Pension Provisions

Ceisteanna (177)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

177. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform further to Parliamentary Question No. 153 of 1 October 2019, when a determination will be made on the appeal (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48654/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

As stated previously this appeal case relates to the awarding of pension increases by the company concerned. A request from the company seeking a pension increase is being considered at present by my Department. The outcome of this request may feed into the deliberations on the determination in this case. Accordingly, a determination on this case will be made as soon as possible following the outcome of the pension increase request.

In the interim, my Department has been in contact with the complainant in order to take matters forward.

Garda Stations

Ceisteanna (178)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

178. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the separate vacant living quarters in a Garda station (details supplied) in County Kerry will be made available to the community; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48709/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

The Garda station at Castlemaine, Co. Kerry and associated living quarters is assigned to An Garda Síochána for operational use.  The premises has not been identified as surplus to requirements by An Garda Síochána and, therefore, the OPW has not been requested to manage its disposal either through intra State transfer, sale on the open market, or to lease/ licence to a community group.

In that regard, the question of making the living quarters available to the OPW for disposal is a matter for An Garda Síochána to consider, subject to its current or future operational requirements for the area.

Office of Public Works Projects

Ceisteanna (179)

Jackie Cahill

Ceist:

179. Deputy Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if the OPW can provide the finance for the external night time lighting of Nenagh Castle in order that the recent investment at the historical site can benefit tourism in the town to its full potential; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48786/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

Floodlighting is generally not actively encouraged at National Monuments sites from an ecological/energy consumption/light pollution point of view.  In particular, there are swifts and bats in residence at Nenagh Castle and, as excessive artificial light can impact on these populations, it may be difficult to design a sustainable solution which does not affect them.  In addition, because of the constraints on resources needed for conservation works elsewhere, OPW is not in a position to finance the floodlighting of the Castle.   

Notwithstanding the above, the Deputy may wish to note that OPW has engaged with Tipperary County Council this year with a view to developing a number of offerings in Nenagh with the intent of enhancing the visitor experience and Nenagh Castle will form an important part of the town's heritage visitor assets in this regard.  While, as I have said, OPW is not in a position to go ahead with floodlighting of the Castle in the immediate term, we will be happy to continue to engage with both the Local Authority and local community groups in order to maximise the visitor potential of the Castle.

Flood Relief Schemes Status

Ceisteanna (180)

Dara Calleary

Ceist:

180. Deputy Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform the status of the Ballina flood relief scheme in County Mayo; the progress made in respect of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49109/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Public)

A Project Steering Group comprising representatives of Mayo County Council and the Office of Public Works is overseeing the implementation of the Ballina flood relief project.  A tender competition for the procurement of engineering design consultants for the project is underway and it is anticipated that the consultants will be appointed in January 2020.  The consultants will be responsible for preparing a programme for the implementation of the flood relief scheme and for assessing all viable options to address the flood risk in the town.

School Transport Eligibility

Ceisteanna (181)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

181. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a decision will be made on a remote area grant for a child (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48620/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.  In the 2018/2019 school year over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €200m in 2018. 

The purpose of my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school.

Under the terms of the Post-Primary School Transport Scheme, children are eligible for transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kilometres from and are attending their nearest education centre as determined by the Department of Education/Bus Éireann, 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 eligible for school transport but for whom no service is available may be offered the Remote Area Grant towards the cost of making private transport arrangements.  The  Remote Area Grant is also payable for eligible chidlren who may have to travel 3.2kms or more to or from a designated pick up/set down point.

The child referred to by the Deputy is eligible for transport and is also eligible for the Remote Area Grant to a designated pick up/set down point.  Thr grant is payable annually following receipt of the pupils statement of attendnace at the end of the school year.

School Therapy Services

Ceisteanna (182, 198)

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

182. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a pilot project (details supplied); his plans for the future of this intervention model; his plans to roll out the project nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48659/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Róisín Shortall

Ceist:

198. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a pilot project (details supplied); his plans for the future of this intervention model; his plans to roll out the project nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48658/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 182 and 198 together.

The Deputy will be aware that a demonstration project to provide in-school and pre-school therapy services was introduced for the 2018/19 school year.

The demonstration project has been developed by a Working Group which includes representatives from the Departments of Education, Children and Youth Affairs, Health, and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The project is being managed and co-ordinated by the National Council for Special Education with clinical support also being provided by two HSE Therapy Managers which have been assigned to the project.

The purpose of the project is to test a model of tailored therapeutic supports that allows for early intervention in terms of providing speech and language and occupational therapy within ‘educational settings’. This innovative pilot will complement existing HSE funded provision of essential therapy services.

The project is taking place in Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO) 7 Region of South West Dublin, Kildare, and West Wicklow.

This region has been selected to ensure that the pre-school and in-school therapy model can be tested in both urban and rural locations and with a suitable mix of various types of schools and pre-schools.

75 schools, including a representative sample of primary, post primary, and special schools are taking part in the project.

75 Pre-school settings associated with primary schools participating in the project are being included in order to provide for therapy interventions to be made at the earliest possible time and to create linkages between pre-school and primary school provision.

In total, 150 settings are participating in the demonstration project.

Although initially designed as a one year pilot, a Government decision of 12th February, 2019, in relation to the Review of the Special Needs Assistant Scheme, also agreed to the establishment of a pilot of a new School Inclusion Model for children with special educational and additional care needs involving up to 75 participating schools in the CHO 7 region over the course of the 2019/20 school year.

The demonstration project to provide in-school and pre-school therapy services is therefore continuing, as part of the School Inclusion Model, over the course of the 2019/20 school year.

Decisions in relation to the extension of the service to other areas or Counties, or to extend the service nationally, will be taken following the evaluation of the existing informed pilot phase.

Special Educational Needs

Ceisteanna (183)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

183. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if guidance and training will be provided to primary and post-primary schools to enable teachers to support pupils who are living in emergency accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48531/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Identification of Need, Early Intervention and Prevention Strategies are considered key components to supporting children for whom there are concerns, including those who experiencing homelessness. The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) works with schools through the DES Continuum of Support framework.  The NEPS Model of Service works through a problem solving and solution oriented consultative approach to support school to meet the needs of individual pupils.

NEPS psychologists can provide advice and guidance to Principals and teachers in relation to individual students needs and in the development of whole school approaches to support inclusion, participation and integration.

In addition, NEPS psychologists support schools to implement early-intervention and prevention programmes, such as The Incredible Years Programme in Primary Schools and resilience building programmes, such as the FRIENDS Programmes at Primary and Post Primary levels.

NEPS supports the role of the school in identifying individual needs and at a systems level in the development of a culture and environment which supports connectedness and provides structure and stability, key elements which underpin learning and opportunity.

My Department is strongly supportive of the promotion of positive mental health awareness in schools. The Department adopts a holistic and integrated approach to supporting schools in promoting positive mental health and to supporting those with a broad range of problems including behavioural, emotional and social.

To support this holistic approach my Department has published a Wellbeing Policy and Framework for Practice (2018-2023) for all schools which will inform how schools can promote student wellbeing.  The initiatives planned will provide schools with a framework to develop and promote the wellbeing of all children and young people in our schools, including those experiencing homelessness. The implementation of the framework for practice in schools is and will be supported by my Department and include a roll-out of comprehensive CPD programme for teachers at primary and post-primary levels currently in planning.

Special Educational Needs

Ceisteanna (184)

Carol Nolan

Ceist:

184. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if supports such as home-school liaison officers will be provided to support families who have children of schoolgoing age in emergency accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48532/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

A range of resources are available to support schools in dealing with identified additional educational needs, including needs which may arise for children who are experiencing homelessness. These include National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) supports and Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) supports.

The staff of schools are very sensitive to the needs of children who are experiencing disruption in their lives and make every effort to support the additional needs they experience. Where they are aware of homelessness and where it is impacting on school attendance and participation they can engage closely with the Educational Welfare Service of Tusla and with the support services of my own Department including the National Educational Psychological Service.

Identification of Need and Early Intervention Strategies are considered key components to supporting children who experience homelessness. The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) works with schools through the DES Continuum of Support framework.  NEPS psychologists are available to provide advice and guidance to Principals and teachers in relation to individual students’ needs and in the development of whole school approaches to support inclusion, participation and integration.

DEIS is the main policy initiative of my Department to tackle educational disadvantage. DEIS provides additional supports, through the DEIS School Support Programme, to schools identified as having the highest concentrations of pupils from disadvantaged communities.  Schools can use these additional resources to meet the identified needs of their pupil cohort, including the additional needs that may arise for pupils experiencing homelessness.    

DEIS Schools can also avail of Home School Community Liaison and School Completion supports provided by Tusla’s Educational Support Service in relation to school attendance, retention and progression which can be areas of particular challenge to pupils experiencing homelessness.

The Home School Community Liaison (HSCL) Scheme is a school-based intervention provided to DEIS schools to address the needs of pupils and families through acknowledging and developing the role of the parent as primary educator.

All DEIS Urban Primary and DEIS Post Primary schools are included in the HSCL Scheme. The scheme is delivered by 415 full-time HSCL Coordinators who are teachers in these schools and assigned to HSCL duties either in individual schools or clusters of schools, catering for approximately 156,000 pupils.

Tusla Education Support Services (TESS) aims to address issues in relation to participation, retention and attendance in schools.  Educational Welfare Officers of TUSLA Education Support Services work with young people and their families who are experiencing difficulty with school attendance and works with schools to put supports in place to assist families where needed.

TUSLA have also produced a guidance leaflet on school attendance information for families experiencing homelessness outlining how the educational welfare service can assist.

Land Swaps

Ceisteanna (185)

Tony McLoughlin

Ceist:

185. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a proposed beneficial land swap involving a school (detail supplied) and his Department; when a decision will be made on the proposal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48543/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has no current record of receiving correspondence in relation to this matter from the school referred to by the Deputy.

Departmental Correspondence

Ceisteanna (186)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

186. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the correspondence provided by his Department in connection with a planning application by a company (details supplied) to An Bord Pleanála for strategic housing development on a site; if the lands in the Killester, Raheny and Clontarf school planning area are required for future educational purposes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48556/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

A copy of the correspondence from my Department to An Bord Pleanála in connection with the Strategic Housing Development application to which the Deputy refers is at the link.

Submission letter to An Bord Pleanála

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (187)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

187. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to ensure a child (details supplied) receives an adequate allocation of teaching hours following a section 29 appeal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48560/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible for determining the appropriate staffing levels in relation to the support of students with special educational needs in special schools, in accordance with the policies of my Department. Special school staffing allocations are reviewed and updated each year by the NCSE. 

Since 2012, special schools are staffed on the basis of their actual student profiles and the disability category of each student, as opposed to being based principally on school designation, in accordance with my Department's Circular 0042/2011. It is a matter for special schools to deploy their teaching staff to cater for the needs of the student cohort and to ensure age appropriate placement.

The NCSE has confirmed that having complied with the recommendations of the Section 29 Appeals Board in relation to the student referred to by the Deputy, they have had ongoing engagement with the school to date, with regard to the student's re-integration back to school, which includes the development of a re-integration plan.

A number of steps have been taken as part of this process, including adaption to the school's physical environment in order to accommodate the student which is nearing completion.

An additional teaching allocation has also been sanctioned to the school, as a short term intervention, to support the student's re-integration and in order to meet the identified needs of the student concerned. The purpose of this allocation to the school is to compliment the teaching and SNA provision already allocated to the school. The plan for re-integration will include one to one support and some periods supporting the student in the school community. The additional allocation and some of the existing staffing allocation will be deployed to support the student in this way.

The NCSE has advised that a plan is in place for the student to transition back to school full time within four weeks. The NCSE will review the additional allocation to the school on a regular basis.

School Transport Eligibility

Ceisteanna (188)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

188. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the remote school transport grant for a person (details supplied); when payment will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48562/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.  In the 2018/2019 school year over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €200m in 2018. 

The purpose of my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school.

Under the terms of the Post-Primary School Transport Scheme, children are eligible for transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kilometres from and are attending their nearest education centre as determined by the Department of Education/Bus Éireann, 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 eligible for school transport but for whom no service is available may be offered the Remote Area Grant towards the cost of making private transport arrangements.

The child referred to by the Deputy is eligible for transport and is also eligible for the Remote Area Grant.  The grant is payable annually following receipt of the pupils statement of attendance at the end of the school year.   

School Transport

Ceisteanna (189)

Anne Rabbitte

Ceist:

189. Deputy Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason he does not include children with diagnosed mental health issues in the transport scheme for children with special educational needs; the cost of including such children in the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48567/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

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

The purpose of my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school.

In the 2018/2019 school year over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €200m in 2018. 

The purpose of the School Transport Scheme for Children with Special Educational Needs is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children with special educational needs arising from a diagnosed disability. Eligibility is determined following consultation with the National Council for Special Education through its network of Special Education Needs Organisers.

Special transport arrangements on medical grounds may also be considered by the Department where a pupil has a medical condition, and the condition is such that it would prevent the child from making his/her own way to the school, or the pick-up point, as appropriate.

Where such applications are made, the Department requests that the pupil's GP complete an Application for School Transport on Medical Grounds, which outlines the nature and severity of the medical condition.  The form is then forwarded to the Medical Advisor, who, on the basis of the medical evidence submitted, determines whether the above conditions apply. 

Further information in regard to the school transport scheme is available on my Department’s website.

School Transport Data

Ceisteanna (190, 191)

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

190. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of reducing to 3 km, 2.5 km, 2 km and 1.5 km the distance above which primary school children must live away from their school to avail of the school transport scheme on the basis of free school transport; the extra number of children who would qualify in each instance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48568/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jonathan O'Brien

Ceist:

191. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost of reducing to 4 km, 3 km, 2 km and 1.5 km the distance above which post- primary school children must live away from their school to avail of the school transport scheme on the basis of free school transport; the extra number of children who would qualify in each instance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48569/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 190 and 191 together.

School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills. In the 2018/19 school year there were over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually at a cost of over €200m in 2018.

The purpose of the School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school. Children are generally eligible for school transport if they satisfy the distance criteria and are attending their nearest school as determined by the Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

The annual charge for school transport services is €100 per annum for primary children and €350 for post primary children with a maximum family charge of €220 for primary children only or €650 overall.

Children who are eligible for school transport and who hold valid medical cards (GMS Scheme) are exempt from paying the annual charge. In addition, there is no charge for children who are eligible for school transport under the terms of my Department's School Transport Scheme for children with Special Educational Needs.

In general the unit cost for transporting mainstream children is some €1,000 per annum, while the unit cost for transporting children with special educational needs is €7,000 or €9,000 when the provision of escorts are included.

In 2018, receipts from school transport charges amounted to some €15.9m or about 8% of the total cost of the scheme provided by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.

The school transport scheme is a demand-led service based on the number of eligible children who apply to avail of transport. It is not possible to estimate the detail requested by the Deputy

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (192)

Jack Chambers

Ceist:

192. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a child will receive the necessary SNA allocation to support the child's needs (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48594/19]

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 child, I have referred the question to the NCSE for their direct reply. I do not have a role in making determinations in individual cases.

Physical Education Facilities

Ceisteanna (193)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

193. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a new sports hall for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48595/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department is in receipt of an application for capital funding for building works, including a new sports hall, from the school referred to by the Deputy.  

Under the National Development Plan (NDP), increased funding has been provided for the school sector capital investment programme.  This funding allows for a continued focus on the provision of new permanent school places to keep pace with demographic demand and also provides for an additional focus on the refurbishment of existing school buildings to include the building and modernisation of PE facilities in post-primary schools.

Under the Ireland Project 2040, we will invest €8.4 billion (compared to €4.9 billion in the previous decade) in primary and post primary school buildings.

The immediate priority of my Department is providing 20,000 new and replacement school places each year, to ensure that every child has a school place. The government will focus in the medium term on the provision of PE facilities in post primary schools.

Scrúduithe Stáit

Ceisteanna (194)

James Browne

Ceist:

194. D'fhiafraigh Deputy James Browne den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas faoina sheasamh i dtaca le scrúduithe Gaeilge an Teastais Shóisearaigh; cad é a thuairim faoi na deacrachtaí maidir le scrúduithe Gaeilge an Teastais Shóisearaigh (sonraí tugtha); agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [48629/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Daltaí a chuaigh isteach sa chéad bhliain i Meán Fómhair 2017 an chéad chohórt de dhaltaí a chuaigh i gceann na sonraíochta ábhair nua don Ghaeilge faoin gCreat don tSraith Shóisearach atá le scrúdú i Meitheamh 2020.

Ós rud é go n-áirítear aiseolas leanúnach, measúnú múnlaitheach, MRBanna, tascanna measúnaithe le cois scrúduithe ceann cúrsa le gach sonraíocht ábhair nua, is gá 'rómheasúnú' a sheachaint agus ualach carnach an iomad measúnuithe ar dhaltaí agus múinteoirí a laghdú a oiread agus is féidir i réimse iomlán na n-ábhar.

Sa chomhthéacs seo, tiocfaidh na Measúnuithe Rangbhunaithe in ionad measúnuithe eile atá á ndéanamh faoi láthair ar scoil amhail scrúduithe inmheánacha. Ba chóir do scoileanna a bpolasaithe measúnaithe féin a iniúchadh agus pleanáil i dtreo Measúnuithe Rangbhunaithe do dhaltaí a theacht in ionad scrúduithe inmheánacha, nuair is cuí.

Is polasaí fada buan é de chuid CSS agus ROS (roimh bhunú CSS), páipéir shamplacha a chur ar fáil i bhfómhar bhliain an scrúdaithe don chlár atá i gceist. Leis seo, is féidir na hathruithe curaclaim, agus na hathruithe teagaisc agus foghlama a ghabhann leo, a leabú.

Dála scrúduithe 'fíora' cruthaítear páipéir shamplacha faoi ardleibhéal maoirseachta agus deimhniú cáilíochta chun a chinntiú go mbíonn siad oiriúnach don fheidhm. Déanann saineolaithe, lena n-áirítear múinteoirí ábhair, iad a réamhbhreathnú, maidir le hoiriúnacht a n-inneachair, a mhéad ar measúnú cuí iad ar na torthaí foghlama mar atá leagtha amach sa tsonraíocht bhainteach, teanga a n-inneachair agus an t-achar ama a thógfadh sé chun iad a chur i gcrích.

Sa tsonraíocht nua T1, déantar iarracht plé, sa chéad dul síos, leis na daltaí sin a dhéanann staidéar ar a gcuid ábhar uile trí mheán na Gaeilge agus táthar ag dúil, dá bharr, í a sholáthar i nGaelcholáistí, Scoileanna Gaeltachta and in Aonaid LánGhaeilge. Is le haghaidh úsáid i scoileanna a fheidhmíonn trí mheán an Bhéarla atá sonraíocht T2. De thairbhe go bhfuil dhá shonraíocht ar leith ar fáil den chéad uair riamh is féidir an t-eispéireas teagaisc agus foghlama a chur in oiriúint do chatagóirí daltaí atá an-difriúil. Go háirithe, is féidir freastal ar riachtanais foghlama atá ag foghlaimeoirí i scoileanna Gaeltachta, go háirithe riachtanais cainteoirí dúchais Gaeilge (agus i ngaelcholáistí agus i ngaelscoileanna) ar bhealaí nach raibh indéanta faoi na socruithe mar a bhíodh. Go ginearálta, chuir pobail agus eagrais Ghaeltachta fáilte roimh sholáthar shonraíochtaí T1 agus iad ag tacú le feidhmiú na Scéime Aitheantais Scoil Ghaeltachta.

D’eascair na hImlitreacha nua, ar dhíolúintí ó staidéar an Ghaeilge, seo ó athbhreithniú ar bheartas agus cleachtas maidir le díolúintí ó staidéar an Ghaeilge a rinne Cigireacht na Roinne Oideachais agus Scileanna. Tógann na hImlitreacha tacaíocht ón phrionsabal maidir le cuimsiú a aithníonn an éagsúlacht leathan riachtanais ar a ndéanann an Curaclam Teanga na Bunscoile agus Sonraíocht na Sraithe Sóisearaí freastail, le heispéireas foghlaim dhifreálach á chur ar fáil do dhaltaí i dtimpeallacht ionchuimsitheach scoile. Tá na cúinsí inar féidir díolúine ó bheith ag déanamh staidéir ar an nGaeilge a dheonú do dhalta a fháil leagtha amach i mír 2.2 de na himlitreacha seo a bhaineann le Scoileanna Béarla amháin. Tá mo Roinn tiomanta le cur i bhfeidhm  agus monatóireacht na hImlitreacha nua seo agus ar athbhreithniú a dhéanamh orthu tar éis dhá bhliain dóibh bheith i bhfeidhm.

Tá an Roinn tiomanta fós do chur chun cinn úsáid na Gaeilge labhartha. Tá forbairt scileanna teanga labhartha na ndaltaí chun tosaigh sna sonraíochtaí nua Gaeilge ag an tSraith Shóisearach. Is gné bhunúsach de theagasc agus foghlaim é comhtháthú na litríochta. Ba chóir forbairt scileanna teanga agus fiosrú téacsanna liteartha a chomhtháthú sa seomra ranga mar áis forbartha teanga. Leis an litríocht, tacaítear le forbairt teanga agus litearthachta, scileanna criticiúla agus cruthaitheacha, tuiscintí cultúrtha agus forbairt phearsanta.

School Patronage

Ceisteanna (195, 206)

Stephen Donnelly

Ceist:

195. Deputy Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will open admissions as a matter of urgency to a new secondary school opening in September 2020 for pupils in the Greystones and Kilcoole area of County Wicklow in view of the huge demand for places; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48633/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Martin

Ceist:

206. Deputy Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the patronage process for the new post-primary school for the Kilcoole and Greystones area is due to be finalised; when the patron is due to be announced; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48799/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 195 and 206 together.

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. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level.  

In April 2018, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the four years from 2019 to 2022, including a new 800 pupil post-primary school to serve the Kilcoole and Greystones school planning areas as a regional solution which is due to be established in 2020.

A patronage process is run after it has been decided, based on demographic analysis, that a new school is required.  This patronage process is open to all patron bodies and prospective patrons. Parental preferences for each patron, from parents of children who reside in the school planning areas concerned, together with the extent of diversity currently available in these areas, are key to decisions in relation to the outcome of this process. 

The Online Patronage Process System (OPPS) has been developed by my Department to provide objective information to parents and guardians which will allow them to make an informed choice in expressing a preference for their preferred model of patronage for their child’s education.   

The patronage process for new schools is overseen by an external independent advisory group, the New Schools Establishment Group (NSEG). Following their consideration of my Department’s assessment reports, the NSEG will submit a report with recommendations to me for consideration and final decision.

The Online Patronage Process System (OPPS) closed for parental preferences on the 4th October 2019 for the six post-primary schools to be established in 2020, including the school referred to by the Deputies. It is anticipated that the successful patrons will be announced in the coming weeks. The assessment reports and the NSEG recommendations will be made available on my Department's website. It will subsequently be a matter for the successful patron to make arrangements for enrolment for the following September. 

Broadband Service Provision

Ceisteanna (196)

Peter Burke

Ceist:

196. Deputy Peter Burke asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a solution will be provided for a school (details supplied) that is experiencing significant connectivity issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48635/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The policy of my Department is to offer the best quality connectivity to all schools in line with the technical solutions available in the market and financial constraints. Broadband capacity can vary due to geographical location and local infrastructure, and thus impact on the service that can be provided. Through the Schools Broadband Access Programme the Department 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. All post-primary schools and some special schools are now included in the 100Mbps programme. The primary broadband scheme operates off existing infrastructure on the whole and the providers on the Primary Broadband Framework access this infrastructure to deliver the service to the schools. The Department does not put in place such infrastructure.

The school referred to by the Deputy was recently included in mini competition run by my Department and the service to that school has been awarded to a provider of high speed broadband. The provider is currently working to provide this service to the school. The school will be contacted by the provider in due course to arrange the installation.

Under the current primary schools programme the Department continually reviews the availability of services and upgrades schools where the opportunity arises, in line with contractual and budgetary requirements. A recent drawdown from the Framework of Providers of Broadband Services saw some 1,600 primary schools awarded download speeds of 30Mbps or greater (the baseline download speed required under the National Broadband Plan). Those schools have now been upgraded to that connectivity. This represents more than one third of all primary schools. This is a significant improvement over recent years, given that less than 100 primary schools were on those speeds in 2012. Further schools are likely to be upgraded to those speeds in 2019 and 2020, through EIR's 300K Rural Deployment commitment, and planned industry provision.

The need to improve broadband connectivity to primary schools is recognised in the Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020, and as noted access to high speed broadband is one of the indicators identified in the Digital Strategy Action Plan. My Department continues to liaise with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment to ensure that the needs of primary schools are prioritised in the implementation of the National Broadband Plan. 

Schools Building Projects Status

Question No. 198 answered with Question No. 182.

Ceisteanna (197)

Michael Healy-Rae

Ceist:

197. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will address a matter regarding a school (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48655/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Deputy will be aware that a building project for the school to which he refers is included in my Department's Capital Programme to be delivered as part of the National Development Plan.

The project brief is currently being finalised and this is expected to be completed shortly. The building  project will include additional capacity to allow for the school's future growth.

Question No. 198 answered with Question No. 182.

Employment Appeals Tribunal

Ceisteanna (199)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

199. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position of his Department with regard to the recommendations of the Employment Appeals Tribunal on the use of summer holidays in the context of maternity leave; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48672/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Following legal advice my Department has appealed the decisions of the Employment Appeals Tribunal referred to by the Deputy. 

As the decisions are now the subject of ongoing legal proceedings it would not be appropriate for me to comment further.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (200)

Charlie McConalogue

Ceist:

200. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of a new building for the relocation of a school (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48674/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The school referred to by the Deputy was approved a project under my Department's Additional Accommodation Scheme in June 2018 for a new four classroom school.

The current position is that a Stage 1 Preliminary Design meeting has been arranged with Department officials on 28 November as the next step in moving this project forward.

School Closures

Ceisteanna (201)

Darragh O'Brien

Ceist:

201. Deputy Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a list of disused school buildings in the Fingal area of County Dublin will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48675/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Nationwide, there are over 4,000 school buildings and the majority are in private ownership, mainly by denominational patrons.

When a school building becomes vacant as a result of closure/amalgamation/replacement, the future use of the old building is in the first instance a matter for the property owner. When the property owner applies to the Minister for permission to either use the property for community purposes or to sell it, my Department makes an assessment as to whether the property is required for future educational use.  If it is concluded that the property has no viable future educational use, my Department permits that it may be used for community or other purposes or may be sold. Therefore, my Department does not hold details of current usage of former school buildings in private ownership.

Any school buildings in the Minister's direct ownership in the Fingal area are already planned for educational use.