Higher Education Institutions Staff

Ceisteanna (557)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

557. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will address a matter in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33473/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Individual employees with queries on employment matters should contact their local HR unit as the employer has statutory responsibility for their own HR function including lecturing contracts.

Any associated social welfare issues are a matter for my colleague the Minister for Social Protection who is the authority on matters pertaining to social welfare.

Emergency Works Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (558)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

558. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the approval and sanctioning of funding for emergency works applied for by a school (details supplied) will be confirmed; the timeline for the provision in respect to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33490/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department has recently received an application for additional temporary accommodation for the school referred to by the Deputy.

Once the application has been assessed, an official from my Schools' Capital Appraisal Section will contact the school authorities directly with a decision.

Emergency Works Scheme

Ceisteanna (559)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

559. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the criteria used to determine priority sanctioning of emergency works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33491/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that the main purpose of the Emergency Works Scheme is to ensure the availability of funding for urgent works to those schools that are most in need of resources as a result of an emergency situation or on receipt of an enrolment application from a special needs pupil.

An emergency is a situation which poses an immediate risk to health, life, property or the environment; which is sudden, unforeseen and requires immediate action; and, in the case of a school, if not corrected would prevent the school or part thereof from opening.

The scheme is delivered in accordance with the Emergency Works Circular 0018/2011 and each application is assessed on its own merits. The Emergency Works Circular and Application Form are both available on my Department's website www.education.ie.

Summer Works Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (560)

Micheál Martin

Ceist:

560. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the timeline for a decision on applications made by a school (details supplied) for the capital works programme and the summer works programme 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33492/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm that the school referred to above has submitted an application for the Summer Works Scheme (SWS) 2020 for WC facilities (Category 6).

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.

It is my understanding that the school authority is preparing an application for Additional School Accommodation for submission to my Department. Once received, the application will be assessed and the school authority will be contacted directly with a decision.

Schools Building Projects Data

Ceisteanna (561)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

561. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of school building projects in which the total of each project exceeded €20 million that have been completed in the past four years; the location and cost of each project by category of primary, secondary and third-level education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33504/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The vast bulk of school building projects completed in the last four years cost less than €20 million.

A joint building project comprising of Bremore Educate Together Secondary School, which was substantially complete by November 2018, and Scoil Chormaic Primary School, which was substantially complete by December 2017, both located in Balbriggan cost approximately €23.72 million.

The Schools Bundle 4 and Schools Bundle 5 Public Private Partnership (PPP) programme are paid for by way of a monthly Unitary Charge which the Department pays to the PPP company over a 25 year period. The overall cost of each bundle exceeded €20 million, however, the individual cost per school within the bundle is not available.

Schools Bundle 4 comprises of four second level schools: St. Joseph's Tulla, Skibbereen Community School, St. Mary’s College, Dundalk and Comeragh College, Carrick on Suir. All schools reached service commencement during 2016.

Schools Bundle 5 comprises of five school buildings and one further education college. Coláiste Raithín (Secondary School), Ravenswell Primary School in Bray, Loreto Secondary School in Wexford reached service commencement in 2018. Eureka Secondary School in Kells and Carlow IFE achieved service commencement in 2019. The remaining secondary school in Carlow is at an advanced stage.

Regarding the NDFA Programme and school building projects completed over €20m, Bundles 1, 2 and 3 (as bundles) exceeded €20 million.

Bundle 1 consisted of five schools: Griffeen Valley Educate Together, Lucan, Co Dublin; St Joseph’s CBS, Drogheda, Co Louth; Navan Educate Together, Co Meath; SN Bheinn Naofa Boys, Duleek, Co Meath and SN Bheinn Naofa Girls, Duleek, Co Meath.

Bundle 2 consisted of four schools: North Kildare Educate Together, Celbridge, Co Kildare; Tullow CS, Co Carlow; St Brigid’s NS, Kilcullen, Co Kildare and Scoil Náisiúnta Bhride, Clane, Co Kildare.

Bundle 3 consisted of six schools: Cloughduv NS, Coachford, Co Cork; Watergrasshill NS, Fermoy, Co Cork; Nagle Rice, NS, Milltown, Co Kerry; Galvone NS, & Southill JS, Limerick City; Presentation School, Milltown, Co Kerry and CBS Secondary School, Middleton, Co Cork.

At 3rd Level, Grangegorman Development Agency (Site Infrastructure and Public Realm) was substantially complete in 2015 at a cost of approximately €37 million, National University of Ireland, Galway (Human Biology Building) was substantially complete in 2017 at a cost of approximately €26 million and University of Limerick (Glucksman Library) was substantially complete in 2018, again at a cost of approximately €26 million.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Ceisteanna (562)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

562. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated full-year cost of reducing the pupil-teacher ratio to 18:1 by paying all staff on the pre-2011 pay scale. [33557/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Teacher allocations to all second level schools are approved annually by my Department in accordance with established rules based on recognised pupil enrolment and are available on the Department's website. A pupil teacher ratio (ptr) of 19:1 is applied to all second-level schools in the Free-Education System. A ptr of 23:1 is applied to the 52 schools in the fee-charging sector.

Each 1 point adjustment to the pupil teacher ratio at post primary level is estimated to cost in the region of €63 million per annum.

Education Costs

Ceisteanna (563)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

563. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated full-year cost of measures (details supplied). [33558/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The information requested by the Deputy in relation to full year cost of measures is set out the table below.

Details

Estimated Full Year Cost

Indicative estimate of providing free primary and secondary school books to all pupils across all fully publicly funded schools based on a survey by Barnardos

€40m

Abolishing student contribution for third level students

€229m

Abolishing tuition fees paid through Free Fees Initiative for third level students

€324m

Restoring the capitation grant to Primary and Post-Primary schools to pre-2010 levels, €10m of which will be paid during 2020 as I have been able to provide for a 5% increase in capitation funding that will apply from the start of the 2019/20 school year.

€35.6m

Abolishing student fees for all EU post graduate students

€66m

Restoring student grants to pre-2008 levels

In excess of €100m

Restoring support for guidance teachers to pre-2008 levels

€6m

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Ceisteanna (564)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

564. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of reducing the pupil teacher ratio from 1:27 to 1:22. [33580/19]

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.

For the current school year, the staffing schedule at primary level operates on a general average of 26 pupils to every 1 teacher (26:1) which is historically the lowest ever allocation ratio at primary level.

Each 1 point adjustment to the primary staffing schedule is estimated to cost in the region of €13.5 million per annum.

Education Costs

Ceisteanna (565)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

565. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost to increase special education provision by 15% on the 2018 level. [33581/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department's policy aims to ensure that all children with Special Educational Needs can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in mainstream school settings.

In 2018, in the region of €1.75 billion was invested in Special Education, nearly one fifth of the overall Education budget, and up 43% since 2011. The estimate cost to increase special education provision by 15% on the 2018 level would be €0.263 billion.

Funding for special education provision in 2019 will amount to approximately €1.9 billion which is an increase of €0.15 billion (8.5%.) over 2018.

The funding includes provision for the following:

- Up to 15,950 Special Needs Assistant (SNA) posts in primary, post primary and special schools by the end of 2019, assisting children with special educational needs who also have additional and significant care needs arising from a disability.

- Approximately 13,400 Special Education teaching posts in mainstream primary and post primary schools. Special Education teachers support the mainstream class teacher by providing additional teaching support for pupils with special educational needs in schools.

- Approximately 1,600 special classes in mainstream schools for the 2019-20 school year, compared to 548 special classes in 2011. The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) continues to engage with schools in relation to opening special classes where there is an identified need for special class provision.

- 124 special schools with 1500 teachers providing specialist education for pupils with the most complex special needs.

- Assistive technology/specialised equipment where it is essential in order for students to access the curriculum, in accordance with the criteria as set out in DES Circular 0010/2013

- School Transport Scheme for children with Special Educational Needs

- Enhanced capitation grants for special schools and special classes attached to mainstream primary and post primary schools.

- Modification of school buildings.

I am satisfied that the level of provision we have made in recent years has ensured that all children with special educational needs can participate in education, and that most children with special educational needs have been able to be enrolled in the school, or placement of their choice.

There are circumstances where it can be difficult for parents to obtain the school, or special class, placement of their choice, where increases in population, or other issues, have led to pressure on school places.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is actively engaging with schools, patron bodies, parents and other staff to try to ensure each child has a school placement appropriate to their needs for the 2019/20 school year.

Ensuring every child has access to a suitable school placement is a priority for me and my Department and we will continue to ensure that this can be provided for.

Education Funding

Ceisteanna (566)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

566. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost to increase student grants to their highest historical levels. [33582/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

It is not possible to definitively calculate the cost of the various adjustments that have been made to the student support system since 2008, particularly in light of the demographic changes that have taken place.

To put it in context, in 2008/09 there were 57,261 students who benefitted from grant support at a cost of €264 million, whereas in 2017/18 there were over 77,000 students in receipt of grant support at a cost of €363 million.

It is however, estimated that it would cost in excess of €100 million to reverse all of the adjustments that have been made to the student grant scheme since 2008.

Schools Amalgamation

Ceisteanna (567, 569)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

567. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of 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. [33594/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

569. 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. [33596/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 567 and 569 together.

Further to my response to Parliamentary Question No. 125 of 4 July 2019, I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department has now received correspondence in relation to the proposed amalgamation and the matter is being progressed directly with the Patron and the school authorities.

The schools amalgamation process will explore amongst other considerations the need, if any, of additional accommodation to facilitate the amalgamation.

DEIS Status

Question No. 569 answered with Question No. 567.

Ceisteanna (568)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

568. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the DEIS status of a school (details supplied); if this status will be affected by an amalgamation with another school; if so, the reason the DEIS status may be affected in view of the fact 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. [33595/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

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 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 relevant stakeholders to confirm the position in relation to DEIS status.

Question No. 569 answered with Question No. 567.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (570)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

570. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills if consideration will be given to the provision of post-primary specialised units for students in counties Cavan and Monaghan with Down's syndrome similar to that provided to children with autism; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33609/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

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.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (571)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

571. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of all school building projects planned for counties Cavan and Monaghan at present; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33610/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has set out on its website at www.education.ie - Building Works, the current status of all building projects including those in counties Cavan and Monaghan and this information is updated regularly.

Mental Health Services

Ceisteanna (572)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

572. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the oversight conducted by his Department of the number of young persons seeking support and-or counselling for mental health difficulties at third-level in counties Cavan and Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33611/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

All higher education institutions are required to put in place appropriate student services, and the provision of appropriate services to students experiencing mental health issues would be included in that. As part of these services, all HEIs need to consider what is most appropriate in their HEI’s or students' particular context, while also considering best practice models such as peer-led support programmes and seeking to liaise with external services to the fullest extent possible.

School Transport Appeals

Ceisteanna (573)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

573. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of school transport appeals lodged to date in 2019 in counties Cavan and Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33612/19]

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 School Transport Appeals Board is independent of my Department. Under the terms of reference of the Board, the Board determines appeals against decisions made by, or on behalf of, the Department of Education and Skills regarding the provision of school transport services and/or grant-aid under the terms of the School Transport Schemes.

I can advise that a total of three appeals were lodged to date for the 2019 school year for schools in the counties referred to by the Deputy.

School Transport Applications Data

Ceisteanna (574)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

574. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications received for the school transport scheme in 2018; and the number of places provided in counties Cavan and Monaghan. [33613/19]

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.

Throughout the course of the school year Bus Éireann continue to issue tickets and allocate seats to pupils the year once capacity exists on any given route.

There were in the region of 3,700 children at primary and post-primary level, including 335 children with special educational needs, in Cavan who were provided with places in the 2018/19 school year.

There were in the region of 3,300 children at primary and post-primary level, including 120 children with special educational needs, in Monaghan who were provided with places in the 2018/19 school year.

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

Departmental Meetings

Ceisteanna (575)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

575. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the recurring weekly meetings attended by either him or the Secretary General of his Department to date in 2019 at which climate change and-or preparations within his Department to enact a climate plan have been an agenda item; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33614/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department fully engages in any discussion relating to the Government's Climate Action Plan and will continue to participate in future discussions on the matter.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (576)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

576. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the possibility of a special needs assistant for a child (details supplied) will be investigated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33615/19]

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.

Autism Support Services

Ceisteanna (577)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

577. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a grant or funding is available for parents of children with autism that wish to avail of early intervention services privately. [33622/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I understand the Deputy has confirmed that this question relates to the provision of services provided by the HSE.

The provision of health related services including multidisciplinary assessment of needs and referrals to early intervention teams, are under the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Health with the services provided by the Health Service Executive (HSE).

Questions in relation to the provision of such services should therefore be referred to the Department of Health and the HSE.

My Department does not provide grants or funding for parents to engage private Health services.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (578)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

578. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that children are being taught in schools without the necessary supports needed due to delays in assessments for children attending school who have developmental issues and may require specialised support; the efforts being made to clear the backlog in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33645/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can inform the Deputy that in 2017 my Department introduced a new model to support pupils with special educational needs. This means schools are now front-loaded with additional teachers to enable them to respond to pupil needs, rather than requiring an assessment to allow them to apply for such additional resource. This reduces the administrative burden on schools as schools will no longer have to complete an application process annually and apply for newly enrolled pupils who require additional teaching support. Children who need support can have that support provided immediately rather than having to wait for a diagnosis.

Additionally some pupils with developmental issues may require an assessment of need, which is provided by the HSE services.

My Department’s National Educational Psychological Service delivers a tiered, consultative model of service. Each school takes responsibility for initial assessment, educational planning and intervention for pupils with difficulties including those with developmental delay. Teachers consult with their NEPS psychologist for assistance should they need to at this stage in the process. 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 directly involved with an individual child for intensive intervention or assessment.

This system 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 support. I would advise that parents of children in schools for whom concerns exist in relation to developmental delay should, in the first instance, raise the matter with the principal of the relevant school with a view to involving the assigned NEPS psychologist in the issue, where appropriate.

Summer Works Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (579)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

579. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a decision will be made on an application by a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33647/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm that my Department is in receipt of an application under Category 3 (Upgrade of Electrical works) of the Summer Works Schemes (SWS) 2020 from the school referred to by the Deputy.

Commensurate with the level of funding available for SWS 2020, all 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 Status

Ceisteanna (580)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

580. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the medium-term temporary and long-term accommodation for a school (details supplied). [33700/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

A planning application for the school to which the Deputy refers was lodged with Cork County Council on 20 December 2018 and this was refused on 22 February 2019 primarily due to issues around traffic. That decision was upheld by An Bord Pleanála on 24 June 2019.

My Department can confirm that the school will open in suitable interim accommodation in a building in Coláiste Stiofan Naofa, Tramore Road, Cork City. The Patron body Educate Together have been advised of this and they in turn have advised the parents of pupils enrolled.

A building project for the new primary school is included in my Department’s current six year construction programme.

Officials from my Department are working to identify and procure a suitable site for the school. A number of potential site options have been identified and these are currently under consideration.

While a site acquisition process is underway, given the commercial sensitivities associated with land acquisitions generally I am not in a position to comment further at this time.

In the interim my Department will provide suitable interim accommodation arrangements for the school.

School Transport Expenditure

Ceisteanna (581, 582, 583, 584)

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

581. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount spent on the provision of school transport nationally at primary level for the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years, respectively; and the number of children which both yearly amounts accounted for. [33709/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

582. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount spent on the provision of school transport nationally at post-primary level for the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years, respectively; and the number of children which both yearly amounts accounted for. [33710/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

583. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated amount of funding expected to be spent on the provision of school transport at primary level for the 2019-2020 school year; and the number of children this amount should provide for. [33711/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Kathleen Funchion

Ceist:

584. Deputy Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated amount of funding expected to be spent on the provision of school transport at post-primary level for the 2019-2020 school year; and the number of children this amount should provide for. [33712/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 581 to 584, inclusive, together.

School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.

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 as determined by the Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

In the 2018/19 school year there were over 117,500 children, comprising circa 38,300 primary children, 66,100 post-primary children and 13,500 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 at a cost of over €200 million in 2018.

In the 2017/18 school year there were in the region of 117,000 children comprising circa 38,700 primary children, 65,500 post-primary children and 12,800 children with special educational needs transported in over 4,500 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually at a cost of almost €190 million in 2017.

Bus Éireann is currently considering applications for the 2019/20 school year. Services operating for the 2019/20 school year, and the cost of providing these services, will be determined by the number of children who complete the application process on time and who and are deemed eligible for school transport.

The terms of the scheme are applied equitably on a national level.