Schools Building Projects

Ceisteanna (607)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

607. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the review into the design and build programme of his Department commenced; and when it will conclude. [34017/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department is in the process of commissioning an independent review of current practices in the Design and Build model for the delivery of school buildings (or other similar public buildings) internationally.  I expect to be in a position to announce the organisation carrying out this work shortly. The intention is to publish the Report in the last quarter of 2019.

The nature of this element of the independent review is designed to ensure that it does not prejudice the on-going legal process with respect to the School Remediation Programme.  The planned independent review of the Department’s Design and Build Programme will not commence until the legal process has concluded. The Independent Review of the D&B Construction Model for School Buildings Internationally will be an important precursor for and input into the wider independent review once commenced.

Special Educational Needs

Question No. 609 answered with Question No. 555.

Ceisteanna (608)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

608. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to provide teachers with resources and training to administer individual education planning for children with Down's syndrome; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34018/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy effective planning ensures that a school’s resources are deployed efficiently and that they achieve the desired outcomes. 

Under the Education Act 1998, schools are under statutory obligations to “provide education to students which is appropriate to their abilities and needs” and to “ensure that the educational needs of all students, including those with a disability or other special educational needs, are identified and provided for”. 

Planning is a normal part of a teacher’s work and planning tools, like the student support file, have been created as a resource to help schools provide for their students.

Circulars 0013 and 0014 2017, which introduced the model for allocating special education teachers to schools, noted the importance of educational planning. This is in the context of ensuring that the children with the greatest level of need receive the greatest level of support.

The Circulars note that educational planning is an essential element of a whole-school approach to meeting pupils’ needs.

Guidelines for schools on educational planning and monitoring of outcomes through the Student Support File, are contained in the Guidelines for Primary and Post primary Schools: Supporting Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs in Mainstream Schools.

All schools are therefore encouraged to use Education Plans or Student Support plans for children who are receiving additional teaching or care in schools, including children with Down syndrome.

Whereas there is not currently a statutory requirement for schools to provide a particular form of Individual Education Plan, it is evident that the majority of schools do use some form of education planning to plan and record the support that they provide for pupils with special educational needs. This is considered to be both beneficial for schools and children and is regarded as best practice. 

The ongoing provision of planning will represent a continuation of the good practice that is occurring in the majority of schools.

In relation to training and support for teachers in the provision of special education needs support, the Department provides for a comprehensive system of continuing professional development (CPD) for teachers in the area of special educational needs

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) Regional Support Service, which has incorporated the Special Education Support Service (SESS), the National Behavioural Support Service (NBSS) and the Visiting Teacher Service for the Visually Impaired and Hearing Impaired, provides advice and support to schools on the education and inclusion of students with special educational needs, providing in-school support for teachers and continuing professional development for teachers.

It is also enhancing the multi-disciplinary capacity of the education system through providing access to expert knowledge in areas such as autism, speech and language and challenging behaviour. The SESS, has a role to enhance the quality of learning and teaching of students with special educational needs through the provision of CPD and support for teachers in mainstream schools, primary and post-primary special schools, and special classes.

Through applications to NCSE’s Supports Service, schools and individual teachers can access support in all areas of special education, including support in relation to individualised educational planning.

The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) also provides guidance for schools in supporting children with special educational needs.

NEPS works with schools through the Continuum of Support framework.  NEPS psychologists can provide advice and guidance to Principals and teachers in relation to individual students needs and in the development of whole school approaches to support inclusion, participation and integration. 

NEPS psychologists provide advice and support around the identification of needs, the use of evidence-informed interventions and the monitoring of outcomes for individuals and groups of children. Psychologists can also advise and assist schools on effective whole-school practices, early intervention approaches and good deployment of Special Education Teaching supports.

This Government is committed to helping every child, particularly those with special educational needs, to fulfil their potential.

In 2018 my Department invested over €1.75 Billion in this area - 1/5 of my Department's budget and up 42% since 2011, at which point €1.24 Billion was invested. This increased investment has allowed the Government to increase the number of:

SNAs by 42%, from 10,575 in 2011 to over 15,000 at present.

Special classes by 160% to over 1,450 at present, compared to 548 special classes in 2011.

Special education teachers by 37%, from 9,740 in 2011, to over 13,400 at present.

This Government will continue to prioritise investment in the area of special education support and I am confident that ongoing investment and reform will continue to see improvements made in this area.

Question No. 609 answered with Question No. 555.

Research Funding

Ceisteanna (610)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

610. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the funding allocated in 2019 for research in third-level institutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34027/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department allocates recurrent funding to the Higher Education Authority (HEA) for direct disbursement to their designated higher education institutions. The HEA allocates this funding as a block grant to the institutions, covering such areas as teaching and learning and research. As autonomous bodies, the internal disbursement of this funding is a matter for the individual institution. The latest HERD survey (survey of research and development activities in the higher education sector) indicates that the portion of this block grant allocated to research was €230m in 2016.

My Department is providing funding of €47.6 million in 2019 to the Irish Research Council, HEAnet and the Irish Centre for High End Computing (ICHEC). The Irish Research Council (€40.5 million) mainly funds postgraduate students and early stage postdoctoral researchers and covers the full range of disciplines spanning the humanities, social sciences, business, law, science, engineering and technology. Awards are made on a competitive basis on the basis of excellence following assessment by expert independent panels. HEAnet (€6 million) is Ireland’s National Education and Research Network, providing internet connectivity and associated ICT services to higher education and research organisations. Its e-Infrastructure services underpin the academic research and education activity for the third level sector, as well as providing e-infrastructure for primary and post-primary schools. ICHEC (€1.1 million) is Ireland's national high performance computer centre, providing high-performance computing services, support, education and training for researchers in higher education institutions and Irish enterprise.

In addition, in budget 2019 research funding of €5 million was provided for Institutes of Technology / Technological Universities to incentivise further developments and enhancements in this area.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (611)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

611. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a one year extension to a school placement will be granted in the case of a child (details supplied) in view of the exceptional circumstances of their case; if the information requested by their parents will be provided; and if a decision will be expedited. [34042/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Special Schools funded by my Department are intended to cater for children and young persons with complex special educational needs from the age of 4 years until the end of the school year in which they reach their 18th year.

Some people with a disability, over the age of 18, and who have complex needs, may require specialised support throughout their lives.  Ongoing care and support services within the community, in a post school setting, are provided by voluntary or statutory organisations. Responsibility for such care and support rests with the HSE. 

Special school staff typically have extensive engagement with parents, HSE multi-disciplinary teams and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) which involves planning for the child’s future, including options for further education, training, employment or other placement options subject to the child’s abilities, including the young person’s transition to adult services when they reach the age of 18 years. 

It is important to note that students with complex special educational needs who transfer to adult service settings can continue to participate in educational programmes through Further Education - adult educational programmes or in adult settings which are allocated resources towards educational provision.

A special school may, subject to application, retain students over the age of 18 years who are pursuing courses leading to accreditation on the National Qualifications Framework (Junior Certificate/Leaving Certificate Applied/FETAC 3); for an additional year in order to complete these courses. 

Subject to the fulfilment of the criteria outlined above, special schools are invited to make applications, in January each year.  My Department may then exempt a school from the provisions of Rule 64(1) of the Rules for National Schools for a student.

Additional associated services for students over the age of 18, such as school transport, capitation and teaching resources, will only be considered in respect of those students for whom an exemption from Rule 64(1) of the Rules for National Schools has been granted by the Department of Education and Skills, allowing the school to retain such students for an additional school year. 

My Department received an application from the school for the student referred to by the Deputy, for an exemption from Rule 64(1) for the 2019/2020 school year. As the student does not meet the criteria for retention outlined above, it is not possible to allow their retention for an additional school year. I understand that there is a place available for this young person in HSE Adult Day Services.

Any review of the decision in this case would only take place on receipt of a request  from the school.

Correspondence in this case will be replied to as soon as possible.

Schools Administration

Ceisteanna (612)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

612. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to assist leadership and management in primary schools and provide a day per week for teaching principals for this purpose; when there will be full restoration of promoted posts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34055/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Since my appointment as Minister for Education and Skills I have met with a number of Teaching Principals, including at this year’s IPPN conference, and I appreciate the pressures they face. In Budget 2019, school leadership is again supported with an additional release day for teaching principals in primary schools and a further four additional release days for teaching principals in schools with special classes. These additional release days - 18, 24, and 30 depending on the size of the school - will be effective from 1 September 2019. 

This builds on measures in previous budgets, including €0.4 million made available in Budget 2018 to fund almost 4,600 additional release days for teaching principals in primary schools. This funding provided an increase in the number of release days available to teaching principals in the 2018/19 school year to 17, 23 or 29 days depending on the size of the school. 

€2.75 million was allocated in Budget 2017 to restore middle management positions i.e. the equivalent of approximately 1,300 middle management posts (Assistant Principal I and Assistant Principal II) at both Primary and Post-Primary (2,600 in total).

The Department has committed to revising the Posts of Responsibility table in the leadership and management circulars to take into account retirements during the school year.  This ensures that the current level of Posts of Responsibilities are maintained in the school system. In total more than 1500 leadership posts have been invested in our primary schools in the past two years which has led to one in three teachers now holding promoted positions. 

I recently hosted a symposium on Small Schools which gave me an opportunity to restate the Government’s commitment to small schools and to open a dialogue with all the key stakeholders.

The purpose of this work by the Department is to develop a policy proposal to help support and strengthen small primary schools throughout the country.

Any additional increase will have to be considered as part of the annual budgetary process, alongside the many other demands in the education sector.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Ceisteanna (613)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

613. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to reduce class sizes in primary schools in view of the fact Irish class sizes are five above the EU average; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34056/19]

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.  

It is the annual staffing schedule which determines the allocation of teachers to schools.  For the current school year, it 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.   

The latest figures in relation to pupil teacher ratio 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.  Average class sizes at primary level improved from 24.9 to 24.5 in the same period.  It is expected that the one point improvement in the staffing schedule, implemented in September 2018, will further improve the overall ratio of teacher to students.

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

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (614)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

614. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress to date on the establishment of a new school for the provision of autism specific education in the Dublin 15 area; when the school will officially open; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34161/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ETB have agreed to act as Patron for this start-up special school and it is progressing recruitment and other arrangements with a view to ensuring the school opens in September. Temporary accommodation has been secured to facilitate the school's starting up in September.

DDETB have appointed a school Principal and the recruitment process for other staff is underway.

I am anxious that the Principal, teachers and SNAs in the new school are appropriately supported. My Department, through the NEPS, the NCSE and with the input from the Middletown Centre for Autism are developing a programme of professional learning for school staff that will be available early in the next school year. 

This will include up-skilling before the students commence school on a phased basis and ongoing mentoring, coaching and in-school support during the challenging start-up terms.

The enrolment of students is underway and a plan is being finalised for the opening at the commencement of the 2019/20 school year. The NCSE is keeping in regular contact with the parents of the children concerned and will continue to advise them of progress.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (615)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

615. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the timeline for the delivery of a new permanent school buildings for schools (details supplied); when the new school buildings will open; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34162/19]

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 Construction Programme which is being delivered under the National Development Plan.

The project is at an advanced stage of the tender process, and subject to no issues arising it is anticipated that works could commence in the final quarter of 2019, with an anticipated contract duration of 24 months.

School Patronage

Ceisteanna (616)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

616. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress of talks between the City of Dublin Education and Training Board and Educate Together in relation to extending the co-educational and multi-denominational educational provision at a college (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34163/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Cabra-Phibsboro-Dublin 7 school planning area is currently served by eight post-primary schools, including the school referred to by the Deputy which is currently under the patronage of City of Dublin Education and Training Board (CDETB).

This school, which has a current enrolment of some 120 pupils in the 2018/19 school year, is co-educational and multi-denominational in nature and provides for the local community and could potentially bring additional capacity of this nature to the area. 

As the Deputy has indicated, CDETB and Educate Together have been working together in relation to extending the co-educational and multi-denominational educational provision at the school referred to in a partnership patronage arrangement.

While the discussions are a matter for the bodies concerned in the first instance, I understand that significant progress has been made in this regard and work is continuing over the summer period. I have indicated my support for this initiative and my Department will continue to engage with the bodies concerned in this regard.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (617)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

617. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress on constructing a permanent school building for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34164/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The permanent accommodation for the school referred to by the Deputy is being delivered under my Department’s Design & Build Programme. 

A planning application for the project was lodged in January 2019.  Additional information sought by the Local Authority was provided and a notification of decision to grant planning permission was received on 24 May 2019.  It is intended that the project will proceed to tender shortly and a contractor will be appointed to commence work in quarter 4 of 2019.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (618)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

618. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress on the acquisition of the Phoenix Park racecourse site for a college (details supplied); the position regarding progress on the planning process for the new permanent school; when construction of the new permanent school building will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34165/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The building project referred to by the Deputy is being delivered under my Department's Design & Build programme.

The first step in the process will be the application for planning permission which is expected to be lodged in quarter 3 of 2019. Thereafter, the timeframe for delivery of the school will be dependent on the grant of planning permission. My Department is working to deliver the school's permanent accommodation at the earliest possible date.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (619)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

619. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the timeline for the works on schools (details supplied) to be completed; when the schools will have full possession of all their facilities and school buildings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34166/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Permanent remediation works in the schools to which the Deputy refers commenced earlier this month as part of a wider programme to carry out permanent structural remediation works in 14 schools, detailed structural investigations in 17 schools and fire safety works in 8 schools during the summer holiday period.     

The timetabling for all of the elements of the programme is designed so that the schools involved can re-open at the end of the summer holidays.

My Department will be keeping schools and their Patrons up to date on the position.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (620)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

620. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of notices pursuant to section 37A (5)(a) of the Education Act 1998 issued to schools in the Dublin 7 and Dublin 15 areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34167/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Every child must have the opportunity to avail of his or her right to education pursuant to their constitutional and legal rights and in accordance with their identified needs.

I am aware that there is a need for additional specialist education placements in a number of areas for next September.

In each of these areas, local Special Education Needs Officers are working with parents and schools to ensure that these placements become available.

The Government would prefer that schools provide the necessary places voluntarily.

The Minister has certain legal powers under 37A (2) of the Education Act 1998 (as inserted by Section 8 of the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018) to direct schools to make new places available.

The Act outlines a number of steps that must be taken before a school can be directed to make additional places available including:

- The National Council for Special Education must first form the opinion that there is an insufficient number of places in an area and write to the Minister outlining the reasons and type of placements required.

- If the Ministers agrees, he then serves a statutory notice on the schools identified who then have the right to make representations to the Minister.  

- Statutory notices issued under the Act together with the representations received from the schools are published on the Department’s website.

- The Minister considers the representations and following any consultations with the patrons involve, he may issue a further statutory notice to the schools

Last April, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) issued a report under the Act to the Minister outlining a shortfall in the number of specialist education places required in the Dublin 15 area. 

It is the formal activation of section 37A. This allows for the capacity of schools in an area to be tested and ultimately it can allow the Minister to issue a direction that requires a school to provide additional special education places.

On 28 June, I served statutory notice under the Act on 18 schools in Dublin, and their patron bodies, requesting that they make additional places available.

The 18 schools and their Patron bodies had 14 days to make representations to me in respect of the notices.

I am currently considering these representations and I have the option to consult further with the schools and their Patron bodies before further action is taken.

School Staff

Ceisteanna (621)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

621. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to provide additional resources to a school (details supplied) to assist it in increasing its capacity and pupil numbers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34168/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy that a major building project for the school in question was completed under my Department's Design & Build Programme in 2017.  The project delivered a new 16-classroom school.  I wish to advise the Deputy that the 2019/20 staffing allocation for the school is 12 teachers.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (622)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

622. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of capital projects within the remit of his Department; the amount spent on each project to date; and the anticipated completion date. [34200/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The bulk of the projects being delivered by my Department relate to the school building programme, which are being delivered as part of the 2018 – 2027 National Development Programme.

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

Expenditure on the school building programme amounted to €547 million in 2018. The allocation for 2019 is €622 million.

The school building programme includes 375 large-scale projects.  The current status of all these projects is listed on a county by county basis my Department’s website at www.education.ie and updated on a monthly basis to reflect their progress through the various stages of capital appraisal, site acquisition, design, tender and construction.

The school building programme also involves approximately 1,800 smaller-scale projects that are being delivered on a devolved basis under various schemes such as Additional Accommodation Scheme, Summer Works Scheme or Emergency Works Scheme.

The status of these projects is also updated on a regular basis on my Department’s website.

Schools Establishment

Question No. 624 answered with Question No. 334.

Ceisteanna (623)

John Curran

Ceist:

623. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress made to provide additional primary school places to children in Rathcoole, County Dublin for September 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34232/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level. 

Where demographic data indicates that additional provision is required, the delivery of such additional provision is dependent on the particular circumstances of each case and may, depending on the circumstances, be provided through either one, or a combination of, the following:

- Utilising existing unused capacity within a school or schools,

- Extending the capacity of a school or schools,

- Provision of a new school or schools.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Government recently announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022), including a new 8 classroom primary school to be established in 2020 to serve the Newcastle-Rathcoole and Saggart school planning area. 

This announcement follows nationwide, demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country and the four year horizon will enable increased lead-in times for planning and delivery of the necessary infrastructure. 

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department approved two temporary classrooms and a Special Education Teaching room for Scoil Chronain National School, Rathcoole in 2018 to provide for additional school places. These additional classes are currently being accommodated in Rathcoole Community Centre pending installation of the temporary classrooms at the school. The responsibility for this installation has been devolved to the Board of Management.

In addition, my Department has recently approved 2 further mainstream classrooms for Scoil Chronain to cater for additional primary school places in Rathcoole for September 2019. The responsibility for the installation of these classrooms has also been devolved to the Board of Management.

The requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and in particular would have regard to the impact of the increased rollout of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.  My Department will also continue to monitor areas where the accommodation of existing schools may need to be expanded in order to meet the needs of the local population.

The Educational Welfare Services of the Child and Family Agency (EWS) can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The EWS contact details are as follows: the Educational Welfare Services of the Child and Family Agency, Ground Floor, Brunel Building, Heuston South Quarter, Dublin 8 or by telephone at 01 7718815.

Question No. 624 answered with Question No. 334.

Capitation Grants

Ceisteanna (625)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

625. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills when full restoration of the capitation grant to pre-recession levels of €200 will be provided which is required to fund basic costs for running primary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34248/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I fully recognise the need to improve capitation funding for schools.

In the period 2011 to 2015 the capitation and related grants for schools were reduced by just over 11% in aggregate.  

I am pleased to have been able 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.  The first and full year costs of this increase is €4 million and €10 million respectively.

I must be prudent in the context of ongoing budgetary pressures.  Where it is not possible to do everything that I would like to do in the education sector in any one year I have to prioritise, especially in the context of increasing enrolments.

It is my intention to seek funding for further capitation increases in future budgets.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (626)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

626. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills when funding will be provided for a school (details supplied) to extend, renovate or rebuild the school. [34434/19]

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 (NDP).

My Department has carried out a technical site visit to the school and is now in the process of formulating an accommodation brief for the building project.  Once this process has been completed, my Department will be in further contact with the school Patron. 

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (627)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

627. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of families that avail of the summer education programme; the geographical spread by county; and the number of families that are repeat users with the same teacher in each of the years 2014 to 2018 and to date in 2019. [34470/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The purpose of my Departments extended school year (ESY) scheme – also known as July provision –scheme is to provide funding towards an extended school year for children with a severe or profound general learning disability or children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). 

The scheme was developed to reduce potential regression in learning associated with these specific categories of special education needs over the summer holidays.  

There are two elements to the July Provision Scheme 

School Based July Provision – Schools that have special classes for autism and/or severe and profound learning disability can participate in the July Programme. The Department contacts all eligible schools each year to invite them to participate in the programme and extend their special classes into the month of July. 

Home Based July Provision – where eligible students cannot be accommodated in a school based programme, funding may be provided towards the provision of 40 hours home based tuition.

Details in relation to the number of children accessing the scheme from 2014-2018 are set out below.  Figures for 2019 will not be available until the end of the year.

Table 1. No of children accessing the scheme

Year  

2014  

2015  

2016  

2017  

2018  

No of children

6,731

7,893

8,767

9,446

10,150

A more detailed breakdown of this data for each of the years in question is a resource intensive process and is therefore not readily available to be provided to the Deputy.

School Transport Eligibility

Ceisteanna (628)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

628. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he has taken to review the workings of the school transport system in particular the system for the allocation of concessionary tickets; his plans to seek funding through budget 2020 in order to restore general scheme parameters with a particular focus on rules determining eligibility to the pre-2011 system; if the possibility of amending the current eligibility criteria (details supplied) will be investigated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34473/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills.  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 at a cost of over €200 million in 2018. 

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.

All children who are eligible for school transport and who complete the application process on time will be accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation for the 2019/20 school year. 

Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport on a concessionary basis only and will be facilitated where spare seats are available after eligible children have been accommodated.  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. 

Where the number of ineligible children exceeds the number of spare seats available Bus Éireann will allocate tickets for the spare seats using an agreed selection process.

There are no proposals to revert to the criteria for the scheme which were in place pre-2011.

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

DEIS Expenditure

Ceisteanna (629)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

629. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the annual cost of the DEIS programme; the additional funding provided to DEIS schools by primary and secondary band and the location in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; if the specific financial supports are made available to such schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34477/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department’s overall annual spend on the DEIS Programme is approximately €125 million. Additional funding is provided by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection for the School Meals Programme and by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs for the School Completion Programme. 

The substantial annual investment by my Department on the DEIS Programme includes the provision of;

- 416 Home School Community Liaison Coordinators serving 539 schools, catering for approximately 156,000 pupils.

- Additional posts for DEIS Band 1 primary schools to allow for a reduced pupil teacher ratio.

- Curriculum supports

- Priority access to continuing professional development

- School Excellence Fund - DEIS

- DEIS grants and enhanced book grants.

The full list of supports available to DEIS Schools is available on my Department’s website at the following link: www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/DEIS-Delivering-Equality-of-Opportunity-in-Schools-/DEIS-Supporting-Information/Supports-to-DEIS-Schools.html.

In the 2018/19 school year there are 896 schools participating in the DEIS Programme serving over 183,000 pupils and the full list of schools (broken down by Urban Band 1, Urban Band 2, Rural and Post-Primary) is available also on my Department’s website at

www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/DEIS-Delivering-Equality-of-Opportunity-in-Schools-/.

The list also gives the location of each school.

The number of schools participating in the DEIS Programme can change slightly year on year taking account of both school amalgamations and school closures. 79 schools were added to the DEIS Programme for the first time from September 2017 following the application of the new DEIS identification process and 30 more schools were upgraded from Band 2 to Band 1. 

Each DEIS school is paid an annual DEIS Grant which the school should use to support those pupils most at risk of educational disadvantage. The following table gives details of DEIS Grant expenditure for the 2017/18 and 2018/19 school years and the latest data available for the 2019/20 school year.

School Year

Total Primary €

Total Post Primary

2017/18

€12,154,155

€4,007,245

2018/19

€12,175,367

€4,034,588

2019/20

€11,979,690

Figure not   available – grants will issue in October 2019

School Costs

Ceisteanna (630)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

630. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his Department collects data on the payments collected by individual primary and secondary schools from parents; the circulars that advise on same; his plans to conduct a national survey in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34478/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department does not hold records regarding payments collected from parents including voluntary contributions received by schools. However, my Department’s position in relation to voluntary contributions is that they are permissible provided it is made very clear to parents that there is no question of compulsion to pay and that, in making a contribution, they are doing so of their own volition.

A school may, however, seek payment to cover the cost of photocopying or other such learning materials where the amount sought by the school is consistent with the costs involved and the level of materials provided. It is also permissible for a school to seek payments in respect of extra-curricular activities provided such activities are not obligatory and individual pupils can choose whether or not to participate.

The Education (Admission to Schools) Act, 2018 which was signed into law by the President on 18 July 2018, prohibits the charging of fees or seeking payment or contributions for an application for admission to a school or for the enrolment or continued enrolment of a student in a school.

I intend to shortly publish the Student and Parent Charter Bill. One of the key concepts in the Bill is the need for schools to provide information to parents and students. Each school will be required to prepare, publish and implement a Student and Parent Charter in accordance with national guidelines to be made by the Minister. The charter guidelines will specify the content of charters, including the information to be provided to students and parents relating to the monies that the school receives (including voluntary contributions made by parents) and the expenditure of those monies.

School Textbooks Rental Scheme

Ceisteanna (631, 632)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

631. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of primary and secondary schools that do not operate a book rental scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34479/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

632. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the average book rental payment by parents at primary and second-level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34480/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 631 and 632 together.

My Department provides a book grant to all recognised primary and post primary schools within the Free Education Scheme in order to provide assistance for books including Book Rental Schemes. Under this scheme, the Department provided funding of €16.9 million in 2019 to all of these schools.

It is a matter for the Board of Management of each individual school to decide on its own policy in relation to the use of this funding in the school but they are expected to adopt a cost-conscious approach to the selection of books for use in their classes. The current arrangement relies on the local knowledge of the school in order to ensure a fair allocation of funds to those most in need. The arrangements in relation to this scheme are set out in Circular 0046/2013 which is published on the Department's website at www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0046_2013.pdf.

The most recent figures available indicate that 4% of primary schools and 32% of post-primary schools do not operate a book rental schemes.

My Department does not hold information in relation to the average book rental payments by parents at primary or post-primary level.