Private Schools

Ceisteanna (152)

Paul Murphy

Ceist:

152. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost to bring all private education institutions into public ownership. [47199/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department has not undertaken any assessment of the feasibility of bringing all private educational institutions into State ownership, having regard to the Constitutional, legal, policy, financial and operational aspects of this question. I am therefore not in a position to provide any estimate of the costs of such a proposal.

Departmental Submissions

Ceisteanna (153, 162)

James Lawless

Ceist:

153. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has made a submission to the upcoming plan by Science Foundation Ireland; if so, if the submission included reference to the balance of research carried out through Science Foundation Ireland funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47212/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

162. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his Department made a submission to draft strategy of Science Foundation Ireland for the period 2020 to 2025; and if this submission will be published. [47225/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 153 and 162 together.

My Department did not make a formal submission to Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) on their draft Strategy 2020 - 2025. However, officials from my Department and the Higher Education Authority met with officials from SFI on 30 September 2019 and discussed the draft Strategy. My Department wrote to SFI following this meeting outlining points raised at the meeting, including the importance of a balanced research system.

Home Tuition Scheme Administration

Ceisteanna (154)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

154. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he requested the NCSE not to sign-off home tuition forms in August and September 2019 pending the completion of new guidelines; if this impacted on the start dates of home tuition for students; the number of students affected; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47213/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department did not issue instruction to the NCSE to delay the processing of Home Tuition application forms.

Departmental Correspondence

Ceisteanna (155)

Fergus O'Dowd

Ceist:

155. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a response will issue to correspondence from a school (details supplied) in relation to authorisation to proceed to tender for a building project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47214/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

A response has issued to all correspondence received to date from the school referred to by the Deputy.

The current position in relation to this school's major building project is that it is at an advanced stage of architectural planning, Stage 2(b) - Detailed Design, which includes the applications for Planning Permission, Fire Cert and Disability Access Cert and the preparation of tender documents. All statutory approvals have been obtained.

My Department has received the Stage 2(b) Submission for this project which is currently under review.

The Deputy will appreciate that the stage 2(b) submission is a detailed and complex set of documents including all tender documents. It is an extremely vital part in the design process and is the final step prior to my Department issuing authorisation to proceed to tender for the construction of the school building. The review by my Department of a Stage 2(b) submission would normally take at least 10 to 12 weeks for review and approval.

As soon as this review is complete my Department will revert to Board of Management with regard to the further progression of the project.

Teacher Retirements

Ceisteanna (156)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

156. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the actions taken to date to address errors in the estimated number of teachers retiring or leaving the system per year; the subsequent cost incurred; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47219/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As indicated in a previous response to the Deputy earlier this year, for the purposes of the annual Estimates process, my Department makes forecasts, based on trend analysis, of the scale of teacher retirements expected for the following year.

Forecasting retirements in the education sector is complex, there are many social, economic and personal factors which influence teachers as to when they will retire. The availability of the options to retire on pension in the case of teachers covers a very wide age spread from age 50 to age 66 (age 70 from 2018). Approximately only 5% of teachers work to their compulsory retirement age, the remainder retire voluntarily where they have the reached the required service or reached the minimum age threshold to do so. That said the approach adapted by my Department has proved robust and has provided a good indication of the scale of likely retirements and the expenditure implications for the following year.

The need for supplementary estimates over the period 2014 to 2018 to cover additional pension costs did not arise due to errors in forecasting.

Prior to Budget 2019, and aside from allocations to cover pay agreements, there had been no significant increase in the expenditure base for pensions for a number of years, despite increased costs. Given that this expenditure is demand-driven and non-discretionary, it was therefore necessary to seek supplementary estimates to provide for retirements and pension costs over and above what would be supported by the original allocation, having regard to offsetting savings which arose in other expenditure areas.

This is an issue which has affected other Votes with significant pension commitments.

My Department, and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, have worked closely to resolve this issue in order to better align the expenditure allocation with the expected pensions and retirements bill. For 2019, the Government allocated an additional €147 million in funding for pensions in the education sector, in addition to €12.5 million to cover the pensions-related costs of the Public Service Stability Agreement. This was calculated on the basis of work undertaken by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform using data provided by my Department.

Teaching Council of Ireland

Ceisteanna (157)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

157. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of fitness to teach complaints received to date in 2019. [47220/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The fitness to teach provisions of the Teaching Council Acts 2001-2015 were commenced on 25 July 2016. Any person, including a member of the public, an employer or a teacher is able to make a complaint to the Teaching Council about a registered teacher. Complaints are possible under a number of headings, including professional misconduct or poor professional performance.

The Deputy will appreciate that the fitness to teach process is independent of my Department and he should contact the Council directly for information on the number of complaints received.

Teacher Data

Ceisteanna (158)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

158. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of teachers and principals on administrative leave with full pay; the reason this is the case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47221/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Administrative Leave is a temporary leave of absence, with pay, which may be granted where it is necessary for a teacher to be absented from work in order that an investigation be carried out. It may only be granted in limited situations where the continued presence of a teacher (including the principal teacher) has the potential to present an on-going risk such as situations concerning child protection, serious misconduct or fraud.

The number of teachers currently recorded as being absent on Administrative Leave on the Department’s payroll is sixteen. This figure does not include teachers on Administrative leave on payrolls administered by the Education and Training Boards

Broadband Service Provision

Ceisteanna (159)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

159. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the total spent by schools on the provision of broadband to the end of quarter 3 in 2019. [47222/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Through the Schools Broadband Access Programme the Department of Education and Skills provides for the supply of internet connectivity for all recognised primary and post primary schools, and some 98% of schools are included in this scheme. In some cases schools may choose to engage broadband providers outside of the DES programme where they may have a relationship with a local provider not included in the DES Framework of Providers. A very small number of schools cannot be connected where local infrastructure does not allow, however my Department keeps those schools under review to provide connectivity as and when infrastructure becomes available. The total spent by any schools operating outside of the DES provided and funded programme is not gathered by the Department.

All post-primary schools (715 in the 2017-2018 school year) and some 58 special schools are included in the High Speed Broadband programme with un-contended symmetrical connectivity of 100 Mbp/s plus.

The policy of the Department through the Schools Broadband Access Programme is to offer the best quality connectivity to all schools in line with the technical solutions available in the market and within financial constraints. Up to and including September 2019 my Department has provided some €6.1m for the provision of broadband under the Schools Broadband Programme. Currently investment of some €12m is allocated annually for the provision of internet connectivity to schools. Over the past three years my Department has invested some €40 million in the Schools Broadband Access programme.

School Discipline

Ceisteanna (160)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

160. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the development of guidelines for schools on the issue of restraint or intervention. [47223/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The NCSE’s Policy Advice Supporting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Schools (2015) recommended that the Department of Education & Skills develop guidelines for schools on the prevention and management of crisis student behaviour situations in schools.

Having considered the matter, my Department undertook to develop new guidelines for schools on the prevention and management of challenging behaviours (including the use of physical interventions) where such behaviour is considered as likely to present serious risk of physical harm to the student concerned and/or others within the school environment.

A Working Group was established to develop the guidelines and the work of this Group is at an advanced stage.

In April this year, to support the work of the Group, I initiated a public consultation seeking contributions and views on the appropriateness of the use of physical intervention and physical isolation in schools. This was undertaken by way of an online questionnaire and over 2,600 responses were received.

Further consultation was undertaken with education partners yesterday (18th November 2019) where the content of draft Guidelines was reviewed and discussed.

The Working Group will review the draft Guidelines in light of issues raised at the consultation prior to submitting their final draft to my Department.

Schools Data

Question No. 162 answered with Question No. 153.

Ceisteanna (161)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

161. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the percentage of students in a class of at least 30 students at primary level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47224/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Over 80% of mainstream Primary Pupils are in classes of 29 or less.

Please note this percentage is for the academic year 2018/19 which is the last year we have confirmed figures for. This figure also excludes special pupils in mainstream schools.

Figures for mainstream schools class sizes can be found at the link below;

https://statbank.cso.ie/px/pxeirestat/Statire/SelectVarVal/Define.asp?maintable=ED121&PLanguage=0

Question No. 162 answered with Question No. 153.

Third Level Funding

Ceisteanna (163)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

163. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of funding provided to the higher education sector in each of the years 2015 to 2018 and to date in 2019, in tabular form; the projected funding allocated for 2020; the amount of the additional funding allocated funded by employers via increases in the national training fund levy; and the amount funded directly by the Exchequer. [47239/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The following table sets out details of current expenditure from the Department of Education and Skills Vote (Programme C) and Higher Education funding form the National Training Fund in the years 2015 to 2020. All items not marked as NTF are exchequer funded.

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

Outturn

Outturn

Outturn

Provisional Outturn

Revised Estimate

Provisional Estimate

Expenditure allocation (Current)

€'000

€'000

€'000

€'000

€'000

€'000

Programme C - Higher Education (Current)

1,484,165

1,498,187

1,549,335

1,572,304

1,570,586

1,588,866

HE labour market focussed provision funded (NTF)

435

5,598

37,000

120,100

148,352

Springboard / ICT skills (NTF)

27,438

27,818

26,753

30,170

34,438

34,438

HE apprenticeships (NTF)

4,286

32,000

37,000

44,000

Human Capital Initiative (NTF)

60,000

Total current

1,511,603

1,526,440

1,580,374

1,671,474

1,762,124

1,875,656

Higher Education Institutions

Ceisteanna (164)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

164. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of the additional contribution by the State, exclusive of that funded by employers, in respect of pay restoration; the amount to meet demographic increases; the amount that represented a real additional investment in higher education institutions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47240/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As Minister for Education & Skills, I am committed to continuing the process of investing in our higher education system and to the development and implementation of a sustainable funding model for the sector.

As part of the 2020 budget process, an additional €112m was committed which represents additional investment in higher education. €26m of Exchequer funding will be allocated to Higher Education Institutions in respect of pay and pension restoration measures.

An additional €19m will be invested by the Exchequer for HE demographics in 2020 to deliver an additional 2,700 new undergraduate student places. This is reflective of the growing demographic pressures in higher education and is part of a €60m increase in current funding to provide for increased student numbers over the three year period 2018-2020.

A key part of additional investment is the Human Capital Initiative (HCI) which will be a transformative development for the third level sector. The HCI will invest €300 million in Higher Education over the period 2020 to 2024. Funded from the surplus in the National Training Fund, the HCI will help to realise the objectives of Project Ireland 2040, Future Jobs Ireland and the National Skills Strategy. At €60 million per year over the next 5 years, it will form a key part of our strategic response to addressing the skills needs of the economy, mitigating Brexit risks, responding to digitalisation and the future world of work, and preparing ourselves for other challenges that the economy may face.

Following these planned increases in higher education spending for 2020 announced in the recent Estimates, planned current spending on higher education for 2020 will have increased by 25% compared to that planned for 2016 – an increase in the order of €370 million. This is estimated to bring current funding for the higher education sector to €1.88 billion in 2020. This exceeds the previous peak level of planned investment of €1.78 billion made in the sector in 2008.

My commitment and the Government's commitment to investment in higher education is clearly demonstrated by this scale of investment.

National Training Fund

Question No. 166 answered with Question No. 139.

Ceisteanna (165)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

165. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the additional contributions to the National Training Fund arising from the increases in the employers NTF levy in each of the years 2018 to 2020 in tabular form; the amount of additional revenue allocated to the higher education sector; and the amount allocated to the further education and training sector. [47241/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The National Training Fund (NTF) was established by the National Training Fund Act, 2000, as a dedicated fund to support the training of those in employment, and those seeking employment. The Act also provides for the funding of research to provide information on existing and likely future skills requirements of the economy.

The National Training Fund levy has increased from 0.7% to 1.0% between 2018 and 2020. These increases were accompanied by a package of reforms to the Fund. This has allowed for a total annual investment to grow by over €190 million in this timeframe. This additionality can be seen in particular in the following areas:

- The overall Apprenticeship population will have grown by 60% since the end of 2017 to almost 20,000 by the end of 2020.

- The new ETB Skills to Advance programme will provide upskilling to 8,000 people in the workforce by the end of 2020.

- The number of participants in Skillnet Ireland programmes will have increased by over 40% since 2017, reaching 69,000 in 2020.

Since the levy increases were introduced, the NTF has also been deployed to support close-to-labour-market skills programmes in areas of identified skills needs through support for enterprise-focused higher education programmes. The targeted support of these key skill areas from the NTF has facilitated broader investment in higher education from the Department of Education and Skills so that a re-distribution of funding between the NTF and Exchequer in tandem with the levy increases has been implemented on a phased basis.

The following table shows the additional net allocations to Higher Education and Further Education and Training and Skills Development as result of the NTF levy increase. Funding for apprenticeship has been assigned to the further education and training and skills category in the table, although some of this funding ultimately flows to higher education institutions.

2018

2019

2020

The additional contributions to the National Training Fund arising from the increases in the employers NTF levy

€47.5m

€69m

€74m

Additional revenue allocated to the higher education sector from levy increase

€28m

€36m

€29m

Additional revenue allocated to the further education and training and skills sector from levy increase

€19.5m

€33m

€45m

Question No. 166 answered with Question No. 139.

Quality and Qualifications Ireland

Ceisteanna (167, 168)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

167. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that QQI is advertising for an administrative position while a valid panel from a recent recruitment exercise is in place. [47265/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

168. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is satisfied that QQI has advertised a post for an administrative position while there is a valid panel in place for a position at the same level. [47266/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 167 and 168 together.

Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) is a statutorily independent State Agency. The day to day operations of the Agency, including the recruitment and appointment of staff, are a matter for the Chief Executive and senior management of QQI. QQI has an established recruitment policy and corresponding procedures which govern such matters.

Technological Universities Funding

Ceisteanna (169)

John Curran

Ceist:

169. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount of funding allocated to the sports science, health and recreation building at the Technological University of Dublin, Tallaght; the status of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46892/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy that co-funding of €7.7m has been approved in principle by my Department for allocation to the new Sports Science, Health and Recreation building at the TU Dublin Tallaght campus.

The balance of funding for the project is being provided from TU Dublin’s own resources.

Planning permission for the building has been granted and the main project is currently at procurement stage.

Summer Works Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (170)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

170. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 181 of 22 October 2019, when in quarter 4 2019 the applications will be reported on; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47270/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy that applications for the Summer Works Scheme 2020 onwards are still under consideration in my Department. A list of successful applicants will be published in Q4 2019 for works to be carried out in summer 2020.

School Enrolments

Ceisteanna (171)

James Lawless

Ceist:

171. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the need for extra secondary school places for a school (details supplied) will be examined; if he will liaise with school management regarding the provision of the extra places; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47277/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy that the school to which he refers has been approved a project under my Department's Additional Accommodation Scheme 2018. This project will provide for 9 Mainstream classrooms, 9 WC's, 1 Assisted Users WC, 2 Science Labs and Prep Area, and 1 x 119m2 Arts & Crafts Room.

This project has been devolved for delivery to the school authority. It is a matter for the Board of Management to advance this project in that context.

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department have not been made aware by the School Authority that there is an issue concerning a shortage of school places.

The school can avail of temporary accommodation by submitting an application for the Additional Accommodation Scheme. The application can be found on at the following address: https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/Building-Works/Additional-Accommodation/.