Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (226)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

226. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) has not received SNA support; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26793/19]

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 27th September 2019.

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.

Insurance Costs

Ceisteanna (227)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

227. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that special needs schools are facing uncertain futures as a result of rising insurance costs; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that some patron bodies in the health sector that previously included special schools under their patronage in their insurance policies are now being instructed by the Department of Health that they can no longer do so; the arrangements he is making to ensure that capitation grants are increased to allow these schools to pay their insurance premiums; the other measures being undertaken to ensure that such schools remain open; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26830/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Securing and maintaining adequate and appropriate insurance cover is a matter for the managerial authority of each school.

My Department is aware of issues relating to very significant increases in insurance costs in some special schools, through correspondence received from some special schools, through discussions with the National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education (NABMSE) and media reports.

These increases appear due, in some instances, to an annual increase in insurance costs generally and, in some cases, an increase in claims against special schools.

Separately, a number of special schools under the patronage of organisations that are funded by the HSE to provide health and personal social services on behalf of the HSE under Section 38 of the Health Act, experienced increased insurance quotes, when the funded bodies were delegated to the General Indemnity Scheme (GIS) under the State Claims Agency. The effect of the delegation was that the special schools under their patronage needed to seek separate insurance cover.

The mechanism for funding schools, including special schools, is through the provision of capitation for running costs including insurance. There is no scope to provide additional funding to schools outside this mechanism.

Additional funding has been made available to provide for a 5% increase in capitation funding for primary and post-primary schools that will apply from the start of the 2019/20 school year.

While some special schools under the patronage of organisations funded by the HSE under Section 38 and 39 of the Health Act are among special schools that are experiencing increases in insurance costs in recent years, since the funded bodies were delegated to the General Indemnity Scheme (GIS) under the State Claims Agency, over 50% of special schools that are not under this patronage, have always had separate insurance cover funded from their capitation grants and have not had the benefit of being included as part of a larger body's insurance cover.

My Department is working as a matter of urgency with NABMSE and relevant Government departments, including the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the State Claims Agency, to seek a resolution to the issue of increased insurance costs in special schools.

A number of options have been identified to address the issue. These include the development of a group insurance scheme for special schools, which, at this stage, appears to be the most viable.

My Department has been working with NABMSE in recent weeks to explore options for establishing a group insurance scheme. NABMSE has agreed to facilitate the establishment of a group insurance scheme on behalf of special schools.

As a first step, NABMSE met with boards and patrons on 6th June to discuss the matter and options available. An official from my Department attended this meeting. The importance of all special schools signing up for such a scheme was emphasised at the recent meeting and all school representatives who were in attendance, were in favour of exploring the Group Scheme option.

Special Schools have until the 28th June to return a letter authorising NABMSE to represent the schools on all matters pertaining to the proposed special school insurance ‘Group Scheme’. NABMSE hope to publish a request for tender for a brokerage service on receipt of letters of authorization from schools and have a broker in place before the end of July.

15 special schools have contacted my Department directly, who are experiencing difficulty in paying insurance premiums currently, some of which were facing closure as a result. These schools report increases in insurance of between 30% to over 700% in recent years.

My Department has agreed to provide advanced school capitation payments on an exceptional basis to a number of special schools and is currently engaging with the schools involved in this regard. An advance in capitation has been provided to 2 specials schools to date.

In making the decision to issue advanced capitation, my Department has had regard to a number of factors which have combined to create an insurmountable and unforeseeable financial challenge for the special school.

Taking into account the amount of capitation due to the special schools for 2019/20, the impact a full recoupment might have on the schools next year and their ability to meet other costs, methods of recoupment will be explored with each school individually.

It is not sustainable however for my Department to continue to advance capitation payments as a way of meeting vastly increased insurance premiums.

I know that this is a cause of concern to schools as well and it is my hope that a speedy and cost effective resolution can be secured for impacted special schools.

Schools Building Projects Data

Ceisteanna (228, 229, 230, 232, 235, 237, 238, 239, 240, 242, 247, 248, 249)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

228. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number and location of second level schools in north County Kildare scheduled for improvement or replacement and in respect of which submissions have been made by the various school authorities; the extent to which progress is being achieved or otherwise in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26894/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

229. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number and location of primary schools in north County Kildare scheduled for improvement or replacement and in respect of which submissions have been made by the various school authorities; the extent to which progress is being achieved or otherwise in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26895/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

230. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of school replacements, extensions or upgrades submitted by the various school authorities throughout north County Kildare at primary and second level in respect of which construction progress is in hand, is planned for an early date or is awaiting attention; when it is expected that each of the projects will be concluded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26896/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

232. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which the school building programme continues in line with expectation and projections with particular reference to the country in general and County Kildare in particular; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26898/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

235. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of primary and secondary schools in north County Kildare in respect of which proposals have been received for the upgrading or provision of new facilities; the extent to which he expects to respond positively to respective requests in 2019, in view of the urgency of the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26901/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

237. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which primary and second level school construction or upgrading requirements are being met in Naas, County Kildare; if the projects are progressing in line with expectations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26903/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

238. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which primary and second-level school construction or upgrading requirements are being met in Maynooth, County Kildare; if ongoing projects are progressing in line with expectations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26904/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

239. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which primary and second level school construction or upgrading requirements are being met in Celbridge, County Kildare; if the programme remains adequate to meet the demand; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26905/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

240. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which primary and second level school construction or upgrading requirements are being met in Kilcock, County Kildare; if the programme remains adequate to meet the demand in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26906/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

242. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the up-to-date position in regard to the proposed extension, upgrading or replacement of facilities at primary and post-primary level in Clane, County Kildare; the precise stage of development in each case with a view to identifying the extent to which the needs can be met in the medium to short-term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26908/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

247. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position in regard to a proposed extension, upgrading or replacement of facilities at primary and post-primary level in Sallins, County Kildare; the stage of the development in each case with a view to identifying the extent to which the needs can be met in the medium to short-term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26913/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

248. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position in regard to the proposed extension, upgrading or replacement of facilities at primary and post-primary level in Prosperous, County Kildare; the precise stage of development in each case with a view to identifying the extent to which the needs can be met in the medium to short-term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26914/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

249. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills position in regard to the proposed extension, upgrading or replacement of facilities at primary level in Derrinturn, Carbury, County Kildare; the precise stage of the development in each case with a view to identifying the extent to which the needs can be met in the medium to short-term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26915/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 228 to 230, inclusive, 232, 235, 237 to 240, inclusive, 242 and 247 to 249, inclusive, together.

Under Project Ireland 2040, the Department continues to make progress to increase the infrastructural capacity in the schools sector nationally, in order to meet demographic and other demands.

In 2019, capital allocation for the school sector amounts to €622m which is an increase of €80m on the allocation for 2018.

It is anticipated that construction activity in 2018 and 2019 will deliver approx. 40,000 additional and replacement school places. This will facilitate the replacement of over 600 prefabs which is a key element of our prefab replacement programme. It will also facilitate the provision/modernisation of the sports facilities and science laboratories in these schools.

In April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022). This announcement followed nationwide demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country and the 4-year horizon will enable increased lead-in times for planning and delivery of the necessary infrastructure. A new 16 classroom primary school (to be established in September 2019) in Ashbourne and a new special school in Dublin 15 were also announced in 2019 bringing the overall total to 44.

As the Deputy is aware, I announced details of the structural remediation programme last week which has now commenced.

My Department regularly updates the current position on all projects on the school building programme and this information is available in county format on my Department's website at www.education.ie.

Education and Training Boards

Question No. 232 answered with Question No. 228.

Ceisteanna (231)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

231. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress in the advancement of a Gaelcholáiste in north County Kildare, with particular reference to the need to meet the second level requirements of the students emerging from schools (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26897/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In relation to the planned new Gaelcholáiste to which the Deputy refers, my Department has recently received correspondence from the school patron, Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board, which sets out that for operational reasons the ETB has decided it is in the best interest of the school communities in the Maynooth and surrounding areas to defer the opening of this new school from September 2019 to September 2020.

The Gaelcholáiste will be located on the current Maynooth Post Primary School/Maynooth Community College grounds which will be coming available as these schools move to the Maynooth Education Campus.

The ETB has indicated that a high number of expressions of interest for September 2020 have already been received and that enrolment will commence in Autumn 2019 for September 2020.

As the Deputy will be aware, Maynooth Community College opened in 2014 with an Irish-medium Aonad. It is open to students to apply to the Aonad at Maynooth Community College in the 2019/20 school year, ahead of the opening of the Gaelcholáiste in 2020.

Question No. 232 answered with Question No. 228.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (233)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

233. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which he expects to be in a position to continue to ensure the availability of adequate special needs places in all primary and secondary schools in County Kildare and nationally in the short to medium term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26899/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has a statutory function to plan and co-ordinate the provision of education and support services to children with special educational needs, in consultation with the relevant education partners and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

This includes the establishment of special class and special school placements in various geographical areas where there is an identified need.

There are currently 4 special schools and 75 special classes attached to mainstream schools in Co. Kildare. The NCSE has informed my Department that they intend to establish 167 new special classes nationally for 2019/20 school year of which approximately 156 will be new ASD special classes. This includes 2 new primary ASD classes and 1 post-primary ASD class in Co. Kildare.

Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs are available on www.ncse.ie.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) wrote to me on 18th April last formally informing me of their view that there is insufficient special school and special class capacity in Dublin 15, and special class capacity in County Kildare for September.

This letter is the formal activation of section 37A of the Education Act 1998 (as inserted by section 8 of the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018). This contains a procedure through which the capacity of schools in an area can be tested and through which ultimately a Ministerial direction can be made requiring a school to make additional special education provision available.

While progress has been made, some further issues remain to be addressed in the Kildare area.

A working group chaired by the NCSE and involving relevant sections of my Department has been convened to put in place a protocol to ensure that there is effective pro-active planning of specialist educational places for students in special classes and special schools.

The resulting protocol will clarify roles and responsibilities, provide for the exchange of data and information, identify timeframes and cover the short, medium and longer term.

The protocol will support the operation of Section 8 of the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 which empowers the Minister to direct a school to make additional provision for children with special educational needs. A protocol has been drafted and is expected to be finalised shortly.

The NCSE is currently undertaking Policy Advice on Education Provision in Special Classes and Special Schools to examine whether placement in specialist settings brings about improved educational outcomes and experiences, relative to their ability, for students with special educational needs. This Policy Advice is to be completed and a report submitted to the Minister no later than June 2020.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Question No. 235 answered with Question No. 228.

Ceisteanna (234)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

234. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which he expects to be in a position to improve pupil-teacher ratios and class sizes in all primary schools in County Kildare and nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26900/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Budget 2019 marks the third year of a major reinvestment in the education. In 2019, the budget for the Department of Education and Skills will increase by €674 million, a 6.7% increase on last year. In total, the Education budget will have increased by €1.7 billion compared to 2016.

Budget 2019 will see numbers employed in our schools reach the highest ever level. Over 1,300 additional posts in schools will be funded, including more than 370 teaching posts to cater for growth in student population and additional special classes. This builds on the Budget 2018 measure which provided a one point improvement in the staffing schedule in primary schools which brings the position to the most favourable ever seen at primary level.

The 2018/19 school year saw an increase of over 6000 teaching posts in our schools compared to the 2015/16 school year.

The Statistics Section of my Department's website contains extensive data in relation to our schools including pupil teacher ratios and teacher numbers. The latest figures in relation to pupil teacher ratios show an improved ratio of teachers to students from 16:1 to 15.3:1 at primary level when comparing the 2015/16 school year to the 2017/18 school year.

Any additional improvement in the pupil teacher ratio would have to be considered as part of the annual budgetary process, alongside the many other demands from the education sector.

Question No. 235 answered with Question No. 228.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions Nos. 237 to 240, inclusive, answered with Question No. 228.

Ceisteanna (236)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

236. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress in the provision of an extension at a school (details supplied); when plans are likely to progress further; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26902/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department approved funding for the provision of 2 additional classrooms at the school in question together with a contribution towards the conversion of existing accommodation to a multi-purpose room.

The project has recently been approved to proceed to tender stage. As it has been devolved for delivery to the school authority, it is a matter for the Board of Management of the school to advance this project.

Questions Nos. 237 to 240, inclusive, answered with Question No. 228.

Schools Building Projects Status

Question No. 242 answered with Question No. 228.

Ceisteanna (241)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

241. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress in the extension and upgrading of the primary level school facilities at Johnstownbridge, County Kildare; when it is expected that new and upgraded facilities are likely to be made available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26907/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that grant was provided to the school in question in 2015 under my Department's Additional Accommodation Scheme to construct a mainstream classroom, three resource rooms and a WC for assisted users. The project went to construction in 2017 and was completed in 2018. The full grant has been paid to the school.

Question No. 242 answered with Question No. 228.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (243)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

243. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the Maynooth educational campus development is likely to be completed; the full extent and scale of the facilities to be provided; the extent to which the temporary accommodation sought by schools (details supplied) is likely to be provided in the interim; if a target date has been set for the completion of all works and the opening of the two schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26909/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Deputy will be aware that the delivery of Maynooth Educational Campus consisting of two 1,000 pupil schools and a shared Sports Facility has been devolved to Kildare and Wicklow Education & Training Board (KWETB).

The assessment of tenders received for the completion of the remaining works for the project in question has recently been completed. It is expected that a tender report will be issued to the Department shortly for approval and that the successful contractor will recommence work on site in early Q3 2019.

The completion date for the two school buildings is June 2020. The completion date for the sports facility is July 2020.

My Department has approved temporary accommodation to the patron and it is understood that KWETB is making arrangements for the installation of this accommodation.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (244)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

244. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position in respect of a proposal to replace the primary school at Newtown, Enfield, County Kildare, with particular reference to the need to address demographic challenges in the area; if a timescale for delivery has been agreed in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26910/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The School to which the Deputy refers was awarded devolved funding under the Additional Accommodation Scheme 2018 to provide four new classrooms and ancillary facilities. The School Authority has recently been given permission to proceed with an application for planning permission for the project. As it has been devolved for delivery to the school authority, it is now a matter for the Board of Management of the school to advance this project.

Summer Works Scheme

Ceisteanna (245)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

245. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which required works at a school (details supplied) are progressing in accordance with the requirements as set out by the school authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26911/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that a mechanical works project approved under my Department's Summer Works Scheme was recently completed at the school in question. In addition, works to the school's emergency lighting and fire alarm system were also completed.

Schools Building Projects Status

Questions Nos. 247 to 249, inclusive, answered with Question No. 228.

Ceisteanna (246)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

246. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress to date in regard to upgrading and replacement of a school (details supplied); the extent to which the demographic changes in the area are being catered for in accordance with the case set out by the school authorities arising from the demographics of the area; when the project will move to the next stage; if this can be done as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26912/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is included on the Department's school building programme to be delivered as part of the National Development Plan.

The accommodation brief for the project is being finalised at present and my Department will be in contact with the school authorities as soon as this process has been completed.

Questions Nos. 247 to 249, inclusive, answered with Question No. 228.

Technological Universities Status

Ceisteanna (250)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

250. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if confirmation has been received from Dundalk Institute of Technology of plans to pursue technological university status; if the process has been formally commenced; his views on whether an application for technological university status would be of benefit the institute and the north east region; if his attention has been drawn to the high levels of staff support at the institute for technological university status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26916/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Government policy as set out in the Programme for Government is to support the creation of TUs as higher education institutes (HEIs) of sufficient size, capacity and critical mass to have a significant impact at regional, national and international level. These regional HEIs will have greater links to industry and will have an enormous impact on the capacity to create and retain jobs in regions. As such, Government will prioritise those institutions which have clear ambitions and plans for the furthering of industry-relevant technological research and education.

The Government has provided the enabling legislation in the Technological Universities Act 2018 for two or more IoTs to come together to seek TU status. The Technological Universities Act 2018 which was signed into law on 19 March 2018 provides the legal framework underpinning the process for establishment by two or more IoTs as a TU subject to a decision-making process contingent on the meeting of specified eligibility criteria and including assessment by an international advisory panel. The 2018 Act also sets out the functions and governance requirements for these new HEIs. Section 29 of the 2018 Act provides for the application jointly by two or more institutes to the Minister of Education and Skills for an order seeking designation as a TU. Section 38 of the Act provides that an institution and an established TU may also apply to the Minister for such an order.

Government also continues to support those consortia of IoTs seeking to achieve TU status under the legislation in terms of significant Exchequer co-funding. Submissions from HEIs seeking funding under the 2019 call for proposals in respect of TU development and other higher education landscape restructuring projects, for which a total of €14 million in Exchequer funding is being made available, are currently being evaluated by the Higher Education Authority before the Authority makes recommendations for funding allocations to the Minister for Education and Skills.

The potential benefits of becoming a successful TU are significant in terms of increased reach, international recognition, research capacity building, FDI attraction, skills retention and creation, regional development, enhanced staff and student experience and opportunities and socio-economic progression. The merging of institutes of technology will create institutions of sufficient size, capacity and critical mass to maximise those benefits and attract greater investment.

My Department is not aware of any proposals by DkIT to pursue TU status under the 2018 legislation currently and it is understood that at this time DkIT has not either joined or formed a consortium seeking to develop TU proposals.

School Transport Applications

Ceisteanna (251)

John Lahart

Ceist:

251. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application for school transport by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26920/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

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

I am pleased to advise that the child referred to by the Deputy is eligible for school transport and my Department has sanctioned a school transport service; Bus Éireann are currently liaising with the school authorities and the family in relation to the establishment of this service.

In the meantime, the parents may avail of a ‘Special Transport Grant’ towards the cost of making private transport arrangements until the commencement of the service.