Question No. 81 answered with Question No. 79.

Teacher Recruitment

Ceisteanna (82)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

82. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a person (details supplied) will be reinstated to their position as a career guidance councillor in view of the fact the Teaching Council regulations do not prevent them from being appointed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40668/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The recruitment and appointment of teachers to fill teaching posts is a matter for the individual school authority, subject to procedures agreed under Section 24(3) of the Education Act 1998 (as amended by the Education (Amendment) Act 2012).

In accordance with Department Circular 31/ 2011, which is available on the Department’s website under www.education.ie, schools are required to employ appropriately qualified and registered teachers and ensure that unemployed teachers should be offered employment in preference to those who have retired. These measures were taken in an effort to increase employment opportunities for unemployed teachers.

The following are the minimum requirements for employment as a teacher as detailed in the above circular:

a) Be registered with the Teaching Council in accordance with Part 3 of the Teaching Council Act 2001

And

b) Have qualifications appropriate to the sector and suitable to the post for which s/he is to be employed (referred to in this circular as “appropriately qualified”).

In accordance with circular PPT12/05 a guidance counsellor should be a qualified second-level teacher and in addition should hold qualifications in guidance as set out in this circular.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (83)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

83. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the pre-tender stage of a project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40674/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The major building project for the school referred to by the Deputy has recently completed Stage 2(b) of architectural planning and has been progressed to tender stage.

A tender stage normally takes between 7 and 8 months to complete.

Education Funding

Ceisteanna (84)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

84. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding investment in primary education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40679/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Budget 2019 marked the third year of a major reinvestment in education. The budget for the Department of Education and Skills has increased by €674 million this year, a 6.7% increase on last year. In total, the Education budget has increased by €1.7 billion compared to 2016.

This school year sees the numbers employed in our schools reach the highest ever level. Over 1,300 additional posts in schools have been funded, including more than 370 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.

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.

The Budget 2019 measure which provided for 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 has been implemented for the current school year.

2.75m was allocated in Budget 2017 to restore middle management positions, i.e. the equivalent of approximately 1,300 posts. The Department has committed to revising the Posts of Responsibility table in the leadership and management circulars to take into account retirements during the school year. This ensures that the current level of Posts of Responsibility are maintained in the school system.

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 for the current school year. The first and full year costs of this increase is €4 million and €10 million respectively.

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 Staff Redeployment

Ceisteanna (85)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

85. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the clerical officer transfer of a person (details supplied) under the mobility scheme will be possible; and if there is a timeline for same. [40687/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Civil Service mobility scheme comes under the remit of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and is administered through HR Shared Services.

According to information available to HR officials in my Department, the person in question applied on the 27th of August 2018 for a transfer to Zone 16, which includes a number of Departments of which one is my Department’s Athlone office. I further understand that the person is number 42 on the mobility list for my Department.

While it is not possible at this stage to give an indication if or when an offer of a transfer will be made, HR will continue to monitor movement of the mobility panel in line with filling current and upcoming vacancies.

Schools Building Projects Applications

Ceisteanna (86)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

86. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if sanction will be granted to a school (details supplied) to proceed to tender for a three classroom extension, which has already been approved by his Department under the devolved grant process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40693/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The school to which the Deputy refers was granted funding under the Additional Accommodation Scheme 2017 to build 3 Mainstream Classrooms with en-suite toilets,1 Assisted User WC and the removal of 1 prefabricated classroom.

I am pleased to be able to inform the Deputy that the school was recently granted approval to proceed to the tender with this project.

Higher Education Institutions Staff

Ceisteanna (87)

Joan Burton

Ceist:

87. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to address sexual harassment of staff in higher education institutions; the work programme of the new Centre of Excellence for Gender Equality to address same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40697/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Higher Educations Institutions have a duty of care to their staff and students, and a responsibility to foster a campus culture that is clear in the condemnation of unwanted and unacceptable behaviours.

In April 2019, my Department published a Framework for Promoting Consent and Preventing Sexual Violence in Irish HEIs (Safe, Respectful, Supportive and Positive - Ending Sexual Violence and Harassment in Irish Higher Education Institutions). This Framework aims to ensure the creation of an institutional campus culture which is safe, respectful and supportive.

The Centre of Excellence for Gender Equality in the HEA was established in June 2019 to ensure sustainable acceleration towards gender equality in third level institutions by providing centralised support, sharing of good practice, and funding for innovative organisational and cultural change initiatives nationally. Institutional Gender Action Plans (a requirement for Athena SWAN certification and of the Gender Action Plan 2018-2020) address the area of sexual harassment through actions such as improving reporting levels and carrying out dignity and respect training. Progress on the implementation of the 2018 Higher Education Gender Equality Task Force Action Plan and the 2016 Expert Group recommendations, is monitored by the HEA as part of its annual Strategy and Performance Dialogue process with higher education institutions.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) undertook a review of RSE in schools and published its draft report in July 2019. A public consultation is currently underway to ensure that the findings and the related draft advice is reflective of the needs of students, schools and parents. This consultation process closes on 25 October. It is expected that the review will be completed in later 2019.

Schools Building Projects Data

Ceisteanna (88)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

88. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the details of investment (details supplied) in Cork since 2011; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40702/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I have asked my Department to collate the information requested by the Deputy and I will convey it to him when it is ready.

School Management

Ceisteanna (89)

John Brassil

Ceist:

89. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to review in-school management posts in primary schools with a view to revising upwards the provision of posts for schools with more than 45 teachers (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40733/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

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

This measure allowed for the commencement of restoration of middle management posts as part of an agreed distributed leadership model and meant lifting the longstanding moratorium on these posts. This recognises the key role school leadership has in promoting a school environment which is welcoming, inclusive and accountable.

In total almost 1700 leadership posts have been invested in our primary schools since 2017 which has led to 1 in 3 teachers now holding promoted positions. The Department has committed to revising the Posts of Responsibility table in the leadership and management circulars to take into account retirements during the school year. This ensures that the current level of Posts of Responsibilities are maintained in the school system.

The lifting of the moratorium is an initial phase in the restoration of middle management posts and any future changes to the number of posts allocated will be dependent on budgetary demands.

Departmental Schemes

Ceisteanna (90)

Willie O'Dea

Ceist:

90. Deputy Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a person (details supplied) was informed that the review of the ex-gratia scheme is separate from the report that has to be sent back to the Council Of Europe on its implementation of the European Court of Human Rights judgment in a case which may take several months to complete in view of the fact that the ruling on this was that the ex-gratia scheme was not separate; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40737/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Following on from the ECtHR judgment in the Louise O'Keeffe case, my Department is required to report to the Council of Europe on a biannual basis on the measures it has taken to implement the judgment. The latest Action Plan which will be filed in October provides information on the measures that have been taken to monitor child safeguarding issues. It also provides an update on the determinations reached by Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O’Neill in his assessment of applications for the ex gratia scheme.

The review of the ex gratia scheme is ongoing and the Council of Europe are informed accordingly in the Action Plan.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (91)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

91. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if funding will be allocated to increase ASD units in a school (details supplied) in south County Kildare. [40746/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

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.

It is open to any school to make application to the NCSE to establish a class where a need has been identified in their area. My Department is not involved in considering applications from individual schools.

The NCSE have well established structures 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.

In deciding where to establish a special class in an area, the NCSE take account of the current and projected demand and the available school accommodation both current and planned. In this regard, the SENO will also approach individual schools in the area to discuss the matter with a view to finding the optimal location in terms of convenience and sustainability.

The NCSE team of locally based Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) are available to assist and advise schools to plan for special class provision and to address issues in provision that may arise from time in time at local levels.

Guidelines for Boards of Management and Principals of Primary and Post Primary schools contain information on setting up and organising special classes, including information on resources which may be provided to schools to establish special classes are available to download from www.ncse.ie.

In Co. Kildare, there are currently 4 special schools and 77 special classes in mainstream schools, including 6 ASD Early Intervention classes, 48 primary ASD classes and 16 ASD post primary ASD classes.

As the Deputy's question relates to the NCSE planning for special class provision in a particular area I have arranged for the question to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

School Staff

Ceisteanna (92)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

92. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to redeploy secondary school teachers between Dublin and County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40750/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The core function of the redeployment arrangements is to facilitate the redeployment of surplus permanent teachers to other schools where vacancies exist. The redeployment of all surplus permanent teachers is key to the Department's ability to manage within its payroll budget and ceiling on teacher numbers.

At second-level, a voluntary redeployment scheme has operated on a pilot basis in specific regions in recent years. Permanent teachers employed in these regions were given an opportunity to volunteer for a transfer to other areas if such a transfer would free up a vacancy that would facilitate the redeployment of a surplus permanent teacher in the region.

The criteria used for the allocation of teachers to primary and post-primary schools, including redeployment arrangements, are published annually. The arrangements for the 2020/21 school year will be published in January 2020.

Schools Health and Safety

Ceisteanna (93, 94, 95)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

93. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount spent on improving the health and safety standards of each school impacted by the structural review of schools constructed by a company (details supplied); the estimated costs for the remaining schools to have work carried out; and the area from which his Department has obtained the moneys expended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40751/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

94. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if new builds and planned expansions to schools will be put on hold as a result of unexpected structural review costs in 2019; if plans will be put on hold; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40752/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

95. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the details of each school built by a company (details supplied) in the past ten years; the cost initially budgeted for each; the amount the project cost upon completion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40753/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 93 to 95, inclusive, together.

My Department’s overall capital budget increased by almost €200m between 2018 and 2019 (€745m to €941m).

This increased capital budget is facilitating extensions and new schools being delivered as part of the rollout of Project Ireland 2040 along with significant progress being made in relation to the schools remediation programme.

In relation to Project Ireland 2040 rollout, my Department publishes a monthly update on its website in relation to the progression of large-scale projects through the various stages of capital appraisal, site acquisition, design, tender and construction. Updates in relation to smaller scale projects are published on a weekly basis. In summary, in the schools sector, the rollout of Project Ireland 2040 involved overall construction activity during 2018 and 2019 of circa 130 large scale projects ranging in value from €1m to projects in excess of €20m. There was also in excess of 280 projects with a project value less than €1m at construction during this period. All of these projects are expected to deliver more than 40,000 permanent (additional and replacement) school places. Typically, there are approximately 50 large scale projects delivered in a given year.

My Department also publishes regular updates in relation to the schools remediation programme. The last update was published on 14 August 2019. Significant progress was made during summer 2019 in relation to this programme. This facilitated precautionary measures being removed from 14 of the affected schools. The remainder of the schools remediation programme is scheduled to be undertaken on a phased basis over 2020 and 2021, primarily during the school holiday periods.

My Department continues to liaise with the Chief State Solicitor’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office on the on-going legal process related to the schools built by the contractor involved. Proceedings have issued in a number of schools to date. For legal reasons, my Department is not in a position to provide the costs for the remediation work at this time.

Contract cost information requested by the Deputy for projects carried out by the contractor over the last ten years is contained in the attachment to this response. Where final accounts are available, the difference between the contract sum and the final outturn is less than 10% in all cases.

Schools

Year Completed

County

Roll No.

School 

Budget/Tender amount(ex VAT)

Final Account Figure (Ex VAT)

2009

Cork

15597W

Macroom Boys National School, Sleveen East, Macroom, Co. Cork

€3,244,750.05

€3,401,801.43

2009

Dublin Fingal

76129H

Ardgillan Community College, Castleland, Balbriggan, Co. Dublin

€3,525,000.00

€3,603,258.18

2011

Dublin Fingal

20201V

Tyrrelstown ETNS, Hollywood Road, Tyrrelstown, Dublin

€5,022,500.00

€5,257,418.60

2011

Meath

20215J

St Pauls NS, Jamestown, Ratoath, Co. Meath.

€3,569,520.00

€3,906,558.84

2011

Kildare

16705E

Scoil Phadraig Naofa, Tomard, Athy, Co. Kildare.

2011

Kildare

06209J

Athy Model School, Rathstewart, Athy, Co. Kildare  (GP Room)

2011

Kildare

20192A

GS Atha Í, Tomard, Athy, Co. Kildare (GP Room)

 €4,885,000.00

€5,081,730.55

2011

Dublin Belgard

20303G

Lucan East Educate Together National School, Griffeen Avenue, Lucan, Co. Dublin.

€1,595,000.00

€1,675,432

2012

Dublin Fingal

16675V

St. Luke's NS Hollywood Road, Tyrrelstown, Dublin 15.

€3,192,000.00

€3,257,462.17

2012

Dublin Fingal

n/a

Castlemills  Education Centre, Balbriggan, Dublin+ Flemington Community Centre Balbriggan 

€4,235,000.00

€4,489,863.98

2012

Laois

15556I

Portarlington Convent NS, Portarlington, Co. Laois.

€2,234,000.00

€2,269,544.90

2012

Dublin Belgard

20223I

Gaelscoil Eiscir Riada, Lucan, Dublin.

€3,397,000.00

€3,525,705.33

2013

Cork County

20310D

Carrigaline ETNS, Rosemount, Herons Wood, Carrigaline, Co. Cork.

2013

Cork County

20006A

Gaelscoil Chloich na Coillte, Bothar Chnoc Na Raithni, Cloch Na Gcoillte, Co. Chorcai.Gaelscoil Chloich na Coillte Clonakilty renamed GS Mhichíl Uí Choileáin

2013

Cork County

20335T

Scoil Phadraig Naofa, Foxwood, Mounthovel, Rochestown, Co Cork.

€8,979,500.00Broken down into€3,584,000.00Lot 8.1 - Carrigaline ETNS€3,451,000.00Lot 8.2 - GS Chloich na Coillte renamed GS Mhichil Ui Choileain€1,944,500.00Lot 8.3 - Scoil Phadraid Naofa, Rochestown

€3,656,327.91€3,496,672.86€1,958,483.64

2013

Dublin  Fingal

20241K

Scoil Choilm, Diswellstown,Porterstown (linked to Luttrellstown CC)

2013

Dublin  Fingal

76130P

Luttrellstown Community College, Porterstown Road, Clonsilla, Annfield, Dublin 15

€11,500,000.00

€11,784,857.29

2013

Laois

14838N

Maryborough National School, Stradbally Rd, Portlaoise, Co. Laois

2013

Laois

20081O

Gaelscoil Portlaoise, Stradbally Rd, Portlaoise, Co. Laois

2013

Laois

20347D

Portlaoise Educate Together, Stradbally Rd, Portlaoise, Co. Laois

                                       €8,150,000.00

€8,264,085.12

2014

Cork City

20354A

Cara Jnr (Special) School, Banduff Rd, Mayfield Cork

€4,595,000.00

€4,720,430.91

2015

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown

20425U

Gaelscoil Shliabh Rua, Ballyogan Rd, Sandyford, Dublin

€3,730,000.00

€3,913,583.19

2016

Dublin City

20453C

Broombridge ETNS (Cabra Primary School)275-335 Bannow Rd, Dublin Northside, Dublin 7

2016

Dublin Belgard

20426W

Lucan CNS, Balgaddy Road, Lucan

2016

Dublin Belgard

20422O

Scoil Aoife CNS, City West, Dn 24

€13,250,000For Lot 2 consisting of 3 schools:€3,590,000.00Lot 2.1 - Broombridge ETNS€4,840,000.00Lot 2.2 - Lucan CNS€4,820,000.00Lot 2.3 - Scoil Aoife

€3,707,750.29Lot 2.1 - Broombridge ETNS€5,101,860.00Lot 2.2 - Lucan CNSNo final a/c for Lot 2.3 Scoil Aoife

2016

Dublin Belgard

19872P

Scoil Chaitlin Maude, Hazelgrove, Kiltalown, Dublin 24

2016

Meath

20082Q

GS Tulach na Og, Rooske Rd, Castlefarm, Dunboyne, Co. Meath

€8,000,000.00 Broken down into €4,050,000.00Chaitlin Maude€3,950,000.00GS Tulach Na Og

€4,089,201.46Chaitlin MaudeNo final a/c for GS Tulach Na Og

2016

Meath

76196W

De Lacy College, Killegland, Ashbourne, Co. Meath - linked to Gaelscoil na Mí and Ashbourne ETNS below (Campus)

2016

Meath

20382F

Gaelscoil na Mí, Ashbourne, Killegland, Ashbourne, Co. Meath  - linked to De Lacy College and Ashbourne ETNS (Campus)

2016

Meath

20396Q

Ashbourne ETNS, Killegland, Ashbourne, Co. Meath - linked to De Lacy College and Gaelscoil na Mí (Campus)

€15,250,000.00

                                    €16,135,658.48

2017

Donegal

20235P

Letterkenny ETNS, Kiltoy Rd, Ballyraine, Letterkenny, Co. Donegal

€7,025,000.00

Not at Final A/C stage yet

2017

Dublin Belgard

20411J

Firhouse ETNS, Ballycullen Drive, Firhouse, Dublin 24 (Tendered as one Lot with Firhouse ETNS)

see GS Teach Giuise below

see GS Teach Giuise below

2018

Kildare 

20428D

GS Mhic Aodha, Melitta Road, Kildare Town, Co. Kildare  - Tendered as one Lot with St. Joseph's NS, Gorey below

2018

Wexford

18280I

St Joseph's NS,Creagh, Gorey, Co. Wexford

                                   €9,425,000.00

Not at Final A/C stage yet

2018

Galway City

20000L

Galway ET, Thomas Hynes Rd, Newcastle, Galway

€4,100,000.00

Not at Final A/C stage yet

2018

Dublin Belgard

20412L 

GS Teach Giuise, Ballycullen Dr, Firhouse, Dublin 24(Tendered as one Lot with Firhouse ETNS)

€10,299,000.00

Not at Final A/C stage yet

Special Educational Needs Data

Ceisteanna (96)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

96. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of early behavioural disability units in County Tipperary primary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40758/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Enabling children with Special Educational Needs including Autism to receive an education appropriate to their needs is a priority for me and the Government.

Nearly one euro in every five of this budget, about €1.9 billion, is invested in supporting children with special educational needs in schools.

Since 2011, the Government has increased the number of Special education teachers from 9,740 to over 13,400 and the number of Special Needs Assistants from 10,575 to 15,950.

We have also increased the number of special classes from 548 in 2011 to 1,621 across the country now. 1,355 of these are Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) special classes.

In addition places in the 124 special schools for students with the most complex special educational needs have increased from 6,848 to 8,000 across the country now.

This ensures that a continuum of special educational provision, including special class and special school placements, is made available for children with special educational needs, so that regardless of the level of need of the child, educational provision can be made for them.

In Co. Tippperary, there are currently 3 special schools and 76 special classes in mainstream schools, including 9 ASD Early Intervention classes, 37 primary ASD classes and 22 ASD post primary ASD classes.

The greater proportion of children with autism attend mainstream class, where they may access additional supports, including additional teaching and SNA support, if required.

But some students may find it difficult to manage full-time placement in mainstream and so placement in a Special Class or Special School setting is sometimes deemed more appropriate.

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 have well established structures 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.

It is open to any school to make application to the NCSE to establish a class where a need has been identified in their area.

In deciding where to establish a special class in an area, the NCSE take account of the current and projected demand and the available school accommodation both current and planned. In this regard, the SENO will also approach individual schools in the area to discuss the matter with a view to finding the optimal location in terms of convenience and sustainability.

The NCSE team of locally based Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) are available to assist and advise schools to plan for special class provision and to address issues in provision that may arise from time in time at local levels.

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

The NCSE Support Service delivers a range of professional development initiatives and support for teachers working with students with special educational needs in special classes.

Guidelines for Boards of Management and Principals of Primary and Post Primary schools contain information on setting up and organising special classes, including information on resources which may be provided to schools to establish special classes are available to download from www.ncse.ie.

As the Deputy's question relates to the NCSE planning for special class provision in a particular area I have arranged for the question to be forwarded to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply.

Special Educational Needs Staff

Ceisteanna (97)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

97. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress that has been made to date to improve the recognition of the role of a special needs assistant; the future plans to strengthen the recognition of the role and the resources that will be made available to acknowledge the need for improved holiday and illness entitlements in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40766/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) are recruited specifically to assist in the care of pupils with disabilities who have additional and significant care needs in an educational context. They may be appointed to a special school or a mainstream school to assist school authorities in making suitable provision for a pupil or pupils with special care needs. The first priority is that the care needs of the pupils are met on an ongoing basis during the school year.

Annual Leave and Public Holiday entitlement is regulated by the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997 (as amended) . In general, full-time employees are entitled to a minimum of 20 days Annual Leave in each leave year.

Sick Leave entitlements for SNAs are governed by the Public Service Sick Leave Scheme and are detailed in Circulars 54/2015 and 26/2018 issued by my Department.

My Department has recently established a Forum comprising of representatives of SNAs, School Management and my Department. This Forum is established to deal with claims and proposals relating to the salaries, other emoluments and conditions of service for SNAs and met for the first time on 3rd October, 2019.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (98)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

98. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the planning position in regard to the new post-primary school for south Drogheda; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40800/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm officials from my Department have been working to identify and procure a suitable site for the school to which the Deputy refers. A potential site option has been identified and this is currently under consideration.

Once a suitable site has been acquired, my Department will be in a position to progress the project concerned into the architectural planning process.

While a site acquisition process is underway, given the commercial sensitivities associated with land acquisitions generally I am not in a position to comment further at this time.

Departmental Schemes

Ceisteanna (99, 100)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

99. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of payments made under an ex-gratia scheme instituted on foot of a judgment (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40806/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

100. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if payments have been made to13 applicants whose application for a payment from the ex-gratia scheme was previously refused by the SCA on the sole ground that they failed to furnish evidence of a prior complaint. [40807/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 99 and 100 together.

Compensation payments are being made to a number of victims of child sexual abuse in day schools on foot of the assessments made by the Independent Assessor to the ex gratia scheme, Mr. Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill. The current position is that sixteen offers of payment have been made and, to date, seven have been accepted.

School Curriculum

Ceisteanna (101, 102, 103)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

101. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the meaning of special core status for history; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40822/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

102. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for pupils that are at school or that started school in 2018 in the context of history becoming a core subject. [40823/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

103. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the meaning of special core status changed for history before his announcement in relation to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40824/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 101 to 103, inclusive, together.

In November of last year I asked the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) to carry out a review of the optional nature of history under the new Framework for Junior Cycle. I also asked the NCCA to identify how we can best promote the study of history in our schools. I received the NCCA's advisory report in July of this year and I am deeply grateful to the council for the work it has done.

I gave careful consideration to the NCCA report, which makes it clear that the new history specification under the Framework for Junior Cycle provides for a better way to teach and learn history than in the past. While I am aware that the subject is due be reviewed in two years' time, I am keen, however, to do something now to ensure that there is no reduction in the number of students studying history. This is why I recently announced that the subject of History is to be accorded special core status in the Junior Cycle curriculum.

I will be requesting the support of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment in working out how best this can be achieved. I am keen that arrangements providing for the special core status of the subject be in place for the start of the next school year, to apply to students starting their Junior Cycle at that time.

Schools Site Acquisitions

Ceisteanna (104)

Brendan Ryan

Ceist:

104. Deputy Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all matters in relation to the contracts for sale for the purchase of a site for a school (details supplied) have been signed and finalised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40830/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware, the acquisition of a site for St. Michael's Special School is at an advanced stage of the conveyancing process.

Due to commercial and legal sensitivities relating to site acquisitions generally I am not in a position to provide further details at this time. However, I can assure the Deputy that my officials are working to bring matters to a conclusion at the earliest possible date.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (105)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

105. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the development of a new school building for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40882/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The school to which the Deputy refers was granted funding under the Additional Accommodation Scheme 2018 to build 2 Mainstream Classrooms with en-suite toilets. In addition, approval was granted to include a car park extension.

The Department sought clarification in relation to some of the details included in the consultant’s report. When this information is received it will be reviewed and officials in my Department will be in contact with the school to progress the project.