Flood Relief Schemes Status

Ceisteanna (104)

Michael McGrath

Ceist:

104. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of a flood relief scheme in Ballinhassig, County Cork; the funding committed; the next steps in the process; the timeline for the completion of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46726/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

A Feasibility Study for a Flood Relief Scheme to address the flooding issues in Ballinhassig has been completed by the Office of Public Works (OPW), and has identified a preferred, viable option for the area.

While an Environmental Constraints Study - conducted by independent consultants - recommended that a Stage 1 Environmental Impact Assessment Report and Appropriate Assessment screening process be undertaken for the proposed scheme, these assessments have concluded that the option, as currently proposed, does not require either an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) or Natura Impact Statement (NIS). It has been determined, therefore, that the scheme can be progressed under Part 8 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001-2015.  Further surveys are currently being finalised to inform the environmental impacts of the scheme, after which the project will progress to planning and detailed design.

Discussions are currently ongoing with Cork County Council regarding the progression of the scheme through these next stages. While it is not possible to provide a timeframe for the project at this time, provision has been made in OPW’s multi annual financial profiles for the progression of the scheme to implementation.

Ministerial Allowances

Ceisteanna (105)

Paul Murphy

Ceist:

105. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform his plans to abolish the practice of enhanced mileage rates applying to Ministers who have cars with higher engine capacity in view of the commitment to action on climate change. [46804/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The arrangements for paying mileage allowances to Ministers of State were introduced, following a government decision in 1983, to reduce the cost of providing Ministerial transport. This was achieved by allowing Ministers of State to use their own cars for official purposes and to employ civilian drivers instead of being supplied with ‘State Cars’ and Garda drivers. In 2011, this measure was further extended and it was decided that:

a) The President, the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the Minister for Justice and Law Reform should continue to be provided with Garda transport and drivers, for security reasons in line with the recommendations of the Garda Commissioner:

b) The Chief Justice, by virtue of his position, should also have a Garda car and driver;

c) The Director of Public Prosecutions should be provided with Garda transport and protection commensurate with his security profile but this should not be an ex officio entitlement;

d) With the exception of the four members of the Government mentioned in subparagraph a) the arrangements currently in place for Ministers of State should apply for all Ministers, the Attorney General and the Ceann Comhairle.

At the time of the original decision, it was considered that for security purposes and to facilitate the very heavy travelling requirements associated with their office, it was essential for Ministers of State to be allowed to use larger cars. These conditions are reflected in the allocation of a rate for an engine capacity of 2001cc and over for Ministers of State.  Since 2011 the same arrangements apply to Ministers.

In the context of the Climate Action Plan it is intended to review rates for electric vehicles with a view to introducing civil service mileage rates for electric vehicles reflecting the costs incurred by drivers using their own vehicles for work on behalf of the State. In addition, the next periodic review of civil service mileage rates is scheduled to take place in 2020 and all relevant factors will be taken into account in the context of this review.

Public Sector Staff

Ceisteanna (106)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

106. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the number of times consent has been sought and-or given under the terms of circular 109/247/7417 of 17 October 2011 for public servants to undertake paid work, in addition to their own salary, in each of the years 2012 to 2018 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46830/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

My officials have reviewed records held in my Department and I can confirm no records have been found of requests seeking sanction for public servants to undertake paid work, in addition to their own salary, in each of the years 2012 to 2018.

The Deputy may wish to be aware that in a number of cases, third level institutions were recompensed by various public service bodies for the time given up by an academic staff member while sitting on a State board.  In such cases, the college was compensated and not the individual.

Public Sector Staff Redeployment

Ceisteanna (107, 108)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

107. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the steps he is taking to facilitate more civil servants who wish to locate out of Dublin to other locations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46840/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

108. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the steps he is taking to encourage greater mobility within the wider public service; the progress made in 2018 and to date in 2019 to achieve same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46841/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 107 and 108 together.

As the Deputy is aware, the Civil Service Mobility scheme which comes under the remit of my Department, and is administered through HR Shared Services, National Shared Services Office, offers an opportunity for staff members to apply for mobility through an open and transparent system. The establishment of the scheme fulfils one of the requirements of Action 15 of the Civil Service Renewal Plan; and Action 14 of the People Strategy for the Civil Service.

The scheme is being introduced on a phased basis. Phase 1 of the scheme went live in 2018 and 2019. This phase is for the general Civil Service grades of Clerical Officer (CO) and Executive Officer (EO) to apply for mobility between and within 46 zones. The location choices for the scheme are based on mobility zones (46 zones) rather than by county or province. 

There has been a high level of interest in the scheme with c.4,700 staff members (24% of the total participating grades) applying for a move through the scheme with:

- the majority of applicants c.2,860 applying for a move either within a regional zone or between regional zones;

- c.1,040 of the applicants applying to move from Zone 46 (Dublin) to a regional location – representing 12% of the staff in the participating grades in Zone 46;

c.800 staff based in Zone 46 applying for Mobility within the same Zone.

Over 350 moves have taken place since the scheme went live with other moves currently in progress.

Plans are in place to extend the scheme in 2020 to include the grades of Higher Executive Officer, Administrative Officer and Assistant Principal. When this process is complete, mobility will be in place for general Civil Service grades from Clerical Officer up to Principal Officer.

The scheme provides for cross organisational moves within a location that were not previously possible under the former transfer mechanisms that it has replaced. This means that staff members are given opportunities to work closer to home and also to further their career development. The mobility of experienced staff members across the system also supports the business needs of Civil Service organisations.

To date, it should be noted that approximately 75% of the applicants have initially declined an offer to move to a zone that they selected as their preferred location. This would suggest that the actual number of staff members who would move from Dublin to other zones is lower than the number of current applicants [c.1,040].  We will continue to monitor this trend.

Following the full roll out of the Civil Service Mobility Scheme, it is the intention to review and extend mobility over time to provide additional development opportunities and enable greater mobility across the Public Service.

EU Programmes

Ceisteanna (109)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

109. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if his attention has been drawn to the issues involving the INTERREG 111a Programme 2000-2006, priority 2, measure 3: renewable energy and an application by a company (details supplied); if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Belgian public prosecutor has opened a file regarding allegations of fraud against the programme; and if he will consider registering an interest in the investigation with a view to assist if necessary. [46886/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

As the Deputy is aware, the INTERREG IIIA programme (2000-2006) was an EU co-funded cross-border cooperation programme between Ireland and Northern Ireland.  The company in question proposed a project for funding under Priority 2 Measure 3 of the INTERREG IIIA Programme in April 2003.  I understand that the project proposal was subsequently appraised and an offer of funding was made, subject to certain conditions. 

However, the company in question did not accept the offer of funding, and the project did not proceed under the INTERREG IIIA Programme.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (110)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

110. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to arrange for the provision of crèche facilities on the site for a new primary and post-primary school (details supplied) alongside the schools in view of the need in the area for childcare places; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46728/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department’s responsibility is to provide sufficient accommodation to meet 20,000 new and replacement school places each year to ensure that every child has a school place. I wish to advise the Deputy that the site in question has been acquired for school purposes. My Department does not have any remit for the provision of accommodation for crèche facilities.

International Relations

Ceisteanna (111)

Bobby Aylward

Ceist:

111. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to strengthen educational ties between Canada and Ireland; the efforts being made in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46740/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Canada is a growing market for Ireland’s international engagement, with Irish Universities and Institutes of Technology actively engaged in the Canadian market. The relationship between Ireland and Canada is based on collaboration in the fields of student, staff and academic mobility, and Ireland’s Higher Education Institutions have developed significant relationships and agreements with several Canadian provinces over the last number of years.

Education in Ireland, who are charged with promoting and building international educational relationships on our behalf, is planning various events to strengthen the educational ties between Ireland and Canada in 2020, most notably a trade mission to Vancouver, an inward visit of colleges from British Columbia to develop new and enhance existing partnerships, and an online campaign to build brand awareness in the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Ceisteanna (112)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

112. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the average student teacher ratio at primary level. [46745/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As per the key statistics report for 2018/19 the pupil/teacher ratio for primary level in 2018/19 is 15.2.

Please find a link to the report below:

www.education.ie/en/Publications/Statistics/Key-Statistics/key-statistics-2018-2019.pdf.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Ceisteanna (113)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

113. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the average student teacher ratio at post-primary level. [46746/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As per the key statistics report for 2018/19 the pupil/teacher ratio for post-primary level in 2018/19 is 13.

Please find a link to the report below:

www.education.ie/en/Publications/Statistics/Key-Statistics/key-statistics-2018-2019.pdf.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Ceisteanna (114)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

114. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the average student teacher ratio at primary level for non-DEIS schools. [46747/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Pupil-Teacher Ratio at primary level for non-DEIS schools for 2018/19 is 16.1.

The PTR at primary level for DEIS and non-DEIS schools does not include 233 visiting teacher and part time special education posts.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Ceisteanna (115)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

115. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the average student teacher ratio at post-primary level in non-DEIS schools. [46748/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Pupil-Teacher Ratio at post primary level, excluding vocational schools managed by Education and Training Boards, for non-DEIS schools for 2018/19 is 13.8.

 This ratio only includes secondary and community & comprehensive schools as we do not have the number of teaching posts by individual vocational schools.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Ceisteanna (116)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

116. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the average student teacher ratio at primary level in DEIS schools. [46749/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Pupil-Teacher Ratio at primary level for DEIS schools for 2018/19 is 12.6.

The PTR at primary level for DEIS and non-DEIS schools does not include 233 visiting teacher and part time special education posts.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Ceisteanna (117)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

117. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the average student teacher ratio at post-primary level in DEIS schools. [46750/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Pupil-Teacher Ratio at post primary level, excluding vocational schools managed by Education and Training Boards, for DEIS schools for 2018/19 is 10.5.

This ratio only includes secondary and community & comprehensive schools as we do not have the number of teaching posts by individual vocational schools.

DEIS Status

Ceisteanna (118, 119)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

118. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of designating ten, 20, 30, 40 and 50 schools as DEIS band 2, in tabular form. [46751/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

119. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of designating ten, 20, 30, 40 and 50 schools as DEIS band 1, in tabular form. [46752/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 118 and 119 together.

In 2019 my Department will spend in the region of €125 million on the 891 schools participating in the programme. Further expenditure is incurred by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection on the School Meals Programme and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs on the School Completion Programme. The full list of supports available to DEIS schools is available on my Department's website at the following link www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/DEIS-Delivering-Equality-of-Opportunity-in-Schools-/deis-supports-to-deis-schools-effective-from-2017-2018-school-year.pdf.

It is not possible to definitively provide the total cost of designating a further group of schools as Band 1 or Band 2 as the costs will vary from school to school depending on enrolment and the levels of disadvantage in individual schools.

In the 2019/20 school year, the spend on DEIS is spread across 891 schools participating in the DEIS Programme. The composition is as follows:

Primary Urban Band 1 - 231

Primary Urban Band 2 - 104

Primary Rural - 358

Post Primary - 198

DEIS Expenditure

Ceisteanna (120)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

120. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of reopening applications for DEIS band 2 and designating DEIS band 2 existing schools that would meet the criteria at present. [46753/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware, following the review of DEIS, my Department introduced an objective, statistics based model for assessing which schools merit inclusion in the DEIS Programme, which does not require schools to go through an application process. All schools at both Primary and Post Primary level are being assessed using the new identification model.  

My Department is currently undertaking data analysis in the context of resource allocation to match identified need.. This analysis is being carried out by members of the DEIS Technical Group which contains representatives of the Department’s Statistics and Social Inclusion Units, the Inspectorate and the Educational Research Centre. Work is ongoing by this group and significant progress has been made. I am confident that the culmination of this analysis will facilitate the ultimate aim of matching resources to identified need and will allow us to target extra resources at those schools most in need. Until this analysis is complete, it is not intended to extend the DEIS programme to any further schools.  It is also not possible to estimate associated costs until this process is complete as costs depend on the levels of disadvantage and enrolments in individual schools and the level of resources to be provided.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

Ceisteanna (121)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

121. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an audit will be conducted from 2016 to date on the number of third-level students that have been denied a full SUSI grant due to their part-time employment earnings exceeding the €4,500 threshold; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46758/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The assessment of means under my Department's student grant scheme is based on gross income from all sources, with certain social welfare and health service executive payments being exempt.

In the assessment of means, a deduction can be made for holiday earnings made by the applicant from employment outside of term time but within the reference period. The value of this income disregard was increased from €3,809 to €4,500 in the 2016 scheme.

The student grant scheme contains a number of qualifying thresholds for various grant values. These gradations allow students just over a threshold margin, to remain in receipt of a grant, albeit at a reduced rate that reflects their relative income vis-à-vis other applicants. There are no plans to conduct an audit of the holiday earnings criterion which forms part of the overall means testing criteria.

Students in third-level institutions experiencing exceptional financial need can apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund. This Fund assists students, in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise be unable to continue their third level studies due to their financial circumstances. Information on the fund is available through the Access Officer in the third level institution attended. This fund is administered on a confidential, discretionary basis.

School Staff

Ceisteanna (122)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

122. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if teacher allocations to small rural schools will be reviewed in view of the fact that some rural schools lost a class teacher due to the fact they were just one or two pupils short of the figure required to retain a class teacher; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46759/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous 30 September.

The staffing schedule operates in a clear and transparent manner and treats all similar types of schools equally irrespective of location.

I understand the importance of small schools and I hosted a Small Schools Symposium in June attended by the relevant Education Partners to discuss issues of concern to small schools. Securing the future of small schools is a priority for me as Minister for Education and Skills.  

Budget 2020 has provided for improved teacher staffing levels for small schools. This measure will see a more favourable pupil teacher ratio in small schools from September 2020.  This improved schedule will apply in two, three and four teacher schools and ensure one less pupil is required to retain/recruit a teacher.

This builds on measures in previous budgets which has seen improvements in the appointment and retention thresholds for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th classroom teacher and more favourable enrolment thresholds for one teacher schools situated 8km or more from the nearest school of the same type of patronage and/or language of instruction.

Small schools have also benefitted from the 1 point improvement to the primary staffing schedule for all schools implemented in 2016 and again in 2018.  The staffing schedule at primary level currently operates on a general average of 26 pupils to every 1 teacher which is historically the lowest ever allocation ratio at primary level.

In addition, the staffing process includes an appeals mechanism for schools to submit a staffing appeal under certain criteria, including a specific appeal measure for small schools, to the Primary Staffing Appeals Board.

Teacher Recruitment

Ceisteanna (123)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

123. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the actions he is continuing to pursue in order to address the issue regarding ongoing difficulties in recruiting teachers at primary and second-level schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46760/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Management bodies and schools have, in recent years, reported difficulties in recruiting teachers. At primary level this relates mainly to the recruitment of substitute teachers and at post-primary level to the recruitment of teachers of particular subjects (STEM, modern foreign languages, Irish and Home Economics, in particular). 

The Steering Group on Teacher Supply, chaired by the Secretary General of my Department, is overseeing the implementation of the Teacher Supply Action Plan, which I launched in November 2018.

Some of the actions in the plan include:

- My Department launched the “Teaching Transforms” campaign (digital, radio and video) to promote the teaching profession, supported by a new dedicated webpage.

- Following engagement with the Higher Education Authority (HEA), the higher education institutions (HEIs) have put in place new initial teacher education (ITE) undergraduate programmes in 2019 in a number of priority subject areas, including mathematics, modern foreign languages and Irish. More new undergraduate ITE programmes are also planned to commence in 2020.

- The HEA is engaging with the HEIs to explore the development of programmes to upskill existing teachers in targeted post primary subject areas.

- The Teaching Council  has reviewed the implementation of student teacher school placement guidelines and a report on this is expected before the end of 2019.

- Stakeholder consultative forums and focus groups for teachers, principals, parents, student teachers and school students have been held with further forums and focus groups planned over the coming school year.

- An online teacher recruitment portal to match available teachers with short term substitute vacancies in primary and post primary schools is being developed. It is intended that this portal will be operational in the near future.     

- Substitute teacher supply panels for primary schools are operating on a pilot basis for 2019/20 in 6 locations that have been identified as having a significant challenge in recruiting substitute teachers (two panels in Dublin and one each in Kildare, Meath, Cork and Galway).

- My Department published Circular 0015/2019 with details of a new teacher sharing scheme for post-primary schools. The scheme is intended to enhance curricular choice in schools and support young teachers in obtaining full time employment.

The Steering Group continue to meet on a regular basis and I hope to make further announcements in the near future.