a special needs assistant until the child has been assessed by an occupational therapist; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that there is a long delay in the public system for first-time assessment by an occupational therapist; the action he will take in conjunction with the health services to ensure that a special needs assistant is appointed for this child without further delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22326/19]

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.

The availability and provision of health-related therapy services and assessments, including occupational therapy, is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive (HSE), and matters in relation to the provision of such services should be directed to the Minister for Health.

State Examinations Commission

Ceisteanna (82)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

82. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Education and Skills when teachers who corrected cookery examinations for home economics as part of the junior certificate cycle in March 2019 will be paid by the State Examinations Commission; if there is a delay; if so, the reason therefor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22330/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations. In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.

Student Grant Scheme Administration

Ceisteanna (83)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

83. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if assistance is available regarding an apprenticeship (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22336/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Under the Student Grant Scheme, eligible candidates may receive funding, provided they are attending an approved course at an approved institution and meet the prescribed conditions of funding, including those which relate to nationality, residency, previous academic attainment and means. Under the scheme, students must be attending approved full-time courses. Part-time courses are not eligible for support. The Student Grant Scheme is not available to students from this State who are attending further education and training equivalent courses outside of the State.

Schools Establishment

Ceisteanna (84)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

84. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the establishment of a school (details supplied) will be supported; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22366/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy may be aware, I met with members of the Glenroe school Working Group earlier in the year. Following this meeting, my Department received supporting documentation from the Group which is currently under review. A response will issue in due course once the information has been evaluated.

Schools Building Projects Data

Ceisteanna (85)

Frank O'Rourke

Ceist:

85. Deputy Frank O'Rourke asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the proposed new build for a school (details supplied); the progress on the awarding of construction contracts for the new build; the timeline for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22384/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The major building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is currently at Stage 2(b) – Detailed Design.

The pre-qualification process to select a shortlist of suitable contractors has been completed and the Design Team is currently carrying out a final review of tender documentation.

Once this work is complete, my Department will be in contact with the Board of Management of the school with a view to progressing the project to tender stage.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (86)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

86. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to alleviate the pressure for places in special classes for children with autism spectrum disorder in north County Dublin; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that one school (details supplied) which offers 18 places has 101 applications on its waiting list with a number of children in mainstream also waiting for places to become available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22390/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Individual school boards of management are responsible for the establishment of special classes. It is open to any school to make application to the National Council for Special education (NCSE) to establish a special class.

The NCSE, an independent agency of my Department, is responsible for planning, coordinating and advising on education provision for children with special educational needs. The Council ensures that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

In deciding where to establish a special class in an area, the NCSE take account of the current and projected demand and the available school accommodation both current and planned. In this regard, the Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO) may approach individual schools to discuss the matter with a view to finding the optimal location in terms of convenience and sustainability.

When the NCSE sanction a special class in a school, the school can apply to my Department for capital funding to re-configure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation.

Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) who are locally based are available to assist and advise parents whose children have special needs. They also assist and advise schools in making decisions in this area.

There are 37 special schools and 237 special classes attached to mainstream schools in Co. Dublin.

The number of ASD special classes in Co. Dublin have increased from 66 in 2011/2012 to 197 in 2018/2019.

From time to time, the NCSE identifies local areas where additional special class provision is required. In those circumstances, Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) work with the schools and families concerned to resolve the issues involved. This process is ongoing and the NCSE are actively engaging with schools in relation to establishing ASD classes where there is an identified need for the 2019/2020 school year.

As the Deputy's question relates to a specific area of Dublin, I have forwarded it to the National Council for Special Education for direct reply.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (87)

Clare Daly

Ceist:

87. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the fact that parents of children with autism spectrum disorder waiting to secure school places are being advised by his officials to obtain refusal letters from schools with which to then make and appeal against the school under section 29 of the Education Act 1998; if the issue will be addressed; and his plans to deal with the demand for places in a more appropriate way. [22391/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The selection and enrolment of pupils in schools is the responsibility of the authorities of the individual school. My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking school places in an area. However, this may result in some pupils' not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice. As schools may not have a place for every applicant, 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. Under section 15 (2) (d) of the Education Act, 1998, each school is legally obliged to disclose its enrolment policy and to ensure that, as regards that policy, principles of equality and the right of parents to send their children to a school of the parents' choice are respected. Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 provides for an appeal by a parent or guardian to the Secretary General of my Department or, - in the case of an Education and Training Board (ETB) school, - to the ETB in the first instance, where a Board of Management of a school, or a person acting on behalf of the Board, refuses to enrol a student in a school, expels a student, or suspends a student for 20 or more days in any school year. This Department has no authority to compel a school to admit a pupil, except in the case of an appeal under section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 being upheld. Application forms for taking a section 29 appeal, which are available on my Department's website, should include a copy of the letter received from the Board of Management or a person acting on behalf of the Board of Management which outlines the decision to refuse enrolment. This is to ensure that refusal to enrol has taken place. All documents received are sent to the Appeals Committee prior to the hearing.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), an independent agency of my Department, is responsible for planning, coordinating and advising on education provision for children with special educational needs. The Council ensures that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

In deciding where to establish a special class in an area, the NCSE take account of the current and projected demand and the available school accommodation both current and planned. In this regard, the Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO) may approach individual schools to discuss the matter with a view to finding the optimal location in terms of convenience and sustainability.

Individual school boards of management are responsible for the establishment of special classes. It is open to any school to make application to the National Council for Special education (NCSE) to establish a special class.

When the NCSE sanction a special class in a school, the school can apply to my Department for capital funding to re-configure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation.

Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) who are locally based are available to assist and advise parents whose children have special needs. They also assist and advise schools in making decisions in this area.

From time to time, the NCSE identifies local areas where additional special class provision is required. In those circumstances, Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) work with the schools and families concerned to resolve the issues involved.

This process is ongoing and the NCSE are actively engaging with schools in relation to establishing ASD classes where there is an identified need for the 2019/2020 school year.

Schools Refurbishment

Ceisteanna (88)

Alan Farrell

Ceist:

88. Deputy Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress of the remedial work at a school (details supplied); the action being taken to provide additional accommodation for the school year commencing September 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22409/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Deputy will be aware that last October and November my Department carried out initial structural assessments into 42 schools constructed by a particular contractor. In 22 of these schools precautionary measures were implemented to enable continued safe occupation and part of the school to which the Deputy refers was closed following the identification of significant structural issues.

Following on from the initial assessments, which were based on sample opening up works, my Department initiated a second phase of detailed investigations for the schools on the 18th of January last. This next phase of the programme is focusing initially on the 22 schools that have precautionary measures in place and also at the school to which the Deputy refers, which remains partly closed.

The purpose of these investigations is to determine the type and extent of structural issues in each individual school and, from the technical information gathered by the appointed structural engineers, to design permanent remediation solutions for delivery where these are needed.

In line with the update published by my Department in January, detailed structural investigations have now been completed in all of the 22 schools with precautionary measures in place and at the school in question.

The school referred to is different from the schools with precautionary measures in place in that the nature and extent of the issues there are such that the building under investigation was required to close. The school remains operational in another building on site.

Detailed investigations have concluded in the closed building and engineers are working to design solutions. When these are known, a programme of works to remediate the building will be put in place for implementation.

When the works programme is available, the details will be first shared at meetings with the Patrons and the schools involved. Arrangements are being put in place, for such meetings with the Patrons and the School Authorities of the 22 schools, including Ardgillan which has been scheduled in June.

This is an Education and Training Board school. Pending the delivery of the remediation work, my Department will ensure, in continued consultation with the ETB, that any interim accommodations needs at the school are met. In this regard, 2 additional temporary classrooms, a woodwork room and prep area together with a disabled access toilet have been approved for September 2019.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (89)

Joe Carey

Ceist:

89. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a reply will issue to a query (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22423/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The National Council for Special education (NCSE), an independent agency of my Department, is responsible for planning, coordinating and advising on education provision for children with special educational needs. This includes taking account of the flow of students from primary into post primary. The NCSE ensures that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

Individual school boards of management are responsible for the establishment of special classes. It is open to any school to make an application to the NCSE to establish a special class. In deciding where to establish a special class in an area, the NCSE take account of the current and projected demand and the available school accommodation both current and planned. In this regard, the SENO may approach individual schools to discuss the matter with a view to finding the optimal location in terms of convenience and sustainability.

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 Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) special classes.

There are 37 special classes attached to mainstream schools in Co. Clare. Of these, 2 are ASD early intervention classes, 20 are primary ASD classes and 7 are post primary ASD classes. The number of ASD special classes in Co. Clare has increased from 5 in 2011/2012 to 29 in 2018/2019.

Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs are available by county on the NCSE website www.ncse.ie.

The NCSE has informed my Department that they intend to establish over 175 new special classes of which approx. 165 are new ASD special classes nationally for 2019/20 school year to meet currently identified need.

When the NCSE sanction a special class in a school, the school can apply to my Department for capital funding to re-configure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation.

Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) who are locally based are available to assist and advise parents whose children have special needs. Where Parents have been unsuccessful in enrolling their child in a school, they should update their local SENO to inform the planning process.

SENOs are also available to assist and advise schools on special education supports and planning.

The NCSE have advised that there are currently no pupils without a placement option in the area referred to by the Deputy.

From time to time, the NCSE identifies local areas where additional special class provision is required.

In those circumstances, the NCSE and the Department are actively engaging with schools, patrons bodies, parents and others stakeholders to bring the required additional special class placements on stream.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (90)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

90. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if speech and language hours will be allocated to a person (details supplied). [22466/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Speech and Language Therapy Services are under the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Health and the service is provided by the Health Service Executive (HSE). Questions in relation to the provision of speech and language therapy services should therefore be referred to the Department of Health and the HSE.

The Deputy will be aware that a demonstration project to provide in-school and pre-school therapy services has been introduced for the 2018/19 school year.

The demonstration project has been developed by a Working Group which includes representatives from the Departments of Education, Children and Youth Affairs, Health, and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The project is being managed and co-ordinated by the National Council for Special Education with clinical support also being provided by two HSE Therapy Managers which have been assigned to the project.

The purpose of the project is to test a model of tailored therapeutic supports that allows for early intervention in terms of providing speech and language and occupational therapy within ‘educational settings’. This innovative pilot will complement existing HSE funded provision of essential therapy services.

The project is taking place in Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO) 7 Region of South West Dublin, Kildare, and West Wicklow.

This region has been selected to ensure that the pre-school and in-school therapy model can be tested in both urban and rural locations and with a suitable mix of various types of schools and pre-schools.

75 schools, including a representative sample of primary, post primary, and special schools are taking part in the project.

75 Pre-school settings associated with primary schools participating in the project are being included in order to provide for therapy interventions to be made at the earliest possible time and to create linkages between pre-school and primary school provision.

In total, 150 settings are participating in the demonstration project.

The list of the participating schools and pre-schools has been published on my Departments website.

As the project has been taking place in the region of South West Dublin, Kildare, and West Wicklow, only schools from this area could be selected for participation in the demonstration project.

Decisions in relation to the extension of the service to other areas or Counties will be taken following an evaluation of the pilot phase.

In the interim, children who require speech and language therapy services and who are not attending one of the pilot schools will continue access services from the Health Service Executive.

Teacher Supply

Ceisteanna (91)

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

91. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to abolish the five-day rule regarding teacher substitution (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22481/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

It is the policy of my Department that only qualified personnel should be employed by schools as teachers. Unqualified personnel should not be appointed except in exceptional circumstances and only when all avenues for recruiting qualified personnel have been exhausted and only for quite limited time periods. Circular 0031/2011 issued by my Department details a cascade of measures for the recruitment of teachers by schools, prioritising registered teachers over retired registered teachers and unregistered people.

Other than the limited exceptions provided for, Section 30 of the Teaching Council Act, prohibits payment from public funds to people employed as teachers in recognised schools unless they are registered with the Teaching Council.

The limited exceptions include a provision which allows for an unregistered person to be appointed where an employer has made all reasonable efforts to appoint a registered teacher and no registered teacher is available to take up the position in question. An unregistered person, so appointed, may not be paid from public funds for a continuous period of more than 5 consecutive school days. The employer must be satisfied that any such person appointed is competent and capable of acting in the place of a registered teacher in the school.

The employer must also continue to make all reasonable efforts to employ a registered teacher.