Departmental Data

Ceisteanna (372)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

372. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of complaints his Department received under the customer service charter in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019; if his attention has been drawn to issues and or problems in having complaints registered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35642/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department aims to provide quality services to our customers and this is underpinned in our Customer Charter. If a customer is unhappy with the service they have received, there is a complaints procedure in place to address these instances. Details of this procedure  is available on the Department's website.

The complaints procedure advises customers on making a complaint, and the steps that will be taken by Department officials to handle the complaint once it is received.

While a complaint can be made to any member of staff, a formal complaint can be made to my Department’s Customer Service Office, if it cannot be resolved at the initial point of service. Formal complaints can be made to a dedicated e-mail address, complaints@education.gov.ie, and are logged by that Office. The complaints process is clear and transparent and there have been no issues in having complaints registered under the Customer Charter.

The number of formal complaints received by my Department in 2017, 2018 and to date in 2019 are as follows:

2017: 4 formal complaints received

2018: 3 formal complaints received

To date 2019: 5 formal complaints received.

School Staff

Ceisteanna (373, 374)

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

373. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of school secretaries employed to date in 2019, by county, including secretaries directly employed by his Department and those paid using the ancillary services grant, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35660/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Maurice Quinlivan

Ceist:

374. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of school secretaries employed directly by the State to date in 2019; the number of school secretaries paid using the ancillary services grant, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35661/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 373 and 374 together.

The Boards of Management of schools are responsible for the employment of school secretaries and it is a matter for each school to determine the level of secretarial services required for the school.  Funding to cater for these services is made available from my Department under two separate schemes.

One is the 1978/79 scheme under which the school secretaries and caretakers are paid directly through the payroll operated by my Department.  The 1978/79 scheme is being phased out as posts become vacant and no new posts are being created. There are currently 153 primary and 110 post-primary whole time equivalent school secretaries employed by schools under the 1978/79 Scheme and paid through my Department’s payroll.  This information is not maintained on a county basis.

The 1978/79 scheme has been superseded by a more extensive capitation grant scheme towards the funding of ancillary services in schools.  Within the grant programme, the level and extent of services provided is a matter for the school authorities who, through the discretion afforded by the scheme, apply their own arrangements for secretarial services as resources permit.  My Department does not have any direct role in the pay and conditions under which they are engaged.  Given that employment of school secretaries and caretakers is dealt with at local school level, my Department does not have a central record of the number of school secretaries and caretakers funded by the ancillary services grant.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Ceisteanna (375)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

375. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the pupil-teacher ratio in primary schools will be reduced; his plans in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35677/19]

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 15.2:1 at primary level when comparing the 2015/16 school year to the 2018/19 school year. 

Any change 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.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (376)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

376. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a new sports hall for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35679/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department is in receipt of an application for capital funding which includes funding for a new sports hall from the school referred to by the Deputy.  

Under the National Development Plan (NDP), increased funding has been provided for the school sector capital investment programme.  This funding allows for a continued focus on the provision of new permanent school places to keep pace with demographic demand and also provides for an additional focus on the refurbishment of existing school buildings to include the building and modernisation of PE facilities in post-primary schools.

Under the Ireland Project 2040, we will invest €8.4 billion (compared to €4.9 billion in the previous decade) in primary and post primary school buildings.

The immediate priority of my Department is providing 20,000 new and replacement school places each year, to ensure that every child has a school place. The government will focus in the medium term on the provision of PE facilities in post primary schools.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Ceisteanna (377)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

377. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps being taken to reduce teacher to pupil ratios in schools in the Dublin 15 area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35698/19]

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 15.2:1 at primary level when comparing the 2015/16 school year to the 2018/19 school year. 

Any change 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.

School Transport

Ceisteanna (378)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

378. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to allow the medical card waiver to apply for school transport for pupils who may not be attending their nearest school for a variety of reasons; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35701/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.  In the 2018/2019 school year over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €200m 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 completed the application process on time have been accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation for the 2019/20 school year. 

Children who are eligible for school transport and who hold valid medical cards (GMS Scheme) are exempt from paying the annual charge.

In addition, there is no charge for children who are eligible for school transport under the terms of the Department's School Transport Scheme for children with Special Educational Needs.

Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport on a concessionary basis only which is subject to a number of terms and conditions including the availability of spare seats and payment of the annual charge.

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

School Transport Eligibility

Ceisteanna (379)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

379. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a child (details supplied) has been denied school transport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35722/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

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

In the 2018/2019 school year over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €200m in 2018.  

The purpose of my Department’s 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.

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

Bus Éireann has confirmed that the child referred to by the Deputy is not attending their nearest school - the child resides 10.8km from his nearest post-primary centre and 11.4km from the post-primary centre where he attends school.  The child is therefore not eligible for school transport under the terms of the scheme.  My officials have asked Bus Éireann to conduct a calibrated in this instance.

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

Teacher Data

Ceisteanna (380)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

380. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount paid to teachers on part-time and full-time contracts, respectively, in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to the end of June 2019, in tabular form. [35724/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The total expenditure on part time and full time teachers salaries and substitution for 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 to the end of June is set out in the tables below. These figures do not include expenditure in schools operated by Education and Training Boards. 

Total Expenditure on Teachers' Salaries and Substitution in Primary, Voluntary Secondary and Community and Comprehensive Schools.

Year

Primary School teachers

Voluntary Secondary, Community and Comprehensive Schools Teachers

2016

€2,103,672,061

€1,111,028,320

2017

€2,256,756,193

€1,183,387,477

2018

€2,397,580,171

€1,286,534,301

Up to June 2019

€1,235,520,819

€625,882,305

Total Expenditure on Teachers' Salaries in Primary, Voluntary Secondary and Community and Comprehensive Schools.

Year

Primary School teachers

Voluntary Secondary, Community and Comprehensive Schools Teachers

2016

€1,980,209,656

€1,062,078,780

2017

€2,116,963,410

€1,131,267,730

2018

€2,241,936,806

€1,228,927,838

Up to June 2019

€1,131,905,925

€580,547,330

Total Expenditure on Teachers' Substitution in Primary, Voluntary Secondary and Community and Comprehensive Schools.

Year

Primary School teachers

Voluntary Secondary, Community and Comprehensive Schools Teachers

2016

€123,462,405

€48,949,540

2017

€139,792,783

€52,119,747

2018

€155,643,365

€57,606,463

Up to June 2019

€103,614,895

€45,334,975

Teacher Data

Ceisteanna (381)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

381. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of teaching posts filled by teachers working on full-time, part-time and temporary contracts, respectively, in each of the years 2016 to 2018 and to the end of June 2019. [35725/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The information sought by the Deputy is not readily available in the level of detail requested. The information is being collated and I will arrange for it to be forwarded direct to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Teachers' Remuneration

Ceisteanna (382)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

382. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the date, number of teachers impacted and value of payment due not issued for each event in which 30 or more teachers were not paid on an agreed date from January 2019 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35726/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Teachers are paid fortnightly by my Department.  The process for payment is that where a contract is being awarded by a school to a teacher, application forms are submitted to my Department to enable payment to be set up.  Application forms must confirm that a teacher is qualified for the appropriate sector and confirm their registration details with the Teaching Council.  Details of bank accounts and other requested information must also be submitted.  Once a completed application form is received, the payment will be processed as soon as possible.  Normally, payroll closing dates are 10 days ahead of payment date.  Where an application form is not complete or where there are queries on some aspect of the application, the forms will be returned to the schools which can result in a delay to payment being set up for a teacher.

 Where a teacher is working on a casual/non-casual basis, schools enter details of the employee and the claim for payment into the online claims system and this will transfer to the Department’s payroll and be paid according to the payroll schedules.  Schools have details of payroll closing dates.  These payments cannot be processed until they are signed off by the school authorities.

 During July and August, there are usually up to 20,000 changes to the payrolls operated by my Department.  This consists of  retirements, resignations, career breaks, job-sharing, new appointments, increases/decreases in teaching hours, temporary contracts, secondments, award of CID contracts, re-deployments, new schools and school closures.  All appointments and changes are dealt with in chronological order.  It is my Department’s policy to set up as many teachers as possible for the first payroll of the new school year but not all payments can be guaranteed as details may not be received in time to enable payment to be made or applications received may be incomplete, and may have to be returned to the managerial authority for completion. 

Once a contracted teachers is set up on payroll, their payment will continue until the end of the contract.  Teachers’ working on a casual/non-casual basis will be paid on the next scheduled payroll after the details have been submitted by the school.

Teaching Contracts

Ceisteanna (383)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

383. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to an increased use of part-time contracts for teachers; if so, when his attention was drawn to the practice; the actions he will take to address same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35727/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

It is a matter for school management to issue contracts in accordance with the approved teacher allocation and curricular needs of the school, guided by Department of Education & Skills Circulars.

My Department has improved the position of part-time teachers through the implementation of the Ward Report and a revised sequence for allocating available hours in a school which gives preference to part-time teachers employed in that school.

Schools Establishment

Ceisteanna (384)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

384. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills if children living in Hollystown, Dublin 15 are in the catchment area for the new post-primary school in Dublin 15 due to open in 2020; the steps being taken to cater for the educational needs of children in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35729/19]

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. 

Major new residential developments in a school planning area have the potential to alter demand in an area. In that regard, as part of the demographic exercises, my Department engages with each of the local authorities to obtain the up-to-date data on significant new residential developments in each area. This is necessary to ensure that schools infrastructure planning is keeping pace with demographic changes as there is a constantly evolving picture with planned new residential development.

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, in April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022), including a new post-primary school to be established in 2020 to serve the Blanchardstown_West_Dublin15 and BlanchardstownVge_Dublin15 school planning areas as a regional solution.

New schools established since 2011 to meet demographic demand are required, in the first instance, to prioritise pupil applications from within the designated school planning area(s) which the school was established to serve.  This does not preclude schools from enrolling pupils from outside of the designated school planning area where they have sufficient places.

For school planning purposes, Hollystown is located in the adjacent Mulhuddart_Tyrrelstown_D15 school planning area. As the Deputy may be aware, a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school was established in 2014 to serve the Mulhuddart_Tyrrelstown_D15 and had just over 600 pupils enrolled in the 2018/19 school year.

While the recent announcement did not include a new post-primary school for the Mulhuddart_Tyrrelstown_D15 school planning area, the requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and in particular will have regard for 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.

School Transport

Ceisteanna (385)

Margaret Murphy O'Mahony

Ceist:

385. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Skills the areas in which extra funding will be made available for additional school buses for the 2019-2020 school term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35744/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.  In the 2018/2019 school year over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €200m 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 completed the application process on time have been 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.  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.

Minister McHugh has sanctioned an additional €1m on the school transport budget to allow for temporary alleviation measures to address a shortage of school transport capacity on the post primary scheme in 2019. The cost of these measures is to be given to those areas where there is a significant concentration of post-primary children who have paid on time for the 2019/2020 school year and who are attending their second closest school.  A number of measures have been confirmed to alleviate some of the capacity issues in the areas of highest demand in some parts of the country.

Bus Éireann continues to work with the Department of Education and Skills to process applications and design routes to ensure that all eligible pupils who paid on time are facilitated with school transport.  In doing this they are endeavouring to facilitate as many concessionary pupils as possible where capacity exists.  Work is also ongoing with Bus Éireann to assess where limited resources can be invested to ease pressures in other parts of the country.

School Accommodation

Ceisteanna (386)

Paul Murphy

Ceist:

386. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his Department is to carry out a review of its building inspection processes further to the recent revelation that 17 school buildings which were built by a company (details supplied) are in need of remedial work; if details of the inspections will be shared with school management and parents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35751/19]

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 that a Report will be available in the last quarter of 2019.

The Independent Review of the Design and Build Construction Model for School Buildings Internationally will be an important precursor for and input into a planned wider independent review once this is commenced.

The nature of international 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 wider independent review of the Department’s Design & Build Programme will not commence until the legal process has concluded. Similarly, for legal reasons, the assessment outcomes on the buildings involved are not being released at this time.  However, based on engineering advice, my Department has issued written confirmation to the schools concerned that their buildings are safe to occupy.

Schools Refurbishment

Ceisteanna (387)

Paul Murphy

Ceist:

387. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the supports for, and consultation made with, the management, staff and parents of schools (details supplied) in relation to the remedial works that are being carried out due to structural problems found in the school building; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35752/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The schools to which the Deputy refers are included in my Department’s School Remediation Programme.  Schools, Patrons and Education Partners are issued with regular updates on the progression of this on-going programme.  Apart from keeping the school authorities involved directly informed, the purpose of these communications is to assist them with updating parents and staff.  My Department has also made a dedicated e-mail address available for schools to raise  any specific queries they might have and a dedicated team is available to discuss any issues arising for the schools. 

The schools in question are among 17 schools informed earlier this year that detailed structural investigations would be carried out in them when they closed for the summer holidays.  This approach was designed to prevent disruption to the schools.  Direct contact was made with the schools to make the necessary arrangements for these detailed investigations.  Subsequent on the ground communication took place with the school authorities when necessary works were subsequently implemented and written confirmation was given to them that the buildings are safe to occupy.

This level of communication and support will continue with the schools to address any concerns they might have and until permanent remediation works are carried out on the buildings.

Services for People with Disabilities

Ceisteanna (388)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

388. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will request the National Council for Special Education to provide a specialised class for children on the autism spectrum in the proposed new post-primary school in an area (details supplied) under the patronage of Educate Together; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35753/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The National Council for Special education (NCSE), an independent agency of my Department, is responsible for planning, coordinating and advising on education provision for children with special educational needs in consultation with the relevant education partners and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The NCSE ensures that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

Individual school boards of management are responsible for the establishment of special classes. It is open to any school to make application to the NCSE to establish a class. In deciding where to establish a special class in an area, the NCSE take account of the current and projected demand and the available school accommodation both current and planned. In this regard, the SENO may approach individual schools to discuss the matter with a view to finding the optimal location in terms of convenience and sustainability.

When the NCSE sanction a special class in a school, the school can apply to my Department for capital funding to re-configure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation.

Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) who are locally based are available to assist and advice parents whose children have special needs.  Where parents have been unsuccessful in enrolling their child in a school, they should update their local SENO to inform the planning process.

SENOs are also available to assist and advise schools on special education supports and planning.

Since 2011, the NCSE has increased the number of such classes from 548 in 2011 to 1,621 across the country now, of which 1,355 are Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) special classes. This network includes 134 ASD early intervention classes, 849 primary ASD classes and 370 post-primary ASD classes in mainstream schools. 

Special classes for students with ASD provide 6 placements and are staffed with a lower pupil–teacher ratio of 6:1 at primary level and 6:1.5 at post primary level, and also have a minimum of two SNAs for every class of 6 children.

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.

Student Grant Scheme

Ceisteanna (389)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

389. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills if it is planned to reduce the distance for a third-level student to qualify for the non-adjacent SUSI grant from 45 km to 24 km as it was up to 2011; the annual saving estimated in 2011 that would accrue from this change of rule on which the decision was made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35757/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The student maintenance grant is a contribution towards the living costs of a student.  It is not intended to cover the full costs of attending college. The student grant scheme does however, provide for different levels of maintenance support, depending on means.  Grants are also provided at adjacent and non-adjacent rates.  The higher non-adjacent rates are intended to provide additional support to those students who may be living away from home.

Budget 2011 provided for a number of student grant measures which came into effect for the 2011/12 academic year, including the change in the assessment of the qualifying distance criterion for the non-adjacent rate of grant from 24 kilometres to 45 kilometres.

The 24km distance criterion was originally set in 1968 and had not been updated in more than 40 years. Since then, significant improvements have taken place in the road and rail network and it is considered that the revised distance criteria is more consistent with the type of distances that students may legitimately be expected to commute to college.

The current qualifying distance of 45km for the higher non-adjacent rate of student grant takes into account a reasonable radius within which students may commute on a daily basis.

In 2018/19 academic year, 51.8% of maintenance grant holders qualified for the non-adjacent rate and 48.2% for the adjacent rate. The percentage split before the change was 77.9% (non-adjacent rate) and 22.1% (adjacent rate). Assuming that a change to the distance criterion would result in a similar percentage of students qualifying for the higher non-adjacent grant support as existed pre Budget 2011, then the estimated cost would be in the region of €26m.

Liúntais do Mhúinteoirí

Ceisteanna (390)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

390. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna an bhfuil sé i gceist aige an fóirdheontas a bhíodh ar fáil d’ábhair oidí chun freastal ar chúrsaí Gaeltachta a thabhairt ar ais ar an mbunús céanna a raibh fáil air suas go dtí an bhliain 2011; cén costas a bhainfeadh leis seo; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [35758/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Rinneadh an cinneadh le stop a chur le deontais socrúcháin Ghaeltachta i rith na géarchéime eacnamaíochta nuair a rinneadh cinntí an-deacair, ar an drochuair, le cúrsaí airgid an náisiúin a chobhsú. Ag an am, tugadh tús áite leis na hacmhainní le haghaidh seirbhísí oideachais tosaigh a chosaint chomh fada agus ab fhéidir.

Meastar gurb é €1.8m in aghaidh na bliana an costas bliantúil atá ann le maoiniú iomlán a thabhairt don Socrúchán Gaeltachta athchumraithe ar na cláir oiliúna tosaigh múinteoirí (OTM) Bunscoileanna le haghaidh 1,200 múinteoir faoi oiliúint sna ceithre sholáthraí státmhaoinithe. 

Cé nach bhfuil aon soláthar ann faoi láthair i mbuiséad mo Roinne don deontas seo nó cuid de in 2019, mar gheall ar bhrú leanúnach sa bhuiséad atá fós géarchúiseach, tá an t-ábhar á mheas go fóill i mo Roinn.

Chun cuidiú leis na costais den socrúchán Gaeltachta, is féidir le mic léinn a fhaigheann deontas mic léinn agus 100% den deontas táille san áireamh ann, nó mic léinn a cháileodh do dheontas táille iomlán ach go bhfuil an Scéim Táillí Saora á fáil acu, iarratas a dhéanamh ar mhaoiniú i dtreo costas taistil agus lóistín faoin ngné turais allamuigh de dheontas táille, faoi réir ghnáth-théarmaí agus ghnáthchoinníollacha na scéime deontais do mhic léinn. Seachas é seo, i gcásanna ina bhfuil riachtanas áirithe i gceist, is féidir le mic léinn iarratas a dhéanamh ar thacaíocht a fháil faoin gCiste Cúnaimh do Mhic Léinn. Tá eolas maidir leis an gciste seo ar fáil ach teagmháil a dhéanamh leis an Oifigeach Rochtana san institiúid tríú leibhéal a bhfuiltear ag freastal uirthi.

Education Policy

Ceisteanna (391)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

391. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if parents can remove their children from classes in school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35764/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Access to relationship and sexuality education is an important right for students. Schools have a responsibility to provide for this, importantly, in consultation with parents and having regard to the ethos of the school. Curricular provision for Social Personal Health Education (SPHE) and Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) across primary and post-primary level is aimed at ensuring that topics are covered in an age appropriate manner.

In April 2018, a review of Relationships and Sexual Education (RSE) in schools was announced by Mr. Richard Bruton TD, the then Minister for Education and Skills.  The Minister asked the NCCA to undertake a review not just of the content of the curriculum but of how it is taught.

The NCCA were asked to look at a number of specific issues in respect of the curriculum, in particular the importance of consent and what it means. The NCCA will also look at developments in contraception and at healthy, positive, sexual expression and relationships. Other areas for examination are safe use of the Internet and social media and its effects on relationships and self-esteem, and on LGBTQ+ matters.

A consultative event was held in November 2018 at Collins Barracks, Dublin and involved approximately 60 groups and organisation who have expressed an interest in or who are known to have an interest in contributing to the review.  A further round of public consultation is planned by the NCCA, to run up to approximately October 2019, after which the NCCA Council will agree a final report to be sent to my Department.

The NCCA’s draft review of its findings is currently open to consultation to ensure the findings and related draft advice is reflective of the needs of students, schools and parents.  The draft report is available and anyone who wishes to contribute to this consultation, you may do so at:

https://www.ncca.ie/en/updates-and-events/consultations/review-of-relationships-and-sexuality-education-rse

Section 30(2)(e) of the Education Act 1998 states that the Minister shall not require any student to attend instruction in any subject which is contrary to the conscience of the parent of the student or in the case of a student who has reached the age of 18 years, the student.

Schools Facilities

Ceisteanna (392)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

392. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress to date in the provision of replacement facilities and-or a new school at a school (details supplied); the degree to which agreement has been reached in respect of the scale of replacement works; if the project will be expedited in view of the condition of the facility there and the need to maintain health and safety standards; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35790/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Deputy will be aware that a building project for the school to which he refers is included in my Department's school building programme to be delivered as part of the National Development Plan.  As part of the preparatory work for the project, a site visit has been made to the school. My Department will continue to liaise directly with the school authority relating to the progression of the project.

Soláthar Iompar Scoile

Ceisteanna (393)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

393. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna an bhfuil sé i gceist aige a chinntiú go mbeidh dóthain spáis ar an mbus scoile a théann go scoil (sonraí tugtha) le freastal ar na scoláirí ar fad atá ag iarraidh ticéid lamháltais le dul go dtí an scoil seo; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [35795/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Oibríocht shuntasach is ea Iompar Scoile, a bhainistíonn Bus Éireann thar ceann na Roinne.  I scoilbhliain 2018/19 iompraíodh breis is 117,500 páiste - 13,000 páiste le riachtanais speisialta oideachais ina measc - in os cionn 5,000 feithicil gach lá chuig bunscoileanna agus iar-bhunscoileanna ar fud na tíre, thar 100 milliún ciliméadar, rud a chosain breis is €200m in 2018. 

Is é cuspóir na Scéime Iompar Scoile tacú le hiompar páistí a chónaíonn i bhfad ón scoil is gaire dóibh a iompar chun na scoile agus abhaile, ag féachaint do na hacmhainní atá ar fáil.  De ghnáth, cáilíonn páistí d’iompar scoil má shásaíonn siad critéir maidir le fad ón scoil agus má fhreastalaíonn siad ar an scoil is gaire dóibh, de réir chinneadh na Roinne/Bhus Éireann, ag féachaint do chúrsaí éitis agus teanga.

Tá slí ag gach páiste a cháilíonn d’iompar scoile agus a chuir iarratas isteach in am, i gcás ina bhfuil an tseirbhís i dtrácht á cur ar fáil i scoilbhliain 2019/20. 

Páistí nach gcáilíonn d’iompar scoile, féadfaidh siad iarratas a dhéanamh ar iompar ar bhonn lamháltais amháin agus gheobhaidh siad áit má tá suíochán le spáráil tar éis áiteanna a thabhairt do na páistí cáilithe.  I gcás inar mó líon na bpáistí neamhcháilithe ná líon na suíochán atá le spáráil, leithdháilfidh Bus Éireann ticéid do na suíocháin atá le spáráil ar mhodh aontaithe roghnúcháin.

Tá milliún euro breise ceadaithe ag an Aire McHugh don bhuiséad iompar scoile chun íoc as bearta maolaithe sa ghearrthéarma a leigheasfadh an ganntanas áiteanna ar an gcóras iompair scoil iar-bhunscoile in 2019.  Bronnfar an t-airgead ar na ceantair sin is mó a bhfuil páistí iar-bhunscoile a d’íoc in am le haghaidh áit iompair scoile sa scoilbhliain 2019/2020 agus atá ag freastal ar an dara scoil is gaire dóibh.  Tá bearta áirithe deimhnithe againn chun cuid de na fadhbanna acmhainne a leigheas sna ceantair is mó éileamh sa tír.

Tá Bus Éireann ag obair leis an Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna i gcónaí, ag próiseáil na n-iarratas agus ag dearadh bealaí le cinntiú go bhfaigheann gach dalta cáilithe a d’íoc in am áit ar an scéim iompar scoile.  Chuige sin, tá siad ag iarraidh a áit a thabhairt don líon is mó is féidir de dhaltaí lamháltais nuair a bhíonn suíocháin le spáráil.  Tá obair leanúnach ar siúl le Bus Éireann féachaint cá háit is fearr na hacmhainní teoranta a infheistiú chun an brú i gcodanna eile den tír a mhaolú.

School Transport Appeals

Ceisteanna (394)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

394. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the waiting time to have an appeal heard by the Student Transport Appeal Board for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35796/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

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

In the 2018/2019 school year over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €200m in 2018.  

The purpose of my Department’s 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.

The School Transport Appeals Board, which is independent of my Department, 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. 

An appeal was lodged with the School Transport Appeals Board on the 17th June 2019 in relation to the child referred to by the Deputy. The Board has requested the School Transport Section to provide a report in accordance with the terms of the Board’s Operating Procedures. When received, the Board will liaise directly with the family regarding the appeal date and their subsequent deliberations.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (395)

James Browne

Ceist:

395. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the construction of a new school (details supplied); if the schedule of accommodation has been completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35809/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is in the process of being devolved to Waterford & Wexford Education and Training Board (WWETB) for delivery.

I can confirm that the schedule of accommodation for the proposed new school has been completed and a copy has been provided to the patron.

The next step in the process is to put in place a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between my Department and WWETB. The Department is currently carrying out the preparatory work necessary to issue the SLA to WWETB for its signature.

Thereafter, the ETB will procure a design team for the project to design the building, obtain the necessary statutory planning permission and move the project onward to construction in due course. As the project is at an early stage in the delivery process, it is not possible at this time to give a date for its completion.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (396)

James Browne

Ceist:

396. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the construction of a new school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35810/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The major building project referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of architectural planning, Stage 2(b) – Detailed Design which includes the application for Planning Permission, Fire Cert and Disability Access Cert and the preparation of tender documents.  All statutory approvals have been secured. 

The Design Team is currently completing the Stage 2(b) report for submission to the Department for review.  Upon receipt and review of the Stage 2(b) report the Department will revert to Board of Management with regard to the further progression of the project at that time.