Summer Works Scheme

Ceisteanna (490)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Ceist:

490. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education the status of an application by a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27178/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm that the school in question submitted an application for capital funding under my Department's multi-annual Summer Works Scheme (SWS) 2020 onwards for Windows (Category 7).

In late 2019, I announced details of the schools that will receive funding in Summer 2020 in respect of applications submitted for "Life Safety Systems projects" (Category 1).

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/categories will be considered under future rounds of the Summer Works Scheme.

Summer Works Scheme

Ceisteanna (491)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Ceist:

491. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education the status of an application by a school (details supplied); when a decision is likely to be made on same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27179/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm that my Department received an application for capital funding, under the Additional School Accommodation scheme, from the school authority referred to by the Deputy.

On completion of the assessment process, the school authority will be contacted directly with a decision.

Summer Works Scheme

Ceisteanna (492)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Ceist:

492. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education the status of an application by a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27180/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The school in question has requested a review of the refusal of emergency works funding for roof repairs. This review resulted in approval in principle being granted subject to certain conditions. A final approval letter will issue to the school once these conditions have been met.

Summer Works Scheme

Ceisteanna (493)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Ceist:

493. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education the status of an application by a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27181/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm that my Department received an application for capital funding, under the Additional School Accommodation scheme, from the school authority referred to by the Deputy.

On completion of the assessment process, the school authority will be contacted directly with a decision.

Summer Works Scheme

Ceisteanna (494)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Ceist:

494. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education the status of an application by a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27182/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm that my Department received an application for capital funding, under the Additional School Accommodation scheme, from the school authority referred to by the Deputy.

On completion of the assessment process, the school authority will be contacted directly with a decision.

Summer Works Scheme

Ceisteanna (495)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Ceist:

495. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education the status of an application by a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27183/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The major building project for the school to which the Deputy refers is included in the Department’s Construction Programme which is being delivered under the National Development Plan.

The project is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning, Stage 2(b) - Detailed Design, which includes the application for statutory approvals and the preparation of tender documents. All statutory approvals have been secured.

 The Stage 2(b) submission for this project was received by the Department in July 2020. 

Upon completion of the review of the Stage 2(b) submission, the Department will be in contact with the school regarding the further progression of this project, including the pre-qualification (shortlisting) of Contractors.

Summer Works Scheme

Ceisteanna (496)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Ceist:

496. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education the status of an application by a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27184/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The school to which the Deputy refers was granted funding under the Additional Accommodation Scheme 2020 to provide two mainstream classroom with en-suite toilets and one classroom SEN base.

This project has been devolved for delivery to the school authority and is currently at the Design stage. It is now a matter for the Board of Management to advance this project in that context.

Summer Works Scheme

Ceisteanna (497)

Pádraig O'Sullivan

Ceist:

497. Deputy Pádraig O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education when an application by a person (details supplied) for special school transport will be reviewed; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27185/20]

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 2019/2020 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 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 child referred to by the Deputy is eligible for school transport under the terms of the above scheme and I am pleased to advise that following the offer of the Special Transport Grant to the pupil's parent, School Transport have sanctioned a new wheelchair accessible service to cater for this pupil's transport to school on 28th September 2020. A bus escort for this service has also been sanctioned with the Principal of the school on 28th September 2020.

The pupil's parent has been notified on these sanctions and will be contacted by the local Bus Éireann office with details of the service in due course.

Schools Building Projects

Ceisteanna (498)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

498. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Education the number of tenders for school builds issued; the status of each tender; and the date the tender was issued in each of the years 2016 to 2019 and to date in 2020, by county in tabular form. [27194/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The information requested by the Deputy is not readily available in the format requested. However, the information is being collated by officials in my Department and will be made available to the Deputy in due course.

School Transport

Ceisteanna (499)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

499. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education the take-up of the recently announced post-primary school transport grant for eligible students by county in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27195/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education.  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 who reside remote from their nearest school.

Under the terms of the Department's Post Primary School Transport Scheme children are eligible for school transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kilometres from and are attending their nearest school as determined by my Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.  

Updated health advice was received from NPHET on the 18th August, which impacts on the operation of post-primary school transport services.  This advice stated that for secondary school students on school transport, strict distancing should be ensured in line with that on public transport along with the wearing of face coverings and that primary school students should distance where possible. 

Following this advice, the Government also decided that the post-primary scheme (including SEN post-primary services) would commence operation when schools re-open with additional measures in place, such as pre-assigned seating and additional hygiene and cleaning measures on services and with the rolling implementation of measures to provide physical distancing, in line with those required on public transport, which is using 50 per cent of passenger capacity, on the post- primary services as required.

The Department is engaging with Bus Éireann in respect of these plans, in order to implement measures so that any post-primary services that could operate from the start of the school year at 50% capacity are doing so and over the coming period all other post-primary transport services will be re-organised and additional services will be provided as required to allow for physical distancing.

For those children who are eligible for transport under the terms of the post-primary school transport scheme and whose parents decide not to use post-primary transport for the 2020/2021 school year, in light of the impact of most recent health advice by NPHET on the 18th of August , the Department will provide a grant to support them with the cost of private transport arrangements. Parents were asked to inform the Department by Friday the 4th of September if they wished to avail of this option.  Officials in School Transport Section are currently liaising with Bus Éireann and with the families who have contacted the Department to enquire about refunds and grants in order to clarify certain queries raised by families and to inform and advise parents of the next steps in the process.  Pending clarification on certain queries which may impact the final number of families that may be eligible for a grant, latest figures show that refunds have been requested on tickets for 625 children of which 421 children are eligible for a grant.  

In addition, parents of post-primary children who are eligible for transport under the terms of the Department’s Special Needs Transport Scheme were given the option to avail of a grant if they decided not to use transport for the 2020/21 school year. Parents were asked to inform the Department by Friday the 18th of September if they wished to avail of this option. Officials in School Transport Section are currently reviewing the emails received from families and details on the number of children who wish to avail of a grant will be available shortly.

In light of this, full and final information by county is not yet available.

School Accommodation

Ceisteanna (500)

James O'Connor

Ceist:

500. Deputy James O'Connor asked the Minister for Education the status of the ongoing development of a campus for a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27196/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Deputy will be aware that planning permission has been secured for the project and the Departments Project Management team are currently working on the preparation of the tender documents for the tender and appointment of a Contractor.  

In addition, many of the planning conditions attached to the planning permission require the specification and construction of a significant road network to make the school sites accessible. This road will be delivered by a third party developer. My Department has liaised with the Local Authority and is currently engaged with the third party developer in preparation of a coordinated set of specifications and construction programme which, in accordance with the planning conditions, will be required to be agreed with the Local Authority prior to commencement of construction on-site for either the roads or the schools.   

In parallel with this process, my Department is currently at the second stage of putting in place  the required Framework of Design and Build Contractors to which Design and Build projects can be tendered. Once that framework is established, it is intended that the project for the Carrigtwohill campus will be tendered directly to that framework as early as possible in quarter one of 2021.

The school authorities will be kept informed as these parallel processes are progressed.

School Transport

Ceisteanna (501)

Brendan Griffin

Ceist:

501. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education if late post-primary school transport applicants that eventually secure seats will be refunded part of their annual bus ticket fee in view of the delay in allocating seats; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27198/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education. 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 who reside remote from their nearest school. All children who are eligible for school transport and who completed the application and payment process on time have been accommodated on school transport services for the 2020/2021 school year.

The annual charge for school transport services is €100 per annum for primary children and €350 for post primary children with a maximum family charge of €220 for primary children only or €650 overall.  The service is heavily subsidised, with less than 8% of the cost of the scheme being recouped from fare-paying pupils in 2019.

In view of the exceptional circumstances this year my Department will liaise with Bus Éireann on a case by case basis in regard to requests for refunds on late payments, taking into account the timing of the allocation of tickets on services where capacity may exist following the implementation of measures to achieve social distancing on post-primary services.

Education Policy

Ceisteanna (502, 503)

Neasa Hourigan

Ceist:

502. Deputy Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for Education her plans to clarify the practice of reduced timetables taking into consideration time limits, recording, reporting, alternative educational provision during exclusions and greater consultation between the school, parent and appeals process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27199/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Neasa Hourigan

Ceist:

503. Deputy Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for Education her plans to conduct an audit of the application of limited or reduced timetables for Traveller children; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27200/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 502 and 503 together.

I wish to advise the Deputy that draft guidelines have been developed to provide clarity to schools around reduced timetables and to set out the procedures to be followed by schools where such an option is being considered and used. The guidelines provide for TUSLA Education Support Service to be notified if a reduced timetable is implemented.

The aim is to ensure that the use of reduced timetables is limited solely to those circumstances where it is absolutely necessary. The draft guidelines are underpinned by the principles that a reduced timetable should not be used as a sanction; that it should be applied proportionately and should last only as long as is necessary to facilitate a return to school on a full-time basis.

The guidelines have been subject to consultation with education stakeholders and are being finalised with a view to issuing them to schools; the priority focus in recent months has been on schools reopening and providing supports for children within schools.

Once the guidelines have issued, it is intended that data gathered will inform future policy and that the situation will be kept under review. The guidelines include provision for the use of ethnic identifier, subject to consent.

Education Data

Ceisteanna (504)

Neasa Hourigan

Ceist:

504. Deputy Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for Education her plans to publish disaggregated data on the basis of gender, disability, socio-economic background and ethnicity in secondary schools to monitor participation and outcomes of Traveller and Roma students; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27201/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The P-POD database provides information on enrolment at post-primary school level. Other purposes of P-POD include the basis for the allocation of teachers and capitation grants.

My Department received approval from the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) to introduce a question on ethnic and cultural background (based on the question in the national census), in data returns made by individual schools via the P-POD database.

The DPC approved the collection of this information on the annual statistical returns made by individual post primary schools on the basis of voluntary self-identification. The question is not compulsory, and parents/students are free to decline giving this information.

My Department engages with Traveller and Roma representative groups in the context of the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy Education sub-committee. As part of this work, my Department is currently reviewing the data available and will engage with Traveller and Roma representative bodies in relation to this.

Traveller Education

Ceisteanna (505)

Neasa Hourigan

Ceist:

505. Deputy Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for Education her plans to provide additional ring-fenced educational supports for Traveller pupils; her plans to provide funding to independent Traveller organisations to advocate for Traveller education needs and address educational inequalities; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27202/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

A key objective of Traveller education policy in recent years has been the phasing out of segregated Traveller provision and the inclusion of Traveller children and young people in mainstream education. Funding for segregated Traveller provision has been incorporated into overall school and other funding streams in order to provide supports for Traveller pupils in mainstream schools. Such supports include:

- Investment of some €125 million in my Department's DEIS Programme for educational inclusion providing for smaller class sizes and other supports including additional teaching posts, Home School Community Liaison Coordinators, DEIS grants, enhanced book grants, curriculum supports, priority access to Continuing Professional Development and the School Excellence Fund for DEIS. Traveller pupils are included for the purposes of determining the level of mainstream teaching staff in the relevant DEIS schools.

- A new model for allocating Special Education Teachers introduced for mainstream schools which provides a single allocation for special educational supports to teaching needs for schools, based on each school’s educational profile. The model establishes a school’s educational profile, which includes traveller children, enrolled in a school under the following strands:

- The number of students with complex special educational needs

- The social context of school which includes gender, primary school location and educational disadvantage. For primary schools, the social context survey asked schools to the number of pupils from a Traveller family as one component of the social context survey. For post primary schools, social context was based on the number of pupils who had exam fee exemptions, including Traveller pupils.

- Percentages of students performing below a certain threshold on standardised test results. This includes schools with pupils from the Traveller and Roma community who may be attaining lower standardised test scores. The allocation is based on the learning need evidenced by the test score result as opposed to by the cultural identifier in accordance with mainstream policy.

My Department currently spends approximately €1.9 billion or almost 20% of its total educational budget annually on making additional provision for children with special educational needs. This represents an increase of over 50% in total expenditure since 2011, at which point €1.247 billion per annum was provided. Enhanced pupil capitation is also paid for Traveller pupils.

My Department is committed to improving educational outcomes for Traveller and Roma learners at all levels, through the implementation of the education actions of NTRIS. Responding to specific actions in the NTRIS and the DEIS Plan, a Two Year Pilot Programme to target attendance, participation and retention/school completion has been established in four specific Traveller and Roma Communities. Partners in the project include Tusla Education Support Services (TESS), Department of Education and Skills, Department of Children, Disability, Equality and Integration and Traveller and Roma representatives. Each pilot area is being provided with an additional Educational Welfare Officer (EWO) and Home School Liaison Coordinator (HSCL) and two additional Traveller/Roma Education Workers. It is intended that the pilot will inform future policy in the area of Traveller and Roma education.

School Enrolments

Ceisteanna (506)

Neale Richmond

Ceist:

506. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Education the average class size in primary and post-primary schools; the way in which Ireland compares to other EU Member States; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27214/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

2019-20 is the most recent year we have published data for on the DES website. Class data, including average class size, for the academic year 2020-21 will be available in June 2021.

This figure is based on mainstream classes in mainstream schools and are collated from the relevant Class Size tables published on the DES website and can be found at the link below;

 https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Statistics/Data-on-Individual-Schools/primary/

In post-primary schools pupil enrolments vary by subject and so the concept of average class size does not apply. Furthermore enrolments of pupils per subject is available at a school level only so average class size per subject is not available.

With regard to how Ireland compares to other EU member states, please find attached most recent OECD data in relation to class size, 2017/2018. This table also includes individual EU member state (23 EU states are members of the OECD) data as well the OECD & EU 23 average class sizes. As per explanation above this data is for primary schools only.

OECD class size 2017

School Staff

Ceisteanna (507)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

507. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education the number of primary schools nationwide that have teaching principals; if a senior official from her Department will meet the boards of management of schools (details supplied) regarding the working principals position and the health and safety issues facing staff and students on a daily basis in both schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27227/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

There were 1737 schools with teaching principals in the 2019/20 school year.

The staffing arrangements, including the criteria for Administrative Principal and the number of Principal Release Days allocated to schools, are set out in Department circulars and apply to all schools equally.

Appendix B of Circular 18/2020 sets out the criteria for Administrative Principal to a primary school.  Schools, such as the ones referred to by the Deputy, required an enrolment of 176 on 30th September 2019 to meet this criteria.  As neither school achieved the required enrolment on that date, it is not possible to allocate an administrative principal to the schools in the current school year.

The financial package approved by Government to support schools recognises that COVID-19 poses significant challenges. The Government published the Roadmap for the Full Return to School, along with details of a financial package of over €375 million to support the implementation of the measures in the roadmap which included €10.2m in additional funding to support Principals and Deputy Principals who also undertake teaching duties in primary schools.  This funding provides each teaching principal with one release day per week which both schools can avail of.

School Funding

Ceisteanna (508)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

508. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education the status of a funding query raised in correspondence with her Department and directly by this Deputy regarding a school (details supplied); if a response has issued; if so, if a copy of same will be provided; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27230/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The school to which the Deputy refers was granted funding under the Additional Accommodation Scheme 2018 to provide one Mainstream classroom with en-suite toilets and one WC Assisted User toilet. A one classroom SEN Base was also approved under the Additional Accommodation 2020 scheme.

The Department received a request for additional funding to provide a new boiler to facilitate both extensions which has been granted and the school has been advised accordingly.

Special Educational Needs Staff

Ceisteanna (509)

John McGuinness

Ceist:

509. Deputy John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education if she will address the issues raised in correspondence by this Deputy and the principal of a school (details supplied) relating to the urgent need for an extra special needs assistant; if a senior departmental official will meet the school representatives; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27238/20]

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.  

In relation to CBS Secondary School, Kilkenny, the NCSE has stated that an original SNA Exceptional Review application was received and the SENO had arranged to visit the school to finalise the review on 17th September. The school made the decision to withdraw that application on 10th September so the school visit did not go proceed.

A new application for an exceptional review has since been received by the NCSE from CBS Secondary, Kilkenny, this application is currently assigned to a SENO and is under review.

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