Schools Amalgamation

Ceisteanna (123, 125)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

123. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding a school (details supplied); if in the context of a forthcoming amalgamation with a neighbouring school, an application for additional accommodation and support rooms will be expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28660/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

125. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills the additional supports available to a school (details supplied) that is amalgamating with a smaller school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28662/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 123 and 125 together.

I wish to advise the Deputy that the initiative for any amalgamation may come from a variety of sources, such as parents, staff, Board of Management and patron(s). Any such proposal to amalgamate schools must involve consultation with all of the relevant stakeholders and follow decisions taken at local level. In that regard, any proposed changes must be well planned and managed in a manner that accommodates the interests of parents, teachers and local communities and contributes to an inclusive education system. Any proposals are then subject to the approval of the Patron(s) and my Department.

In respect of the schools referred to by the Deputy my Department has no record of receiving any correspondence from the Patron relating to the matter.

DEIS Status

Question No. 125 answered with Question No. 123.

Ceisteanna (124)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

124. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the DEIS status of a school (details supplied); if the status will be affected by an amalgamation with another school; the reason the DEIS status may be affected when the demographics of the area remain the same; the avenues of appeal available in the event of a change in DEIS status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28661/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Planning and Building Unit of my Department received correspondence on Tuesday 2nd July 2019from the school authorities in question relating to a proposed amalgamation. I wish to advise the Deputy that, at the time of reply, my Department has no record of receiving correspondence from the Patron relating to this matter.

Any correspondence received and issues raised regarding DEIS status will be considered and a response will be conveyed to the Patron directly.

Question No. 125 answered with Question No. 123.

Departmental Offices

Ceisteanna (126)

John Lahart

Ceist:

126. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Education and Skills the availability of bike parking spaces and lockers in all buildings used by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28694/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Staff of my Department currently occupy 45 offices nationwide, which include three campuses in Dublin, Athlone and Tullamore. Of these offices, eighteen have bicycle spaces available to staff and three offices provide lockers.

Ministerial Transport

Ceisteanna (127)

John Lahart

Ceist:

127. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Education and Skills the model of the car or cars used by him in the performance of his official duties; and if it is a diesel, petrol or electric engine. [28710/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

This is not a matter for the Department.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (128)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

128. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if sufficient SNA supports will be put in place for a student (details supplied). [28751/19]

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.

Student Grant Scheme

Ceisteanna (129)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

129. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if there are financial supports to assist persons in employment in going back to education to study for a higher qualification; if not, if consideration will be given to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28775/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The main support available to students is the statutory based SUSI grant scheme. The scheme supported circa 78,000 students in 2018/19.

Under the terms of the student grant scheme, grant assistance is awarded to students who meet the prescribed conditions of funding including those relating to nationality, residency, previous academic attainment and means. Funding is available to students who meet the above criteria and are attending approved full-time courses in approved institutions, part time courses are not covered by the scheme

If a student is pursuing part-time studies then tax relief at the standard rate of tax may be claimed in respect of tuition fees paid for approved courses at approved colleges of higher education, including approved undergraduate and postgraduate courses in EU Member States. Further information on this tax relief is available from the Revenue Commissioners at www.revenue.ie

Special Educational Needs Data

Ceisteanna (130, 131)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

130. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools in each county with ASD units at primary and post-primary level, in tabular form; the name of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28782/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

131. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools in each county that have applied for funding for the provision of ASD units at primary and post-primary level, in tabular form; the name of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28783/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 130 and 131 together.

At present, the Department of Education and Skills is investing heavily in supporting our children with special educational needs, with €1.8bn being spent annually, about €1 in every 5 of the education budget.

Investment in this area includes an allocation of over €300 million towards providing additional resources specifically to support students with Autism in schools.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of local SENOs, in consultation with the relevant education partners, is responsible for identifying the need for and sanctioning the resourcing of special classes and special school placements in various geographical areas where there is an identified need.

It is open to any school to make an application to the NCSE for the establishment of a specialised provision and where sanctioned, there is a range of supports including capital funding available to the school.

Special Classes can be established within a schools existing accommodation. In such circumstances the school can apply to the Department for capital funding to re-configure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation.

In the case of all new schools, it is general practice to include a Special Education Needs Base (SEN Base) in the accommodation brief for new school buildings, unless local circumstances indicate that it will not be required. Typically, a two classroom SEN Base is provided in new primary schools and a two or four classroom SEN Base is provided in new post primary schools.

There are now 1,459 special classes in place, compared to 548 in 2011, including 1,196 special classes cater for students diagnosed with ASD – 131 Early Intervention, 743 Primary and 322 Post-primary.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) have advised that for the 2019/20 school year there will be a total of 1,618 special classes of which 1,353 will be for children diagnosed with autism.

124 special schools also provide specialist education for those students with complex special educational needs.

Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs are available in tabular form by county on the NCSE website at https://ncse.ie/special-classes

Details of primary and post primary schools where Special Education Needs Bases have been approved may be viewed on my Department's website at https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/Building-Works/ and this information is updated regularly.

Third Level Admissions Data

Ceisteanna (132)

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

132. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills if students domiciled in Northern Ireland who wish to enter third-level education in institutions here in September 2020 and in the years following will be considered non-EU students; if they will be required to pay the non-EU rate of student fees; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28816/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department has confirmed that any eligible Northern Irish/UK students who enrol for eligible courses for the current 2019/20 academic year in a third level college recognised for the purposes of free fees and student grant purposes will be eligible to avail of the Department’s Free Fee and Student Grant Schemes. This includes the student contribution fee for Irish and EU citizens which currently stands at €3,000 for the 2018/19 academic year.

This is in line with assurances given in previous years. I want to make clear my determination that co-operation and collaboration between the education systems on this island should not be maintained but strengthened between education institutions. I am also anxious that this extends on an East-West basis. Facilitating student mobility is a key dimension of this process. It is my intention that students from Northern Ireland will maintain access to EU fees status post Brexit. This is currently being addressed in the context of the Common Travel Area (CTA). In May 2019, a Memorandum of Understanding on the CTA was signed between my colleague, An Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney T.D. and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster David Lidington MP in May 2019. It stated that Irish and British citizens will maintain the right to access all levels of education and training, and associated student support, in each other’s state, on terms no less favourable than those for the citizens of that state.

My Department is currently finalising arrangements with the Department for Education in London, which will elaborate on this principle. I hope to be make an announcement in this regard in the near future, and I know that it will bring the required clarity for Northern Irish students and their families.

Education and Training Boards

Ceisteanna (133)

Gerry Adams

Ceist:

133. Deputy Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills the method by which education and training boards select members for their boards of management; the duration for boards of management of ETBs; and the terms of reference of each. [28823/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Boards of Management of ETB schools and community colleges are committees of the ETB. Section 44 of the Education and Training Board Act 2013 provides for the establishment of such committees. This section provides that such a committee shall consist of not more than 12 members and that the chief executive or staff of the ETB, other than a staff member who is a member of the Education and Training Board, shall not be a member of a committee of the Board. The section also provides that an ETB may appoint a person to be chairperson of such a committee.

In February 2015, pursuant to Sections 44(11) and 44(12)(c) of the Education and Training Boards Act 2013, the then Minister for Education and Skills directed that boards of management of schools and other centres of education established by an education and training board under section 44 may consist exclusively of members who are not members of the education and training board by which they were established.

Boards of Management of ETB schools and community colleges should be constituted as per the Board of Management Handbook for Education and Training Boards and Boards of Management of ETB Schools and Community Colleges which has been prepared by Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) in conjunction with the sector and with my Department. A copy of this handbook is in the following link for the Deputy's information. ETBIHandbook The arrangements in relation to membership of Boards are set out on pages 17 and 18 of the handbook.

The handbook provides that the term of office of a board of management of an ETB school or community College is normally for the duration of the term of office of the ETB, other than in the case of a newly established college. Following the local elections in 2014, the term of ETB Boards of Management was extended until 31st May 2015 in order to provide continuity of service in schools and centres of education during the initial period following the expiry of the term of office of the new ETB Boards. Following the recent local elections, I have directed that the term of office of Finance, Audit & Risk Committees and Boards of Management of schools and other centres of education operated by ETBs may be extended to 30th November 2019 in order to facilitate transition and to ensure continuity of governance and oversight during this period of changeover from the current Committees and Boards to the new Committees and Boards of ETBs.

In relation to terms of reference of ETB Boards of Management, section B of the handbook deals with matters relating to the role, powers, functions, establishment, dissolution, membership and operation of a school/college board of management while section C of the Handbook deals with the specific duties and responsibilities of a school/college board of management.

Schools Building Projects

Ceisteanna (134)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

134. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress made in the past year in providing a new school building for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28831/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware, building projects for the schools in question are included in my Department’s School Building Programme to be delivered under the National Development Plan (NDP).

In the context of progressing a development, my Department recently met with patron and school representatives and further engagement from the representatives is expected over the coming weeks.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (135)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

135. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an application has been received from a school (details supplied) for new replacement accommodation in view of the poor accommodation at the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28833/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm that an application for additional school accommodation was received in my Department, from the school referred to by the Deputy. Supplementary information to support the application has been received and is currently being considered. Once this assessment has been completed, the school authority will be informed of the outcome.

Summer Works Scheme Eligibility

Ceisteanna (136)

James Lawless

Ceist:

136. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a school (details supplied) will qualify for funding to fence boundaries with adjacent lands under the summer works scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28853/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm that the school referred to by the Deputy submitted a Category 10 application (fencing works) under my Department's 2015 Summer Works Scheme. It is intended to undertake an analysis of these outstanding applications later this year. This analysis, together with funding availability and priorities for the SWS in 2020 will determine the pathway forward in respect of these remaining applications.

Summer Works Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (137)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

137. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a summer works scheme application by a school (details supplied). [28859/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The school referred to by the Deputy has submitted an application for science laboratory refurbishment (Category 5) under my Department’s multi-annual Summer Works Scheme (SWS) 2020 onwards.

I wish to advise the Deputy that commensurate with the level of funding available for the SWS in 2020, applications will be assessed on a top down basis in accordance with the prioritisation criteria outlined in the governing Circular Letter for the Scheme. This Circular Letter (0027/2019) is available on my Department's website www.education.ie.

It is my intention to publish a list of successful applicants in Q4 2019 for works to be carried out in summer 2020.

Schools Building Projects

Ceisteanna (138)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

138. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress to date and specific timeframe for the future provision of new or replacement facilities at a school (details supplied); if all the information requested has been received; the timeframe for the completed works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29052/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

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

My Department has carried out a technical visit to the school and the brief for the project is currently being finalised. As soon as this process is completed my Department will be in contact with the school authorities.

Public Inquiries

Ceisteanna (139)

Mary Lou McDonald

Ceist:

139. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he has formally commenced the scoping exercise in relation to the death of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28613/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the matter of the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of the late Shane O'Farrell has been addressed by me on several occasions in both the Dáil and the Seanad. 

Following the Dáil motion calling for an inquiry last year, I sought the advice of the Attorney General on how best to move forward while taking account of the fact that the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, was still investigating certain matters.  Since then, I have appointed retired District Court Judge Gerard Haughton to conduct a scoping exercise and to advise me in relation to the case.

Judge Haughton has met with the family to discuss the terms of reference and to seek their views.  I subsequently received a proposal for some changes to the terms of reference for the scoping exercise and I sought advice from the Attorney General on the changes proposed by Judge Haughton.  That advice has just been received and my Department is currently examining it with a view to finalising the terms of reference and formally commencing the scoping exercise.

Judge Haughton is required to provide me with an interim report within 8 weeks of the commencement of the scoping exercise. He is free to make any recommendation he sees fit, including the freedom to recommend the establishment of any of the various forms of statutory and non-statutory inquiry.  Should he consider it necessary to recommend an inquiry, I have asked him to provide me with draft terms of reference. 

Residency Permits

Ceisteanna (140)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

140. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of an application for a permanent residency card visa by a person (details supplied); and when they can expect a decision on their case. [28643/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I have been informed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that on 27/06/2006 the person concerned applied for a residence card as a spouse of an EU citizen under the provisions of S.I. No. 656/2006 - European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) (No. 2) Regulations 2006.  This application was approved at review stage on 15/08/2008 and the person concerned was granted a residence card valid until 27/12/2011. 

On 04/09/2017, the person concerned made an application for the retention of their residence card on the basis they had divorced their EU citizen spouse.  By decision dated 20/07/2018, the person concerned was informed that their retention application had been approved and that the permission previously granted on 15/08/2008 remained valid until its expiry in 27/12/2011.  At the same time, the applicant was informed that they should submit an application for a Permanent Residence Card.  Pending receipt of that application and as an exceptional measure, the person concerned was given temporary permission until 19/04/2019.  However, I have been informed by INIS that no application for a Permanent Residence Card has been received to date from the person concerned. 

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to INIS by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose.  This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process.  The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response from INIS is, in the Deputy's view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Immigration Status

Ceisteanna (141)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh

Ceist:

141. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of an application for a right to remain visa by a person (details supplied); and when they can expect a decision on the case. [28687/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) of my Department that, in response to a notification pursuant to the provisions of Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the person concerned has submitted written representations.

These representations, together with all other information on file, will be fully considered, under Section 3 (6) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended) and all other applicable legislation, in advance of a final decision being made. 

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to the INIS of my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas Mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up to date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the Parliamentary Questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response from the INIS is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Departmental Offices

Ceisteanna (142)

John Lahart

Ceist:

142. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the availability of bike parking spaces and lockers in all buildings used by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28700/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The majority of properties occupied by my Department are owned or leased by the Office of Public Works (OPW).  All Department buildings have bike parking facilities.  However, due to space constraints lockers are not generally provided.