State Examinations

Question No. 471 answered with Question No. 439.

Ceisteanna (470)

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

470. Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Education the safeguards being put in place to ensure the 2021 leaving certificate exams will take place in June 2021; and the adjustments to ensure fairness in examination for students that have had disrupted schooling. [26758/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

My Department is acutely aware of the disruption caused to students as a result of school closures resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and which led the decision not to run the state examinations this summer.

In the context of the return to schools of students for the 2020/21 academic year my Department published a range of documentation and support material as part of the Roadmap for the Full Return to School, which is available at www.gov.ie/backtoschool. On 21 August, I announced a series of changes that would be made to assessment arrangements for both Junior Cycle and Leaving Certificate examinations for 2021. This announcement was accompanied by a published document detailing these changes, Assessment Arrangements for Junior Cycle and Leaving Certificate Examinations 2021, and forms part of the Roadmap for the Full Return to School.

These arrangements are designed to take account of the disrupted learning experienced by students during the 2019/20 school year and to factor in for some further possible loss of learning time in the 2020/21 school year as a contingency measure. As the loss of learning through school closures will have affected students’ engagement with their course of study in different ways, the adjustments put in place will play to students’ strengths by leaving intact the familiar overall structure of the examinations, while incorporating additional choice. The adjustments were arrived at through discussions between my Department, the State Examinations Commission (SEC) and the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and key stakeholders.

These changes to the national assessment arrangements have been made with due regard for the principles of equity, fairness and integrity, as these principles apply to assessment and examinations and refer to student to-student, subject-to-subject, and year-to-year comparisons over time. The changes provide reassurance to students, their parents/guardians, teachers and schools.

The State Examinations Commission (SEC), which has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations, intends to operate the 2021 state examinations as normally as possible, with appropriate contingency built in, in line with prevailing public health advice. It is not intended that there would be any change to the length of the written examinations. For subjects where the SEC issues project briefs during the 2020/21 school year, the intention is to issue these at least four weeks earlier than normal. For subjects with course work completion dates typically late in the school year, schools will be asked to submit this coursework two weeks earlier than normal as a contingency measure. In this context teachers are being encouraged to plan and undertake these projects as early as possible in the programme of study.

Other documents published by my Department to support the return to school include Guidance for Practical Subjects in Post-Primary Schools and Centres for Education and Returning to school: Guidance on learning and school programmes for post primary school leaders and teachers. These documents provide guidance for teachers and schools that is specific to each practical subject area, so that students can be facilitated to actively engage with their learning. All documentation published is available on www.gov.ie/backtoschool.

The www.gov.ie/backtoschool site also contains information on well-being supports for Leaving Certificate students. This includes a series of supports on managing well-being, coping with uncertainty and managing stress and anxiety, developed by the National Educational Psychological Service, to support students. The webpage has links to more individualised support for students to access, should these be needed. My Department worked with the Department of Health and the HSE to ensure the most appropriate services and resources are clearly signposted for students.

Promoting the wellbeing of school communities has been a fundamental element of my Department’s overall plan to support a successful return to school as we continue to manage the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. We know that most students have been happy and relieved to get back to school, reconnect and prepare to re-engage with learning. My Department is providing for approximately 120 extra posts for guidance to support student wellbeing, recognising the particular importance for this support in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic challenges.

Question No. 471 answered with Question No. 439.

School Curriculum

Ceisteanna (472)

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

472. Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Education if the review of RSE in schools has been completed; and when the changes will be introduced in schools. [26760/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Programme for Government states that this Government will develop inclusive and age appropriate curricula for Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) and Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) across primary and post-primary schools.

The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) conducted a thorough and transparent review, and published its report, “Report on the Review of Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) in primary and post-primary Schools” in December 2019. This Report was developed on foot of extensive consultation which was conducted between June 2018 and March 2019.

The NCCA report makes a number of recommendations. This includes primarily the development of a single integrated curriculum for RSE and Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) in schools. Work on updating or developing new specifications for SPHE/RSE will commence in the NCCA in 2021, beginning with a focus on Junior Cycle. This work will include engagement with all the key education stakeholders as well as a further process of public consultation before any new curriculum specifications are finalised.

The NCCA has established two development groups, one for primary and one for post-primary, to oversee the work in this area and support the development of guidance material for schools. These groups were unable to commence their work over recent months due to the COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings. However, meetings of these groups will convene from October and this will allow them to review significant work that has been progressed.

The NCCA is currently developing interim guidance for SPHE and RSE across primary and post-primary levels. These support materials will be made available in the form of an online toolkit. They will provide guidance on how the current curriculum can be approached in a more holistic way. The materials involved will be brought to the development groups from October. It is anticipated that some guidance materials will be published before the end of 2020 and that they will be supplemented incrementally during 2021.

The NCCA has worked collaboratively with the teacher professional development support services and other relevant groups in completing an audit of current teaching and learning resources relevant to SPHE/RSE and compiled a comprehensive resource list which will be published as part of the online toolkit for SPHE/RSE. This will provide a single, online access point for up-to-date resources.

Further recommendations in the report in relation to Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) regarding SPHE and RSE are being considered by my Department with a view to putting enhanced supports in place.

Schools Refurbishment

Ceisteanna (473)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

473. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education the amount due to be spent on major refurbishment works being carried out at both Naas and Maynooth community colleges; and when works will be completed on both colleges. [26824/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Deputy will be aware that new building projects for the schools to which she refers have been devolved for delivery to Kildare and Wicklow Education and Training Board (KWETB)

It is expected that the Naas Community College building will be completed in August 2021 at a total cost of approximately €25 million including the provision of temporary accommodation.

I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the Maynooth Community College building has achieved partial handover today and elements of the building are available for use in that context. It is anticipated that the remaining elements of the main school building will be completed towards the end of the year. The project is expected to be fully completed in February 2021 once the PE facility shared with Maynooth Post-Primary School is available for occupation.

As Maynooth Community College is being delivered as part of a campus development with Maynooth Post Primary School, including the shared PE facility, it is not possible to separate out costs specific to Maynooth Community College. However, I can inform the Deputy that it is anticipated that the total cost of delivering this campus project including expenditure on previous contracts will be approximately €51 million.

Special Educational Needs Staff

Ceisteanna (474)

Jennifer Whitmore

Ceist:

474. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Minister for Education if the urgent need for an SNA in a school (details supplied) will be addressed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26840/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The NCSE has responsibility for planning and coordinating school supports for children with special educational needs including the allocation of SNAs and reviews. My Department does not have a role in making individual school determinations. Accordingly, the question has been referred to the NCSE for direct reply.

The Special Needs Assistant (SNA) scheme is designed to provide schools with additional adult support staff who can assist children with special educational needs who also have additional and significant care needs. Such support is provided in order to facilitate the attendance of those pupils at school and also to minimise disruption to class or teaching time for the pupils concerned, or for their peers, and with a view to developing their independent living skills.

SNAs are not allocated to individual children but to schools as a school based resource. The deployment of SNAs within schools is a matter for the individual Principal/Board of Management of the school. SNAs should be deployed by the school in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated.

It is a matter for schools to allocate support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilised.

Schools were notified of the arrangements for the allocation of SNA support in respect of students in mainstream classes for the current school year. The arrangements include the following provisions:

- 2019/20 mainstream class SNA allocations were frozen, from the date of issue of Circular 0030/2020, and have automatically rolled over into the current school year. This means that no school will receive an allocation less than that which they have on the date of issue of this Circular and existing SNAs currently in standard SNA posts were allowed to continue in these posts for the current school year in the normal way.

- A diagnosis of a disability, or a psychological or other professional report, is not be necessary for this process.

- The role of the SNA to support the care needs of students in mainstream classes, as set out in Circular 0030/2014, remains unchanged.

It is expected that schools will review and reprioritise the deployment of SNAs within mainstream settings and allocate resources to ensure those with the greatest level of need receive the greatest level of support. Providing access to SNA support continues to be based on primary care needs as outlined in DES Circular 0030/2014.

Schools may apply to the NCSE for additionality where they can demonstrate that the current allocation does not meet additional care needs within the mainstream classes in the school. Applications for additionality arising from significant new or emerging additional care needs, which cannot be catered within existing allocations, are dealt with by way of the exceptional review process.

The exceptional review process for mainstream allocations is available to schools throughout the current school year.

Detailed information on the NCSE exceptional review process is published on the NCSE website www.ncse.ie.

A school can appeal the outcome of an exceptional review and details of how to do this are here https://ncse.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/GuidanceSchoolAppealing-Exceptional-Review-outcome.docx

School Accommodation

Ceisteanna (475)

Steven Matthews

Ceist:

475. Deputy Steven Matthews asked the Minister for Education the status of a new building for a school (details supplied); and if her attention has been drawn to the fact the temporary accommodation currently in use is providing serious challenges for staff and students. [26873/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The post-primary school to which the Deputy refers opened in September 2020 in interim accommodation in the Greystones Tennis Club.

Senior Department officials met with Kildare Wicklow ETB (KWETB) and Greystones Community College on Wednesday, 23rd September to discuss the schools current arrangements and the immediate and future accommodation requirements for the school. 

My Department has agreed to look at all potential options in the area in the short and medium term ahead of the schools move to its designated permanent site in Charlesland, Greystones. This will include the provision of appropriate temporary accommodation, including specialist rooms, as quickly as possible as the current school year progresses.

My Department officials will continue to work closely with KWETB to ensure the needs of the school community continue to be met.

School Transport

Ceisteanna (476)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Ceist:

476. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education if the pupils of a school (details supplied) will receive additional bus transportation to address the lack of social distancing and the bus journeys to and from school of over two hours each way; if the extra buses needed will be found in the immediate future to protect the many very physically vulnerable children during the Covid-19 pandemic and after; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26878/20]

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 2019/20 school year over 120,000 children, including over 14,200 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 €219m in 2019. 

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 with special educational needs arising from a diagnosed disability.

Bus Éireann is responsible for the planning and timetabling of school transport routes. Bus Éireann endeavours, within available resources, to ensure that each eligible child has a reasonable level of school transport service.

I am pleased to advise that transport request referred to by the Deputy to split the existing service in order to offer an improved level of service to all pupils has been approved. I am further pleased to advise that this service commenced on the morning of the 24th of September and is operating at the 50% capacity as required to meet social distancing requirements.

School Staff

Ceisteanna (477)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

477. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Education further to Parliamentary Question No. 425 of 15 September 2020, if the school appealed a staff reduction as a result of a fall in pupil numbers in Spring 2020 under section D - English as an additional language, EAL; if this appeal was refused; if it is now open to the school to appeal the staff reduction under a different category as a result of difficulties experienced as a result of implementing the Covid-19 guidelines from her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26930/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Special Education Teaching allocation provides a single unified allocation for special educational support teaching needs to each school, based on each school’s educational profile and also encompasses the Language Support (EAL) allocation that schools were allocated in previous years.  

Further temporary Language Support is also provided, as necessary, to schools that have high concentrations of pupils that require language (EAL) support. At primary level, these allocations are made on the basis of appeals by schools to the Primary Staffing Appeals Board.  The additional teaching resources which are provided under this model cannot be used for mainstream class teaching, or to reduce the pupil teacher ratio in mainstream classes

The school referred to by the Deputy has 4 Special Education Teachers and 1 permanent EAL post.  The school submitted an application for additional temporary language support to the Primary Staffing Appeals Board which was refused on the basis that the projected EAL enrolment in the school on did not warrant the allocation of an additional post.

If the school has subsequently had an increase in the number of pupils who require EAL support, the school may submit a new appeal to the Primary Staffing Appeals Board.

My Department has published a suite of helpful guidance for the safe and sustainable reopening of schools. Each school is required to have a COVID-19 Response Plan for the safe operation through the prevention, early detection and control of COVID-19 in line with public health advice. This guidance is focused on the practical steps schools must take to minimise the risk of transmission of infection. If a school is experiencing difficulties in implementing these measures they should contact the Department's helpline for assistance.

Special Educational Needs

Ceisteanna (478)

Cathal Crowe

Ceist:

478. Deputy Cathal Crowe asked the Minister for Education if additional ASD supports will be rolled out in secondary schools in Shannon, County Clare in view of the fact that there are at least five sixth class pupils in the catchment area seeking such a place in a years’ time despite only one being available. [26942/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Ensuring that every child has a suitable school placement is a key objective of my Department.  Significant resources are allocated each year to ensure that appropriate supports are available for children with special educational needs. 

Children with special educational needs are supported through placement in mainstream classes, special classes and special schools. At school, they receive a range of supports provided by teachers and SNAs.  Other professional supports, including training for teachers, are provided by the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to enable each school provide a holistic educational experience for each child.  The HSE is responsible for the delivery of therapeutic supports.

NCSE has responsibility for coordinating and advising on the education provision for children nationwide; has well established structures in place for engaging with schools and parents; and seeks to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special education placements.  The NCSE is planning a further expansion of special class and school places nationally to meet identified need. This process is ongoing.

The NCSE through its network of SENOs continues to seek to establish special classes in schools in the Shannon and Ennis areas in response to local demand.  Planning takes into consideration the current availability of such places and focuses on locations where additional provision is required.

It is open to any school to make an application to the NCSE for the establishment of a specialised provision and where sanctioned, a range of supports, including capital funding, is made available to the school. School transport is also available. My Department works closely with the NCSE in this regard.

State Examinations

Ceisteanna (479)

Aindrias Moynihan

Ceist:

479. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Education the number of leaving certificate students in 2020 that were downgraded one or more grades in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 subjects, respectively in tabular form. [26943/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The decision to adopt a model of Calculated Grades by my Department was a direct result of COVID-19, which prevented the state from running the conventional Leaving Certificate Examinations. The purpose of this process is to allow as many students as possible to progress to employment, further education and training, or higher education in a way that is fair and equitable to all Leaving Certificate students.

Schools provided an estimated percentage mark and a rank order (the student's place in the class group) for each student’s subjects. We know from research that teachers are very good at making judgements about their students in the local context of the school.

The process of national standardisation was applied to the school information in order to ensure comparability between the standards applied by individual schools and the national standard. It is important to note that, unlike in other jurisdictions, the starting point for the standardisation process was the estimated percentage marks provided by the school.

The adjustments that occurred through standardisation resulted in the school estimates staying the same or being revised upwards or downwards. While the estimated marks have been subject to a process of adjustment to ensure fairness and comparability across schools, the national standardisation process operated on the premise that the school estimates should only be adjusted through the standardisation process where there was credible statistical evidence to justify changing them.

Following the standardisation process, the estimated percentage mark was converted to a calculated mark and subsequently, a calculated grade which was provided to students on 7 September. It is only at this point that students were awarded a grade therefore, it is not accurate to state that student(s) were downgraded, or upgraded, through the standardisation process. Rather the grade that was awarded following the standardisation process is the grade for the 2020 Leaving Certificate Calculated Grades.

The degree to which mark changes occurred related to the degree of over or underestimation in the school estimates for each subject and each level. This means that some students experienced mark changes from the school estimates but no changes to the grades based on the school estimates; while others will have experienced changes to the marks leading to a change in the grade that would have been awarded based on the school estimates in one or more of their subjects.

In terms of the grades awarded, 83% (almost 340,000) of all Leaving Certificate subject grades are either the same or higher than the school estimates while 17% (under 70,000) grades are lower. More detailed statistics are available on mydepartment’s website at: https://www.education.ie/en/Press-Events/Press-Releases/2020-press-releases/PR20-09-07.html

Of the students due to take examinations in the Leaving Certificate (including the Leaving Certificate Vocational) programme, the data requested on the number of students whose grades were different to those that would have been awarded based on the school estimates are set out in the following tables. It should be noted that some students had grades which were higher than the school estimates in some subjects and lower in others.

Number of grades which were lower than the school estimates by student

No of grades

No of students

Percent

0

19,596

34.0

1

18,584

32.3

2

11,663

20.2

3

5,288

9.2

4

1,885

3.3

5

488

0.8

6

83

0.1

7+

11

0.0

Total

57598

100.0

Number of grades which were higher than the school estimates by student

No. of grades

No. of Students

Percent

0

44572

77.4

1

10842

18.8

2

1843

3.2

3

297

0.5

4

38

0.1

5

6

0.0

Total

57598

100.0

School Accommodation

Question No. 481 answered with Question No. 436.

Ceisteanna (480)

Thomas Gould

Ceist:

480. Deputy Thomas Gould asked the Minister for Education the status of the new school building promised for a school (details supplied). [26948/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The major project for the construction of the new school building for the school referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of the tender process. My Department is currently awaiting a Tender Report from the school and its Design Team, which is due to be submitted before the end of this month.

Subject to no issues arising, it is envisaged that construction should commence late this year with a contract duration of approximately 32 months.

Question No. 481 answered with Question No. 436.

Schools Amalgamation

Ceisteanna (482)

Michael Lowry

Ceist:

482. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Education the status of the amalgamation of national schools in Cahir, County Tipperary; if discussions have been held with the patron and trustees of the schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26953/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

As the Deputy will be aware, the decision making authority for any amalgamation belongs to the Patron/Trustees of the school and this is subject to my Department's approval. My Department understands that matters associated with the amalgamation in question are being addressed by the Patron. I wish to advise the Deputy that the major building project for the new school is at an advanced stage of the tender process.

State Examinations

Ceisteanna (483)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

483. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education if she will now permit the estimated grades of students to be used where they have been unfairly downgraded by the algorithm which was unilaterally changed by the Department of Education after the students accepted the predicted grade system; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26992/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The decision to adopt a model of Calculated Grades by my Department was a direct result of COVID-19, which prevented the State from running the conventional Leaving Certificate Examinations.

The design of the Calculated Grades model was informed by advice from a Technical Working Group comprising experts drawn from the State Examinations Commission, the Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Skills, the Educational Research Centre and international external expertise.

Schools provided an estimated percentage mark and a rank order for each student’s subjects. The process of national standardisation was applied to the school information in order to ensure comparability between the standards applied by individual schools and the national standard. We know from research that teachers are very good at making judgements about their students in the local context of the school. Schools approached this task in a very professional manner, in line with detailed guidelines about the process, but inevitably some schools were overly harsh in their estimations while others were overly generous. This is to be expected given that there is no national standard on which to base an estimated mark. But to be fair to the class of 2020, the teacher judgements made at the level of the school had to be adjusted so that a common national standard was applied. It was inherent to the system of calculated grades that school estimates would be subject to adjustment through this standardisations process.

These adjustments resulted in the school estimates staying the same or being revised upwards or downwards. The standardisation process operated on the premise that the school estimates should only be adjusted through the standardisation process where there was credible statistical evidence to justify changing them.

This standardising process happens every year and would have happened in 2020 had the Leaving Certificate examinations been run as normal. The standardisation process applied across all subject and levels. The degree to which mark changes occurred related to the degree of over or underestimation in the school estimates for each subject and each level. This means that some students experienced changes from the school estimates but no changes to the grades based on the school estimates; while others will have experienced marks changes from the teacher estimates leading to grade changes in one or more of their subjects.

Following standardisation, the estimated percentage mark was converted to a calculated mark and subsequently, a calculated grade which was provided to students on 7 September. It is only at this point that students were awarded a grade.

Therefore, it is not accurate to state that student(s) were downgraded, or upgraded, through the standardisation process. Rather the grade that was awarded following the standardisation process is the grade for the 2020 Leaving Certificate (Calculated Grades).

The overall data on school estimated marks showed that there was a very significant rise in estimated grades against what would normally be achieved nationally. This level of grade increase based on the school estimates would have been unrealistic. For example, based on the school data there would have been 13.8% H1 grades this year when in a normal year there is 5.8%. Even with the standardisation process the rate of H1s this year is over 9%.

In terms of the grades awarded on 7th September 2020, 83% (almost 340,000) of all Leaving Certificate subject grades were either the same or higher than the school estimates while 17% (under 70,000) grades were lower.

In the absence of the Leaving Certificate examinations in 2020 every effort has been made to make the system as fair as possible for as many students a possible. The statistical model used was blind to demographic characteristics either at the level of the student or the school. The standardisation process means that the same standard has been applied uniformly across all schools. This means anyone using the certificate to make a judgement between two people who hold this certificate, either now or in the future, can place equal value on the same grade in the same subject, without regard to where they went to school, as they would in a normal year.

Individual Junior Cycle results were not used to determine any individual’s Calculated Grades. Rather, the Calculated Grades process took account of the overall Junior Cycle performance of the Leaving Certificate class of 2020 in each school and used this data to help in predicting the likely range of Leaving Certificate performance of that group using related information about the relationship between performance at Junior Cycle and Leaving Certificate based on national data over time.

The fact that the vast majority of 2020 Leaving Certificate students would have sat the Junior Cycle examinations provides a good means of predicting the pattern of performance of these students at an aggregate level. The process was not applied at an individual student level. The Junior Cycle data for 2020 Leaving Certificate students who had sat their examinations in another school were carried in to the school at which they were registered to sit the Leaving Certificate.

While some students will be disappointed at the results they have achieved, this is the case every year when the Leaving Certificate results are published. It may be more difficult for students to understand when they see the estimated mark from the school.

Ministerial Advisers

Ceisteanna (484)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

484. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education if a schedule of advisers and special advisers appointed and or recruited by her since her appointment will be provided; the roles and responsibilities attributed to each; and the salary for each appointee in tabular form. [27050/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The following tabular statement gives details of the Special Advisers I have appointed to assist me in carrying out my ministerial duties. In accordance with the Guidelines for Ministerial Appointments as published by the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform they are on the Standard Principal Officer payscale. Both provide assistance and advice on educational policy and related matters.

Name

Title

Appointment Date

Áine Doyle

Special Adviser

29 June 2020

Christopher Mannion

Special Adviser

29 July 2020

School Funding

Ceisteanna (485)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

485. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education if an application for an extension and per cent for art scheme will be further progressed for a school (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27152/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to inform the Deputy that my Department approved significant funding in 2017, under the Additional School Accommodation Scheme (ASA), to the school in question. This funding was to provide an extension comprising of a two classroom ASD Unit.

My Department considers that there is sufficient accommodation already available to meet the school's long-term projected enrolments.

The Per Cent for Art Scheme does not apply to projects funded under the ASA scheme.

Special Educational Needs

Ceisteanna (486, 487)

Johnny Mythen

Ceist:

486. Deputy Johnny Mythen asked the Minister for Education the number of autism spectrum disorder primary level classes and places in County Wexford; the listing of each school that has a special ASD class; the status of the class for the 2020/2021 school year, that is, if it is full or has vacancies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27153/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Johnny Mythen

Ceist:

487. Deputy Johnny Mythen asked the Minister for Education the number of autism spectrum disorder secondary level classes and places in County Wexford; the listing of each school that has a special ASD class; the status of the class for the 2020/2021 school year, that is, if it is full or has vacancies; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27154/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 486 and 487 together.

Ensuring that every child has a suitable school placement is a key objective of my Department.  Significant resources are allocated each year to ensure that appropriate supports are available for children with special educational needs. 

Children with special educational needs are supported through placement in mainstream classes, special classes and special schools. At school, they receive a range of supports provided by teachers and SNAs.  Other professional supports, including training for teachers, are provided by the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to enable each school provide a holistic educational experience for each child.  The HSE is responsible for the delivery of therapeutic supports.

NCSE has responsibility for coordinating and advising on the education provision for children nationwide; has well established structures in place for engaging with schools and parents; and seeks to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special education placements.  The NCSE is planning a further expansion of special class and school places nationally to meet identified need. This process is ongoing.

A list of special classes for the current school year, including special classes for children with autism, is available on the NCSE website - www.ncse.ie

It is open to any school to make an application to the NCSE for the establishment of a specialised provision and where sanctioned, a range of supports, including capital funding, is made available to the school. School transport is also available. My Department works closely with the NCSE in this regard.

The NCSE's local Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) are available to assist and advise both schools and the parents of children with special educational needs.  Parents may contact SENOs directly using the contact details available at: https://ncse.ie/regional-services-contact-list

School Staff

Ceisteanna (488, 489)

Jennifer Murnane O'Connor

Ceist:

488. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Education if a teacher is paid only for contracted teaching time; if not, if payment also includes additional tasks required of a teacher that is open to inspection by the Department that cannot be done in contracted time, such as long term plans, assessments and cuntas míosiúil; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27163/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jennifer Murnane O'Connor

Ceist:

489. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Education if teachers are paid by the hour for their contracted time; if they are paid a salary to remunerate them for all duties required of them by both their employer and her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27164/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 488 and 489 together.

From 1 October 2020, pre-2011 entrant teachers will be paid on a scale ranging from €35,790 to €65,588 per annum (plus qualification allowances where applicable). Post-2011 entrant teachers will be paid on a scale ranging from €37,692 to €70,795 per annum. This salary accounts for both teaching and non-teaching duties which are part of the professional role of every teacher.

It is widely accepted that the professional role of teachers consists of both teaching and non-teaching duties, both of which are encompassed by their salary. Non-teaching duties can include but are not limited to; school planning, correcting, liaising with parents, curriculum development, and subject preparation.

Additionally, a number of specific non-class contact duties are covered by the provisions of national collective agreements, such as scheduled parent-teacher meetings and the Croke Park hours. These are in line with the additional hours being carried out by all public servants under national agreements.

Under the Haddington Road Agreement, participation in the Supervision scheme/Supervision and Substitution scheme became mandatory for all teachers. The allowance which was previously paid in respect of those duties was incorporated fully into the teacher pay scale in 2017.