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Tuesday, 21 Jun 2022

Written Answers Nos. 532-545

Foreign Policy

Ceisteanna (532)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

532. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Defence if Ireland was represented at the NATO International Military Staff and the European Military Staff, or IMS-EUMS Directors' General Conference held on 20 June; if so, by whom; the capacity in which they represented Ireland; if Ireland has participated in previous IMS-EUMS Directors' General Conferences; if so, details of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32027/22]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The IMS-EUMS Directors' General Conference referred to by the Deputy was held on 10 June 2022.

Meetings between NATO International Military Staff and the European Military Staff are attended only by the staff of the respective institutions. Members States do not participate directly. The Military Staff is part of the General Secretariat of the Council. It is composed of personnel seconded from the Member States acting in an international capacity.

Defence Forces

Ceisteanna (533)

Paul Kehoe

Ceist:

533. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Defence when Óglaigh Náisiúnta na hÉireann, ONE, will have full access to the new drop-in centre in Wexford military barracks; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32151/22]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

As the Deputy will be aware my Department and the Defence Forces worked closely with O.N.E to bring to fruition the completion of the veterans drop in centre in Wexford Barracks. The Defence Forces wish to facilitate access requests from O.N.E to ensure their inclusion in the Defence Forces community. Arrangements regarding access are a matter for the local military management to determine and in order to facilitate a more streamlined process, a point of contact will be established amongst the RDF cadre staff stationed in Wexford barracks who will facilitate local liaison with members of O.N.E in the coming days.

Departmental Staff

Ceisteanna (534)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

534. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Defence the number of full-time qualified civilian fitness instructors employed by his Department but who work in military barracks, in each of the years 2020, 2021 and to date in 2022, in tabular form.; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32213/22]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

Civilian staff are employed at various military installations to support the work of the Defence Forces. The grades employed are spread across a wide spectrum of roles and include craft workers, services, administrative, healthcare professionals and other specialist grades. My Department did not employ any qualified civilian fitness instructors during the period 2020 to date.

Departmental Equipment

Ceisteanna (535)

Alan Kelly

Ceist:

535. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Defence the number of horses that joined the Defence Forces equitation school in 2021 and to date in 2022; the number of horses that left the equitation school during the same period; if additional funding has been secured for the purchase of additional horses for the equitation school for later in 2022.; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32214/22]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Defence)

The mission of the Army Equitation School is to promote the Irish Horse through participation in international competition at the highest level. The Army Equitation School has discharged this task with considerable distinction down through the years and, through its participation and numerous successes in equitation events at home and abroad, it has successfully promoted the qualities of the Irish Horse.

The Army Equitation School continues to source suitable Irish bred horses that meet the required standard as judged by the School's Horse Purchase Board. Horses are acquired through either purchase or lease agreement.

In 2021 five new horses were purchased and one new lease for a horse was completed by the School. The School have purchased one horse to date in 2022.

During the period from January 2021 to date, a total of five horses left the Equitation School.

The School’s budget allocation in 2022 for horse acquisitions is set at €350,000. I am satisfied that the current arrangements allow the School to maintain its competitiveness at national and international events.

School Funding

Ceisteanna (536)

Patrick O'Donovan

Ceist:

536. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Education if she will reconsider an appeal in the case of a school (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31818/22]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous 30 September.

For the 2022/23 school year, the staffing schedule for primary schools has been improved by one point and schools will be provided with class teachers on the basis of 1 teacher for every 24 pupils which is a historical low ratio, with lower thresholds applying to DEIS Urban Band 1 schools.

The staffing process contains an appeals mechanism for schools to submit a staffing appeal under certain criteria to an independent Primary Staffing Appeals Board. Details of the appeal process are available in Circular 25/2022.

The school referred to by the Deputy has been informed that its staffing appeal has been successful, pending confirmation of the school's enrolment on 30th September.

School Accommodation

Ceisteanna (537)

Richard Bruton

Ceist:

537. Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Education the location of a new primary school (details supplied) that is temporarily accommodated in prefabs in Sutton; and if the school will occupy classrooms at the new location from September rather than prefabs. [31820/22]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The school to which the Deputy refers will be relocating to accommodation at Killester College of Further Education for September 2022.

Special Educational Needs

Ceisteanna (538)

Marc MacSharry

Ceist:

538. Deputy Marc MacSharry asked the Minister for Education , further to Parliamentary Question No. 523 of 10 May, if consideration will be given to the provision of a non means-tested subsidy for summer camps for children with additional needs and their siblings through the National Council for Special Education; if she will liaise with the Minister responsible for Employment Affairs on relaxing the means-test for the carer's allowance for the summer months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31828/22]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I wish to inform the Deputy the provision of relaxation of means-tests is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Social Protection.

Further to details are provided in Parliamentary Question No. 523, and details of the Summer Programme run by my Department are available on www.gov.ie/summerprogramme.

School Facilities

Ceisteanna (539)

Steven Matthews

Ceist:

539. Deputy Steven Matthews asked the Minister for Education the position regarding the new school building for a school (details supplied); the timeline for the completion of this project; if she will meet directly with the management of the school to discuss the progress that has been made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31832/22]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The permanent accommodation for the school referred to by the Deputy is being delivered under my Department’s Design and Build Programme which uses a professional external Project Management team to progress the project through the stages of architectural planning, tendering and construction.

It is intended that the project for the school referred to by the Deputy will be included in the next bundle of projects to proceed to tender later this year. It is anticipated that the project will commence on site in early 2023 and will take approximately 70 weeks to complete once construction starts.

My Department will continue to keep the Patron Body and Board of Management updated on the project as progress is made.

Scoileanna DEIS

Question No. 541 answered with Question No. 540.

Ceisteanna (540, 541)

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Ceist:

540. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Education the number of DEIS primary schools that are due to lose teaching staff for the 2022-2023 academic year. [31881/22]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Ceist:

541. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Education the number of DEIS primary schools that will lose teaching staff for the 2022-2023 academic year due to being one pupil short of the relevant threshold. [31882/22]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 540 and 541 together.

The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous 30 September.

For the 2022/23 school year, the staffing schedule for primary schools has been improved by one point and schools will be provided with class teachers on the basis of 1 teacher for every 24 pupils which is a historical low ratio, with lower thresholds applying to DEIS Urban Band 1 schools.

The staffing arrangements also include a provision whereby schools experiencing rapid increases in enrolment can apply for additional permanent mainstream posts, using projected enrolment. These posts are approved provisionally pending confirmation of enrolment on 30th September.

The staffing process also contains an appeals mechanism for schools to submit a staffing appeal under certain criteria to an independent Primary Staffing Appeals Board. Details of the appeal process are available in Circular 25/2022.

The final staffing position will be confirmed in October once the staffing appeals and projected enrolment processes have been completed.

Question No. 541 answered with Question No. 540.

School Staff

Ceisteanna (542)

Aodhán Ó Ríordáin

Ceist:

542. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Education the total number of appeals lodged by primary schools that are due to lose teaching staff for the 2022-2023 academic year; and the number of successful appeals. [31883/22]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous 30 September.

For the 2022/23 school year, the staffing schedule for primary schools has been improved by one point and schools will be provided with class teachers on the basis of 1 teacher for every 24 pupils which is a historical low ratio, with lower thresholds applying to DEIS Urban Band 1 schools.

The staffing process contains an appeals mechanism for schools to submit a staffing appeal under certain criteria to an independent Primary Staffing Appeals Board. Details of the appeal process are available in Circular 25/2022. The final staffing position will be confirmed in October once the staffing appeals process has been completed.

Special Educational Needs

Ceisteanna (543)

Réada Cronin

Ceist:

543. Deputy Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Education the number of special educational needs organisers in each county; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31906/22]

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 recruitment and management of Special Education Needs Organisers. Accordingly, the question has been referred to the NCSE for direct reply.

Special Educational Needs

Ceisteanna (544)

Réada Cronin

Ceist:

544. Deputy Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Education the number of special educational needs organisers in the north Kildare constituency; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31907/22]

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 recruitment and management of Special Education Needs Organisers. Accordingly, the question has been referred to the NCSE for direct reply.

Special Educational Needs

Ceisteanna (545, 546)

Réada Cronin

Ceist:

545. Deputy Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Education the number of children listed as requiring special education needs; the number of children who require special education needs places in schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31908/22]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Réada Cronin

Ceist:

546. Deputy Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Education the number of children in the north Kildare constituency who require a special needs education school place; the number who have one; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [31909/22]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 545 and 546 together.

Enabling children with special educational needs to receive an education is a priority for this Government. This year, my Department will spend in excess of €2 Billion, or over 25% of the Department’s budget on providing a wide range of schemes and supports for children with special educational needs. This includes additional teaching and care supports. As a result, the number of special education teachers, special needs assistants and special class and school places are at unprecedented levels.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has responsibility for co-ordinating and advising on the education provision for children nationwide.

Over the last two years, my Department and the NCSE have worked closely on a more streamlined and joined up planning process which has ensured a targeted approach to meet demand for special needs placements ahead of each new school-year.

I am satisfied that this more joined up approach is delivering. Through this intensive intervention, we have seen over 300 special classes, providing over 1,800 new places, opened nationwide for the 2021/22 school-year.

I also acknowledge that notwithstanding the extent of this investment, there are some parts of the country where increases in population and other issues have led to concerns regarding a shortage of school places.

In terms of Kildare, I can confirm that the NCSE is aware of an identified need for additional special classes for students with autism in primary and post-primary schools. Work has been underway with stakeholders for a number of years in this area to meet the demand for places.

NCSE 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 class placements.

NCSE is continuing to engage with schools regarding the establishment of additional special classes for 2022/23 and beyond. There are specific plans in place to open additional special classes and every support will be made available to progress their opening in the shortest possible timeframe with a particular focus on September next.

It is of course open to any school to engage with the NCSE to establish a special class.

My Department is committed, in conjunction with the NCSE, to continue to work with parents, schools, patrons and all stakeholders to ensure that there are sufficient appropriate places for students with additional needs and to support all students to achieve their potential.

I want to reassure you also that my Department will continue to support the NCSE and schools through the provision of the necessary funding and capital investment to ensure all children are successful in accessing an education.

A full list of special classes and special schools is available on the NCSE website:

ncse.ie/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/NCSE-Special-School-Allocations-21-22-website-03-12-2021.pdf and

ncse.ie/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Final-2021_2022-Sp-Class-list-25_03_22.pdf.

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