Schools Refurbishment

Ceisteanna (166)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

166. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps being taken regarding a prefab at a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24829/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that arrangements are in place to undertake refurbishment works during the summer months to a prefabricated unit that is not currently in use. The unit, comprising two rooms, will be ready for occupation for the commencement of the new school year and both schools will then have access to an additional classroom to meet their needs.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (167)

Pat Deering

Ceist:

167. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills the criteria used by schools to determine the need of a child for a National Educational Psychological Service, NEPS, assessment; the reason for the difficulty to get an assessment; the reason it is limited to two assessments per school regardless of need or size of school; if more funding will be made available for the assessment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24838/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy may be aware my Department in September 2017 introduced a new model to support pupils with special educational needs in our schools. The new model differs significantly from the old Resource Allocation Model, in that Special Education Teacher allocation is now frontloaded into schools to support children with special educational needs. Rather than having to make individual application to the NCSE for additional supports schools can now respond to individual needs in a flexible way and pupils do not have to have a psychological assessment, or a diagnosis of a disability, in order to access Special Education Teaching. This means that those with highest level of need can access the highest level of support within the school in a timely manner.

Educational Psychologists from my Department’s National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) work with schools using a problem solving model to help schools identify need and interventions to support those needs. Under the new model, NEPS encourages schools to use a continuum based assessment and intervention process whereby each school takes responsibility for initial assessment, educational planning and remedial intervention for pupils with learning, emotional or behavioural difficulties. Teachers may consult their NEPS psychologist should they wish to for advice. Only in the event of a failure to make reasonable progress, in spite of the school's best efforts in consultation with NEPS, will the psychologist become involved with an individual child for intensive intervention or assessment.

This system is in line with international best practice and allows psychologists to give early attention to urgent cases and also to help many more children indirectly than could be seen individually. It also ensures that children are not referred unnecessarily for psychological assessment and have equality of access to support prioritised on their individual needs.

Therefore I can advise that parents should discuss concerns in relation to their child or young adult, in the first instance, with the Principal involved and request a review of his/her current Student Support Plan with a view to discussing his/her response to interventions in place and the appropriateness of involvement of the NEPs psychologist.

I hope this clarifies the issue for the Deputy.

State Examinations Commission

Ceisteanna (168)

David Cullinane

Ceist:

168. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the case of a person (detail supplied) who received violent threats; the duty of care procedures his Department and the State Examinations Commission have in place for such incidents; the legal avenues he and the commission plan to explore and deploy in relation to the of violent threats received by the person; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24862/19]

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.

Special Educational Needs Staff

Ceisteanna (169)

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

169. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason for cutting the number of special needs assistants, SNAs, from a school (details supplied) from 3.5 to 3.2 for September 2019; if he and the National Council for Special Education, NCSE, will urgently review the proposal in order that incoming children for September 2019 in need of vital physical, communication and behavioural assistance will receive the care they need in order to attend school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24870/19]

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.

SNA allocations to all schools can change from year to year as children with care needs leave the school, as new children with care needs enrol in a school and as children develop more independent living skills and their care needs diminish over time.

The NCSE Appeals Process may be invoked by a parent or a school where it is considered that a child was not granted access to SNA support because the requirements outlined in Circular 0030/2014 were not complied with. Schools may also appeal a decision, where the school considers that the NCSE, in applying Department policy, has not allocated the appropriate level of SNA support to the school to meet the special educational and/or care needs of the children concerned.

Where a school has received its allocation of SNA support for 2019/20, but wishes new enrolments or assessments to be considered, which were not taken into account when the initial allocation was made, they may continue to make applications to the NCSE.

The closing date for receipt of appeals in regard to SNA allocations is Friday 27 September 2019.

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

State Bodies Expenditure

Ceisteanna (170)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

170. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of travel expenses and subsistence paid to each member of the Irish Research Council in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019. [24971/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The following table outlines the travel expenses and subsistence paid to members of the Irish Research Council for the years 2016, 2017 and 2018. There have been no payments made to members to date in 2019.

Irish Research Council Board Members - Expenses Paid

Name

2016

2017

2018

James Gleeson

97.95

349.81

Eithne McCabe

32.00

194.02

Kieran Conboy

733.19

273.78

Ursula Kilkelly

515.91

Daniel Carey

481.61

Sean Ryder (ceased 01/04/2016)

181.47

Special Educational Needs Staff

Ceisteanna (171)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

171. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the decision to reduce special needs assistant hours for the coming new school year at a school (details supplied) in County Kerry will be reconsidered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24977/19]

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.

SNA allocations to all schools can change from year to year as children with care needs leave the school, as new children with care needs enrol in a school and as children develop more independent living skills and their care needs diminish over time.

The NCSE Appeals Process may be invoked by a parent or a school where it is considered that a child was not granted access to SNA support because the requirements outlined in Circular 0030/2014 were not complied with. Schools may also appeal a decision, where the school considers that the NCSE, in applying Department policy, has not allocated the appropriate level of SNA support to the school to meet the special educational and/or care needs of the children concerned.

Where a school has received its allocation of SNA support for 2019/20, but wishes new enrolments or assessments to be considered, which were not taken into account when the initial allocation was made, they may continue to make applications to the NCSE.

The closing date for receipt of appeals in regard to SNA allocations is Friday 27 September 2019.

As this question relates to a particular school, 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 (172)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

172. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will engage with a school (details supplied) on the location on the site of a new build for a two classroom autism spectrum disorder unit; if he will request a technical team to visit the school in which the principal and management can explain their reasoning for advocating that the new building be attached to the existing school building; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24995/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that an official from my Department has been in contact with the Principal of the school to which he refers. A technical visit has been scheduled to take place at the school next week in order to assess further the optimal solution for the provision of the ASD unit at the School.

Schools Amalgamation

Ceisteanna (173, 174, 175, 176)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

173. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a commitment with the amalgamation of three primary schools in Tuam, County Galway, has not been agreed by 1 September 2019, if DEIS band 1 status will be denied for the new school entity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25002/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

174. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Education and Skills if DEIS band 1 status can still be granted to the new single primary school in Tuam, County Galway, after 1 September 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25003/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

175. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Education and Skills if DEIS Band 1 status cannot be granted to the new single primary school in (details supplied) after 1 September 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25004/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

176. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Education and Skills if DEIS band 1 status currently held cannot be revoked or withdrawn in the event of a full amalgamation not being complete by 1 September 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25005/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 173 to 176, inclusive, together.

My Department’s position, taking into account the current DEIS status of the individual schools, is that on amalgamation, the newly amalgamated school will be granted DEIS Band 1 status.

In terms of future DEIS designation, the amalgamated school will be assessed on the same basis as every other school in the country with resources being allocated accordingly. Any changes in identification methodology applied to DEIS schools nationally will apply to the amalgamated school.

Officials from my Department have been in correspondence with the relevant stakeholders and have met with the person appointed by the Patron to co-ordinate the amalgamation process along with other representatives of the Diocese, to confirm the position in relation to DEIS status.

If for some reason the amalgamation does not proceed, it is important that the schools contact my Department to reverse the process.

Schools Amalgamation

Ceisteanna (177, 178, 179, 180)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

177. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he or his predecessors have made direct contact by phone to a person (details supplied) concerning the amalgamation of three Catholic primary schools; if so, the nature and content of the communication; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25006/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

178. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Education and Skills the directions with time limits given to the representatives of an archdiocese (details supplied) concerning the amalgamation of three Catholic primary schools and the creation of a single new school entity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25007/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

179. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a design team has been appointed for a proposed Roman Catholic primary school in Tuam, County Galway; if so, the person or body; when they were appointed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25008/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

180. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Education and Skills if funds have been allocated in capital budgets or otherwise for the construction of the new proposed Roman Catholic primary school in Tuam, County Galway; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25009/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 177 to 180, inclusive, together.

I wish to advise the Deputy that neither I nor my predecessor made direct contact with the person in question.

I can confirm to the Deputy that the Patron of the amalgamated schools advised my Department in writing that the three catholic primary schools in question were amalgamating on the 1st September 2019. My Department is currently working on the accommodation brief for the new school building in consultation with the school authority based on staffing schedules for the amalgamated schools.

Given my the Department’s experience and assuming no significant issues arise during the project such as delay at planning permission stage it is reasonable to target 2022 for the commencement of the construction phase for the project.

Schools Building Projects Applications

Ceisteanna (181)

Eamon Scanlon

Ceist:

181. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for an extension to a school (details supplied) in County Sligo; the progress to date with the proposal; when construction is likely to commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25030/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

A grant was approved under the Additional Accommodation Scheme to enable the Board of Management of the school in question to provide an extension to the school.

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the project was recently approved to proceed to construction stage. It is expected that construction will commence shortly.

School Transport Administration

Ceisteanna (182)

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

182. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an earlier drop-off time can be facilitated for buses servicing a school (details supplied) in order that the school can attract more students which would allow retention of adequate teaching numbers. [25036/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

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

There are currently over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually.

The purpose of the School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school.

Children are generally eligible for school transport if they satisfy the distance criteria and are attending their nearest school. Children who are eligible for school transport and who complete the application process on time will be accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation for the 2019/20 school year. School transport services for eligible children generally operate during the ‘Standard School Year’ and are scheduled to facilitate a child’s attendance during normal school opening and closing times.

Bus Éireann is responsible for the planning and timetabling of school transport routes. Bus Éireann endeavours, within available resources, to ensure that each eligible child has a reasonable level of school transport service in the context of the Scheme nationally.

Bus Éireann has confirmed that there are currently two school transport scheme services operating to the school referred to by the Deputy, one of which arrives at the school at 9.05 a.m., the other at 9.15 a.m. and that the school starts at 9.30 a.m.

Bus Éireann is currently considering applications for the 2019/20 school year. School transport scheme services operating to the school for the 2019/20 school year will be determined by the number of children who apply and are deemed eligible for school transport.

The terms of the School Transport Schemes are applied equitably on a national basis.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (183)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

183. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the July provision for children (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25040/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

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 July Provision Grant allocations to siblings generally reflect the school grouping principle. This is where one teacher is allocated to a class of six pupils at the appropriate educational level, primary or post primary. Within State-funded classes, differentiated needs are accommodated through a differentiated approach in teaching.

In general where a child is receiving their education in a class setting with other children of mixed age and ability, this should carry through to their July Provision. Accordingly it is considered appropriate, as in a school situation, that a tutor should have the capacity to develop and deliver tuition in an environment which includes other children.

My Department also recognises, however, that it may be difficult to cater for the differentiated needs of some siblings through a differentiated approach in tuition at home. In recognition of the differentiated need of the siblings in question, my Department has sanctioned a 50% increase in the combined allocation of hours for the siblings referred to by the Deputy. This has been communicated to the family.

My Department understands that circumstances of an exceptional nature may arise which justify separate allocations to be made to siblings.

Applications in this regard will require supporting documentation including professional reports from a psychologist detailing the existing arrangements currently in place for the respective children and providing sound reasons why the needs of both children can only be met if they are separated and tutored individually.

An Information Note, outlining all the terms and conditions of the scheme including allocations to siblings, is available on the Department’s website at www.education.ie.

Special Educational Needs Staff

Ceisteanna (184)

John Curran

Ceist:

184. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review the situation in which a school (details supplied) in County Dublin has been informed that it is to lose three special needs assistant posts for the academic school year 2019/2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25042/19]

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.

SNA allocations to all schools can change from year to year as children with care needs leave the school, as new children with care needs enrol in a school and as children develop more independent living skills and their care needs diminish over time.

The NCSE Appeals Process may be invoked by a parent or a school where it is considered that a child was not granted access to SNA support because the requirements outlined in Circular 0030/2014 were not complied with. Schools may also appeal a decision, where the school considers that the NCSE, in applying Department policy, has not allocated the appropriate level of SNA support to the school to meet the special educational and/or care needs of the children concerned.

Where a school has received its allocation of SNA support for 2019/20, but wishes new enrolments or assessments to be considered, which were not taken into account when the initial allocation was made, they may continue to make applications to the NCSE.

The closing date for receipt of appeals in regard to SNA allocations is Friday 27 September 2019.

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

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (185)

John Curran

Ceist:

185. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress being made to provide a new school building for a school (details supplied) in County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25043/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the building project for the school to which he refers is in the process of being devolved for delivery to Dublin and Dún Laoghaire Education and Training Board (DDLETB).

My Department will shortly be making the necessary arrangements to enter into a Service Level Agreement with DDLETB in that respect. This is the first step to initiate the delivery of the project. Thereafter, the ETB will procure a design team for the project to design the buildings, obtain the necessary statutory planning permissions and move the project onward to construction in due course.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (186)

John Curran

Ceist:

186. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress being made to provide an autism spectrum disorder unit at a school (details supplied); when the unit will be fully operational; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25044/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy may be aware, the school to which he refers was granted approval to build a two Classroom ASD unit under the Additional Accommodation Scheme 2014. It was devolved for delivery to the School Authorities and the final drawdown for this grant was paid to the School Authorities in December 2018.