Emergency Works Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (141)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

141. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills if an application was received for emergency works submitted by a school (details supplied) in County Donegal; if so, when a decision is likely to be made with respect to the application; if his attention has been drawn to the need to have this project expedited in view of the unsuitable nature of the existing accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52020/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy that the school to which he refers has submitted an Emergency Works Application. This application was assessed and the Department wrote to the school authority in that respect in July 2019. The school authority was informed that some of the proposed works did not fall within the scope of the scheme. However, it was also informed that the remainder of the proposed works can be considered under the Emergency Works Scheme. Further information was sought in that respect and a response is awaited.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (142)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

142. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps that can be taken by the family of a child (details supplied) in circumstances in which no suitable school place is available for them in September 2020. [52026/19]

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. Accordingly, my Department is not involved in the placement of individual children in school.

The Council ensures that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

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.

In Westmeath alone, there are 31 special classes and 4 Special Schools providing specialist support to children with more complex special educational needs.

The NCSE is planning a further expansion of special class and school places in Westmeath to meet identified need for next year. This process is ongoing.

The NCSE has informed the Department that, in general, they are satisfied that they have planned sufficient ASD post primary special class placements to meet identified need in Westmeath for next year.

I understand that the local Special Education Needs Organiser is working with the family and will continue to be available until a suitable placement has been secured.

As the matter raised by the Deputy refers to a particular child, I have arranged for the Deputy's question to be forwarded to the National Council for Special Education for their attention and direct reply.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (143)

Fiona O'Loughlin

Ceist:

143. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52030/19]

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.

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.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (144)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

144. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if suitable SNA supports will be allocated for a person (details supplied). [52061/19]

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.

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.

Psychological Assessments

Ceisteanna (145)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

145. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a NEPS assessment will be expedited for a person (details supplied). [52062/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can inform the Deputy that my Department's National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) provides educational psychology service to all primary and post primary schools through an assigned NEPS psychologist and in some cases through the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments (SCPA), full details of which are on the Department's website. Under this scheme schools can have an assessment carried out by a member of the panel of private psychologists approved by NEPS, and NEPS will pay the psychologist the fees for this assessment directly.

In common with many other psychological services and best international practice, NEPS has adopted a consultative model of service. The focus is on empowering teachers to intervene effectively with pupils whose needs range from mild to severe and transient to enduring. Psychologists use a problem solving and solution oriented consultative approach to maximize positive outcomes for these pupils. NEPS encourages schools to use a continuum based assessment and intervention process whereby each school takes responsibility for initial assessment, educational planning and remedial intervention for pupils with learning, emotional or behavioural difficulties. Teachers may consult their NEPS psychologist should they need to at this stage in the process. Only in the event of a failure to make reasonable progress, in spite of the school's best efforts in consultation with NEPS, will the psychologist become involved with an individual child for intensive intervention or assessment.

I have made enquiries in relation to the child, the subject of the Deputy’s question, and can confirm that the school’s NEPS psychologists has been consulting with his parents and the school in relation to the concerns raised in his regard. A meeting with the parents took place in this regard on 5th November last and another is scheduled for today. However the child has been referred to the School Age Team for a full diagnostic assessment which is required to underpin an application for an SNA. The School Age Team, as you will be aware, falls under the HSE and the question as to an assessment appointment is one for my colleague the Minister for Health.

I can, in the interim, assure you of the continuing input of the NEPS service to the child, his parents and school in relation to his ongoing maintenance and support in school.

School Transport Eligibility

Ceisteanna (146)

Tom Neville

Ceist:

146. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will address a matter regarding the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52088/19]

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 the Department's 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.

In general, children with special educational needs are eligible for school transport if they are attending the nearest school that is resourced to meet their special educational needs. Eligibility is determined following consultation with the National Council for Special Education through its network of Special Education Needs Organisers (SENO).

The pupil in question was deemed ineligible for school transport under the terms of the above scheme as, per the information provided in the application, he is not attending the nearest school that is resourced to meet his special educational needs.

The decision was referred to the School Transport Appeal Board and the appeal was disallowed by the Board.

The attachments in the email referred to by the Deputy were originally submitted to the School Transport section in October 2019 and forwarded to the SENO for review. Following review of this information, the SENO advised that the position remains unchanged.

The terms of the school transport scheme are applied equitably on a national basis.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (147)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

147. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 183 of 19 November 2019, if the accommodation brief has been finalised; if so, the details of same; when a design team will be appointed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52094/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department is currently finalising the accommodation brief for the proposed building project for the school in question. My Department will be in contact with the school authority when this process has been completed.

School Enrolments

Ceisteanna (148)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

148. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 182 of 19 November 2019, if an application for temporary accommodation has been lodged to deal with the shortage of school places for September 2020; if so, when a decision will be made on the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52095/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Deputy will be aware from my previous response of the building project at the school to which he refers. I can confirm to the Deputy that a request for temporary accommodation has been received from the school. It has been advised to incorporate decanting solutions into its Design Plan for this building project and any identified need for temporary accommodation will be provided in that context.

Schools Site Acquisitions

Ceisteanna (149)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

149. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 154 of 12 November 2019, if there has been further progress in resolving the technical considerations; if a joint meeting has been held between his Department, Kildare County Council and the landowner to develop a framework and masterplan for the site; when a design team will be put in place for the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52096/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department continues to engage with the landowner and Kildare County Council in regard to the technical considerations crucial to the delivery of the site and the commencement of architectural planning.

It is a priority for my Department to commence the architectural planning process for this site at the earliest possible stage. For the time being - given the commercially sensitive nature of site acquisitions in general, I am unable to elaborate further.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (150)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

150. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 169 of 17 September 2019, if authorisation has issued to invite tenders for the project; if so, when tenders will be invited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52098/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The major building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is currently at Stage 2(b) – Detailed Design.

The Department understands that the Design Team is currently finalising the tender documentation and it is expected that this documentation will be submitted to the Department for review shortly.

However, due to the passage of time since the pre-qualification process, to select a shortlist of candidates, the Department has recently advised the school and its Design Team to run a new pre-qualification process. This can be carried out in parallel with the completion, submission and review of the finalised stage 2(b) documentation.

Upon receipt and review of the stage 2(b) documentation and the completion of the new pre-qualification process, my Department will be in contact with the Board of Management of the school regarding the progression of the project to the next stage of architectural planning, Stage 3 - tender stage.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (151)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

151. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 170 of 17 September 2019, if approval has now issued for the invitation of tenders for the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52099/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

This building project referred to by the Deputy is included in my Department’s Construction Programme which is being delivered under the National Development Plan.

The major building project is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning Stage 2b – Detailed Design, which includes securing Planning Permission, Fire Certificate and Disability Access Certificate and the preparation of tender documents.

The process of Pre-Qualification of contractors to compile a shortlist of suitable candidates is now complete and the final checks on the tender documents are being carried out. The next step for this project will be progression to Stage 3 – tender stage.

In that context, the Department will shortly be in contact with the school and Design Team to update them on the further progression of this major building project.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (152)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

152. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 172 of 17 September 2019, if the accommodation brief has been finalised; if so, the details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52100/19]

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 school building programme to be delivered as part of the National Development Plan.

The details of the accommodation to be provided at the school in question are expected to be determined shortly. My Department will be in direct contact with the school authority at that point.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (153)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

153. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 153 of 12 November 2019, the number of tenders received for the building project by the closing date of the end of November 2019; the estimated time it will take to review the tenders and award a contract; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52101/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The project to which the Deputy refers is currently at tender stage. The closing date for tenders has now passed and six tenders have been returned. The Department expects that the Tender Report will be submitted by the Design Team in the coming weeks.

Subject to no issues arising, it is anticipated that construction will commence in the 1st quarter of 2020 and the project is expected to take approximately 20 months to complete.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (154)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

154. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 156 of 12 November 2019, when work will be completed on the project in view of the fact a contractor is now on site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52102/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware, the delivery of the project at Naas Community College has been devolved to Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB).

Work began on site in November and it is expected that the building will be completed in August 2021.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (155)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

155. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 96 of 24 October 2019, if a definitive date for completion of phase 1 of the project has been given; when phase two will be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52104/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The school building project to which the Deputy refers is currently on site.

The first phase, consisting of the construction of the new 8 classroom school is due for completion in Quarter 4 2019 with handover anticipated in the coming weeks. The second phase is due for completion in Quarter 2 2020.