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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 90-113
 Header Item Cúrsaí Gaeilge
 Header Item Education Grants
 Header Item Pupil-Teacher Ratio
 Header Item School Staff
 Header Item School Funding
 Header Item DEIS Expenditure
 Header Item School Staff
 Header Item Public Sector Pay
 Header Item School Staff
 Header Item Schools Building Projects
 Header Item Schools Refurbishment
 Header Item Legislative Programme
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item Schools Building Projects
 Header Item School Staff
 Header Item Schools Building Projects
 Header Item Departmental Properties
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 960 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 95 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 90-113

Cúrsaí Gaeilge

 90. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton freagra a thabhairt ar an gceist faoin gcostas an-mhór is gá d’ábhair múinteoirí a íoc chun freastal ar chúrsaí Gaeltachta (sonraí tugtha); agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [42582/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Glacadh an cinneadh chun deireadh a chur le deontais chun tréimhse a chaitheamh sa Ghaeltacht le linn na géarchéime eacnamaíochta nuair a bhí cinntí an-deacra le déanamh, ar an drochuair, chun cúrsaí airgeadais an náisiúin a chobhsú. Tugadh tosaíocht do chosaint acmhainní le haghaidh seirbhísí tosaigh oideachais oiread agus ab fhéidir, agus is ábhar dúshlánach é seo fós agus líon na bpáistí in aois scoile ag méadú de shíor. Níl an maoiniú a theastaíonn leis an tacaíocht seo a thabhairt ar ais arís ag mo Roinn.

Ba cheart a thabhairt ar aird, gur féidir le mic léinn a fhaigheann deontas mac léinn lena n-áirítear 100% de dheontas táillí, nó mic léinn a cháileodh le haghaidh deontas iomlán táillí murach na Scéimeanna Táillí Saor in Aisce, iarratas a chur isteach le haghaidh maoinithe i dtreo costas taistil agus cóiríochta faoin ngné turais allamuigh de dheontas táillí, faoi réir ghnáth-théarmaí agus ghnáthchoinníollacha na scéime deontais mac léinn.

Taobh amuigh de seo, i gcás imthosca a bhaineann le riachtanais faoi leith, féadfaidh mic léinn iarratas a chur isteach le haghaidh tacaíochta faoin gCiste um Chúnamh do Mhic Léinn. Is féidir teacht ar bhreis faisnéise maidir leis an gciste seo ón Oifigeach Rochtana san institiúid tríú leibhéal a bhfuiltear ag freastal uirthi.

Education Grants

 91. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the financial supports available to parents who wish to send their children to Gaeltacht areas (details supplied) over the summer months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42589/17]

 98. Deputy Gino Kenny Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on the hardship that the withdrawal of Government subsidies towards mandatory Gaeltacht courses for primary school student teachers has caused; if these subsidies will be reinstated in budget 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42483/17]

 102. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his plans to reinstate or introduce a grant aid payment to families who wish to send their children to Gaeltacht areas (details supplied) in 2018 and beyond; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42590/17]

 108. Deputy Josepha Madigan Information on Josepha Madigan Zoom on Josepha Madigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his plans to restore the subsidy granted to all B. Ed. and professional masters of education students, who are required by the teaching council to undergo two mandatory two-week Gaeltacht courses.  [42669/17]

 109. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if the grant for primary school student teachers for their courses in the Gaeltacht as part of their training will be restored; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42691/17]

 111. Deputy Seán Haughey Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will restore subsidies to student primary school teachers in respect of Gaeltacht courses undertaken by them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42697/17]

 130. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if budget 2018 will reinstate the subsidies for the two mandatory Gaeltacht courses (details supplied) which student primary school teachers attend.  [42873/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Questions Nos. 91, 98, 102, 108, 109, 111 and 130 together.

  The decision to stop the Gaeltacht placement grants was taken during the economic crisis when, unfortunately, very difficult decisions had to be made to stabilise the nation's finances. Priority was given to protecting resources for front-line education services as far as possible, which remains particularly challenging with rising numbers of school-going children. My Department does not have the funding available to restore this support.

  It should be noted that, to assist with the costs of the Gaeltacht placement, students who are in receipt of a student grant which includes a 100% fee grant, or who would have qualified for a full fee grant but for the Free Fees Schemes, can apply for funding toward travel and accommodation costs under the field trip element of a fee grant, subject to the normal terms and conditions of the student grant scheme.

Apart from this, in circumstances of particular need, students may apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund. Information in relation to this fund is available through the Access Officer in the third-level institution attended

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

 92. Deputy Gino Kenny Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on the fact that, on average, primary school classes here have four to five more pupils than those throughout the EU; if provision will be made in budget 2018 to resume work on reducing class sizes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42472/17]

 147. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on the fact that the average class size here is now the fifth-highest in the OECD and the highest in the eurozone.  [42907/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Questions Nos. 92 and 147 together.

  Budget 2016 provided for an improvement in the staffing schedule in primary schools by one point, from one teacher for every 28 pupils to one teacher for every 27 pupils for the 2016-17 school year, and it should be noted that the current staffing schedule of 27:1 for primary schools has restored it to the position it was at prior to the fiscal crisis.

  Budget 2017 set out the resources available for schools in the 2017-18 school year. This Budget represented the start of a major reinvestment in education, and the first phase of implementation of the Action Plan for Education, aimed at becoming the best education system in Europe within a decade.

  The 2017-18 school year brings a significant increase of over 5,000 in teacher numbers in our schools compared to the 2015-16 school year.

  The Action Plan for Education outlines hundreds of actions to be implemented over the three-year period 2016 to 2019, which include restoring capitation funding as resources permit.

  Our average class size at primary level is only slightly above the EU average in relation to the pupil-teacher ratio.

  The Programme for Government has a commitment to reduce class sizes at primary level, and it is my intention to make further improvements to class sizes over the life of the Government.

  However, I recognise that there are needs across the system which have to be balanced in the decisions made in each Budget.

School Staff

 93. Deputy Gino Kenny Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on the loss of 5,000 middle management posts in primary education; his plans to expedite the restoration of these posts by ensuring that provision is made in Budget 2018 to do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42473/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Budget 2017 provided for a new package of support for school leadership, including middle management posts for primary and post-primary schools.

My Department recently issued Circular 0063/2017, Leadership and Management in Primary Schools, which sets out a framework for posts in recognised primary schools.

The commencement of restoration of middle management posts as part of an agreed distributed leadership model means that the rigidity of the long-standing moratorium on these posts has been lifted, and schools can now fill middle management posts in line with Circular 0063/2017. This recognises the key role school leadership has in promoting a school environment which is welcoming, inclusive and accountable..

School Funding

 94. Deputy Gino Kenny Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on the fact that school grants were cut by 15% in the recession and that fundraising initiatives have to be taken on by schools to cover basic needs; if funding will be increased in Budget 2018 to address this; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42474/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I recognise the need to improve capitation funding for primary and post-primary schools having regard to the reductions that were necessary over recent years.

The Action Plan for Education aimed at making the Irish education and training service the best in Europe by 2026 outlines hundreds of actions to be implemented over the three-year period 2016 to 2019, which include restoring capitation funding as resources permit.

The process is under way for restoring grant funding that is used by schools to fund the salaries of ancillary staff. The ancillary grant was increased by €6 in 2016 and €5 in 2017 in order to enable primary schools implement the arbitration salary increase for grant-funded school secretaries and caretakers and also to implement the restoration of salary for cleaners arising from the unwinding of FEMPI legislation. A similar type approach in relation to improvements in grant funding was applied, as appropriate, at post-primary level.

Capitation funding remains a priority for me to address during the lifetime of the Action Plan as resources permit..

DEIS Expenditure

 95. Deputy Gino Kenny Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his plans to maintain the resourcing of DEIS schools, restore support services and attain a 15:1 maximum class size in DEIS band 1 junior classes by making suitable provision in Budget 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42475/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton DEIS, Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools, is the main policy initiative of my Department to address educational disadvantage, which was updated earlier this year with the publication of DEIS Plan 2017.

  I wish to point out that the resourcing of DEIS schools has and will continue to be maintained. In fact, for the first time in ten years I extended the DEIS programme of supports to 79 new schools as well as providing additional resources to 30 existing DEIS schools, following a new assessment of all schools earlier this year. Details of the full range of supports available to DEIS schools can be found on my Department's website at: https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/DEIS-Delivering-Equality-of-Opportunity-in-Schools-/DEIS-Supporting-Information/Supports-to-DEIS-Schools.html.

  As the Deputy may be aware, there is a specific action in DEIS Plan 2017 in relation to class size, and I have committed to an evaluation of the optimum level of teaching resources to help inform future policy in this area. This work will be taken forward as part of the implementation of DEIS Plan 2107, which is currently under way. In the meantime, Urban Band 1 DEIS primary schools continue to benefit from a reduced class size of 20:1 in junior classes and 24:1 in senior classes.

School Staff

 96. Deputy Gino Kenny Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his plans to restore the supply panels of primary school teachers by making suitable provision in Budget 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42476/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton A value-for-money review of the Supply Teacher Scheme was published in July 2006. The review found that only approx. 60% of supply teachers' time was used to cover sick leave absences. This reflects the unpredictable nature of sick leave absences.

While there are benefits for schools in having these teachers, it is considered more cost effective to use the normal substitution arrangements that apply to all other schools to cover sick leave absences, instead of having a cohort of full-time teachers ''on call'' all the time in these schools to cover sick leave absences that may or may not arise..

Public Sector Pay

 97. Deputy Gino Kenny Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on the impact that Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest, FEMPI, has had on the livelihood and morale of school teachers; his plans to restore pay equality as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42477/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton As a consequence of the financial crisis, there was a need to enact a number of measures to reduce public expenditure so as to stabilise the country’s public finances. A previous Government reduced the salaries and allowances payable to all new entrants to public service recruitment grades by 10% with effect from 1 January 2011. This decision also required that such new entrants would start on the first point of the applicable salary scale, which in the case of teachers had the effect of reducing their starting pay by a further 4-5%. Later in 2011, the Government placed a cap on the overall level of qualification allowances that could be earned by teachers.

Subsequently in 2012, following the public service-wide review of allowances, the Government withdrew qualification allowances for new teachers altogether. However, the Government partially compensated for this by deciding that new entrant teachers would henceforth commence on a new salary scale which had a starting point higher than the starting point of the old scale.

The public service agreements have allowed a programme of pay restoration for public servants to start. I have used this to negotiate substantial improvements in pay for new teachers. The agreements have, to date, restored an estimated 75% of the difference in pay for more recently recruited teachers and deliver full equality at later points in the sale. This is substantial progress and strikes an equitable balance with other claims for funding on my Department, particularly needs such as enhanced service for children with special educational needs, for disadvantaged schools, for growing schools, for Higher Education and apprenticeships.

As a result of these changes and taking into account the proposed pay measures under the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, the starting salary of a new teacher from 1 January 2018 will be €35,958 and from 1 October 2020 onwards will be €37,692. If full equalisation was achieved, the starting salary for a post-primary teacher from 1 October 2020 would be €43,879 and for a primary teacher would be €41,511.

Further to this, newly recruited teachers benefit from the terms of the Ward Circular, which reduced the qualifying period from a CID and the removal of the career break and secondment categories of objective grounds which had previously prevented some teachers from gaining CIDs. In addition to earlier permanency, other measures of benefit to newly recruited teachers included a revised sequence for the filling of posts to enable fixed-term and part-time teachers to gain permanent, full-time jobs more quickly and easier than before.

It must be borne in mind that the pay reduction for post-2011 entrants to the public service applied to all public servants and not just teachers, and that any restoration of these measures in respect of teachers would be expected to be applied elsewhere across the public service. While I am not in a position to provide an estimate of the total cost of restoring all post-1 January 2011 entrants in all of the public service to the pre-2011 pay scale arrangements, I can say that in the case of education and training sector employees, including teachers, the estimated current full-year cost (including new entrants recruited this September) would be in the order of €130 million. Clearly, the cost across the entire public service would be substantially higher.

However, there are other types of equality that we must also bear in mind, for example equality between public servant and people who work elsewhere or don’t work at all. It would not be equal or fair for us to do unaffordable deals with particular groups of public servants that mean we do not have the money left in the public purse to provide increases in social welfare payments for vulnerable groups, tax reductions for people at work, or investments in improvements in public services that people rely on.

Any further negotiation on new entrant pay is a cross sectoral issue, not just an issue for the education sector. The Government also supports the gradual, negotiated repeal of the FEMPI legislation, having due regard to the priority to improve public services and in recognition of the essential role played by public servants.

Accordingly, the recently concluded draft Public Service Agreement 2018-2020 includes a provision in relation to new entrants which states that an examination of the remaining salary scale issues in respect of post January 2011 recruits at entry grades covered by parties to the Agreement will be undertaken within 12 months of the commencement of the Agreement. .

Question No. 98 answered with Question No. 91.

School Staff

 99. Deputy Noel Rock Information on Noel Rock Zoom on Noel Rock asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will address the request for a fifth year teacher and adequate resourcing and supports by a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42555/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton As the Deputy will be aware, St. Thomas Special School is a school which caters for boys who are members of the Traveller community. This school is due to be phased out in line with agreed national education policy, developed and agreed with Traveller representative groups which provides for the education of Traveller children in the mainstream school system.

In the meantime, my Department is maintaining the same level of resources in the school as heretofore (Principal, four teaching posts and two Special Needs Assistants for the current enrolment of 26 pupils).

The school has made an application to my Department for an expansion of its services to Traveller pupils. Officials of my Department are currently engaging with the school patron and management to see how the needs of the pupils currently in the school can best be met. .

Schools Building Projects

 100. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the position regarding the extension to a school (details supplied). [42574/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Deputy will be aware that a building project for the school in question is included in my Department's six-year construction programme.

  The preparatory work required to initiate the architectural planning process for the project has commenced and my Department is continuing to liaise with the school in this regard.

Schools Refurbishment

 101. Deputy John Lahart Information on John Lahart Zoom on John Lahart asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his plans for a school (details supplied); his further plans to provide funding for renovations at same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42584/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has visited the school to which he refers and met with the school principal. An area of priority that the school wish to see addressed relates to insulation works. In this regard, the principal has undertaken to secure cost estimates for these works and revert to my Department. I understand that this process is in train..

Question No. 102 answered with Question No. 91.

Legislative Programme

 103. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton when the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2016, will return to Dáil Éireann for Report Stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42593/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2016 was published on 6 July 2016 and passed Committee Stage on 28 June 2017.

  My officials are currently engaging with the Office of the Attorney General in relation to a number of amendments proposed for Report Stage of the Bill. It is my intention to progress this Bill to Report Stage once these amendments have been finalised.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 104. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his plans to resolve the reduction in special education teaching at a school (details supplied). [42626/17]

 105. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if additional teaching hours for pupils at a school (detailed supplied) will be allocated. [42627/17]

 124. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the reason for no extra allocation of special education teaching hours for a school (details supplied). [42800/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Questions Nos. 104, 105 and 124 together.

I wish to advise the Deputy that under the new model for allocating special education teachers to schools, schools have been provided with a total allocation for special education needs support, which includes a baseline allocation for the school and an allocation based on the school’s profile.

Details of the manner in which the allocations have been provided to schools are set out in my Department's Circulars 0013 and 0014 2017.

The provision of a profiled allocation is designed to give a fairer allocation for each school, which recognises that all schools need an allocation for special needs support, but which provides a graduated allocation which takes into account the actual level of need in each school.

I wish to advise the Deputy that the school referred to in his question received an allocation of 68.90 hours special education teaching support, based on its school profile and an enrolment of 216 pupils at the time that the school profile developed. This is a substantial allocation of hours for a school of this size.

Whereas the profiled allocation had indicated a need of 67.50 hours for this school, based on its school profile and size, and relative to the profiled needs of all other schools, the school was allocated 68.90 hours, which was equivalent to the allocation the school received in 2016-17.

There has therefore been no reduction to the allocation of special educational needs teaching support for this school.

It is acknowledged and accepted that schools will have some additional pupils with special educational needs enrolling to their school subsequent to the profiles having been developed.

However, for the most part these will be balanced by the fact that some students who had additional teaching needs in the previous year will have left the school. The baseline is also designed to ensure that schools have some capacity to provide additional support to pupils. This school also has some additional capacity in the retained element of its allocation which is above that indicated by the school profile.

Under the new allocation model, schools are frontloaded with resources based on each school’s profile, to provide supports immediately to those pupils who need it without delay. This will reduce the administrative burden on schools, as schools will no longer have to complete an application process annually and apply for newly enrolled pupils who require resource hours. Children who need support can have that support provided immediately rather than having to wait for a diagnosis.

Schools will therefore no longer have to make applications for newly enrolled pupils, for whom resource teaching hours may have been provided under the old model, or for pupils who have received a new diagnosis, as schools will now receive a single allocation for all of their special education teaching needs based on their school size and profile.

The new allocations to schools include provision to support all pupils in the schools, including where a child receives a diagnosis after the allocation is received by a school, or where there are newly enrolling pupils to the school.

It should be noted that this is a brand new model of allocation and is not comparable to the previous model which had been in place.

By using a broad range of attainment and socio-economic criteria, it is expected that generally, a school’s profile will remain relatively constant from year to year. Each year, some students with additional teaching needs will leave and others will enrol, broadly balancing the school profile. Resources allocated under this model will not normally be adjusted between allocations.

A process has also been put in place to address circumstances where the school profile significantly changed following the allocation process due to the fact that the school had rapidly developing status where the net enrolment numbers significantly increased.

The criteria for qualification for mainstream school developing school posts are set out in DES Circular 17/2017 (Primary School Staffing Schedule) and DES 10,11,12/2017 (Post Primary School Staffing Schedule).

Schools who have qualified of additional mainstream developing school posts on the basis of developing growth in accordance with these criteria will also qualify for additional Special Education Teaching Allocations to take account of this developing status.

My Department has issued guidelines for schools to support them in the management of their resources. These guidelines are available on my Department's website.

Schools are encouraged to take guidelines on board in the planning process for the 2017-18 school year. In order to determine the levels of need within each school, it will be important for schools to have properly identified students with additional learning needs and have developed plans for each student indicating how the supports available will be used.

In this context, the National Council for Special Education, NCSE, will be available to support schools where these plans have been developed and implemented but the school considers that further support may be required. This support may involve Continuing Professional Development or further training for school staff, advice in relation to the support plan that is in place, and possibly a review process once schools can clearly demonstrate that exceptional circumstances have arisen in the school.

The NCSE will shortly be advising how schools can seek a review of the utilisation of their allocations in circumstances where a school considers that very exceptional circumstances have arisen subsequent to the development of the profile..

Schools Building Projects

 106. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if funding will be allocated for parking facilities at a school (details supplied). [42628/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has no record of receiving correspondence from the school to which he refers relating to the facilities in question.

School Staff

 107. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his plans to reconsider the new provision limiting secondments for the purpose of serving as directors for education support centres. [42633/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department arranges for the secondment of teachers from their teaching posts for the purpose of developing and providing CPD for teachers and for appointment as Directors of Education Support Centres, ESC's.

By their nature, secondments are not permanent appointments and are renewed each year subject to ongoing need and policy requirements.

Secondment arrangements provide flexibility and ensure that the in-service needs of teachers and other support priorities of the school system can be met within the resources available. Having teachers with relevant and recent teaching experience and expertise is a key requirement for the role. It is a condition therefore that the maximum length of time that a teacher may be on secondment is five years, following which they return to their teaching roles in their schools. In this way, their expertise and knowledge is not lost to the system. Each ESC has a management committee and staff which ensures continuity at a local level.

Section 37 of the Education Act 1998 provides the legislative basis for the establishment and regulation of Education Centres. Section 37(6) of the Act makes provision to make regulations relating to a number of matters in ESCs, such as the appointment of management committees, funding, staffing, provision of information to the DES & other operational matters.

Regulations for the appointment of Directors to Education Centres have now been introduced under Section 37(6). These regulations, which have been flagged for some time, are effective from 1 September 2017.

I am satisfied that these Regulations will lead to more robust procedures in appointing Directors which in turn will lead to more efficient and effective management of Education Centres..

Questions Nos. 108 and 109 answered with Question No. 91.

Schools Building Projects

 110. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he has received a report (details supplied); if he will arrange a meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42695/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I wish to confirm that my Department has received correspondence from the group referred to by the Deputy which includes a report as well as a request to meet with the group. A reply will issue shortly to the group in relation to this correspondence.

As the Deputy may be aware, in order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas. My Department uses a Geographical Information System, GIS, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. The GIS uses data from a range of sources, including the Central Statistics Office, Ordnance Survey Ireland, the Department of Social Protection and my Department's own databases. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises at primary and post-primary level to determine where additional school accommodation is needed.

Where demographic data indicates that additional provision is required, the delivery of such additional provision is dependent on the particular circumstances of each case and may, depending on the circumstances, be provided through either one, or a combination of, the following:

- Utilising existing unused capacity within a school or schools;

- Extending the capacity of a school or schools;

- Provision of a new school or schools.

With regard to demand for particular models of school provision, it should be noted that the patronage process for new schools is a separate process which has been in place since 2011. This process is run after it has been decided that a new school is required. Parental preferences are central to this process and prospective patrons are required to provide evidence of demand for their particular school model and medium of instruction. Therefore, where, based on demographics, it might be indicated that a new school is required, it cannot be guaranteed that this would be a school under a particular type of patronage as this will be dependent to a large degree on parental preferences in the area at the time of a patronage process.

As with other school planning areas nationwide, the demographic data for these school planning areas is being kept under ongoing review by my Department to take account of updated child benefit data and updated enrolment data. It is anticipated that decisions based on these exercises will be announced later in 2017..

Question No. 111 answered with Question No. 91.

Departmental Properties

 112. Deputy Catherine Connolly Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of primary school buildings in the ownership of his Department; the number of those that are vacant, by county, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42698/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The only vacant primary school building in my ownership is a former school building in Trim, County Meath, for which a building project is planned.

Schools Building Projects Status

 113. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the timeframe for completion of a sports hall for a school (details supplied) in order for the school to comply with the junior cycle well-being programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42714/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Deputy will be aware that a building project for the school in question is included in my Department's six-year construction programme, 2019-21.

My Department has carried out a site visit at the school in the context of the preparatory work required to advance the project, which will also include determining a schedule of accommodation for the project. My Department will continue to liaise directly with the school authorities regarding the project..


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