Departmental Advertising Budgets

Ceisteanna (192)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

192. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount spent on promoting and associated advertising campaigns for the launch of the Human Capital Initiative on 7 November 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47469/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Human Capital Initiative (HCI) was launched on Thursday 7 November 2019 at the Future Jobs Summit in the Tangent Centre, Trinity College, Dublin.

The HCI which represents an additional investment of €300m (€60m per annum from 2020 to 2024) from the surplus in the National Training Fund will incentivise continued reform and innovation in third level provision and strongly support innovation in programme design and delivery. It aims to future proof graduates and ensure that there is a greater focus across the whole spectrum of Higher Education course provision on promoting and embedding transversal skills.

To date €196.80 has been spent on promoting and associated advertising campaigns in connection with the launch of the HCI.

School Enrolments Data

Ceisteanna (193)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

193. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of schools which have not opened in September 2019 due to a lack of enrolments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47470/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, the Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, including Child Benefit data from the Department of Social Protection and the Department's own school enrolment databases, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. With this information, the Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level.

Information on school enrolments and Child Benefit data allows the Department to map where children are living or attending school and this information provides a degree of certainty in projecting demand in an area in future years.

Major new residential developments in a school planning area have the potential to alter demand (and timing of demand) in an area. In that regard, as part of the demographic exercises, the Department engages with each of the local authorities to obtain up-to-date information on significant new residential development. This is necessary to ensure that schools infrastructure planning is aligned with the demographic changes in an area.

The pace of completion of planned housing and occupancy of houses is by its nature less predictable and can vary. Accordingly, while the Department takes into account planned additional residential development, the timing of completion of such development can be subject to change depending on local circumstances.

As the Deputy will be aware, in April 2018 the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022). This announcement follows nationwide, demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country.

From time to time for operational or other reasons the patron of a new school due to open in a certain year may choose to defer the opening.

Of the 14 new primary schools to be established in 2019, two were deferred by the patron as follows:

- A new 8 classroom primary school to serve the Swords/North school planning area - the patron of the new school advised that there were no enrolments for September 2019 and that the opening of the school has been deferred to September 2020. The patron indicated significant parental interest in relation to enrolments for 2020.

- A new 8 classroom primary school to serve the Dunshaughlin school planning area - the patron of the new school advised that there are currently no enrolments for the 2019/20 school year and that the opening of the school has been deferred from September 2019. The patron body expects enrolments from a new local housing development which has been delayed in the area and they have received significant interest for September 2020 enrolments for the new school.

My Department will continue to liaise with the patrons of these schools. In addition, in the context of further strengthening the demographic analysis process, the Department intends to have additional engagement with patron bodies in relation to their local knowledge on school place requirements.

Third Level Participation

Ceisteanna (194)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

194. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the way in which he can ensure progression rates to third-level education of students from disadvantaged areas; and if he is satisfied that access programmes are meeting the needs of students from disadvantaged areas. [47478/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) is the main policy initiative of the Department to address educational disadvantage at school level. The DEIS Plan 2017 sets out the vision for future interventions in the critical area of educational disadvantage policy and builds on what has already been achieved by schools who have benefitted from the additional supports available under the initial DEIS programme introduced in 2005.

The DEIS Plan 2017 is based on the findings of an extensive review of the DEIS programme, which involved extensive consultations with all relevant stakeholders.

A critical aspect of DEIS, from the outset, was the evaluation of the programme. The Educational Research Centre (ERC) and the DES Inspectorate have conducted a series of evaluations on aspects of the DEIS programme and findings of this work are contained in a series of published reports. Evidence from this research demonstrates that the DEIS programme is having a positive effect on tackling educational disadvantage.

DES Retention Rates of Pupils in Second Level Schools 2011 Entry Cohort shows that improvement in DEIS schools’ retention rates in recent years has been significantly higher than the overall improvement nationally.

The vision of the National Access Plan is to ensure that the student body entering into, participating in and completing higher education at all levels reflects the diversity and social mix of Ireland's population. The Plan identifies the target groups that are currently being under-represented in higher education, which includes entrants from socio-economic groups that have low participation in higher education.

A Progress Review of the National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education and the Priorities to 2021 was published in December 2018. The Progress Review acknowledges a number of significant positive developments and characterises the first phase of implementation of the third National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2015-2019 as a period of achievement and investment. For example, it highlighted the significant progress in higher education participation rates among some of the target groups such as the socio-economically disadvantaged groups and students with disabilities.

Special Educational Needs Data

Ceisteanna (195)

Maureen O'Sullivan

Ceist:

195. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the number of ASD special classes that are available and that have ceased, respectively in each year will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47479/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The provision of education for children with special needs, including those with Autism, is an ongoing priority for Government.

Currently, almost 20% of the total Education Vote or €1.9bn is invested in supporting children with special needs.

Since 2011 investment in Special Education supports has increased by 50%, which is significantly above the 7% increase in total student numbers over the same period.

As a result the numbers of special education teachers, special needs assistants and special class and school places are at unprecedented levels.

The majority of children with Autism attend mainstream class, where they may access additional supports 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 may be deemed appropriate where placement in mainstream class is not in the best interests of the child.

The NCSE has responsibility for coordinating and advising on the education provision for children nationwide and has well established structures in place for engaging with schools and parents.

Nationally, 167 new special classes opened this school year, which means there are 1,618 special classes in place, compared to 548 in 2011.

Of these 1,353 special classes cater for students diagnosed with ASD.

Provision in our 124 special schools has also increased from 6,848 placements in 2011 to 7,872 this year.

The NCSE has planned a further expansion of special class and school places nationally to meet identified need for next year.

It is open to any school to make an application to the NCSE for the establishment of a specialised provision and where sanctioned, there is a range of supports including capital funding available to the school.

Before sanctioning the establishment of a new special class in a particular school, the NCSE take into account both present and future potential need within the area and must be satisfied that the class is sustainable and appropriately located.

Normally, special class and school places are established with the full cooperation of the schools in areas where they are required. However there are some parts of the country where the Council has faced challenges in getting schools and their Patrons to voluntarily agree to provide special class or school places.

I know that this can cause much anguish for parents and families involved.

As Minister I have a power under Section 37A of the Education Act 1998 to direct a school to provide additional provision where all reasonable efforts have failed.

I would prefer to see schools volunteer to provide more places rather than places being secured on the back of an order or a direction from me. It is the right thing for the children in a community.

The NCSE team of locally based Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) are available to assist parents/guardians to identify appropriate educational placements for children with special educational needs and to discuss their child's special educational needs.

In rare circumstances the Board of Management of a school and the local SENO may determine that a special class is no longer viable. If a decision is taken to close a special class, this will be on a carefully managed basis. The NCSE has published guidelines for schools on setting up and organising Special Classes, which are available to download from www.ncse.ie. The guidelines include information on the circumstances a special class may be closed.

School Transport Eligibility

Ceisteanna (196)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

196. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 240 of 9 July 2019, if Bus Éireann will provide school transport for a student (details supplied) in County Kerry who cannot get placement in their nearest post-primary school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47534/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

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

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. The purpose of the 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 general children are eligible for school transport if they meet the distance criteria and are attending their nearest school.

In cases where the Department is satisfied that the nearest school is full, eligibility for school transport will be determined based on the distance that children reside from their next nearest school having regard to ethos and language.

Children who are eligible for school transport and who complete the application process on time are accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation. Children who are not eligible for school transport, but who complete the application process on time, are considered for spare seats that may exist after eligible children have been facilitated; such seats are referred to as concessionary seats. Only children who are eligible for school transport and who hold valid Medical Cards are exempt from paying the annual charge.

Bus Éireann has advised that the child in question is not eligible for school transport as he is not attending his nearest school. Bus Éireann has also advised that a ticket was issued to the pupil referred to by the Deputy on a concessionary basis for the 2019/20 school year.

If the family has further information in regard to the closest school being full they should contact School Transport Section of my Department. Further information in this regard is available on my Department's website www.education.ie.

School Closures

Ceisteanna (197)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

197. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that his Department continues to rent a school building (details supplied) in County Mayo even though this school is closed and has no pupils; the long-term plans for the building; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47583/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has not been informed, by the Patron of the school in question, that it has closed.

I can confirm that the school submitted their returns, to my Department, stating that they had 14 pupils enrolled in September 2018. The school have not yet submitted their September returns for 2019. However, in June 2019 the school submitted a 'no change to staffing' to the Primary Payroll Division, indicating the retention of its teaching Principal.

I also wish to advise that my Department's records do not indicate that any rental payments are being made to the school in question.

School Closures

Ceisteanna (198)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

198. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a school (details supplied); if the school is due to reopen; if his Department is still renting the school despite the closure of the school in June 2018; his plans for the building; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47596/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has not been informed, by the Patron of the school in question, that it has closed.

I can confirm that the school submitted their returns, to my Department, stating that they had 14 pupils enrolled in September 2018. The school have not yet submitted their September returns for 2019. However, in June 2019 the school submitted a 'no change to staffing' to the Primary Payroll Division, indicating the retention of its teaching Principal.

I also wish to advise that my Department's records do not indicate that any rental payments are being made to the school in question.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (199)

Lisa Chambers

Ceist:

199. Deputy Lisa Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of an application by a school (details supplied) for extra accommodation; if the application will be awarded; when a decision will be made on the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47599/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy, that the school in question, has recently submitted an application to my Department for additional accommodation under the Additional School Accommodation Scheme.

The application is currently being assessed and a decision will be conveyed to the school authority as soon as the assessment process has been completed.

School Admissions

Ceisteanna (200)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

200. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an issue of access to a post-primary school (details supplied) will be resolved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47601/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In relation to school admissions, it is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of all schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act, 1998. My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils in the area seeking school places.

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. This 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

A Board of Management may find it necessary to prioritise enrolment of children from particular areas or on the basis of some other criterion, including giving priority to applicants who have attended a particular primary school, commonly known as a feeder school. The criteria to be applied by schools in such circumstances and the order of priority are a matter for the schools themselves.

The question of enrolment in individual schools is the responsibility of the Board of Management on behalf of the school Patron and my Department does not seek to intervene in decisions made by schools in such matters.

Special Educational Needs Staff

Ceisteanna (201)

Ruth Coppinger

Ceist:

201. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills if funding will be made available to a school (details supplied) for the employment of a behavioural therapist; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47604/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The new Danu Community Special School in Dublin 15, under the patronage of Dublin and Dun Laoghaire ETB has been established and will be catering for up to 40 students with complex needs.

A lot of work has been done over recent months including recruitment of teachers and SNAs and attendance at training.

Danu Special School has now commenced transitioning children into their new school places.

I am anxious that the Principal, teachers, SNAs and other staff in the new school are appropriately supported during the challenging start-up terms.

My Department, through NEPS, the Inspectorate, the NCSE and in collaboration with the Middletown Centre for Autism developed a programme of professional support for the staff in this new special school.

This programme includes a period of intensive upskilling before the students commence school which has been delivered to the staff of Danu Special School.

This will be followed by ongoing mentoring, coaching and in-school support during throughout the school year.

The NCSE and National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) have committed to ensuring that provision is in place to support the new school throughout the school year.

NEPS psychologists take a holistic, developmental perspective which considers the broad context of the needs of the student. NEPS has increased the time allocation for the psychologist assigned to Danu community special school to a level which is three times that which is normally afforded to a special school of a similar size. Furthermore, the NEPS psychologist assigned to the school has a background in ASD and additional training in behavioural support. The purpose of this increased level of support is intended to allow for a response to the initial need for individual casework and for systems level approaches to support the teachers in behaviour management, development and ongoing monitoring, and review of Student Support Plans and facilitating effective transition processes into the school. This work will take cognisance of and coordinate with support to be provided by the NCSE Support Services and any services available via the HSE.

In addition to the specific school based service, Danu is a school within the broad NEPS Dublin Region. It will be offered opportunities to participate in NEPS regional support and development initiatives within the region.

The NCSE Regional Team will work with the teachers and school with the overall aim of building teacher and school confidence and capacity to work with the children in their care. Training and professional development are a key part of this role.

NCSE Advisers will be available to provide professional help support and advice on an ongoing basis.

In addition, the NCSE will appoint a behavioural practitioner with a specific brief to work with DANU and other schools who are establishing special classes for students with autism. Arrangements are being made for the appointment of the Behaviour Practitioner and it is expected that the position will be filled in late 2019. A Behavioural practitioner will have a primary qualification in at least one of following areas: teaching, nursing, psychology, social work, social care and a related post graduate qualification in the area of Special Education or Intellectual Disability or other relevant fields.

My Department does not appoint Behavioural Specialists to schools. Instead, my Department is building school capacity through the provision of professional support by NEPS and the advisory and professional development programmes offered by the NCSE. Schools are advised to adopt a Continuum of Support which research findings indicate is an effective support model.

Schools Data

Ceisteanna (202)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

202. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is satisfied with the number of second level school places in Kilcock, County Meath, to meet local demand. [47606/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise.

Major new residential developments in a school planning area have the potential to alter demand in an area. In that regard, as part of the demographic exercises, my Department engages with each of the local authorities to obtain the up-to-date information on significant new residential developments in each area. This is necessary to ensure that schools infrastructure planning is keeping pace with demographic changes as there is a constantly evolving picture with planned new residential development.

Where demographic data indicates that additional provision is required, the delivery of such additional provision is dependent on the particular circumstances of each case and may, depending on the circumstances, be provided through either one, or a combination of, the following:

- Utilising existing unused capacity within a school or schools,

- Extending the capacity of a school or schools,

- Provision of a new school or schools.

As the Deputy will be aware, in April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022) including a new 500 pupil post-primary school to be established in 2020 to serve the Kilcock school planning area to be located in Enfield which, it is anticipated, will have the effect of reducing pressure on the existing post-primary school in Kilcock.

This announcement follows 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.

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. My Department will also continue to monitor areas where the accommodation of existing schools may need to be expanded in order to meet the needs of the local population.

Under Project Ireland 2040, my Department continues to make progress to increase the infrastructural capacity in the schools sector, in order to meet demographic and other demands.

The Capital Programme details the school projects that are being progressed under Project Ireland 2040. I wish to advise the Deputy that the current status of large-scale projects being delivered under Project Ireland 2040 may be viewed on my Department's website, www.education.ie and this information is updated regularly. In addition, a list of large-scale projects completed from 2010 to date may also be viewed on the website.

The Capital Programme also provides for devolved funding for additional classrooms, if required, for schools where an immediate enrolment need has been identified or where an additional teacher has been appointed. Details of schools listed on this programme can be found on my Department's website www.education.ie and this information is also updated regularly.

Student Universal Support Ireland Administration

Ceisteanna (203)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

203. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding, Student Universal Support Ireland, SUSI, grants.; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47629/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The eligibility criteria for student grants including the income thresholds is reviewed annually in my Department and approved by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. As the Deputy will be aware, all proposals made in relation to education expenditure, including changes to grant rates are announced as part of the budget process. There were no changes to the thresholds in Budget 2020.

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.

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 aim of the student grant scheme has always been to make a contribution to the cost of going to college, covering the full cost has never been a feasible option.

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 Office in the third level institution attended. This fund is administered on a confidential, discretionary basis.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (204)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

204. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to expand capacity at a college (details supplied) and the associated timelines; if the modular classrooms due for March 2020 are to cope with the current overcrowded conditions; his further plans for expansion beyond 2020. [47636/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department is in receipt of an application, for additional school accommodation, from the school authority in question. The assessment process to determine the school’s permanent accommodation needs is nearing completion. The school will be informed of the decision in due course.

My Department is aware of the enrolment issues in the Skerries area for 2020. In this context, my Department is in ongoing direct contact with the Patron of Skerries Community College in respect of the capacity in the school.

It is in this regard that interim temporary accommodation has been approved for Skerries Community College. The Patron of Skerries Community College is currently tendering for the interim accommodation approved. It is expected to have all interim accommodation in place for September 2020.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (205)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

205. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the progress of his Department on providing a permanent building for a school (details supplied); and the planned timeline for delivery of a permanent school. [47637/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department is committed to the construction of permanent accommodation for the school referred to by the Deputy. In this regard, a project manager has been appointed to develop a masterplan layout for the proposed site and is engaging with the local authority. The master planning process is well advanced at this point.

My Department is continuing to engage with the school's patron in this matter.

State Examinations

Ceisteanna (206)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

206. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if all the examiners of the 2019 leaving certificate papers were qualified teachers and registered with the Teaching Council. [47638/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations. In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.

School Fees

Ceisteanna (207)

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

207. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the measures put in place to ensure that schools are abiding by section 9 of the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 regarding the prohibition of application fees; if there are schools in contravention of this section; the action that should be taken by a person whose attention has been drawn to a school acting in contravention of this section; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47639/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Recognised primary and post primary schools are prohibited from charging school application fees.

Section 64 of the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018, which was commenced on 3 October 2018, explicitly prohibits the charging of fees or seeking payment or contributions for admission to or for continued enrolment in a school.

Section 64 applies to all recognised primary and post primary schools with exceptions only for fee charging secondary schools, boarding schools and schools that provide post leaving courses or courses in further education in respect of these courses.

In relation to school fees, there are certain charges that may be legitimately requested by schools when a pupil is enrolled in school, such as for lockers, photocopying or school journals. However, such charges may not associated with, or used as a condition of admission to a school placement.

Should an individual have a concern regarding admission fees being sought by a school, or they are concerned about the manner in which the school is requesting payment, they can raise this with the principal of the in the first instance. Should they not be satisfied with their response then the Chairperson of the Board of Management of the can be contacted school in relation to the concerns.

Compensation Schemes

Ceisteanna (208, 209)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

208. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is satisfied with the progress of payments to applicants to an ex-gratia scheme established in July 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47646/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

209. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the examination of an ex-gratia scheme established in July 2015 undertaken by his Department and the Office of the Attorney General. [47647/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 208 and 209 together.

As you are aware, the ex gratia scheme was established on foot of the specific circumstances arising from and in response to the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) relating to Louise O'Keeffe. Ireland submits bi-annual Action Plans to the relevant Committee of Ministers which is responsible for supervising the implementation of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights.

The ex gratia scheme is not the sole vehicle through which compensation for sexual abuse in day schools has been paid out. Between 2005 and 2018, settlements involving the payment of compensation by the State to victims of day school child sexual abuse have been made in relation to 22 claimants.

Mr. Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill, acting as an Independent Assessor to the Scheme was asked to review 19 cases which had not been successful in their application to the Scheme. On the foot of his determinations, payments are being made to a number of victims of child sexual abuse in day schools. The current position is that sixteen offers of payment have been made and, to date, eight have been accepted. Further payments will be made upon acceptance of the remaining offers.

In the aftermath of the Independent Assessor's determinations my Department committed to reviewing the ex gratia scheme, in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General.

I am sure the Deputy will understand the complexity and sensitivity of the issues involved that require very careful deliberation before proposals can be finalised and brought to Government. I expect my officials to present me with draft proposals within the coming weeks for my consideration.

Special Educational Needs Staff

Ceisteanna (210)

Mick Barry

Ceist:

210. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Education and Skills if status of the allocation of an additional SNA to a school (details supplied) in Dublin 24, in view of the fact the special education needs officer has observed the needs in the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47714/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for allocating a quantum of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support for each school annually taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support enrolled in the school.

The NCSE allocates SNA support to schools in accordance with the criteria set out in Department Circular 0030/2014, which is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie, in order that students who have care needs can access SNA support as and when it is needed.

In considering applications for SNA support for individual pupils, the NCSE take account of the pupils' needs and consider the resources available to the school to identify whether additionality is needed or whether the school might reasonably be expected to meet the needs of the pupils from its current level of resources.

SNAs are not allocated to individual children but to schools as a school based resource.

SNA allocations to all schools can change from year to year as children with care needs leave the school, as new children with care needs enrol in a school and as children develop more independent living skills and their care needs diminish over time.

The NCSE Appeals Process may be invoked by a parent or a school where it is considered that a child was not granted access to SNA support because the requirements outlined in Circular 0030/2014 were not complied with. Schools may also appeal a decision, where the school considers that the NCSE, in applying Department policy, has not allocated the appropriate level of SNA support to the school to meet the special educational and/or care needs of the children concerned.

Where a school has received its allocation of SNA support for 2019/20, but wishes new enrolments or assessments to be considered, which were not taken into account when the initial allocation was made, they may continue to make applications to the NCSE.

As this question relates to a particular school, I have referred the question to the NCSE for their direct reply. I do not have a role in making determinations in individual cases.

School Enrolments

Ceisteanna (211)

Seán Fleming

Ceist:

211. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the reason a person (details supplied) cannot get a primary school place will be investigated; if a school place will be expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47723/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The selection and enrolment of pupils is the responsibility of the management authorities in each individual school. My Department’s main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking places in an area. However, this may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice. As schools may not have a place for every applicant, a selection process may be necessary. This 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.

Under section 15 (2) (d) of the Education Act 1998, each school is legally obliged to disclose its enrolment policy and to ensure that as regards that policy that principles of equality and the right of parents to send their children to a school of the parent’s choice are respected.

The Educational Welfare Service (EWS) of the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) is the statutory body which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school placement for their child. The EWS can be contacted at Educational Welfare Service Child and Family Agency, Floors 2-5, Brunel Building, Heuston South Quarter, Dublin 8 or by phone on 01-7718815.

In addition, under Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 where a board of management make a decision to refuse enrolment, a parent/guardian can appeal that decision to the Secretary General of my Department. Where the appeal involves an Education and Training Board (ETB) school, the appeal must be made to the local ETB in the first instance. Further information on the Section 29 Appeals process is available on my Departments website at the following link:

https://www.education.ie/en/Parents/Services/Appeal-against-Permanent-Exclusion-Suspension-or-Refusal-to-Enrol/