Home Tuition Scheme Administration

Ceisteanna (106)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

106. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will request his Department to speed up the payment of wages to teachers that participate in home tuition; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40887/19]

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.

Student Grant Scheme Expenditure

Ceisteanna (107)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

107. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost in 2020 if the 100% maintenance adjacent rate was increased from €1,215 to €1,350 and the non-adjacent 100% maintenance grant was increased from €3,025 to €3,325; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40927/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

If the 100% maintenance adjacent rate was increased from €1,215 to €1,350 and the non-adjacent 100% maintenance grant was increased from €3,025 to €3,325, the estimated cost in 2020 would be €5.3m. This is based on the assumption that the change would take effect at the start of the 2020/21 academic year in September 2020.

The full year cost of the measure would be €11.9m.

Ministerial Meetings

Ceisteanna (108)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

108. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the details of all bilateral meetings to date in 2019 that he has had with his EU counterparts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40928/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I have had bilateral meetings with my counterparts from the following countries to date in 2019:

- Germany

- Finland

- United Kingdom

- Croatia

I have also met with the European Commissioner for Education and Culture.

These meetings focused on EU education cooperation including European Universities networks and Erasmus+, Brexit issues and preparations and bilateral general education policy cooperation between our countries. I also used these opportunities to express Ireland's gratitude for the continued support of our EU colleagues on Brexit issues including the backstop and North-South cooperation.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Ceisteanna (109)

James Browne

Ceist:

109. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the reduction of the primary school class size ratio here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40934/19]

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. Average class sizes at primary level improved from 24.9 to 24.3 in the same period.

All proposals made in relation to education expenditure are considered in the context of budgetary matters, having regard to overall resource constraints and other competing demands in the education sector.

Capitation Grants

Ceisteanna (110)

James Browne

Ceist:

110. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the level of the capitation grant awarded to schools here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40935/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

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

I am pleased to have been able to provide for a 5% increase in capitation funding for primary and post primary schools that will apply from the start of the 2019/20 school year. The first and full year costs of this increase is €4 million and €10 million respectively.

In looking at the competing demands for the next Budget, I must have regard to the level of resources which will be available to my Department, in the context of the continuing need for the Government to prudently manage the economy and the public finances and have regard to risks, including those associated with Brexit.

National Educational Psychological Service

Ceisteanna (111)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

111. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if secondary schools have access to NEPS over weekends; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40973/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy may be aware my Department’s National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) provides educational psychological support to all primary and post-primary schools. This involves direct support in the event of a critical incident, access to national and regional support and development work to build school capacity to support students, access to a NEPS psychologist for responses to queries arising, and access to individual pupil casework via a NEPS psychologist or through the Scheme for the Commissioning of Psychological Assessments. (SCPA).

I would inform the Deputy that NEPS provides guidelines, resource materials and support for schools to enable them to deal with certain traumatic events which can adversely affect pupils and school staff. The guidelines "Responding to Critical Incidents: Guidelines for Schools and resource Materials for Schools" refer to preventive approaches that schools can adopt in creating a safe and supportive environment. It also outlines how schools can plan for crises.

A Critical Incident is defined as an incident, or series of events, that overwhelms the normal coping mechanism of the school. The kinds of critical incidents experienced by schools includes suicide or suspected suicide, death due to violence, accidental death including road traffic accidents and drowning, and death through illness of a member of the school community. The ultimate aim of the process is to return the school to normality.

The Guidelines focus upon alerting schools to planning processes, structures and actions which will better allow them to cope with a traumatic incident. In relation to suicide advice is also given on prevention and positive mental health stratagems and approaches.

The Guidelines offer a practical step by step guide to schools in how to respond effectively when a critical incident occurs in order to minimise the potential traumatic effect on the school community. It includes templates, advice and information on how to set up a Critical Incident Management Team and develop a Critical Incident Management Plan. Training has been provided by NEPS staff to primary and secondary schools in relation to this process.

During a critical incident NEPS psychologists will also, at the specific invitation of school authorities, attend at the schools following such incidents to offer direct advice and assistance to school staff and pupils. Depending on the nature, context and severity of the traumatic incident NEPS staff will also assist school authorities in the co-ordination of supports with broader community based services. All such requests are responded to, most usually by the psychologist normally assigned to the affected school but also in some cases, depending on the particular context, accompanied by a colleague within the NEPS region. In 2017/18 some 328 critical incidents were raised by schools with NEPS in respect of which some 166 involved direct attendance on-site by NEPS staff.

Access to NEPS services, including those in respect of critical incidents, are provided to schools during normal office and school operating hours on a Monday – Friday basis.

I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.

Departmental Reviews

Ceisteanna (112)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

112. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress of the implementation task force on guidance counsellors; and the reason no guidance counsellors are members of the task force. [40995/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Following the publication of the Independent INDECON report on its review of Career Guidance tools and information in April, I immediately established an internal taskforce, chaired by my Secretary General and comprising senior officials from units within the Department responsible for elements of career guidance. This includes staff of the Departments Inspectorate who are former Guidance Counsellors.

This task force, as recommended in the INDECON report, was established to examine each of the recommendations contained in the report and to:

- look at the options for the establishment of the support organisation which it is envisaged will, among other things, oversee technology-facilitated guidance services and

- develop a prioritised implementation plan.

The task force have met three times to date and are progressing with the work assigned. They met most recently last week where they considered detailed proposals for the establishment of the support organisation and for the prioritised implementation plan.

Once the task force have completed this phase of the work, they will in due course, engage with relevant stakeholder groups as they work through the implementation of the other recommendations contained in the report.

School Patronage

Ceisteanna (113)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

113. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a party (details supplied) will have the power of veto over the master plan compiled by his Department to provide a permanent home for the North Wicklow Educate Together secondary school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40999/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy will be aware, the master planning exercise for the site in question is currently under way. It is expected that my Department will consult with the relevant education stakeholders, including the patron body referred to by the Deputy as part of this process. This consultation will contribute to the formulation of the master planning exercise.

School Transport Eligibility

Ceisteanna (114)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

114. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills the appropriate person to contact in his Department regarding a document (details supplied) in respect of a family that has children with special needs in different schools and have difficulty in taking their children to and from school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41005/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

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

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.

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 National Council for Special Education acts in an advisory role to the Department of Education and Skills on the suitability of placements for children with special needs.

When considering a new application for school transport in respect of pupils with special needs the Department will consider the report of the Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO).

School transport is provided to children with special needs who are attending the nearest school to their place of residence that is or can be resourced to meet their educational needs, as identified by the SENO.

It has been reported by the SENO that one sibling of the family is not eligible for school transport under the terms of the scheme for children with special educational needs to the school referred to by the Deputy, and the other 2 siblings are eligible under the criteria for children with special educational needs but are not attending their nearest school.

Special concessionary transport for eligible children is a feature of the scheme, and a letter was issued to the family to advise they should contact the school transport office of my Department to examine the availability of suitable concessionary transport for the children who are eligible. To date this request has not been received by the Department.

School Transport Review

Ceisteanna (115)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

115. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he has taken to review the workings of the school transport system, in particular the system for the allocation of concessionary tickets; his plans to seek funding in budget 2020 to restore general scheme parameters with a particular focus on rule determining eligibility to the pre-2011 system; if he will investigate the possibility of amending the current eligibility criteria (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41032/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills. There are currently over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually at a cost of over €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 complete the application process on time will be accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation for the 2019/20 school year.

Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport on a concessionary basis only and will be facilitated where spare seats are available after eligible children have been accommodated. Where the number of ineligible children exceeds the number of spare seats available Bus Éireann will allocate tickets for the spare seats using an agreed selection process.

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

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

Schools Health and Safety

Ceisteanna (116)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

116. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 191 of 1 October 2019, if it will be ensured that a premises (details supplied) complies with all fire safety standards before being used to accommodate secondary school students. [41044/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As indicated to the Deputy in Parliamentary Question No. 191 of 1 October 2019, the premises in question is not in my Department's ownership and the Department will not be commissioning a fire safety inspection of the property. The future use of the property would be a matter for the property owner.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (117)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

117. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of medium-term, temporary and long-term accommodation for educate together south city Cork. [41046/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy may be aware, the school in question is currently in interim accommodation in Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa. My Department is reviewing potential accommodation options for September 2020 to use as interim accommodation while awaiting delivery of their permanent accommodation.

A potential permanent site option has been identified and discussions are ongoing with the landowner with a view to acquiring this site. Due to the commercially sensitive nature of site acquisitions generally, it is not possible to comment further at this stage.

School Admissions

Ceisteanna (118)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

118. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has reviewed the demand for secondary school spaces in an area (details supplied) in view of the exclusion by Meath and Louth ETB of students attending schools in County Meath but living in Dublin from access to a college; if he is satisfied that there are adequate secondary school places in the area to meet existing demand and cater for the large new housing estate which is being built in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41088/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking school places in the area.

The Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 was signed into law by the President on 18 July 2018. The overall objective of the Act is to provide a new framework for school enrolment, designed to ensure that every child is treated fairly and that the way in which schools decide on applications for admission is structured, fair and transparent.

It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of all schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act, 1998 and the Admissions Act, 2018.

Parents have the right to choose which school to apply to and where the school has places available the pupil should be admitted. However, in schools where there are more applicants than places available, a selection process may be necessary. The selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants. However, this may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice.

Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 provides for an appeal by a parent or guardian to the Secretary General of my Department, or in the case of an Educational Training Board (ETB) school to the ETB in the first instance, where a Board of Management of a school, or a person acting on behalf of the Board, refuses to enrol a student in a school. Further information on the Section 29 appeals process is available on the Department's website www.education.ie. The Education Welfare Service of the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child.

In April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022). This announcement followed nationwide demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country and the 4-year horizon will enable increased lead-in times for planning and delivery of the necessary infrastructure.

While the announcement did not include a new post-primary school for the Dunboyne school planning area, a new 800 pupil post-primary school was announced to open in 2020 in the adjacent Blanchardstown_West and BlanchardstownVge_D15 school planning areas as a regional solution. In addition, a number of new post-primary schools were established in school planning areas adjoining the Dunboyne school planning areas in recent years and serving the Dublin 15 areas as follows:

- Le Cheile Secondary School, a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school established in 2014 to serve the Mulhuddart_Tyrellstown school planning area;

- Hansfield Educate Together Secondary school, a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school established in 2014 to serve the Blanchardstown_West school planning area;

- De Lacy College, a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school established in 2014 to serve the Ashbourne school planning area; and

- Edmund Rice College, a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school established in 2017 to serve the Carpenterstown_D15 and Castleknock_D15 school planning areas as a regional solution;

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.

Schools Health and Safety

Ceisteanna (119)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

119. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools that require works to be undertaken to remove pyrite from some or all of the school buildings or grounds; the details of the schools and their locations; if they are primary or secondary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41089/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department has identified five schools (four primary schools and one post primary school) where works are required to by undertaken to address issues caused by pyrite.

The schools in question are all in Dublin and are as follows:

- St Patrick's NS Diswellstown;

- St Canice's NS Finglas;

- St Peter's NS Phibsboro;

- St Michael's Holy Faith SS Finglas;

- Castleknock Educate Together NS.

If a school authority identifies any issues with a building that have been caused by pyrite, it is open to it to submit an application for funding under my Department’s Emergency Works Scheme.

Application forms are available on my Department’s website.

Departmental Legal Cases

Ceisteanna (120)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

120. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of legal action being taken as a result of a number of school buildings being contaminated with pyrite; if remediation works in the schools is dependent on the completion of this legal action; when this legal action will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41090/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Once the presence of pyrite was established, my Department's Planning and Building Unit sought legal advice as to how to proceed. The matter has been referred to the Chief State Solicitor’s Office.

The Deputy will appreciate that as this matter is still being dealt with by the Chief State Solicitors Office it is not possible for me to comment further at present.

However pending the outcome of the legal case any urgent remedial work required to keep the buildings safe for use can be applied for under my Department's Emergency Works Scheme and , approval will be given for works to take place under the scheme.

School Funding

Ceisteanna (121)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

121. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount his Department has paid out to schools to monitor and undertake short-term repair works to deal with the consequences of pyrite contamination in their buildings; the details of same by school; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that some schools are bearing these expenses themselves; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41091/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that my Department has spent approximately €27,000 on surveys and reports to monitor and establish the presence and extent of pyrite in schools where the possible existence of pyrite has been indicated.

Any structural issues arising in a school building as a result of pyrite are being dealt with under my Department's Emergency Works Scheme (EWS).

The following funding has been provided under this scheme to remediate issues with floors, doors and paths:

- St Patrick's NS Diswellstown €167,804.91

- St Michael's Holy Faith SS, Finglas €83.878.40

- St Peter's, Phibsboro €14,687.00

Funding has also been approved for Castleknock Educate Together NS to remediate issues with floors, doors and paths. However, I am not in a position to provide the level of funding at this stage as it is commercially sensitive.

I am not aware of any expenditure by schools to remediate issues caused by pyrite. If a school authority identifies any issues with a building that have been caused by pyrite, it is open to it to submit an application for funding under my Department’s Emergency Works Scheme. Application forms are available on my Department’s website.

Schools Data

Ceisteanna (122)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

122. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the details of primary schools in an area in Cork (details supplied). [41119/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm that details in relation to primary schools in the area referred to by the Deputy are available on my Departments website under the "Find a School" link on the home page. The Deputy can access school contact details, enrolments, ethos, inspection reports, etc. via this link.

Schools Data

Ceisteanna (123)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

123. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the details of secondary schools in an area in Cork (details supplied). [41120/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm that details in relation to post-primary schools in the area referred to by the Deputy are available on my Departments website under the "Find a School" link on the home page. The Deputy can access school contact details, enrolments, ethos, inspection reports, etc. via this link.

Summer Works Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (124)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

124. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding a school in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41121/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In general, individual school authorities are responsible, in the first instance, for ensuring the safety and welfare of children and others in their care.

The issue of road safety measures in the road network outside the area of vested school sites such as road signage, traffic calming measures, car parking and pedestrian facilities are the responsibility in the first instance of the relevant local authority. Local Authorities have the power to decide on road safety measures outside schools to ensure that measures are in place to protect the safety of local school children. My Department has no function in this matter.

I can confirm to the Deputy than an application for External Environment Projects (Category 10) has been received from the school authority, in question, under my Department's multi-annual Summer Works Scheme (SWS) 2020 onwards.

I wish to advise that commensurate with the level of funding available for SWS in 2020, applications will be assessed on a top down basis in accordance with the prioritisation criteria outlined in the governing Circular Letter for the Scheme. This Circular Letter (0027/2019) is available on my Department's website www.education.ie.

It is my intention to publish a list of successful applicants in Q4, 2019 for works to be carried out in summer 2020.

Schools Establishment

Ceisteanna (125)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

125. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the way in which a special needs school applies for a roll number; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41122/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department has established procedures for the setting up of new schools.

Once a school has been established, in line with the required procedures, a roll number is assigned by my Department as part of the process.

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. In the case of an application to establish a new special school, the views of the NCSE would be sought as part of the Department's consideration of the matter.

Summer Works Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (126)

Martin Ferris

Ceist:

126. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Skills when works will take place to ensure the protection of children attending a school (details supplied). [41125/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In general, individual school authorities are responsible, in the first instance, for ensuring the safety and welfare of children and others in their care.

The issue of road safety measures in the road network outside the area of vested school sites such as road signage, traffic calming measures, car parking and pedestrian facilities are the responsibility in the first instance of the relevant local authority. Local Authorities have the power to decide on road safety measures outside schools to ensure that measures are in place to protect the safety of local school children. My Department has no function in this matter.

I can confirm to the Deputy than an application for External Environment Projects (Category 10) has been received from the school authority, in question, under my Department's multi-annual Summer Works Scheme (SWS) 2020 onwards.

I wish to advise that commensurate with the level of funding available for SWS in 2020, applications will be assessed on a top down basis in accordance with the prioritisation criteria outlined in the governing Circular Letter for the Scheme. This Circular Letter (0027/2019) is available on my Department's website www.education.ie.

It is my intention to publish a list of successful applicants in Q4, 2019 for works to be carried out in summer 2020.

Teacher Supply

Ceisteanna (127)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

127. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to provide extra support for teaching principals in primary schools in view of the increase in responsibilities, reports and paperwork that must be handled by teaching principals to date and the long hours involved in dealing with this work; the position regarding the possibility of allocating one release day per week to teaching principals; if he has investigated the possibility of creating a national cluster of panels to cover this release time, to ensure consistency of curriculum delivery and safeguard the educational experiences and outcomes of pupils; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41131/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

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

This builds on measures in previous budgets, including €0.4 million made available in Budget 2018 to fund almost 4600 additional release days for teaching principals in primary schools.

Since September 2018, there are arrangements in place for schools to cluster their principal release days into a full-time post which will assist teaching principals to more effectively plan their release days for the benefit of the school.

All proposals made in relation to education expenditure are considered in the context of budgetary matters, having regard to overall resource constraints and other competing demands in the education sector.

Departmental Reviews

Ceisteanna (128)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

128. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position with regard to a review of options for standardised testing in order that clear information is provided to teachers and parents. [41138/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department is currently reviewing the information on standardised testing that is provided to teachers and parents and new information notes will be available in advance of standardised testing in spring 2020.

Commencement of Legislation

Ceisteanna (129)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

129. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position with regard to the commencement of fitness to teach provisions of the Teaching Council Act. [41139/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Under the Teaching Council Acts 2001-2015 the Teaching Council is the body with statutory authority and responsibility for regulation of the teaching profession including registration of teachers.

Part 5 (Fitness to Teach) of the Teaching Council Acts 2001-2015 was commenced on 25 July 2016. Information on the Part 5 (Fitness to Teach) process and provisions can be found on the Teaching council website.

Teacher Training Provision

Ceisteanna (130)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

130. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position with regard to additional funding provided for continuous professional development for teachers since February 2016. [41140/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Department of Education and Skills promotes the quality of teaching and learning through the provision of continuing professional development (CPD) and supports for teachers and principals.

Funding provided for continuous professional development for teachers and Principals since 2015 is as follows:

2015 €22.803m

2016 €22.606m

2017 €27.886m

2018 €30.898m

Additional professional development needs of serving teachers in recent years have been addressed through the provision of an induction programme for newly-qualified teachers with an annual allocation of approximately €1.4m and Junior Cycle for Teachers support service with an annual allocation of approximately €5.40m.