Schools Building Contractors

Ceisteanna (101)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

101. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount spent in 2018 on a company (details supplied) by legal fees, other professional and consultancy fees and other costs including construction and renovations in tabular form. [37776/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy will be aware, my Department is liaising with the Chief State Solicitor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office in relation to the on-going legal process related to the schools built by the contractor to which he refers.  He will also be aware that proceedings have issued in a number of schools to date.  The next date Court date is expected to be in October 2019.  For legal reasons, my Department is not in a position, at this time, to provide any costs including legal, professional and other costs including construction and renovations costs to date.

School Transport Provision

Ceisteanna (102)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

102. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a reply will issue to correspondence (details supplied) on a school transport issue from Carlingford to Dundalk, County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37785/19]

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.

Children are generally eligible for school transport if they satisfy the distance criteria and are attending their nearest school.

Children who are eligible for school transport and who have 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.

Bus Éireann has confirmed that the family referred to by the Deputy did not complete the application process within timelines and therefore were not allocated a ticket for the 2019/20 school year.  Bus Eireann has also confirmed that the service in question is operating to capacity.

Homelessness Strategy

Ceisteanna (103)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

103. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason he has not provided guidelines to schools in the way in which to deal with and be of help to school pupils and their families who are homeless. [37790/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

A range of resources are available to support schools in dealing with identified additional educational needs, including needs which may arise for children who are experiencing homelessness. These include National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) supports and Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) supports.

The staff of schools are very sensitive to the needs of children who are experiencing disruption in their lives and make every effort to support the additional needs they experience. Where they are aware of homelessness and where it is impacting on school attendance and participation they can engage closely with the Educational Welfare Service of Tusla and with the support services of my own Department including the National Educational Psychological Service.

Identification of Need and Early Intervention Strategies are considered key components to supporting children who experience homelessness. The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) works with schools through the DES Continuum of Support framework.  The NEPS Model of Service works through a problem solving and solution oriented consultative approach to support schools to meet the needs of individual pupils. 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.

DEIS is the main policy initiative of my Department to tackle educational disadvantage. DEIS provides additional supports, through the DEIS School Support Programme, to schools identified as having the highest concentrations of pupils from disadvantaged communities.  Schools can use these additional resources to meet the identified needs of their pupil cohort, including the additional needs that may arise for pupils experiencing homelessness.    

DEIS Schools can also avail of Home School Community Liaison and School Completion supports provided by Tusla’s Educational Welfare Service in relation to school attendance, retention and progression which can be areas of particular challenge to pupils experiencing homelessness. Tusla Educational Welfare service have produced guidance for home school community Liaison Co-ordinators and School Completion programmes for engaging with children and families experiencing homelessness.

TUSLA have also produced a guidance leaflet on school attendance information for families experiencing homelessness outlining how the educational welfare service can assist.

In addition the Department of Employment and Social Protection runs the School Meals Programme which is an important component of policies to address the educational and health disadvantages associated with an inadequately nutritious diet in childhood.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (104)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

104. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason he has not provided the needed number of school places for children with special needs at the beginning of this academic year. [37791/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Ensuring that every child has a suitable placement available to them is a key priority for me and the Government.

I am deeply conscious of the stress and anxiety facing parents and their children where difficulties are encountered in securing a school place.

We are investing heavily in supporting our children with special educational needs, with €1.9bn being spent in 2019, about €1 in every €5 of the education budget.  An additional 1,000 special class places have been provided in this school year, with the establishment of 167 special classes.  This brings the total number of special class places in Ireland to over 9,700, almost a trebling in this provision since 2011.

The NCSE has a statutory function to plan and co-ordinate the provision of education and support services to children with special educational needs. This includes the establishment of special class and special school placements in various geographical areas where the NCSE identifies need.  The NCSE works with families and schools to ensure that advance planning is in place so that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

As Minister I have a power under Section 37A of the Education Act 1998 to direct a school to provide additional provision where all reasonable efforts have failed.  The legislation provides for a very transparent series of steps which can ultimately lead to the issuing of a legally binding direction to a board of management.

The initial step in the process is for the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to inform the Minister that there is a shortage of places in a particular area.  

The NCSE will only activate the legislation after it has taken all reasonable efforts to get schools and their Patrons to voluntarily agree to provide additional special class or school places.

The legislation was formally activated for the first time on April 18th following a report from the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) outlining insufficient special school and special class capacity in Dublin 15 and North Kildare.  This followed extensive interaction between the NCSE, schools and my Department.

The shortage of places in North Kildare was resolved and additional post primary classes will open in 2020/21.

In relation to Dublin 15, the specific provision required was 8 additional primary Autism special classes providing 46 places and 40 special school places for students with complex needs.

New classes which will be coming on stream over coming weeks are the result of very intense engagement between the Department, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), Patron bodies and schools.

This follows the establishing of a Special School for up to 40 children in Dublin 15, under the patronage of Dublin and Dun Laoghaire ETB.

As the new places come on stream in Dublin 15 over coming weeks, the NCSE will work closely with the Schools and the Parents of the children concerned to ensure there is a planned approach to the start-up of the new school and classes.

The NCSE has also indicated that some parents in South Dublin and Cork are experiencing difficulty securing school places for their children.  It worked with schools over the last school year to establish 7 additional special classes and, since June 2019, established a further 6 special classes.  This has created an additional 54 places in primary autism special classes and an additional 24 places in post primary autism special classes. NCSE continue to work with schools and has advised my Department that the legislation may need to be invoked in the near future, if sufficient schools do not respond voluntarily.

NCSE were aware of increased demand for special classes in Cork and have established 24 special classes for Setember 2019, creating over 140 additional special class places in Cork.  In total there are 190 special classes in Cork.

At end of the school year in June 2019, NCSE was aware of 20 children in Cork seeking a special class or special school placement. At that time, there were approximately 60 specialist education places vacant in Cork and NCSE has worked during the school holidays to match children with suitable class places. Schools will confirm special class and school enrolments to NCSE this month and NCSE will review the final position.

NCSE is aware of a number of children still seeking specialist places and continues to work with schools and their patrons to establish additional provision.

The NCSE is actively engaging at local level with schools, Patron Bodies and the families concerned to resolve the issues involved as soon as possible.

If, following completion of that work, the NCSE establishes that there is a shortage of places in either area it can inform the Minister thereby activating the provisions contained in section 37A of the Education Act 1998.

Student Grant Scheme Applications Data

Ceisteanna (105)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

105. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of students who qualified for a category of support from SUSI in each of the academic years 2010 to 2018; and the projected number for academic year beginning 2019. [37792/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The link below provides a breakdown of the awards for each of the academic years 2010/11 to 2019/20, as requested by the Deputy. SUSI is still accepting applications for the 2019/20 academic year. As such, the figures for 2019/20 are provisional.

The data encompasses students in receipt of a SUSI grant and grants from the other 66 awarding authorities who have continued to process renewal applications on a transitional basis, pending the full transfer of all grants to SUSI.

Student Grantholders 2010-11 to 2019-20 (Prov)

Home Tuition Scheme Provision

Ceisteanna (106)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

106. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Education and Skills when hours for children with autistic spectrum disorders who are awaiting home support hours will be sanctioned; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37795/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Home Tuition Grant schemes application forms and related Circular were published on 8th August 2019 this year. Last year, the forms and circular were published on 26th July 2018.

The scheme provides funding towards a compensatory educational service for children with special educational needs seeking an educational placement for whom such a placement is not available. The scheme also provides for early intervention for children with Autism.

Where the NCSE confirms that there is no suitable school place available for a child, the Department can provide Home Tuition Grant funding towards a compensatory educational service for the child until a school placement is available.

By its nature, the grant is intended to be a short term intervention and should not be regarded as an optional alternative to a school placement.

The application forms and related Circular for this year’s scheme were published on 8th August 2019. Last year, the forms and circular were published on 26 July 2018.

Applications forms are signed by the NCSE local SENO to confirm that no school placement is currently available for a child. SENOs are processing home tuition applications as a matter of urgency.

It is an essential condition for the approval of grant funding that tutors engaged by Parents are registered with the Teaching Council of Ireland and vetted by the National Vetting Bureau via the Teaching Council of Ireland’s online vetting process, prior to the commencement of the delivery of tuition.

The Department has no flexibility in this regard and cannot approve the Home Tuition grant until it verifies that these conditions are met.

The same conditions apply whether Parents use the grant to engage tutors to deliver tuition in their home or private providers to deliver tuition in a group setting.

The Home Tuition Application form outlines that it may take the Department up to 15 working days to process home tuition applications.

The Department is prioritising the processing of Home Tuition applications with a view to processing completed applications within 7 working days.

Home Tuition Scheme Administration

Ceisteanna (107)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

107. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason there is a month delay in payment being issued to home support teachers after they submit their hours; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37796/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The purpose of the Home Tuition Grant Scheme is to provide funding towards the provision of a compensatory educational service for children who, for a number of specific reasons, are unable to attend school. The terms of this scheme are set out in circular 56/2019 which is available on my Department’s website at https://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0056_2019.pdf.

As set out in this circular my Department acts as a payroll agent only on behalf of the parent/legal guardian who has made the application for Home Tuition. Payments in respect of the tuition provided under the terms of the Home Tuition Grant Scheme issue on a monthly basis to the approved Tutor via the Non–Teaching Staff (NTS) payroll operated by my Department. In order for payment to issue, a payment claim form must be completed and signed by both the Parent/Legal Guardian and the Tutor and forwarded to my Department at the end of each and every calendar month in which tuition was provided. Further details in relation to these arrangements and the dates by which payment claim forms are to be submitted are available on my Departments website at

https://www.education.ie/en/Parents/Services/Home-Tuition/home-tuition-payment-information-note.pdf.

Home Tuition Scheme Administration

Ceisteanna (108)

Michael Fitzmaurice

Ceist:

108. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on whether an online application for teachers to submit home support hours for payment is a better option; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37797/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department is currently conducting investigations into the possibility of providing an online claims portal for payments to Home Tutors. This would be an additional feature to the current Department payroll systems.  Whilst this would be a welcome addition it will have to be considered in the context of other Department priorities.

School Transport Applications

Ceisteanna (109)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

109. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a reply will issue to correspondence (details supplied) on a school transport issue from Carlingford to Dundalk, County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37813/19]

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.

Children are generally eligible for school transport if they satisfy the distance criteria and are attending their nearest school.

Children who are eligible for school transport and who have 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.

Bus Éireann has confirmed that the pupil referred to by the Deputy is deemed mainstream eligible to the school referred to by the Deputy.

The onus is on the parent to ensure that correct payment is made to Bus Éireann so that applications for transport are valid and can be processed appropriately.  Bus Éireann has confirmed that  in this case full payment was not received within the application process timelines.

Bus Eireann has further confirmed that the service in question is operating to capacity.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (110)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

110. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application for a permanent extension at a school (details supplied); if his attention has been drawn to the urgent need for this school to have certainty regarding its future enrolment capacity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37815/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department is in receipt of an application, for additional accommodation, from the school referred to by the Deputy.  The application is currently being assessed and on completion a decision will be relayed to the school authority.  In the meantime, an interim accommodation solution has been agreed with the school Patron.

School Transport Appeals

Ceisteanna (111)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

111. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a reply will issue to correspondence (details supplied) on a school transport issue from Carlingford to Dundalk, County Louth; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37816/19]

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 is therefore not eligible for school transport under the terms of the scheme. 

This case is the subject of an appeal to the School Transport Appeals Board. This Board is independent of my Department and I understand their next meeting is scheduled for 19 September 2019.

The Board will inform the family directly of their determination on the matter.

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

Pension Provisions

Ceisteanna (112)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

112. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Skills if superannuation documents will be provided to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37818/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The person concerned is in receipt of  pension benefits from my Department since 2014. Officials from the Pension Unit of my  Department will contact the person concerned and discuss her pension benefits with a view to addressing any queries she may now  have and will  also forward her a copy of her superannuation papers which previously issued in 2014.

Oideachas trí Ghaeilge

Ceisteanna (113)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

113. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Catherine Connolly den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna an aontaíonn sé gur éagóir oideachais é a iarraidh ar dhalta atá chun an scrúdú ardleibhéil mata a dhéanamh i nGaeilge i mí an Mheithimh seo chugainn, i ndiaidh a bheith ag staidéar mata trí Ghaeilge ón gcéad bhliain ar aghaidh i nGaelcholáiste Lú, Dún Dealgan, iompú ar an mBéarla chun an scrúdú sin a dhéanamh; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [37827/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Mar is eol don Teachta, tá an Grúpa Stiúrtha maidir le Soláthar Múinteoirí, faoi chathaoirleacht Ard-Rúnaí mo Roinne, ag breithniú na saincheisteanna a mbíonn tionchar acu ar sholáthar múinteoirí i roinnt réimsí polasaí. Tá an Grúpa ag déanamh maoirseachta ar chur i bhfeidhm an Phlean Gníomhaíochta do Sholáthar Múinteoirí, a d’fhoilsigh mé i mí na Samhna 2018. Agus é ag tabhairt faoina chuid oibre, tá aird ag an nGrúpa ar an riachtanas nach mór do gach duine ar mian leis bheith ag múineadh i scoil aitheanta na caighdeáin chláraithe ghairmiúla agus na critéir arna leagan amach ag an gComhairle Múinteoireachta a chomhlíonadh. Is í an Chomhairle an comhlacht rialála gairmiúil do ghairm na múinteoireachta. Tá súil agam a bheith in ann tuilleadh beart chun tacú leis an soláthar múinteoirí a fhógairt sna míonna amach romhainn.

Tugadh isteach roinnt beart a thacaíonn leis an soláthar múinteoirí do scoileanna Gaeilge mar chuid de chur i bhfeidhm an Pholasaí don Oideachas Gaeltachta 2017-2022. Áirítear orthu sin an Mháistreacht san Oideachas (M.O.) nua trí mheán na Gaeilge do mhúinteoirí bunscoile agus iarbhunscoile, príomhoidí ina measc, ar cuireadh tús léi in 2018 i gColáiste Mhuire gan Smál agus an Baitsiléir Oideachais (B.O.) 4 bliana nua trí mheán na Gaeilge do mhúinteoirí bunscoile ar cuireadh tús leis in 2019 in Institiúid Oideachais Marino. Leis na cláir nua sin, déantar soláthar do suas le 60 áit nua gach bliain d’oideachas múinteoirí trí mheán na Gaeilge. Cuireadh foireann bhreise ar fáil don chlár Máistir Gairmiúil san Oideachas (MGO) in Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh chun an soláthar múinteoirí iarbhunscoile atá in ann oideachas ardchaighdeáin trí mheán na Gaeilge a chur ar fáil in ábhair éagsúla.

 Maidir leis an Ardteistiméireacht, beidh mar rogha ag iarrthóirí, mura luaitear a mhalairt, freagra a thabhairt i nGaeilge nó i mBéarla, ach amháin i gcás na n-ábhar Gaeilge agus Béarla, agus i gcás ábhair teangacha eile áit a dtugtar treoir an sprioctheanga a úsáid.

 Tabharfar leaganacha Gaeilge nó Béarla de na páipéir scrúdaithe d’iarrthóirí de réir mar a chuireann siad in iúl ar a bhfoirmeacha iarratais. Ní thugtar ach an leagan Gaeilge den pháipéar scrúdaithe (mar réamhshocrú) d’iarrthóirí a thugann le fios sa phróiseas iarratais ar scrúdú go mbeartaíonn siad freagra a thabhairt i nGaeilge. Féadfaidh an Feitheoir an leagan Béarla a thabhairt don iarrthóir freisin ina dhiaidh sin ach é a iarraidh.

 Ach an páipéar a chur ar fáil sa dá theanga, tugtar deis dóibh a sheiceáil gur bhain siad an chiall cheart as aon cheist a gcuirtear orthu trí bhíthin comparáid a dhéanamh leis an gceist ar an bpáipéar sa teanga eile.

 D’fhéadfaí marcanna breise a thabhairt d’iarrthóir a thugann freagra i nGaeilge sa scrúdú scríofa sna hábhair éagsúla, i dteannta na marcanna a gnóthaíodh san ábhar.

Ní bhfaighidh iarrthóirí a thugann cuid den fhreagra i nGaeilge agus cuid eile i mBéarla aon mharcanna breise.

Oideachas trí Ghaeilge

Ceisteanna (114)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

114. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Catherine Connolly den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna an bhfuil sé sásta leis na struchtúir sa Roinn a bhaineann le hAonaid Ghaeilge dara leibhéal; an bhfuil sé sásta gníomhú chun go gcuirfear struchtúir nua i bhfeidhm; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [37828/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Sa phlean gníomhaíochta don Straitéis 20 bliain don Ghaeilge 20180-2022, tá an Roinn Oideachais agus Scileanna ina príomheagraíocht don ghníomh maidir le deiseanna a chur ar fáil chun tacú le leathnú an oideachais trí mheán na Gaeilge i gceantair lasmuigh den Ghaeltacht sa chomhthéacs a bhaineann le 42 scoil nua a bhunú sa tréimhse 2019-2022. I dtaca leis sin, tugtar aird ar sholáthair an oideachais trí mheán na Gaeilge mar chuid den phróiseas nua maidir le pátrúnacht scoile agus Gaelscoileanna á mbunú ag leibhéal na bunscoile agus Gaelcholáistí agus Aonaid Lán-Ghaeilge á mbunú ag leibhéal na hiar-bhunscoile. 

Tar éis an fhógra i mí an Aibreáin 2018 go raibh 42 scoil nua le bunú idir 2019 agus 2022, d'fhorbair mo Roinnse Córas nua um Phróiseáil Phátrúnachta ar Líne, ar córas é a chuireann eolas oibiachtúil ar fáil agus a cheadaíonn do thuismitheoirí a roghanna maidir le pátrúnacht agus teanga teagaisc a léiriú, i.e. Gaeilge nó Béarla, sna scoileanna nua sin.   Tá roghanna na dtuismitheoirí, chomh maith le ceisteanna amhail méid na héagsúlachta a bhaineann leis an soláthar i gceantar (lena n-áirítear an soláthar trí mheán na Gaeilge) thar a bheith tábhachtach sa phróiseas cinnteoireachta agus chun a chinneadh an mbeadh scoil ag leibhéal na hiar-bhunscoile in Gaelcholáiste nó, más scoil í ina ndéanfar an teagasc trí mheán an Bhéarla, an gcuirfí aonad Lán-Ghaeilge nó “Aonad” san áireamh sa scoil.  

Tá líon d’Aonaid Lán-Ghaeilge ag feidhmiú in iar-bhunscoileanna in ndéantar an teagasc trí mheán an Bhéarla ar fud na tíre.  Baineann éagsúlacht le méid na nAonad Lán-Ghaeilge sin ag brath ar chúinsí áitiúla.  Déanann an húdaráis scoile ábhartha bainistiú ar na socruithe maidir le teagasc agus foghlaim na scoláirí in Aonad agus maidir leis na struchtúir eagraíochtúla laistigh den scoil. Tá an méid a thumtar na scoláirí sa Ghaeilge in Aonaid ag brath ar roinnt tosca gaolmhara amhail an tacaíocht ó bhainistíocht na scoile atá mar óstach aige, leibhéal an éilimh ar oideachas trí mheán na Gaeilge, fáil a bheith ar áiseanna cuí sa scoil agus ar mhúinteoirí le saineolas. Tá sé de chead ag údaráis scoile teagmháil a dhéanamh leis na Rannóga ábhartha i mo Roinnse de réir mar is gá maidir leis na haonaid Lán-Ghaeilge sin.

Bhí teagmháil ag mo Roinnse le páirtithe leasmhara i dtaca le hAonaid a fhorbairt agus leanfar de theagmháil den chineál sin.  Cuirfear aon eolas ábhartha a eascróidh as an athbhreithniú ar sholáthar sa dá Aonad atá cheana féin in iar-bhunscoileanna sa Ghaeltacht san áireamh in obair na Roinne i dtaca leis sin.

Maidir le hAonaid Lán-Ghaeilge atá ann cheana féin, más rud é go dtagann méadú ar an rollachán agus ar an aschur ó aon bhunscoileanna Lán-Ghaeilge i gceantar chuig leibhéal ina mbeadh cúis mhaith le haistriú chuig Gaelcholáiste aonair, bheadh an Roinn toilteanach breithniú a dhéanamh ar chás a dhéanfadh pátrún na scoile chun aistriú ó Aonad go dtí Gaelcholáiste.

School Transport Provision

Ceisteanna (115)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

115. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he will take to help students travel to and from school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37832/19]

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.

Children are generally eligible for school transport if they satisfy the distance criteria and are attending their nearest school.

Children who are eligible for school transport and who have 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.

Bus Éireann has confirmed that there were a number of children in the area referred to by the Deputy were not allocated a ticket for the 2019/20 school year due to either late payment, or no payments being made at all.

Bus Eireann has also confirmed that the service in question is operating to capacity.

State Examinations

Ceisteanna (116)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

116. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills when teachers will receive sample exam papers for the new junior cycle Irish course which is due to be first examined in 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37861/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

It has been long-standing policy of the State Examinations Commission to provide sample papers in the autumn of the examination year for the programme in question.  This to allow the curricular changes, and the associated changes to teaching and learning to become embedded in schools.   

Earlier publication of sample papers would result in an examinations focus too early in the change process, rather than on the curriculum content. 

This is particularly important in the context of Junior Cycle Reform, which is promoting a very different approach to assessment and feedback to students to assist their learning over the course of Junior Cycle, away from the traditional focus on external terminal assessment through the state examinations.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (117)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

117. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a report on progress towards the building programme of a school (details supplied) will be provided; the schedule being followed; the details of contracts being made; if his attention has been brought to the concerns of the school community in respect of the delays and the view that the buildings are not safe and that the situation is affecting enrolments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37863/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The school building project referred to by the Deputy is being delivered under the Department’s Design and Build programme.  Planning permission has been secured for a new 16 classroom primary school and tender documentation is being prepared.  It is anticipated that the project will proceed to tender in Quarter 1 of 2020, with a view to being on site in Quarter 2 of 2020.

Schools Building Projects Status

Question No. 119 answered with Question No. 99.

Ceisteanna (118)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

118. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will report on the delivery of a permanent school building for a school (details supplied); the assistance given to the school for a timely delivery of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37867/19]

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.  This delivery programme uses a professional external Project Management team to progress the project through the stages of architectural planning, tendering and construction. 

The next step in the process will be the application for planning permission which is expected to be lodged shortly. Thereafter, as with all school building projects, the exact timeframe for delivery of the school will be dependent on the grant of planning permission. My Department will be working to have the first phase of the school's permanent accommodation handed over by September of 2021 with phase 2 to follow in a matter of months.

A meeting was held between Department officials and representatives of the Board of Management of the school on September 3rd. In the course of the meeting the projected timelines for the progression of the project were outlined and the factors underpinning those timelines were explained in considerable detail. Following the meeting an email issued to the Board confirming the timelines for the project.

For the school year commencing September 2020, the school will remain in it's current location and plans are being put in place to provide the necessary additional accommodation.  

My Department officials will keep the Board of Management fully informed of developments as they occur.

Question No. 119 answered with Question No. 99.

School Transport Provision

Ceisteanna (120)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

120. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of special school transport for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37887/19]

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 child referred to by the Deputy is eligible for school transport under the terms of my Department's School Transport Scheme for Children with Special Educational Needs.

Bus Éireann has been requested to organise a transport service for this child and they have been requested to liaise directly with the family in this regard. In the meantime, the family may avail of the Special Transport Grant towards the cost of providing private transport until this service is established.

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

Student Grant Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (121)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

121. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a SUSI application by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37894/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As part of a comprehensive customer service and communications strategy provided by SUSI, to ensure that all necessary avenues are open to applicants to receive the information they need, a dedicated email and phone line service is provided by SUSI for Oireachtas members. This was established to meet an identified need for applicants who choose to engage the assistance of their public representatives in making enquiries about their grant applications.

This service complements the established channels provided by SUSI which include online application tracking, a dedicated website, a telephone helpdesk, email and social media, including Facebook and Twitter.

Enquiries may be emailed direct to SUSI at oireachtas@susi.ie. Staff in SUSI are responding to email queries within a matter of days.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (122)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

122. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress to date in advancing a project to provide additional permanent classrooms at a second-level school which was sanctioned in September 2013 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37917/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The ETB has proposed to amalgamate two schools in Cavan including the school in question and this has been approved by my Department. The schools will continue to operate from the existing school sites until a new school building can be provided for the amalgamated school.  It is envisaged that the construction phase for the new amalgamated school will be facilitated with investment available during the second half of the National Development Plan (NDP) 2018 to 2027.

The new amalgamated school would enable facilities to be modernised in an energy efficient building that would be compliant with Part L of the Building Regulations 2017.  It would also provide the opportunity for the school to have a fully equipped PE Hall facility with fitness suite together with a 2-class special education needs base.

I also wish to advise, the Deputy, that my Department is liaising with the Patron to assist with the school's interim accommodation needs pending delivery of the new school building.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Ceisteanna (123)

John Brassil

Ceist:

123. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the SUSI grant income threshold for families will be increased to the same amount as the affordable childcare scheme to reflect the growing costs of college education and rental accommodation for students in view of an announcement (details supplied) by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37948/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Different State support schemes have different objectives. The main objective of the Department's statutory based Student Grant Scheme is to provide assistance where parental income is below a certain threshold or in the case of independent mature students, where the level of income of the student and his or her spouse warrants additional assistance by way of a grant.

The Student Grant Scheme contains a number of qualifying thresholds for various grant values. These gradations allow students just over a threshold margin, to remain in receipt of a grant, albeit at a reduced rate that reflect their relative income vis-à-vis other applicants.

The Student Grant Scheme also provides for different levels of income thresholds where families have (i) less than 4 dependent children (ii) between 4 and 7 dependent children and (iii) 8 or more dependent children. In recognition of the additional cost to families where more than one person is attending college, income thresholds may also be increased by up to €4,830 for each additional family member attending college at the same time. In this way, the Student Grant Scheme is responsive to the individual circumstances of particular families.

The assessment of means under my Department's Student Grant Scheme is based on gross income from all sources, with certain social welfare and health service executive payments being exempt. While the Affordable Childcare Scheme has both universal and means-tested elements, the Student Grant Scheme is entirely means-tested.

The Deputy will appreciate that the funding allocation for student grants is determined in the context of the overall estimates and budgetary process undertaken by all Government Departments.  As such, it would not be appropriate to comment on specific issues or proposals including those relating to student grants at this stage. However, all proposals made in relation to education expenditure will be considered in the context of Budget 2020, having regard to overall resource constraints and other competing demands in the education sector.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (124)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

124. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the circumstances in which a school (details supplied) was told that a proposed temporary move would not go ahead; and the reason this major project has been delayed. [37949/19]

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.  This delivery programme uses a professional external Project Management team to progress the project through the stages of architectural planning, tendering and construction. 

A meeting was held between Department officials and representatives of the Board of Management on July 26. In the course of the meeting the projected timelines for the progression of the project were clearly outlined and the factors underpinning those timelines were explained in considerable detail. The timing of the temporary move for decanting purposes was also discussed.  Following the meeting an email issued to the Board of Management confirming the time lines for the project.

Any developments which might arise in respect of these timelines will be communicated to the Board as they arise.

School Transport Administration

Ceisteanna (125)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

125. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the new bus routes established further to his changing or reinterpretation of the rules in summer 2019. [37950/19]

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 recently 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 being 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. 

The areas where additional measures have been implemented are listed in the following table.

County 

Area

Cork

Coachford, Fermoy, Kinsale

Wicklow

Carnew

Meath

Trim

Limerick

Sixmilebridge

Monaghan

Monaghan

Wexford

Gorey, Kilmuckridge

Kilkenny

Johnstown

Galway

Loughrea, Spiddeal

Kildare

Johnstown Bridge

Tipperary

Cahir

New routes have not been established in these areas but additional capacity has been provided.