Financial Services Sector

Ceisteanna (53)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

53. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his views on the recent OECD Review of Financial Reporting in Ireland and its recommendation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27282/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I welcome the OECD Report of Financial Reporting in Ireland. My officials are currently considering the report and the recommendations, to consider options for implementation.

The OECD Review of Financial Reporting in Ireland builds on the experience and knowledge acquired by the Budgeting and Public Expenditures Division of the OECD Directorate for Public Governance over past decades through its Network of Financial Management and Reporting Officials across OECD countries.

The aim of the review was to assist in assessing opportunities and challenges associated with adopting accruals, the accounting basis used by a large majority of OECD countries, and more generally to provide recommendations for the modernisation of the central government financial reporting framework. This OECD mission was organised in the broader context of the work underway in the European Union for developing a single set of harmonised accrual-based accounting standards.

Despite having recognised strengths, the Irish financial reporting framework is not fully aligned with the OECD Recommendation on Budgetary Governance, which advises that countries present a comprehensive account of public finances. Compared to other OECD countries, in Ireland, information on government assets and liabilities is very limited; time lags for publishing reports are among the longest in the OECD; and institutional coverage of the accounts is particularly narrow.

The OECD report notes that accrual data would be a “building block” for richer, more reliable fiscal information, which would help Ireland formulate improved assumptions for fiscal forecasts to be better equipped to identify fiscal risks. In this context it is also important to preserve and maintain the cash-based presentation of budgetary information with which stakeholders in Ireland are familiar.

The OECD identify financial reporting as one of the foundations of good fiscal management. High quality financial reports are essential to ensure that the government’s fiscal decisions are based on the most up to date and accurate understanding of its financial position. Financial reports are a mechanism to hold governments accountable for their financial performance and a critical source of information for stakeholders to understand the government’s financial operations and their implications for economic decisions.

The Financial Management Shared Service (FMSS) project and the Civil Service Renewal Plan offer timely opportunities for moving forward the central Government accounting and financial reporting modernisation agenda. The FMSS is a modern IT system to facilitate effective financial management and it is designed to support the introduction of accrual accounting.

Apprenticeship Programmes

Ceisteanna (54)

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

54. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills the timetable for the actions in respect of apprenticeships that will be taken to implement recommendations as set out in the report, The Role of Apprenticeships and Work Permits in Addressing Ireland’s Skills Needs, which was compiled by the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation. [27417/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I welcome the Committee’s report in relation to the apprenticeship area and I will be considering the recommendations. Many of the recommendations made are already being addressed through the ongoing apprenticeship reform programme, which has seen apprenticeship registrations grow by 80% between 2015 and 2018.

SOLAS has completed a review on pathways to participation in apprenticeship. The purpose of the review is to ensure that our national apprenticeship system is more reflective of the range and diversity of our population, more inclusive of diverse backgrounds and abilities and that apprenticeship opportunities are more readily accessible to all.

Areas highlighted for action include setting disability and socio economic targets, incorporating the national census questions on disability and ethnicity into apprentice registration as a means of gathering more robust data on participation and examining options to expand the bursary which is currently available to employers who employ women in craft apprenticeships.

Increasing practical supports for apprentices from underrepresented groups, creating new pathways via pre-apprenticeship courses around the country and promoting diverse pathways to participation in apprenticeship in the Generation Apprenticeship campaign are also identified as areas for action. A new apprenticeship jobs portal is also currently being piloted to increase the visibility of apprenticeship opportunities.

The Committee's recommendations relating to financial supports for employers relate to the budgetary process and the broader context of competing demands and the overall availability of resources.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (55, 56, 57)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

55. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide specialised educational facilities in mainstream secondary schools for the education of children with Down's syndrome similar to the ASD units provided for children with autism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27205/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

56. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the July provision scheme will be extended to all children with Down's syndrome in view of a recent High Court settlement (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27214/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

57. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the work of the implementation group convened to consider the recommendations of the review by NCSE of the July provision grant scheme in particular the recommendation that an equitable national day activity scheme could be developed for all students with complex special educational needs including children with Down's syndrome; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27220/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 55 to 57, inclusive, together.

My Departments July Provision 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 National Council for Special Education (NCSE) which advises me on these matters published its Policy Advice on Educational Provision for Children with Autism in July 2016 which included a review of the July Scheme.

The 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. 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.

My Department has convened an Implementation Group to ensure that the Report’s recommendations are fully and appropriately considered.

There has been consultation with a number of other Departments and State agencies regarding the future direction of the July Education Programme.

It is expected that the Group will make recommendations shortly concerning a revised scheme which would be implemented next year at the earliest. Before any changes are made, there will be consultations with stakeholders.

The Deputy may be aware that my Department settled two High Court cases where children with Down Syndrome had sought access to the July Provision Scheme. While the terms of the settlement are confidential, I wish to clarify that the children concerned were not given access to the Scheme.

Officials of my Department met with Down Syndrome Ireland this week to discuss the implications of the settlement and I look forward to meeting with the organisation myself shortly.

The policy of my Department is to ensure that all children with special educational needs, including children with Down syndrome, can be provided with an education appropriate to their needs.

Where possible, provision is made for the inclusive education of children with special educational needs.

Department policy is that children with special educational needs should be included where possible and appropriate in mainstream placements, with additional supports provided.

In circumstances where children with special educational needs require more specialised interventions, special school or special class places are provided for.

The majority of pupils with Down syndrome are educated in mainstream settings, with additional teaching or care supports provided where necessary.

Some pupils with Down syndrome, particularly those who have additional needs or co-occurring conditions, are educated in special class or special school settings, and this is provided for.

However, as the policy of the Department of Education and Skills is to provide for inclusive education where possible, it is not proposed to seek to establish specialised units for the education of pupils with Down syndrome in mainstream secondary schools.

Quality and Qualifications Ireland Accreditation

Ceisteanna (58)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

58. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the disability awareness training course is not accredited by Quality and Qualifications Ireland; the further reason it has proposed the cost of accrediting the course would be in the region of €6,000; if accreditation will be made more accessible in order for greater take-up of the disability training grant by businesses here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27224/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) is responsible for validating education and training programmes which lead to qualifications (QQI awards) listed in the National Framework of Qualifications.

There are currently two Disability Awareness Programmes being offered by providers which have been validated by QQI.

QQI charges a fee for the validation of programmes. The level of fee applicable is dependent on the type of provider (for example higher or further education and training provider) offering the programme and the level of programme being offered.

Schools Site Acquisitions

Ceisteanna (59)

John Lahart

Ceist:

59. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the land owned by the ETB regarding the proposed site of the new post-primary school for Citywest is the land on which two primary schools are temporarily accommodated; and if not, if it is different land owned by the ETB in the area. [27227/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm that it is proposed that the new post-primary school for Citywest will be built on the ETB-owned site at Fortunestown Lane, on which two existing primary schools are currently temporarily located.

Schools Site Acquisitions

Ceisteanna (60)

John Lahart

Ceist:

60. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the proposed new post-primary school panned for the Citywest and Saggart area is to be located on land owned by the ETB; and if it will influence the patronage process of the proposed post-primary school. [27228/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm that it is proposed that the new post-primary school for Citywest will be built on an ETB-owned site at Fortunestown Lane, on which two existing primary schools are currently temporarily located.

A patronage process for the new post-primary school in Citywest/Saggart, will be run later this year, significantly ahead of its due opening. This patronage process will be open to all patron bodies and prospective patrons. Parental preferences for each patron, from parents of children who reside in the school planning areas concerned, together with the extent of diversity currently available in these areas, are key to decisions in relation to the outcome of this process.

The new Online Patronage Process System (OPPS) has been developed by my Department to provide objective information to all parents and guardians which will allow them to make an informed choice in expressing a preference for their preferred model of patronage for their child’s education.

The patronage process for new schools is overseen by an external independent advisory group, the New Schools Establishment Group (NSEG). Following their consideration of my Department’s assessment reports, the NSEG will submit a report with recommendations to me for consideration and final decision. The assessment reports and the NSEG recommendations for all such patronage processes are made available on my Department's website.

Updates in relation to further patronage processes will be announced on the OPPS website (https://patronage.education.gov.ie/) and my Department’s website (www.education.ie).

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (61)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

61. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when construction of a school (details supplied), which is in temporary accommodation, will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27313/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The project referred to by the Deputy is currently in architectural planning. The school will be delivered under the Department's Design & Build Programme. This delivery programme uses a professional external Project Manager to progress the project through the relevant stages of architectural planning, tendering and construction in the shortest possible timeframe.

The design is being progressed in preparation for the planning application which will be the next key step in the progression of the project. Prior to lodging the planning application, the school will be invited to review the plans. Until such time as planning has been secured, it will not be possible to provide a timeframe for proceeding to tender and construction.

School Transport Eligibility

Ceisteanna (62)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

62. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has the authority to overrule decisions made by Bus Éireann on the routes buses take under the school transport scheme; if exceptions can be made for routes to be extended short distances to accommodate children who wish to attend a certain school that is not deemed to be their nearest post-primary centre for academic reasons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27323/19]

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.

The purpose of the 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 not eligible for school transport, under the terms of the scheme, may apply to Bus Éireann for transport on a concessionary basis only. Concessionary transport is subject to a number of conditions including that routes will not be extended or altered, additional vehicles will not be introduced, nor will larger vehicles or extra trips using existing vehicles be provided to cater for children who are not eligible; no additional State cost will be incurred.

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

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (63)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

63. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if and when special autism classes and extra places will be made available in a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27361/19]

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.

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.

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.

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 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 by county on the NCSE website www.ncse.ie.

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.

As the matter raised by the Deputy refers to a particular school, I have arranged for the Deputy's question to be forwarded to the National Council for Special Education for direct reply.

School Transport Eligibility

Ceisteanna (64)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

64. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if free school transport will be provided to a child (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27363/19]

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.

Under the terms of the Department's Post Primary School Transport Scheme children are eligible for school transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kilometres from and are attending their nearest education centre as determined by my Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

Bus Éireann has confirmed that the child referred to by the Deputy is not attending her nearest school and is therefore not eligible for school transport under the terms of the above scheme. Only children who are eligible for school transport and who hold a valid medical card (GMS scheme) are exempt from paying the annual charge.

Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport on a concessionary basis only which is subject to a number of terms and conditions that are detailed in the scheme.

The family of the child in question should liaise with their local Bus Éireann office if they wish to avail of transport on a concessionary basis for the 2019/20 school year.

The terms of the Post Primary School Transport Scheme are applied equitably on a national basis.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Ceisteanna (65)

John Curran

Ceist:

65. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the pupil-teacher ratio in DEIS schools will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27375/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

DEIS Plan 2017 acknowledges the allocation of teaching resources to DEIS primary schools with the highest concentrations of children at risk of educational disadvantage has served to improve learning outcomes. It also commits to the evaluation of the level of teaching resources for schools participating in DEIS to be undertaken to inform future policy in this area.

In order to facilitate this a Class Size Working Group was established comprising representatives from the Education Partners, the Educational Research Centre and the relevant Business Units in my Department. This group has met on five occasions to date, to consider what is the optimum and most effective class size to ensure improved learning outcomes of those most at risk of educational disadvantage. A draft of the Report has been circulated to the Group and has been discussed at the most recent meeting last week. Initial feedback and observations are currently being taken on board with a view to a finalised Report before the end of this year. This will help inform future policy in this area.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (66)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

66. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of progress on a new building for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27399/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The delivery of a new 800 pupil post-primary building (including PE Hall and Special Education Needs Base) for the school in question has been devolved to Limerick & Clare ETB (LCETB).

A Stage 1 Report for the project has recently been received in the Department from LCETB. The next step is to arrange a meeting with LCETB and its Design Team to discuss the proposed plan. Subject to the resolution of any issues that may arise in that respect, the project can then be expected to go through the planning process and onwards to construction.

Apprenticeship Data

Ceisteanna (67, 68, 69, 70)

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

67. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of new consortia-led apprenticeship programmes forecasted under the Action Plan to Expand Apprenticeship and Traineeship in Ireland 2016-2020 in each of the years 2016 to 2018 for the hospitality sector; and the number realised to date. [27418/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

68. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills the apprentice population forecasted in the hospitality sector and related subsectors in each of the years 2016 to 2020 under the new consortia-led apprenticeships in tabular form; and the current apprentice population in the hospitality sector and subsectors. [27419/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

69. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of male and female apprentices in training in the hospitality sector and related subsectors for new led apprenticeships in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27420/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Billy Kelleher

Ceist:

70. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of new apprenticeship registrations in the hospitality sector and related subsectors for all new consortia-led apprenticeships in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27421/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 67 to 70, inclusive, together.

Following two calls for proposals in 2015 and 2017 to date five apprenticeships in the food and hospitality sector have been approved for development. These are Craft Butcher (Level 5), Commis Chef (Level 6), Chef de Partie (Level 7), Sous Chef (Level 8) and Executive Chef (Level 9). The first three apprenticeship programmes have commenced with the Sous Chef programme due to commence later in 2019. The Executive Chef programme is due to commence in 2020.

The other information requested by the Deputy is set out in the attached tabular statements.

Table 1

Hospitality and Food: New Apprenticeships - Apprentice Population* May 2019

Apprenticeship

Female

Male

Total

Commis Chef

14

77

91

Chef de Partie

7

21

28

Butcher

1

13

14

Total

22

111

133

*The Skills and Labour Market Research Unit of SOLAS has, to date, not conducted forecasts for consortia led apprenticeships. Unlike in the craft sectors, there is not yet a clear and developed relationship between activity and registrations in these areas, partly because industry needs are being met through a range of programmes in further and higher education and training as well as through other forms of employer led training.

Table 2

Hospitality and Food - New Apprenticeships – New Registrations

Apprenticeship

Dec. 2017

Dec. 2018

May-19

Commis Chef

25

112

6

Chef de Partie

-

31

1

Sous Chef

-

-

0

Butcher

-

7

8

Total

25

150

15