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Tuesday, 1 Jun 2021

Written Answers Nos. 413-437

School Accommodation

Ceisteanna (413)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

413. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education the status of the approved extension for a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29506/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm that the school referred to was approved under the Department’s Additional Accommodation Scheme 2016 for a 2-classroom SEN Base and 1 mainstream classroom.

A Flood Risk Assessment was carried out prior to the granting of Planning Permission which was Department approved and the school was refused planning following this assessment. Refusal for planning was made pre-November 2019 and ongoing consultation and meetings were held with the planning authority to attempt a resolution to this matter.

The Department has engaged the services of Cavan Monaghan ETB to assist in the delivery of this project and to find a design solution that meets Local Authority requirements and mitigates the flooding risk.  A Stage 1 preliminary design submission is currently required to be returned to the Department for assessment. 

Schools Refurbishment

Ceisteanna (414)

Paul Murphy

Ceist:

414. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the repairs needed to the roof of a school (details supplied); and when it will be fixed. [29510/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to inform the Deputy the Emergency Works Team have not received an applicaton for roof repairs from the school in question.

If the leak in the roof is preventing the school or part thereof from opening they may apply for funding to have the roof repaired under the Emergency Works Scheme which is available on the Esinet portal, otherwise they may user their Minor Works Grant to carry out the repairs. 

Schools Building Projects

Ceisteanna (415)

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill

Ceist:

415. Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill asked the Minister for Education further to Parliamentary Question No. 463 of 18 May 2021, if the site is located in the Booterstown-Blackrock school planning area as voted on during the patronage process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29530/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department is at an advanced stage of negotiations with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council regarding the acquisition of a site in their ownership. This site is well located to serve the Booterstown Blackrock School Planning Area.

The school patron has been informed of this development but due to statutory procedures, confidentiality and sensitivities it is not currently possible to advise them of the location of the site. The location will be confirmed to them as soon as it is possible to do so.

 My Department is very conscious of the difficulties the school authorities and the families have to contend with and, in this regard, the Department will continue to treat this acquisition as urgent.

Period Poverty

Question No. 417 answered with Question No. 387.

Question No. 418 answered with Question No. 387.

Ceisteanna (416)

Bríd Smith

Ceist:

416. Deputy Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the important work on the issue of period poverty carried out by the youth advisory panel with the Ombudsman for Children; if she will acknowledge the indignity experienced by young persons who cannot afford appropriate period products every month and the statement made by the UN Committee on Rights of the Child’s General comment No. 20 (2016) on implementation of the rights of the child during adolescence; if she will take steps to ensure that all public buildings including schools are equipped to provide free period products; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29577/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

 I am aware of the important work that is being carried out by the recently established Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) with the Ombudsman For Children on the issue of period poverty and also the statement made by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s General comment No 20 (2016) on the implementation of the rights of the child during adolescence.

A sub-committee on period poverty chaired by the Department of Health was established in 2019 by the National Strategy for Women and Girls (NSWG) Committee, led by the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.  My Department was represented on the sub-committee and contributed to the Discussion Paper on Period Poverty in Ireland, published earlier this year, arising from the work of the sub-committee.

The Programme for Government 2020 makes the following specific commitment under ‘Better Opportunities through Education and Research’ to provide a range of free, adequate, safe, and suitable period products in all educational publicly-funded settings (including schools, colleges and HEIs), to ensure that no students are disadvantaged in their education by period poverty

In February of this year, the Government took the decision to support the Private Members’ Bill, the Free Provision of Period Products Bill, 2021 (Bill 4) which seeks to make period products freely available to all those who need them. The Government has further agreed that the recommendations of the Period Poverty in Ireland Discussion Paper be taken into account in terms of further development of the Bill and that cross-government, interdepartmental, interagency and societal support for the Bill and related implementation measures should be sought, including from voluntary and private sector organisations that provide services funded by the State as well as from public service providers.

The Department of Health is currently establishing an Implementation Group, with representation requested from all Government Departments, to achieve cross sectoral input and to co-ordinate oversight of both the Bill and implementation measures as recommended in the Discussion Paper. My Department has nominated a representative to participate on the Implementation Group and will continue to support the work of the Group in addressing the indignity experienced by those who may need period products every month but cannot afford them. 

Question No. 417 answered with Question No. 387.
Question No. 418 answered with Question No. 387.

Departmental Budgets

Question No. 420 answered with Question No. 419.

Ceisteanna (419, 420)

Mark Ward

Ceist:

419. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Minister for Education the funds returned unspent to the Exchequer from her Department’s budget in each of the years 2017 to 2020, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29597/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mark Ward

Ceist:

420. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Minister for Education the funds returned unspent to the Exchequer from her Department and the NCSE assistive technology grant budget in each of the years 2017 to 2020, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29605/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 419 and 420 together.

Details of the surplus to be surrendered from Vote 26 (Department of Education and Skills for 2017-19 and Department of Education for 2020) in respect of the amounts provided by Dáil Éireann are set out in the annual Appropriation Accounts published following audit of the accounts by the Comptroller and Auditor General. The surplus to be surrendered to the Exchequer is the amount of funds voted for the Department’s services by Dáil Éireann remaining unspent at year end and also takes account of additional income amounts received during the year. It is considered proper financial management of public voted allocations to retain a certain minimum level of contingency for surplus to surrender each year.

For the information of the Deputy the surplus surrendered by the Department of Education and Skills in each of the years 2017 to 2019 is as follows:

2017: €24.54 Million which equates to 0.3% of the voted budget for that year.

2018: €114.464 Million which equates to 1.2% of the voted budget for that year. The main reason for this surplus surrender was due to EU receipts of €109 million being received late in December 2018 that were expected to be received in January 2019.

2019: €6.263 Million which equates to 0.06% of the voted budget for that year.

The surplus for surrender for 2020 will be finalised at the conclusion of the audit of the Appropriation Account for the Department of Education. However, the provisional figure for 2020 is €138 Million, which equates to 1.6% of the voted budget for the year. This surrender arose due to the reduced costs of certain services within the schools sector due to public health restrictions in place in 2020 and some surplus on the ring-fenced Covid financial supports for schools.

While the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of Special Education Needs Officers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from schools for assistive technology support, the relevant funding comes from the Department’s Vote. The amounts expended in relation to the provision of assistive technology support and the variation against the amount allocated for each of the years 2017 to 2020 (figures for that year being provisional) is set out in the attached table. Any amounts remaining unspent at year end form part of the surplus surrendered to the Exchequer.

The assistive technology scheme is demand led. The Covid pandemic impacted on the amount expended on the scheme in 2020 with the number of grants paid having reduced compared to previous years.

Table:

Total

Assistive Technology

Expenditure

Allocation

Variation €

Variation %

2017

2,444,727

 See Note 1

2018

2,382,785

2,956,583

-573,798

-19%

2019

2,577,180

3,493,593

-916,413

-26%

2020 (Prov.)

2,013,236

3,498,527

-1,485,291

-42%

Note 1: In 2017, the assistive technology for pupils with special education needs allocation for the primary sector was included within an overall allocation for special educations initiatives. These initiatives included funding associated with schools for children with autism, Middletown Centre for Autism, visiting teacher service for the hearing and visually impaired and travel expenses for resource teachers. Therefore, while the 2017 assistive technology expenditure outturn is available a specific annual allocation for this year is not.

Question No. 420 answered with Question No. 419.

Education Schemes

Ceisteanna (421)

Mark Ward

Ceist:

421. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Minister for Education the number of full-time visiting teachers for the visually impaired by region, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29606/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Visiting teachers for children who are deaf/hard of hearing or blind/visually impaired provide additional supports for such children, their families, and schools. Details of the services which are provided to schools and families by the visiting teacher service are available at ncse.ie/visiting-teachers.

The Visiting Teacher Service now forms part of the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) Support Service for schools.

Visiting Teachers are now recruited, managed, and deployed by the NCSE. Accordingly, I have referred this question, as to the number of full-time visiting teachers for the visually impaired, who are currently in place, by region, to the NCSE for their attention and direct reply to the Deputy.  

Education Schemes

Ceisteanna (422)

Mark Ward

Ceist:

422. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Minister for Education if an accurate costing will be provided for the expansion of the visiting teacher service by five full-time posts; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29607/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Visiting teachers for children who are deaf/hard of hearing or blind/visually impaired provide additional supports for such children, their families, and schools. Details of the services which are provided to schools and families by the visiting teacher service are available at ncse.ie/visiting-teachers.

The Visiting Teacher Service now forms part of the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) Support Service for schools.

Visiting teachers are qualified teachers with particular skills and knowledge of the development and education of children with varying degrees of hearing loss and/or visual impairment. They offer longitudinal support to children, their families and schools from the time of referral through to the end of post-primary education.

Each visiting teacher (VT) is responsible for a particular region and is allocated a caseload of students. The VT supports children/young people, parents, guardians, teachers and other professionals involved with the child. The frequency and nature of support takes into account a range of factors based on the individual’s needs. The work of the VT involves liaising with other professionals and agencies such as audiological scientists, ophthalmology services, speech and language therapists, low vision specialists, psychologists, early intervention teams, school staffs, and with parents.

The approximate cost of employing an additional five full time visiting teachers is €350,000 per annum for a full year However, the actual cost of each post will vary depending on the point of scale of the teacher employed or seconded to the post, and the extent of costs associated with travel and visits undertaken, within a region, in any given year.

Protected Disclosures

Ceisteanna (423)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

423. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education the number of protected disclosures made to her Department in each of the past five years and to date in 2021. [29631/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

In accordance with Section 22 of the Protected Disclosure Act 2014, my Department has published information on protected disclosures received during 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 on its website:  www.education.ie/en/Publications/Corporate-Reports/Annual-Report/.

In summary, there have been a total of 18 Protected Disclosures made between 2016 and to date in 2021. This figure relates to Protected Disclosures that were made to me under Section 8 of the Protected Disclosures Act from workers in the Education sector. 

The attached table gives a breakdown by year of the disclosures.

PQ 29631/21 Department of Education

To ask the Minister for Education the number of protected disclosures made to her Department in each of the past five years and to date in 2021.

Disclosures 2016 to date (includes anonymous disclosures)

Year

Number

2021 to date

3

2020

2

2019

1

2018

4

2017

7

2016

1

Total

18

School Staff

Ceisteanna (424)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

424. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education the number of posts of responsibility that would be needed in primary schools to restore posts at the level which pertained prior to the moratorium; the estimated number of posts which were lost through the moratorium; the number that have been restored to date; and the estimated cost of full restoration to the pre-moratorium level for the school year 2021-2022. [29657/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Budget 2017 allowed for the commencement of restoration of middle management posts as part of an agreed distributed leadership model and meant lifting the longstanding moratorium on these posts with effect from the 2017/18 school year. This recognises the key role school leadership has in promoting a school environment which is welcoming, inclusive and accountable.

In total 1700 additional leadership posts have been invested in our primary schools since 2017 which has led to 1 in 3 teachers now holding promoted positions.  The Department has committed to annually revising the allocation of Posts of Responsibility to take into account retirements during the school year which ensures that the current level of Posts of Responsibility are maintained in the school system. The most recent update was published earlier this month and is available on the Deparment's website (circular 0025/2021).

The estimated cost of lifting the moratorium on posts of responsibility and restoring them to pre-moratorium levels at primary level would be in the order of €19m per annum.  The most recent comparison of the number of AP posts is attached.

Number of APIs and APIIs in primary schools

-

Primary

2008/09

2019/20*

APIs

1,605

958

APIIs

8,575

6,382

*2019/20 figures include the following posts of responsibility which were restored.

APIs - 268

APIIs – 1432

School Funding

Ceisteanna (425)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

425. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education the estimated cost to restore the standard capitation rate for pupils in primary schools to €200 which was the rate in 2010 prior to cuts; and her views on whether this is a diminishing cost in view of the falling enrolments in primary schools. [29658/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I understand the need for improved capitation funding and I am pleased that budget 2020 has been able to provide for a further 2.5% increase in standard capitation funding for primary schools that appliedfrom the start of the 2020/21 school year. This builds on the 5% increase in capitation announced in budget 2019.

The combined increases given in 2019 and 2020 mean that circa 40% restoration will be achieved.

All schools have received the benefit of the capitation increases awarded to date. It is my intention to seek funding for further capitation increases in future budgets.

While these increases have provided for further restoration, annual funding would need to be increased by an additional €20m approximately to restore grants to pre-2011 levels. This would cost circa €10m at Primary level and €10m at Post-Primary level based on current enrolments.

While Primary enrolments have peaked in the 2018/19 school year those at second level are increasing. By 2024/25 these enrolments are expected to be in excess of 397,580 for the first time in the history of the State.

State Examinations

Ceisteanna (426)

Duncan Smith

Ceist:

426. Deputy Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Education the assistance available to a student with severe colour vision deficiency to assist with their junior certificate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29667/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations.

In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.

State Examinations

Ceisteanna (427)

Duncan Smith

Ceist:

427. Deputy Duncan Smith asked the Minister for Education the assistance available to a student with severe colour vision deficiency to assist with their junior certificate; if the severity of their colour deficiency is taken into account; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29668/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations.

In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.

School Staff

Ceisteanna (428)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

428. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education if she will ensure that urgent consideration is given to the request by a school (details supplied) in respect of a teaching allocation; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29711/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

A new model for allocating Special Education Teachers to mainstream schools was introduced from September 2017, based on the profiled needs of schools.

The allocations were updated for schools with effect from September 2019, with limited readjustments being applied for at that time.

The allocations have remained in place for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 school years, with some adjustments made over the course of the model for schools which achieved developing status, or successfully appealed on the grounds of exceptional circumstances arising in their schools. Allocations are also provided for new schools which open each year.

DES Circulars 007 and 008 2019, stated that the allocations being made for 2019 would initially remain in place for a minimum of two years, following which, revised profiled allocations would be considered for schools from September 2021.

The NCSE Policy advice ‘A Proposed new Model for Allocating Teaching Resources for Students with Special Educational Needs (2014)’ on which the SET allocation model is based, recommended that ‘the additional teaching supports be left in place initially for a two-year period. As the new model becomes embedded in the system, this may be extended to three years.’

In order to minimise disruption for schools, in the current circumstances, and to provide for continuity of allocations, the Minister for Education and the Minister for Special Education and Inclusion have agreed to maintain the existing Special Education Teacher Allocations for schools for the 2021/22 school year, with re profiled allocations now due to be made from September 2022.

Additional allocations will continue to be made for new schools, schools which achieve developing status, or for exceptional circumstances arising in schools, in the interim.

The criteria for qualification for mainstream school developing school posts are set out in the Primary and Post Primary School Staffing Schedule for the 2021/22 school year.

Schools who qualify for additional mainstream developing school posts in accordance with these criteria also qualify for additional Special Education Teaching Allocations to take account of this developing status.

There are now over 13,600 Special Education Teachers allocated to mainstream primary and post primary schools.

This represents an increase of 40% in the total number of special education teachers allocated to schools since 2011, at which time 9740 teachers were allocated.

Maintaining the existing allocations of Special Education Teachers for the 2021/22 school year means that schools will not have to engage in an extensive redeployment of posts, or re-clustering, this year.

It also means that schools will have greater levels of certainty as to the staff that they will have in place for September.

No school will see a cut, or reduction, to their special education teaching support next year.

Where schools have growing enrolments year on year, they will receive an increased allocation, pending the next re-profiling.

Even in circumstances where some schools were anticipating a greater level of increase year on year, if full re profiling had occurred next year, the increased allocations for developing status combined with the existing allocation of the school will show an increased overall teacher allocation for these schools in 2021/22.

The allocations for 2021/22 which are being maintained comprise the allocations which were made for schools from September 2019 plus any additionality achieved since plus any developing hours for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 school years.

It is also acknowledged that there are some circumstances, which may arise in schools, which fall outside the allocations for developing school status.

These relate to exceptional or emergency circumstances which could not have been anticipated e.g. where the school profile changes very significantly, or where other exceptional circumstances have arisen in a school and which may require a review of schools capacity to provide additional teaching support for all pupils who need it in the school, or of their utilisation of their allocations.

A process is available where schools can seek a review of their allocations by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), including the utilisation of their allocations, in circumstances where a school considers that very exceptional circumstances have arisen subsequent to the development of the profile.  

If a school wishes to make an exceptional needs review, they may do so at the following link: ncse.ie/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Primary-Schools-Review-Application-2020.doc.  

School Staff

Ceisteanna (429)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

429. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education if school caretakers employed by school boards in receipt of grant aid from her Department in recognised primary and post-primary schools who are pregnant are also encouraged to adhere to guidance (details supplied); and if not, if the necessary changes will be made to allow for same. [29724/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

Guidance issued to employers, including schools, by my Department on arrangements in the context of staff at risk from COVID-19 are all guided by public health advice. Circular 0021/2021deals with arrangements specifically in relation to teachers and SNAs in a classroom setting. Information Note TC 0013/2021 also sets out the working arrangements for the Very High Risk and pregnant teachers/SNAs for the remainder of the current school year. The Department is awaiting updated guidelines from the HSE in relation to pregnant teachers and SNAs. When these guidelines have been updated, the Department will advise employers. 

The arrangements for non teaching staff in the context of staff at risk from COVID-19 are set out in Circular 54/2020. As above, where there is any updated advice from public health in relation to school staff, the Department will advise employers.

School Admissions

Ceisteanna (430)

Seán Haughey

Ceist:

430. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Education if she has received a request from a school (details supplied) to increase the number of places in the school given the shortage of school places in its catchment area; the consideration being given to this request; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29758/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has no record of receiving an application for additional accommodation from the school in question. However, should an application be received it will be considered and the school authority informed of the outcome.

Schools Building Projects

Question No. 432 answered with Question No. 431.

Question No. 433 answered with Question No. 431.

Ceisteanna (431, 432, 433)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

431. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education if there are or have ever been plans for a primary school on or adjacent to the site known as Abeline Lodge, Newtownpark Avenue, Blackrock, County Dublin; and the details of any investigatory work, including exploratory documents, drawings or meetings undertaken by her Department in this regard. [29794/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

432. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education if it was the intention of her Department to award land on or adjacent to the site known as Abeline Lodge, Newtownpark Avenue, Blackrock, County Dublin to the winner of the 2018 primary school plebiscite; if that site was offered for this purpose; if that intention has since changed or such offer retracted; and the grounds upon which such decisions were made. [29795/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

433. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education if lands on or adjacent to the site known as Abeline Lodge, Newtownpark Avenue, Blackrock, County Dublin have been deemed unsuitable for the building of a primary school; and if so, if there are no current or future plans for a primary school to be built on the lands. [29796/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 431, 432 and 433 together.

As the Deputy is aware, in 2018 my Department announced plans to establish 42 new schools between 2019 and 2022. This announcement followed nationwide demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the current and future need for primary and post-primary school places across the country, including multiple school accommodation requirements in the general South Dublin City area.

In response to this, my Department purchased the site referred to by the Deputy to provide an option in terms of school provision. In this context, a number of potential uses were explored and it was ultimately decided that this site, which is located in the Dún Laoghaire School Planning Area, will best accommodate the new post primary school announced to serve the two school planning areas of Booterstown/Blackrock and Dún Laoghaire.

Design work is ongoing in relation to the proposed development of the post primary school on this site.

Question No. 432 answered with Question No. 431.
Question No. 433 answered with Question No. 431.

School Transport

Ceisteanna (434)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

434. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Education further to Parliamentary Question No. 994 of 21 April 2021, if the child (details supplied) is eligible for school transport. [29811/21]

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 current school year over 114,100 children, including over 14,700 children with special educational needs, are transported on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country at a cost of over €224.7m in 2020. 

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 tranport under the above scheme and was sanctioned to a bus service in April 2014. An additional pupil was sanctioned to the same service for the 2020/21 school year. A larger vehicle to accommodate both pupils and a Bus Escort was sanctioned by School Transport Section in November 2020. This larger vehicle commenced operation on 1st March 2021. The pupil's parent has been contacted and a grant payment has been processed for the period the larger bus service was not available to the parent.

School Accommodation

Ceisteanna (435)

Brendan Smith

Ceist:

435. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education further to Parliamentary Question No. 551 of 10 March 2021, if there has been further progress in advancing a much needed building project at a school (details supplied) in view of the concerns of the wider school community regarding delays in having this much needed additional and upgraded accommodation provided; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29829/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I can confirm to the Deputy, that the long-term accommodation needs of the school in question have been identified and agreed with the school management authority. The brief for building project is currently being developed and will be issued to the school authority for delivery as quickly as possible.

School Staff

Ceisteanna (436)

Gary Gannon

Ceist:

436. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Education the estimated costs of establishing and running the supply panels for primary and special schools in the school year 2020-2021; and her views on retaining this important staffing support in the 2021-2022 school year to ensure that pupils are taught by qualified teachers in the event of teacher absence in a school. [29846/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The Roadmap for the Full Return to School provided for comprehensive supports across a range of areas to allow for the safe reopening of schools, including additional funding of €41.2 million, to provide primary schools with substitute staff. This funding provides more certainty on the availability of substitutes for primary schools and cover substitutions that are not covered by existing schemes.

The Substitute Teacher Supply Panel has been expanded from a pilot scheme consisting of 6 base schools to 115 Substitute Teacher Supply Panels nationwide, with almost 330 newly appointed Supply Panel teachers employed, providing substitute cover to almost 2,300 schools across the country.

The proficiencies of the Substitute Teacher Supply Panels is being monitored throughout the school year and the schools involved in the supply panels have been informed that the panels will continue for the 2021/22 school year.

School Funding

Ceisteanna (437)

Gary Gannon

Ceist:

437. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Education if there is funding available to primary and post-primary schools to purchase sensory room equipment for children with additional needs, including autism and Down syndrome; and if not, her plans to provide adequate funding to schools in the future (details supplied). [29847/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

There is funding available to enable the start up of a sensory room within a school.

In order to be eligible for the grant, the school must prove they have an NCSE approved ASD class and that there is a suitable room to house the sensory room – i.e. photos of the room, drawings of school layout with room clearly marked - please note the sensory room must be a separate room from that of the ASD class.  This information can be emailed to furnitureequipment@education.gov.ie where the application for funding will be assessed.

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