School Patronage

Ceisteanna (82)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

82. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if a patronage competition has been completed for each of the 42 schools announced in April 2018; if each school has been established; if so, the date on which each was established; if each school opened in September 2019; and if each school has been provided with a permanent location in tabular form. [52192/19]

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 18 new schools (primary and post-primary) to be established in 2019, two of the primary schools 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.

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 assessment reports and the NSEG recommendations are made available on my Department's website.

The patronage processes for the schools to be established in 2019 have concluded.

For the six post-primary schools to be established in 2020, the Online Patronage Process System (OPPS) closed for parental preferences on the 4th October 2019 . It is anticipated that the successful patrons will be announced shortly. The assessment reports and the NSEG recommendations will be made available on my Department's website. The patronage process for the primary schools to be established in 2020 is currently underway for parental preferences.

As the Deputy will be aware, updated quarterly information on the status of the new schools announced to be established from 2019 - 2022 is provided to the Education Committee, including tabular information on interim and permanent accommodation for the schools. The next update to the Committee will be provided in January.

In addition, the current status of projects being delivered is listed on a county by county basis on my Department’s website at www.education.ie and updated on a monthly basis to reflect their progress through the various stages of capital appraisal, site acquisition, design, tender and construction.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (83)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

83. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the 70 major school building projects in advanced architectural planning; and the expected completion date of each project in tabular form. [52193/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The current status of large-scale projects being delivered under the National Development Plan is listed on a county by county basis on the Department's website and updated on a monthly basis to reflect progress through design, tender and construction stages.

Details of the 70+ major school building projects currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning, Stage 2(b) - Detailed Design are included in this listing.

Stage 2(b) Detailed Design is arguably the most complex and detailed of all the stages in Architectural Planning. In addition to securing the necessary statutory approvals it also includes the preparation of complex and detailed tender documents.

Pre-qualification of contractors generally occurs at the end of Stage 2(b) and involves the compiling of a shortlist of contractors.

Thereafter a tender stage normally takes between 7 and 8 months to complete.

The construction period varies from project to project depending on its size and complexity.

The Deputy will appreciate that, as the period of time to progress through each of these steps varies from project to project, it is not possible to provide an expected completion date for each project currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Ceisteanna (84, 97)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

84. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if autism spectrum disorder units will be allocated to single sex secondary schools; and if it is a condition that ASD units can only be assigned to co-education secondary schools. [52198/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

97. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if autism spectrum disorder units can be allocated to single sex secondary schools; if not, if it is a condition that ASD units can only be assigned to co-education secondary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52369/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 84 and 97 together.

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.

There is no policy restricting the establishment of ASD Special Classes to co-ed schools and a number of special classes have been established in single sex schools. When establishing special classes, consideration will be given to their long term sustainability and the extent to which such classes can support the needs within a local area. In some cases a co-ed school may be better placed than a single sex school to respond to a range of needs locally.

The SENO may approach individual schools to discuss the matter with a view to finding the optimal location in terms of convenience and sustainability.

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 1,355 are ASD special classes, including 133 ASD Early Intervention classes, 852 Primary ASD classes and 370 Post Primary ASD classes.

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 for next year.

The extent of new classes being opened in recent years shows the willingness of schools to open special classes and normally this is the case.

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.

The law contains a procedure through which the NCSE can test the capacity of schools in an area to provide more special education places and through which ultimately a Ministerial direction can be made requiring a school to make additional special education places available.

Departmental Budgets

Ceisteanna (85)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

85. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the capital allocation of his Department in each of the years 2020 to 2025; and the areas to which funds will be allocated in each year. [52209/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department's Capital Programme continues to make progress to increase the infrastructural capacity in the schools sector nationally, in order to meet demographic and other demands.

Capital planning and budgeting is undertaken on a multi-annual basis. Under Project Ireland 2040, the education sector will receive a total of approximately €12 billion over the period 2018-2027. This includes some €8.8 billion for the schools sector and €2.2 billion for higher education infrastructure. The specific allocations in each area are closely monitored and may be adjusted from year to year to take account of project progress and other factors.

My Department's capital allocation for 2020 is €922m of which the School Capital Programme is envisaged to be the largest element (€620m). Details of large-scale projects being delivered under the school building programme may be viewed on my Department's website, www.education.ie and this information is updated regularly.

Disability Services Funding

Ceisteanna (86)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

86. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills the funding allocated to the fund for students with disabilities in each of the years 2017 to 2020, respectively. [52219/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The funding allocated to the Fund for Students with Disabilities requested by the Deputy are as follows:

2017 - €10,300,000; 2018 - €10,900,000.

The final figures for 2019 are not yet readily available. Figures are not available for 2020.

School Transport Provision

Ceisteanna (87)

Eugene Murphy

Ceist:

87. Deputy Eugene Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider introducing a minimum flat rate of payment for bus escorts for children with special needs in cases, for example, the case of a person (details supplied), that are short of a full hours work on a daily basis in order to make it economically viable; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52281/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

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

In accordance with Department of Education & Skills Circular 50/2019 regarding the revision of pay for all staff paid directly by a recognised school or ETB, the hourly rate effective from 1st September 2019 for School Bus Escorts is €13.07. Holiday pay is paid at 8%. This equates to €1.05 (€13.07 x 8%) and is payable for each hour worked with effect from 1st September 2019. School Bus Escorts are paid based on the daily hours worked.

The revised salary rates have been introduced as a result of the Public Service Stability Agreement 2013 – 2020 (Haddington Road Agreement/ Lansdowne Road Agreement) and the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017.

Irish Language

Ceisteanna (88)

Jan O'Sullivan

Ceist:

88. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the guidance given to schools in respect of the granting of an exemption from Irish for a child with autism in primary schools that do not have a special autism class; if the rules have changed recently in this regard; if so, the way in which the change should be applied for children already in school who have not been engaging in Irish classes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52283/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Irish language is accorded special status in Ireland and is protected by various pieces of Legislation and in particular Article 8 of our Constitution which states that “The Irish Language as the national language is the first official language”. The Education Act 1998 recognises the particular responsibility of the education system with regard to supporting the Irish language. The language has particular social, historical and educational importance and is part of the unique cultural heritage of the Irish people. It is an aim of Government to increase on an incremental basis the use and knowledge of Irish as a community language.

In recognising the linguistic, social and cultural importance of Irish and English in Ireland, both languages are included as core subjects in the national curricula for recognised primary and post-primary schools and centres for education in Ireland. This has been the case since the foundation of the State and the importance of the teaching of both languages in this way has been re-affirmed on a number of occasions by the State, including most recently in the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030. Indeed, the most recent curricular changes at primary and junior cycle level have emphasised not only the importance of learning both languages but also the wider benefits of bilingualism. The development of these new language curricula reflects my Department’s reassertion of its commitment to the Irish language and to progressing the language education related actions of the 20-Year Strategy for the Irish Language 2010-2030.

It is also the policy of the Department of Education and Skills is to provide for the inclusive education of children with special educational needs in mainstream education, other than in circumstances where it would not be in the best interest of the child, or the effective education of children with whom they are to be educated.

The National Council for Special Education (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 1,355 are ASD special classes, including 133 ASD Early Intervention classes, 852 Primary ASD classes and 370 Post Primary ASD classes. 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 for next year.

New circulars on the topic of exemption from the study of Irish came into effect on the 1st of September 2019 whereby applications for an exemption may now only be considered in exceptional circumstances. Those circumstances are specifically set out in Section 2.2 of Circulars 0052/2019 – Primary and 0053/2019 – Post-primary. Decisions on the granting of exemptions from the study of Irish were devolved to school management in previous circulars 12/96 and M10/94 and this remains the case in the current circulars. Apart from these exceptional circumstances, Pupils in special schools and in special classes in mainstream schools are considered to be exempt for the study of Irish without the need for parents to apply for an exemption or for the holding a Certificate of Exemption. Children who, under previous circulars, were granted an exemption from the study of Irish, continue to be considered as exempt from the study of Irish. In line with the Department’s policy however, all schools are expected and encouraged to provide all pupils, to the greatest extent possible and in a meaningful way, with opportunities to participate in Irish language and cultural activities at a level appropriate to their learning needs.

Apart from the circulars, The Department of Education and Skills has provided guidelines and FAQs on exemptions from the study of Irish on our website, which will provide further information to parents and schools who may have questions regarding exemptions from the study of Irish. These can be accessed here: www.education.ie/en/Parents/Information/Irish-Exemption/.

Any student who does not meet the criteria for an exemption from the study of Irish should be provided with a differentiated approach to language learning and any other supports in accordance with Guidelines for supporting pupils with Special Educational Needs in Mainstream Schools and with Special Educational Needs: A continuum of Support. Also available on the Departments website: www.education.ie/en/The-Education-System/Special-Education/.

Soláthar Iompar Scoile

Ceisteanna (89)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Ceist:

89. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna an bhfuil sé sásta ticéid taistil scoile a cheadú do scoláirí ó scoil (sonraí tugtha) le dul ar bhus poiblí Bhus Éireann tar éis 5.00pm ionas go mbeidh deis acu páirt a ghlacadh in imeachtaí iar-scoile, ag cur san áireamh nach bhfuil aon bhus níos luaithe tráthnóna ar an tseirbhís sin agus nach mbíonn mórán paisinéirí ar an mbus atá ar an tseirbhís sin tar éis 5.00pm; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [52287/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Is oibríocht shuntasach é Iompar Scoile atá á bainistiú ag Bus Éireann thar ceann na Roinne.

Is é is cuspóir do Scéim Iompair Scoile mo Roinne, ag féachaint d'acmhainní atá ar fáil, tacú le hiompar leanaí a chónaíonn i bhfad ón scoil is gaire dóibh, chuig an scoil agus ón scoil.

Le linn na scoilbhliana 2018/2019 iompraíodh breis is 117,500 leanbh lena n-áirítear breis is 13,000 leanbh ag a bhfuil riachtanais speisialta, i mbreis is 5,000 feithicil go laethúil chuig bunscoileanna agus iar-bhunscoileanna ar fud na tíre. Taistealaíodh breis is 100 milliún ciliméadar agus bhí costas breis is €200 milliún air in 2018.

Go ginearálta, cáilíonn leanaí d'iompar scoile má chomhlíonann siad na critéir achair agus má fhreastalaíonn siad ar an scoil is gaire dóibh.

Tá Bus Éireann freagrach as bealaí iompair scoile a phleanáil agus a amchlárú. Déanann Bus Éireann iarracht, laistigh de na hacmhainní atá ar fáil, ar a chinntiú go bhfuil leibhéal réasúnta seirbhíse iompair scoile ag gach leanbh incháilithe i gcomhthéacs na Scéime go náisiúnta.

Cuirtear suíocháin ar fáil do leanaí a bhíonn ag taisteal faoin scéim iompair scoile ar sheirbhísí iompair scoile tiomnaithe nó ar sheirbhísí ginearálta poiblí sceidealaithe chuig scoileanna agus uathu. Cuireann an socrú seo ar chumas leanaí freastal ar ranganna le linn gnáthuaireanta scoile. Ní ticéad comaitéara ginearálta é ticéad iompair scoile atá bailí ar gach seirbhís rialta iompair phoiblí gach uile thráth agus ní thairgtear é mar sin. I bhfianaise an líon leanaí a iompraítear go náisiúnta, níorbh fhéidir an tsolúbthacht a thairiscint do gach leanbh incháilithe taisteal ar na seirbhísí rialta iompair phoiblí ach amháin de réir na dtéarmaí atá sonraithe ar a dticéid, gan caiteachas breise a thabhú.

Emergency Works Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (90)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

90. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications for emergency works being considered. [52295/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to inform the Deputy that 114 applications for funding under my Department's Emergency Works Scheme are currently under consideration.

Emergency Works Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (91)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

91. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications for emergency works refused to date in 2019. [52296/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can inform the Deputy that a total of 115 applications for funding under my Department's Emergency Works Scheme have been refused to date.

Emergency Works Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (92)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

92. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of applications for emergency works approved to date in 2019. [52297/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that 467 applications for my Department's Emergency Works Scheme have been approved to date. I would also like to refer the Deputy to the information in this respect that is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/Building-Works/Emergency-Works/.

Ministerial Meetings

Ceisteanna (93)

Louise O'Reilly

Ceist:

93. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has met parents or groups from areas in Fingal, County Dublin, to discuss school place provision; if so, the date and location of the meetings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52302/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I have not met with parents or groups from areas in Fingal County Dublin to discuss school place provision.

Summer Works Scheme Applications

Ceisteanna (94)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

94. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter regarding a summer works scheme application by a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52306/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Deputy may be aware that I recently announced details of the schools that will receive funding in summer 2020 in respect of applications submitted for "Life Safety Systems projects".

I can confirm to the Deputy that an application for 'Windows Projects' has been received, from the school authority in question, under my Department's multi annual Summer Works Scheme (SWS) 2020 onwards.

Commensurate with the level of funding set aside for the Scheme, applications are being assessed on a top down basis in accordance with the prioritisation criteria outlined in the Circular accompanying the Scheme. In this regard, applications submitted for other works will be considered under future rounds of the Summer works Scheme. The school in question will be considered in this regard.

Schools Building Projects Applications

Ceisteanna (95)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

95. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he is in receipt of further correspondence from a school (details supplied); and if the school will be granted additional accommodation in order that it does not have to reduce its intake significantly in 2020. [52360/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The school referred to by the Deputy has been approved a project under my Department's Additional Accommodation Scheme 2019. This project will provide for four general classrooms to replace three existing prefabs. It will also provide for one Construction studies room, a Technology room with prep area, one WC for assisted users, a standard toilet, and one special education teaching room.

I can confirm that my Department has received and will consider the correspondence to which the Deputy refers.

Teacher Recruitment

Question No. 97 answered with Question No. 84.

Ceisteanna (96)

Pearse Doherty

Ceist:

96. Deputy Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on whether section 6.2(d) of the Governance Manual for Primary Schools 2015 to 2019 is being misused to exclude non-probated teachers from application for substitution work (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52365/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The recruitment and appointment of teachers to fill teaching posts is a matter for the individual school authority, subject to procedures agreed under Section 24 of the Education Act 1998 (as amended by the Education (Amendment) Act 2012).

The procedures set out in 6.2 c) and 6.2 d) of Appendix D of the Governance Manual for Primary Schools 2015-2019 have been superseded by Circular 44/2019. These procedures were agreed in consultation with the relevant Education Partners in accordance with Section 7 of the Education Act 1998 (as amended by the Education (Amendment) Act 2012).

In accordance with Circular 44/2019 schools are required to employ appropriately qualified and registered teachers and ensure that unemployed teachers should be offered employment in preference to those who have retired. These measures were taken in an effort to increase employment opportunities for unemployed teachers.

Question No. 97 answered with Question No. 84.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (98)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

98. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the cost of renting and purchasing portakabins for a school (details suppled); the status of the move to a new permanent building; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52371/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise that the school referred to by the Deputy currently rents temporary accommodation classrooms at an annual rental cost of €118,325.84. Since 2009, capital funding in the amount of €348,598.45 has also been allocated to the purchase of prefabricated units.

The move to a new permanent building is awaiting the completion of a major building project for another school which is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning, Stage 2b (Detailed Design). All statutory approvals have been secured.

My Department recently carried out a review of a Revised Stage 2(b) submission for this major building project and noted that the estimated Stage 2(b) cost plan had increased substantially from the approved costs at Stage 2(a). In accordance with my Department's Design Team Procedures, where the approved cost limits have been exceeded, a Brief Change Report is necessary. The design team is currently working on this Report. Only when the Stage 2(b) submission is signed off, will my Department will have a clearer understanding of the timeline for the progression of this project to tender and construction.

In view of the above, it is not possible at this point to indicate when the school referred to by the Deputy will move location.

Teaching Council of Ireland

Ceisteanna (99)

Thomas Byrne

Ceist:

99. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the delays being experienced by teachers from Northern Ireland registering with the Teaching Council; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52377/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Under the Teaching Council Acts 2001-2015 the Teaching Council is the body with statutory authority and responsibility for the regulation of the teaching profession in Ireland including the registration of teachers in the State.

It is a function of the Council under the Teaching Council Acts (s7(2)) to act as the competent authority for the recognition of qualifications obtained by a person who has applied under this Act for registration as a teacher.

Teachers whose applications meet all the necessary requirements are registered under Section 31 of the Teaching Council Act and the Teaching Council (Registration) Regulations 2016.

For teachers who qualified within Ireland, the registration process may take up to 6-8 weeks from receipt of complete application including all associated documentation and depending on the time of year (taking into account peak summer processing periods). If all requirements are met, including garda vetting, and fit and proper person requirements, the registration process may be completed in less than the 6-8 week timeframe outlined.

Where a person has obtained their teaching qualifications in another Member State of the EU, Directive 2005/36/EC, as amended, applies. This Directive governs the recognition of professional qualifications across Member States. Where a person has obtained their teaching qualifications and is eligible to practice the profession in another Member State, they may apply to the Teaching Council to seek recognition of their qualifications in accordance with the provisions of the Directive. Assessment of qualifications to determine that they are comparable to accredited qualifications in Ireland may take approximately twelve weeks from the date of receipt of all requested documentation, in accordance with the EU Directive timelines. Applicants must also meet standard registration requirements in relation to character reference, garda vetting and overseas police clearances.

The Teaching Council has advised me that where a complete application is submitted and fit and proper person requirements including garda vetting/police clearance are met registration can be completed faster than the standard registration timelines set out above.

Departmental Expenditure

Ceisteanna (100)

Niall Collins

Ceist:

100. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of credit cards issued to Ministers and officials working in his Department; the amount spent on credit cards in each year since 2016; the bank interest paid on credit cards in each year since 2016; the controls in place to monitor the issuing of and the expenditure on the cards; the controls in place in each agency to monitor expenditure on personally held credit card bills that are subsequently used to recoup work-related expenses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52400/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

There are currently four credit cards in operation within the Department Of Education and Skills. Each Minister’s Private Secretary has a credit card in name their issued to them, as does the Principal Officer of the IT unit.

The bill for the credit cards is paid in full each month by Direct Debit from the Department’s bank account to avoid the accumulation of interest.

A credit card can only be issued upon request to an Administrator of the Department’s bank account, and must be authorised by two administrators before it can be issued. The number of credit cards in operation is kept to a minimum.

Each cardholder is issued with a copy of the Department’s guidance document on the use of credit cards when their card is issued. They receive monthly statements to allow them to verify the charges to their card, and are required to verify that these charges are correct before payment. Officers holding credit cards are instructed to only use them when other avenues of payment are unavailable.

Year

Expenditure on Credit Cards

Interest Paid

Number of Cards in Operation

2016

€14,587.69

nil

3

2017

€16,398.01

nil

*4

2018

€22,021.56

nil

4

2019**

€20,449.21

nil

4

* In 2017, an additional Minister of State was appointed to the Department. A credit card was issued to their Private Secretary in August of that year, bringing the total number of cards to four.

** 2019 figures cover the period January to November inclusive

Parental Leave

Ceisteanna (101)

James Browne

Ceist:

101. Deputy James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the amount paid to teachers under revised parental leave legislation; the way in which the payment will differ to paternity leave pay arrangements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52418/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Parental Leave is regulated by the Parental Leave Acts 1998 - 2019. Parental Leave entitlement has increased from a maximum of 18 weeks to a maximum of 22 weeks from 1st September 2019 in respect of each child. This entitlement will increase to up to a maximum of 26 weeks from 1st September 2020. The purpose of Parental Leave is to allow a relevant parent a period of leave from employment to care for his/her child. Parental Leave may be taken in respect of each child up to the age of 13 years or the age of 16 years in the case of a child with a disability and or/long-term illness. This leave is currently an unpaid leave.

Paternity Leave is regulated by the Paternity Leave and Benefit Act 2016. The purpose of Paternity Leave is to allow a relevant parent 2 weeks leave from employment to provide or assist in the care of the child or to provide support to the mother or adopting parent of the child. Paternity Leave may commence at any time within the first 26 weeks from the date of birth or in the case of adoption, the day of placement of the child. This leave is currently a paid leave. A teacher may be entitled to Paternity Benefit during this period of leave, payable from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. Where a teacher qualifies for Paternity Benefit, the Benefit issues directly to the teacher and a deduction, equivalent to the amount of Benefit, is applied to their salary.

My Department’s Circular Letter 0054/2019 sets out the details of these schemes for registered teachers employed in recognised primary and post primary schools. The Parental Leave Scheme is set out in Chapter 5 and the Paternity Leave Scheme in Chapter 4 of the Circular Letter.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (102)

Michael Moynihan

Ceist:

102. Deputy Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the tender for the construction of the new school in Kanturk, County Cork, has been published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52425/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy is aware the project to which he refers is devolved to the Office of Public Works (OPW) for delivery. The OPW is currently preparing and checking the documents for issue to tender. It is envisaged that the tender for this project will be published in the coming weeks.

Schools Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (103)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

103. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of building works for a school (details supplied) in County Cork. [52429/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The building project referred to by the Deputy is being delivered under my Department’s Design and Build Programme which is being delivered under the National Development Plan.

My Department submitted an application for planning permission to the Local Authority on 26th September 2019. A Request for Further Information was received on 20th November 2019. My Department's Project Management team are actively working on this request.

Once all issues have been addressed the RFI response will be issued to the Local Authority and a decision will be awaited.

School Accommodation Provision

Ceisteanna (104)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

104. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which he has had discussions with the authorities at a school (details supplied) recently with a view to meeting the accommodation requirements at the school by way of temporary arrangements in circumstances in which they are appropriate in order to ensure the minimum disturbance of existing and future students and mitigate the over-reliance of referral to other schools; if the existing site has been deemed adequate to meet temporary accommodation requirements or an ASD unit; if the needs of students will be fully met in 2020; the extent to which he has issued approval for temporary accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52448/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

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 Building Projects Status

Ceisteanna (105)

Robert Troy

Ceist:

105. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding the extension to a school (details supplied). [52484/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The project referred to by the Deputy has been devolved to the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) for delivery as part of a programme of school building projects.

The NDFA is currently preparing tender documents for the second phase of the process of appointment of multi-disciplinary technical advisors (design teams) for these projects. This process will involve a number of call-off competitions for bundles of projects from a framework.

Thereafter, the NDFA will ensure that the project progresses to design stage, obtains the necessary statutory planning permission, and moves the project onward to tender and construction in due course. As the project is at an early stage in the delivery process, it is not possible at this time to give a date for its completion.

Please be assured that the NDFA will be engaging directly with the school authority to keep it informed of progress.

Schools Data

Ceisteanna (106)

Thomas Pringle

Ceist:

106. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills the schools in existence for 20 years or longer that are still housed in prefab buildings with no permanent building structures, by county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52485/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department can confirm that no there are no schools in rented prefabs in excess of 20-years. My Department does not hold information in relation to purchased prefabricated buildings.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Ceisteanna (107)

Pat Deering

Ceist:

107. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost in each of the years 2021 to 2025 of maintaining the existing ratios of teachers to students at post-primary level; if this is provided for in the figures set out within the summer economic statement and budget 2020 financial projections; the number of new teachers that would need to be hired to maintain the ratio; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52491/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Forecasting the cost implications of demographics is complex with multiple factors impinging on cost projections. In particular, while the school enrolments in any given year can be forecast with relative certainty in the short term, forecasting the implications for teacher numbers required at individual school level to maintain existing ratios of teachers to students is more challenging as any model must have regard to the operation of the teacher allocation process and staffing schedules.

Specific provision is made by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for certain categories of service provision affected by changes in enrolments, namely mainstream teacher provision in the primary and post-primary sectors, capitation costs (i.e. school funding) in primary and post-primary schools and higher education places. Allocations for these categories are usually included within the pre-budgetary Ministerial expenditure ceiling, as set out in the Mid-Year Expenditure Report, though demographics can sometimes form part of the main Estimates discussion.

The Department’s pre-budgetary Ministerial Expenditure Ceiling for 2021 includes provision for €47 million in demographic costs, across the full school sector and higher education. Of this, €19m is being provided for additional mainstream teachers in post primary schools (403 extra teachers in 2020/21 and 464 in 2021/22).

The detailed expenditure implications of demographics in the post-primary sector for the full period up to 2025 are not yet available. The Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform are undertaking a joint programme of work on the demographic and non-demographic drivers of teacher allocations to build a shared understanding of the processes and the implications for future forecasts. This will also be informed by ongoing work by the Department on developing a model for teacher demand and supply.

School Transport Eligibility

Ceisteanna (108)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

108. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a review will be concluded to determine entitlement to access free school transport in the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52543/19]

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.

Under the terms of my Department's 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/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

Bus Éireann has advised that the child in question is not attending her nearest post primary centre and is therefore not eligible for school transport.

Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport on a concessionary basis only. Concessionary transport is subject to a number of terms and conditions including the availability of spare seats on an existing service and payment of the annual charge.

The family should liaise with their local Bus Éireann office if they wish to avail of transport on a concessionary basis.