Home Tuition Scheme Administration

Ceisteanna (81)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

81. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to delays to the granting of home tuition hours; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38969/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The purpose of the Home Tuition Grant Scheme is to provide a compensatory educational service for:

(a) Early educational intervention for children with autism who meet the schemes eligibility criteria

(b) Students with special educational needs seeking an educational placement in a recognised school

(c) Students, enrolled in schools, with significant medical conditions which has caused, and is likely to continue to cause, major disruption to their attendance at school.

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

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

The vast majority of applications made during the summer have been processed. The Department is prioritising the processing of Home Tuition applications with a view to processing completed applications within a shorter timeframe.

The operation of the Home Tuition Grant Scheme is reviewed annually. Officials in my Department will review the operation of the 2019/20 Home Tuition Grant Scheme which will take into consideration any issues arising during the school year.

School Management

Ceisteanna (82, 83)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

82. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when he will respond to a person (details supplied) regarding the responsibility for student safety of the board of management of a school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38974/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

83. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the board of management of a school (details supplied) is responsible for the safety of students at the vocational skills section of the campus of the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38975/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 82 and 83 together.

Under Section 15 of the Education Act 1998, the Board of Management is the body charged with the direct governance of a school.

A Board of Management's main function is to manage the school on behalf of the patron and for the benefit of the students and to provide an appropriate education for each student attending the school.

Schools are required to take all reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of pupils and responsibility for the appropriate supervision of students is therefore a matter for the individual Board of Management.

While my Department does not issue specific guidelines on requirements for supervision in specific situations, it acknowledges that the degree of supervision required of school authorities varies with the individual circumstances.

The Board of Management is responsible for the care and safety of all of the students in the school however and care and safety should therefore be at the centre of all policy and practices.

With regard to the school referred to my the Deputy, a member of my Department's Inspectorate visited the school in June 2019, the purpose of which was to gather information in relation to the operation of the vocational skills programme within school time. My Department subsequently wrote to the Board of Management, requesting that they address a number of issues regarding the Vocational Skills Programme. The Board has responded in writing and my Department is considering this response.

My Department will respond to the parent to whom the Deputy refers when my Department has completed its consideration of this matter.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (84)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

84. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the provision of a new school building project for a school (details supplied); if the acquisition of a new site for the school has been completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38991/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware the building project for the school in question is included on my Department's capital programme.

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that agreement in principle has been reached on the proposed acquisition of a site that will accommodate both the school to which he refers and permanent accommodation for a local primary school. This acquisition is currently progressing through the conveyancing stage and my officials are working to bring it to a conclusion at the earliest possible date.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (85)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

85. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding progress on a permanent school building project for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38992/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The major building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is currently at an advanced stage of Architectural Planning, Stage 2b - Detailed Design, which includes the application for statutory approval and the preparation of tender documents. Statutory approvals in relation to the permanent new school build have been secured.

Following the appointment of a replacement consultant architect, the Design Team has reviewed the previous Stage 2(b) documentation and is currently upgrading the design to ensure that the new school building is a Near Zero Energy Building (NZEB) in compliance with the 2017 amendment to Part L of the Building Regulations.

The Design Team is also finalising the detail in relation to the provision of temporary accommodation and playground facilities during the construction of the new school building. My Department is currently reviewing a report in relation to costs for the temporary accommodation and playground. Upon review and approval of costs, the Design Team will then submit an application for Planning Permission for the temporary accommodation and playground to the Local Authority.

The Design Team will then complete the tender documents and submit the Stage 2b report to my Department. Upon receipt and review of the Stage 2(b) submission, my Department will revert to the Board of Management regarding the further progression of the project at that time.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (86)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

86. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding progress on a new school building project for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38993/19]

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 (NDP).

A new site is required to facilitate this development and my Department has recently reached agreement in principle with the landowners for the acquisition of a site. In tandem with the site acquisition, my Department will now initiate the preparation of the project brief. My Department will be in contact with the school authority when this process has been completed.

Schools Site Acquisitions

Ceisteanna (87)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

87. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the provision of a new site for a school (details supplied) as announced in November 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38994/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware the building project for the school in question is included on my Department's capital programme.

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that agreement in principle has been reached on the proposed acquisition of a site that will accommodate both the school to which he refers and a replacement building for an existing post primary school. This acquisition is currently progressing through the conveyancing stage.

Schools Facilities

Ceisteanna (88)

Denise Mitchell

Ceist:

88. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a school (details supplied) will have access to a proper exercise and recreation area. [39000/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Arrangements are being explored to put in place an additional external play area for the school to which the Deputy refers.

The schools will be kept informed over the coming weeks as these arrangements are developed.

Schools Site Acquisitions

Ceisteanna (89)

Denise Mitchell

Ceist:

89. Deputy Denise Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the temporary site in Belmayne that a school (details supplied) has been allocated and is waiting on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39001/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

It is intended that the site in question will also serve as the permanent location for the school referred to by the Deputy and my officials are working to advance its proposed acquisition in this context. However, separate arrangements are being put in place with Dublin City Council, as landowner, to facilitate the provision of interim accommodation on the site in advance of this acquisition.

A current planning application (Planning Ref. No: 3009/09) is ongoing to facilitate the provision of interim accommodation on the site.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (90)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

90. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a child (details supplied) will receive the necessary education supports and special school place required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39005/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The policy of this Department is that all children with Special Educational Needs, including those with Autism, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network.

Such placements facilitate access to individualised education programmes which may draw from a range of appropriate educational interventions, delivered by fully qualified professional teachers, with the support of Special Needs Assistants and the appropriate school curriculum.

This policy has been informed by published research, including the Report of the Task Force on Autism (2001), the Evaluation of Educational Provision for Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) (2006) and National Council for Special Education (NCSE) policy advice on Supporting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (2016).

The greater proportion of children with Autism attend mainstream classes, but some require the environment of a special class or special school. This decision is based on a recommendation contained within a professional assessment and in consultation with the NCSE.

The National Council for Special Education (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.

Where there is no suitable placement available for a child with Special Educational Needs, Home Tuition Grant funding to provide a compensatory educational service for their child. The availability of a suitable school placement is assessed by the NCSE having regard to, although not limited to, the relevant diagnosis and relevant professional reports.

As this question relates to a particular child, I have referred the question to the NCSE for their direct reply.

Visa Agreements

Ceisteanna (91)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

91. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to allow Pakistani nationals to visit here on a UK visit visa and vice versa; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38982/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy appears to be referring to the British Irish Visa Scheme (BIVS). A BIVS endorsed visa allows a short-stay visitor to visit both Ireland and the UK (and the North and South of this Island) without the need to obtain two separate visas.

While a BIVS visa is only currently available to national residents of India and the People’s Republic of China, the Immigration Service of my Department is considering extending its availability to other countries on a phased basis, following discussions with the UK authorities. However, as the Deputy will appreciate, there are unlikely to be any changes to the reciprocal visa regime until matters related to Brexit are concluded.

Garda Deployment

Ceisteanna (92)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

92. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the locations in which the newly qualified gardaí have been assigned since September 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38913/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, the Commissioner has responsibility for managing An Garda Síochána and for the allocation of Garda resources, in light of identified operational demands. This includes responsibility for personnel matters. As Minister I have no direct role in these matters. I understand however that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.

I am informed by the Commissioner that the allocation and transfer of Garda personnel, including newly attested probationer Gardaí, is determined by a number of factors including crime and non-crime workload, minimum establishment, population, area, policing arrangements, and operational strategies. I am further informed that when the allocation of resources to a Division is being considered, comprehensive consultation is carried out with local Garda management, during which all factors are taken into consideration.

I would remind Deputies that newly attested Gardaí have a further 16 months of practical and class-room based training to complete, before they receive their BA in Applied Policing. To ensure that they are properly supported and supervised and have opportunities to gain the breadth of policing experience required, the Commissioner's policy is to allocate them to specially designated training stations with the required training and development structures and resources in place, for example trained Garda tutors and access to a permanently appointed supervisory Sergeant, who is thoroughly familiar with their responsibilities under the training programme.

I am further informed by the Commissioner that while not all Garda Stations are training stations, the allocation of probationer Gardaí to a Divisional training station facilitates the reassignment of Gardaí to other stations within the Division, if required, by the Divisional Officer.

Finally, the Deputy may also wish to be aware that since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, almost 2,800 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána. This has seen an increase in the number of Garda members to just over 14,000 at the end of 2018, a net increase of over 1,000 since the end of 2016. And these numbers are increasing. We currently have over 14,200 Gardaí nationwide, supported by over 2,700 Garda staff and we are on track to achieve the Government’s plan of an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 personnel by 2021.

The information as requested by the Deputy in relation to the allocation of Garda recruits since reopening of the Garda College is attached.

Garda Allocations

Work Permits Eligibility

Ceisteanna (93)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

93. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if steps can be taken to review the terms of the atypical working scheme in order to facilitate more qualified doctors to relocate here and provide general practitioner service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38918/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I can advise the Deputy that policy responsibility relating to locum doctors is primarily a matter for the Health Service Executive (HSE). The role of the Immigration Service of my Department is to provide immigration mechanisms by which non-EEA medical personnel may be recruited to fill temporary vacancies in the health sector as and when required. I am further advised that in recent months the Immigration Service has consulted closely with the HSE to determine if the terms of the Scheme require any amendments. My Department remains committed to ongoing stakeholder engagement to ensure the smooth operating of the Atypical Working Scheme (AWS) with regards to locum GP’s.

Under current arrangements, which have been in place since 2015, doctors undertaking locum work in the Primary Care (GP) sector may be granted a ‘block’ 90-day permission for the duration of their 90-day contract. Exit from and re-entry into the State is not permitted during this 90-day period, except in exceptional circumstances. The terms of the AWS also provide that at least one month must elapse from the expiry date of the 90 day permission before a new application may be made. The rationale for this approach, which applies to all such permissions, is rooted in the principle that an atypical permission is not a substitute for the replacement of full time labour (either sourced within Ireland or the EU or through the Non EEA employment permit regime). Therefore, a person granted such permission cannot automatically roll over their atypical permission. These conditions have applied to permissions granted under the Scheme since its inception.

Atypical immigration permissions are specifically designed to cover short term employments in the State and there are alternative options available for longer term employment through the employment permit regime of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

National Drugs Strategy Implementation

Ceisteanna (94)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

94. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the work of the working group on alternative sanctions for drugs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38922/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy is aware, the Government established a Working Group to consider alternative approaches to the possession of drugs for personal use in December 2017. The formation of this group was a key action in the National Drugs Strategy ‘Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery – a health-led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025’.

The Working Group’s report and the Chair’s minority report can be read at the following link: www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Working_Group_to_Consider_Alternative_Approaches_to_the_Possession_of_Drugs_for_Personal_Use.

As the Deputy will appreciate, Minister for Health Simon Harris TD and Minister of State with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy Catherine Byrne TD have responsibility for progressing the recommendations made in the report of the Working Group.

I understand that an implementation group comprising of key agencies will be established in the next month.

Closed-Circuit Television Systems Expenditure

Ceisteanna (95)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

95. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of applications to date for funding under the community-based CCTV scheme; the number of applications that have been approved to date; the total expenditure under the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38930/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy may be aware, Community CCTV is governed by section 38(3)(c) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 and the Garda Síochána (CCTV) Order 2006 (SI No 289 of 2006). This legal framework requires that any proposed community CCTV scheme must:

- be approved by the local Joint Policing Committee,

- have the prior support of the relevant local authority, which must also act as data controller, and

- have the authorisation of the Garda Commissioner.

This is the legal basis for all community CCTV schemes, regardless of how they are funded and these key legal requirements have not changed since 2006. The possibility of establishing a Community CCTV scheme is available to groups that meet these legal requirements, anywhere in the country.

Since 2017, my Department has administered a grant aid scheme supporting groups wishing to establish a community-based CCTV system in their area. There have been 33 applications to the scheme and to date, 21 applications have been approved, involving approved grants totalling more than €540,000.

The location of the CCTV schemes which have been approved for funding are as follows:

- Carrick on Shannon, Co Leitrim

- Cranmore, Co Sligo

- Arklow, Co Wicklow

- Courttown/Riverchapel, Gorey and Wexford Town, Co Wexford

- Abbeyfeale, Adare, Askeaton, Caherconlish, Cappamore, Castleconnell, Croom, Foynes, Kilmallock, Newcastlewest, Pallasgreen, Patrickswell, Murroe and Rathkeale, County Limerick.

- Monaghan Town, Co. Monaghan

I can confirm that the grant aid scheme remains open for applications from interested groups in 2019 and that all fully completed applications received before the end of 2019 will be considered.

Eligible groups, including community groups and local authorities nationwide, can apply for grant-aid of up to 60% of the total capital cost of a proposed CCTV system, up to a maximum total of €40,000. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that I have recently expanded the grant aid scheme to cover not only new CCTV systems but also to allow funding applications for extension or upgrade of existing Community CCTV systems which are incomplete or obsolete. Applicants can now also seek a grant of up to €5,000 for minor maintenance costs.

I must emphasise that grant funding can be considered only for CCTV systems which meet the legal requirements for CCTV, in other words CCTV systems which have been approved by the relevant Joint Policing Committee, the relevant Local Authority (also acting as Data Controller) and which have received the authorisation of the Garda Commissioner.

If the Deputy is aware of groups wishing to avail of the scheme, further details are available to download from my Department's website - www.justice.ie and support and guidance is available to help interested groups through a dedicated email address communitycctv@justice.ie