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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 378-401
 Header Item Ministerial Advisers Data
 Header Item Schools Facilities
 Header Item Schools Facilities
 Header Item Schools Facilities
 Header Item Professional Qualifications
 Header Item State Examinations Commission
 Header Item School Funding
 Header Item Autism Support Services
 Header Item School Admissions
 Header Item Autism Support Services
 Header Item Apprenticeship Data
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item School Funding
 Header Item School Accommodation
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Teacher Data
 Header Item Teacher Secondment
 Header Item School Accommodation
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Data
 Header Item Pupil-Teacher Ratio

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 961 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 119 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 378-401

Ministerial Advisers Data

 378. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the names of the special advisers employed in his Department; the names of special advisers to junior Ministers in his Department; the annual salary of each adviser; if these persons were special advisers immediately prior to taking up their current role or immediately prior to the June 2017 Cabinet reshuffle; if so, the Minister to which they were appointed; the date each special adviser was appointed with effect as stated in the Government order; the date of the Government order; if they received a salary for the period before the appointment order was signed in the case of special advisers whose appointment order date has an effect date earlier than the order date; if so, by whom they were paid; if a special adviser during a period later backdated by appointment order had access to confidential material and-or Cabinet papers; if they were subject to the Official Secrets Act 1963 during this period; and if any persons currently employed as special advisers have not yet been appointed by order since the Cabinet reshuffle of 2017. [46466/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton A tabular statement follows in relation to the appointment of special advisers at my Department following a Cabinet decision made at a meeting held on 19 September 2017. The statement contains details of the appointees, their salary and their date of appointment.

  Patrick Cluskey served as a Special Adviser to me when I was a member of the last Government.  Similarly, Roy Dooney served as Special Adviser to Mary Mitchell O'Connor, T.D. when she was a member of the last Government, while Michelle Clancy served as Special Adviser to Mr. John Halligan, T.D. when he was a Minister of State at my Department and she was re-appointed to that position when Mr. Halligan, T.D. was again made a Minister of State at my Department. Sarah O'Neill and Lynda McQuaid are new appointees.

  The appointees concerned are unestablished civil servants and they are subject to the terms of the Official Secrets Act 1963 and the Ethics in Public Office Acts with effect from their stated date of appointment.

  The following statement gives details of Special Advisers appointed to the Department of Education & Skills following a Government decision dated 19 September 2017:

Minister/Minister of State Special Adviser Salary Date of Appoint
Richard Bruton, T.D. Patrick Cluskey €81,004 pa 14th June 2017
Richard Bruton, T.D. Sarah O’Neill €77,849 pa 25th Sept 2017
Mary Mitchell O Connor, T.D. Roy Dooney €94,521 pa 14th June 2017
Mary Mitchell O Connor, T.D. Lynda McQuaid €94,521 pa 25th July 2017
John Halligan, T.D. Michelle Clancy €65,093 pa 21st June 2017

Schools Facilities

 379. 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 the number of schools by county in listed buildings that have no dedicated physical education hall and are maintained by the OPW; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46492/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton As the Deputy is aware, my Department provides funding for the day to day maintenance costs of schools in the free education system.  In that regard, my Department is not aware of any schools being maintained by the OPW in the circumstances as referred to by the Deputy.

Schools Facilities

 380. 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 the schools that have and have not got free drinking water for pupils respectively, by county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46493/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department is not in receipt of information from schools that they do not have a tap drinking water supply.  Should a school find itself in this position it may apply to my Department for funding to address the issue either under my Department's Emergency Works Grant Scheme or the Summer Works Scheme.  At primary level, schools may use their minor works grant.  As a matter of course, a tap drinking water supply is provided in all new school buildings and extension projects.

If the Deputy is aware of any school without a tap drinking water supply, if she makes the details available to me I will ask officials to examine the matter.

Schools Facilities

 381. 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 the schools that have vending machines; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46494/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department is active in the area of promotion of health and wellbeing in schools.  The issue of promoting healthy eating is addressed in schools through subjects such as Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE), and Home Economics as well as in Physical Education.  The aim is to equip students with such skills and knowledge to enable them to make appropriate choices for healthy lifestyles.  Schools are strongly encouraged to have a formal healthy eating policy that has been developed in consultation with students and parents. My Department issued a circular to all post primary schools in September 2015 on the Promotion of Healthy Lifestyles in Post Primary Schools (circular number 0051/2015) and to all primary schools in February 2016 (circular number 0013/2016).

My Department does not collect data on the schools that have vending machines.  However, findings from the 2015 Lifeskills survey show that virtually every primary school stated that they do not facilitate the sale of fizzy drinks, sweets and crisps in school, either through vending machines or a school shop. This is the same response as in 2012.

92% of primary schools reported that they had a healthy eating policy in place. This is similar to the level reported in 2012. 3% reported that they were in the process of developing a healthy eating policy, and 5% reported having no healthy eating policy in place.

99% reported that healthy lunches for pupils are promoted by the school. Two per cent of schools reported that they provide an on-site facility for selling fresh fruit to pupils.

Some 27% of Post Primary schools reported having a vending machine or school shop which sells ‘junk food’. (The Healthy Ireland Healthy Food for Life food pyramid defines this type of food as that which is high in fat, sugar and salt.). This represents an improvement on the position in 2012 when 30% of schools were in this category, and in 2009 when 35% of schools in this category. Some 74% of those schools that responded have a facility for the sale of fresh fruit. This is a significant improvement on the position reported in 2009 and 2012 when 64% of schools had such a facility in place.

Professional Qualifications

 382. 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 the educational requirements for registration and accreditation with an organisation (details supplied); and the body that regulates the association. [46497/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I understand that the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP) is a body established in 1981, to identify, develop and maintain professional standards of excellence in counselling and psychotherapy. In this context it provides a range of services, including accreditation to some 4,000 members who operate within these disciplines in the healthcare sector. My Department plays no role in the management or regulation of the Association.

State Examinations Commission

 383. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will instruct the State Examinations Commission to issue its decisions earlier than in previous years on individual reasonable accommodation applications made during the 2017-18 academic year; his views on whether it is unfair to issue decisions after mock examinations have taken place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46524/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton 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 Funding

 384. Deputy John Brassil Information on John Brassil Zoom on John Brassil asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his plans to increase funding to voluntary secondary schools to address the anomaly whereby the moneys received by these schools are comparable to ETB schools, but the spend on issues such as lighting, insurance and so on which are funded in ETB schools are not covered in voluntary secondary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46543/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department provides funding for all Post-Primary Schools, including those in the Voluntary Secondary Sector, towards day to day running costs such as heating, lighting, cleaning, general upkeep, the stocking of libraries and the purchase of equipment.

The funding arrangements in the Voluntary Secondary School Sector are based on per capita grants provided by my Department.  Some equalisation measures were introduced to rectify historical inconsistencies in the funding arrangements for this sector of post-primary schools. It is estimated that up to €21m has been provided in equalisation funding between 2001 and 2009.

The funding arrangements in the Community & Comprehensive sector and the ETB sector are primarily based on budgets determined by my Department.  The enrolment in the individual schools is the main driver of the level of these budgets.

The level of disparity in the funding arrangements between the three sectors would need to be revisited to determine what remains to be done on the equalisation agenda.

Autism Support Services

 385. 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 there are plans to provide an ASD unit in a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46551/17]

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 an application for funding for the provision of an ASD unit from the school in question.

School Admissions

 386. 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 the options available for a person (details supplied) going forward in education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46552/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Parents can choose which school to apply to and where the school has places available the pupil should be admitted. However, in schools where there are more applicants than places available a selection process may be necessary.

  This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants. However, this may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice.

Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 provides for an appeal by a parent or guardian to the Secretary General of my Department, or in the case of an Educational Training Board (ETB) school to the ETB in the first instance, where a Board of Management of a school, or a person acting on behalf of the Board, refuses to enrol a student in a school, expels a student or suspends a student for 20 or more days in any school year. Further information on the Section 29 appeals process is available on the Department's website www.education.ie.

  The Educational Welfare Service of the Child and Family Agency (EWS) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The EWS can be contacted at 01-7718500.

  As the Deputy may be aware I published the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill on 6th July 2016. The Bill proposes to amend the Education Act 1998 to provide an over-arching framework for greater transparency and fairness in school enrolment generally and thereby give greater confidence to parents that the admission criteria laid down by schools and the procedures used by them are legitimate, reasonable and fair.

  The provisions of the Bill should make it easier for parents to more easily access local schools and to enrol their children in a school that meets their needs.

  The Education (Admission to Schools) Bill passed committee stage on the 28th June 2017 and will shortly proceed to report stage.

Autism Support Services

 387. Deputy Jackie Cahill Information on Jackie Cahill Zoom on Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will request the NCSE to review again the need for an ASD unit at a school (details supplied).  [46555/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton This Government is committed to ensuring that all children with Special Educational Needs, including those with autism, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network.

  Such placements facilitate access to individualised education programmes which may draw from a range of appropriate educational interventions, delivered by fully qualified professional teachers, with the support of Special Needs Assistants and the appropriate school curriculum.

  Some students, although academically able to access the curriculum in mainstream, may find it too difficult to manage full-time placement there. This can be due to significant difficulties in areas such as behaviour or sensory needs which have not been ameliorated, even with appropriate intervention, in mainstream.

  Enrolment in an ASD special class should only be considered where it has been demonstrated that a student requires the support of a special class because he/she is unable to learn effectively in a mainstream class for most or all of the school day even with appropriate supports.

  Students enrolling in ASD Special Classes must have a report from a relevant professional or team of professionals (for example, psychologist, speech and language therapist, psychiatrist) stating that:

  - S/he has ASD, and that 

  - S/he has significant learning needs that require the support of a special class setting and the reasons why this is the case.

  The NCSE, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), in consultation with the relevant education partners, is responsible for the establishment of special classes in various geographical areas where there is an identified need.

  Schools may apply to the NCSE to open a special class where a need has been identified in their area i.e. a number of students have professional reports indicating they require the support of a special class.

  SENOs may also approach a school directly where they are aware that a special class is or will be required in the near future. SENOs consult with other education parties (e.g. NEPS and Inspectorate) when planning to set up a special class.

  Before approaching schools to request the establishment of a special class, SENOs take into account both present and future potential needs within the area and must be satisfied that the class is sustainable and appropriately located.

  While it is not always possible to ensure that a special class placement will be available in a child’s local school, the NCSE has informed my Department that they are satisfied that there are currently sufficient ASD special class placements to meet existing demand in the area referred to by the Deputy.

  Parents/Guardians who may need advice or are experiencing difficulties in locating a school placement should contact their local Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) who can assist in identifying an appropriate educational placement for their child. Contact details are available on www.ncse.ie.

  Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs, including those in the area to which the Deputy has referred are available on www.ncse.ie in county order, and with new classes identified.

Apprenticeship Data

 388. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan Information on Maurice Quinlivan Zoom on Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton further to Parliamentary Question No. 133 of 25 October 2017, the new annual cost to the State of one apprentice. [46561/17]

 389. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan Information on Maurice Quinlivan Zoom on Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton further to Parliamentary Question No. 133 of 25 October 2017, the specific areas in which savings were achieved that resulted in a lower than expected cost per apprentice for 2018. [46562/17]

 390. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan Information on Maurice Quinlivan Zoom on Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the way in which the apprenticeship budget of €122 million for 2018 will be allocated. [46563/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan I propose to take Questions Nos. 388 to 390, inclusive, together.

The 2018 budget allocation for apprenticeship training is €122m which represents an increase of almost 24% on the 2017 allocation of €98.7m. The 2018 allocation is apportioned between SOLAS (€90m) and the HEA (€32m). This allocation is based on actual costings received during the budgetary process, from both SOLAS and the HEA, to meet apprenticeship provision based on the current apprenticeship population, forecast registrations and planned levels of off-the-job training.

The average cost to the State in 2018 per apprentice is €5,900 per annum based on the projected population at the end of next year.

Schools Building Projects Status

 391. 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 when a school (details supplied) will be provided with a purpose-built school on Dominick Street; the length of time since his Department first received a request for a purpose-built school for the school; the reason for the delay; the action he has taken to expedite the process to provide the teachers and pupils with a proper school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46568/17]

 392. 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 the amount his Department has spent providing temporary accommodation for a school (details supplied) since it vacated its original premises; the reason a new purpose-built school has not been built since a site was secured on Dominick Street in 2011; the amount which has been spent since 2011 on developing a design, the planning application and other costs associated with running the existing school and while developing a purpose-built facility; the process which led to his Department increasing the proposed capacity for the school from an eight-classroom single stream school to a 16-class school; the impact the increased school size will have on the design of the school; the way it will impact on recreational outdoor space; the details of his Department's consultation with the school to determine and agree the increase from eight to 16 classrooms; the action his Department will take to accelerate the delivery of a purpose-built school building for the school on Dominick Street; and the date by which the school will occupy a new purpose-built school building on Dominick Street. [46571/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Questions Nos. 391 and 392 together.

In 2006, my Department met with the Trustees of the school to which the Deputy refers to, to discuss the school’s long-term accommodation needs.  Given the city centre location of the school, there was considerable difficulty in sourcing a suitable site as a long term location.  In 2011, a suitable site was sourced for the permanent location of the school.  In the interim the school is currently located in rented accommodation in Parnell Square; the school receives annual funding of some €328,000 for rental of this temporary accommodation.

The original design brief for this project on this site, was for an 8 Classroom primary school and a Design Team were appointed by open competition in December 2012 to design this project.  However due to increasing demographic demands in the Drumcondra, Marino and Dublin 1 area, a recommendation was made to the Patron advising that a 16 classroom school be built on the site.  In November 2016 the Patron of the School, the Archbishop of Dublin approved this recommendation for a 16 classroom school.

My Department then engaged in discussions with the original design team regarding increased fees to progress the new 16 classroom design brief.  However my Department is constrained by EU Directives covering public procurements in the extent of a fee uplift that it can consider and the fee proposals from the original Design Team were in excess of those constraints.  This original Design Team has been paid for its completed work up to Stage 2A Detailed Design, amounting to €103,048.72.

The current brief for the project at the school to which the Deputy refers to, comprises the provision of a new 16 Classroom Primary School with a general purpose room, multi-purpose room, library and resource area, three special education tuition rooms and ancillary accommodation.  Until the detailed design is completed by the new Design Team and subsequently reviewed by my Department it is not possible to assess the impacts on specific build items such as recreational space etc.

Requests for tenders for a new Design Team to take this project from Stage 2A Detailed Design right through to construction, were published on the e-tenders website on 20 October 2017 and the closing date for prospective tenders is 29 November 2017.

This project is included on the 6 Year Programme announced on 17th November 2015.

School Funding

 393. Deputy John Brassil Information on John Brassil Zoom on John Brassil asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if funding will be provided to a school (details supplied) which is a six-teacher school and currently has no staff room or physical education or assembly hall; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46572/17]

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 is not in receipt of an application from the school referred to for the provision of additional accommodation.

  As the Deputy will appreciate, due to the competing demands on my Department's capital budget, the main focus at this time is on the need to prioritise available funding towards the provision of essential school classroom accommodation to meet demographic requirements.

  It is open to the school to submit an application to my Department if they have identified a deficit of mainstream accommodation; application forms can be accessed on my Department's website www.education.ie.  The application will be considered in the above context.

School Accommodation

 394. Deputy John Brassil Information on John Brassil Zoom on John Brassil asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will address the highly unsuitable prefab accommodation for special educational needs provision in a school (details supplied) and ensure funding is allocated to build suitable facilities to accommodate this type of provision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46574/17]

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 received an application for additional accommodation from the school in question, in 2016, which included a request for temporary accommodation for resource teaching purposes. 

  Following the appointment of an additional mainstream teacher at the school for September, 2016, a reconfiguration of the school’s accommodation, to facilitate the new post, resulted in a shortfall in resource teaching accommodation. 

  In light of the school’s position the request for temporary accommodation was approved by my Department.

Schools Building Projects Status

 395. Deputy Tom Neville Information on Tom Neville Zoom on Tom Neville asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the status of the provision of a new school (details supplied) in County Limerick. [46618/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The delivery of the project to which the Deputy refers is devolved to Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board (LCETB). 

  I am pleased to be able to inform the Deputy that my Department recently gave approval to LCETB to proceed to Tender for the works.

Teacher Data

 396. 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 the number of teachers on secondment to an association (details supplied) for the year 2017-18. [46630/17]

 397. 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 the number of teachers on secondment to patron management bodies at primary and secondary level; and the number of seconded teachers for each such patron body. [46631/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Questions Nos. 396 and 397 together.

  My Department has provided the following non-recoupment secondment positions to management bodies of primary and second level schools:

Primary Level Number of seconded teachers
Catholic Primary Schools Management Association 4
Educate Together 1
   
Post Primary Level Number of seconded teachers
Association of Community & Comprehensive Schools 2
Joint Managerial Body 1

Teacher Secondment

 398. 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 seconded teachers to patron management bodies that have a religious ethos are restricted in their job descriptions to duties that do not involve the promotion of a particular religion; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46632/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department provides annual grants to the recognised management bodies at primary and post primary level to assist them in providing management support to the schools in their sectors. Management bodies such as CPSMA, Educate Together, Church of Ireland Board of Education at primary level or at second level the JMB/AMCSS, ETBI and ACCS provide important support services for schools on employment, legal, financial and other matters. The individual management bodies remit reflects the particular patronage of the schools which they serve for example the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association (CPSMA) provides support services to primary schools under catholic patronage and it is a similar position in relation to each of the other management bodies.

The teacher secondment scheme operated by my Department is designed to facilitate the temporary assignment of a teacher to a vacant position in a host organisation, where the work to be carried out by the seconded teacher is of clear benefit to the education system.   

In that regard, my Department has approved a number of secondments to school management bodies. However, the precise nature of the duties assigned by a management body to a particular employee or secondee are a matter for the management body concerned and the individual employee/secondee as appropriate.

School Accommodation

 399. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the reason an application for an extension for a school (details supplied) in County Donegal has twice been refused for a resource room and ancillary works; if his attention has been drawn to the need for this extension at this school; his plans to approve same without further delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46648/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I can confirm to the Deputy that an application was received in my Department, from the school referred to, for the provision of additional accommodation.  I can confirm that the application was not approved for funding on the basis of sufficient accommodation being available to the school in question.

Special Educational Needs Data

 400. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton further to Parliamentary Question No. 124 of 25 October 2017, the number of children that applied to attend a special class in a mainstream school for students with SSLD with speech and language therapy services provided in class by the HSE; and the number of children that applied to attend a mainstream class with additional teaching supports and speech and language therapy through the HSE primary care service.  [46649/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department provides for a range of placement options and supports for schools, which have enrolled students with special educational needs, including students with specific speech and language disorder (SSLD), in order to ensure that wherever a child is enrolled, s/he will have access to an appropriate education.  

The enrolment of a child in a school is a matter, in the first instance, for the parents of the child and the Board of Management of a school. Accordingly, it is a matter for parents to enrol their child, by applying in writing, to the school/s of their choice.

The criteria for enrolment in a Special Class for students with SSLD are set out in my Department's Circular 0038/2007.  A full-time teacher is assigned to each class, and classes operate with a reduced pupil-teacher ratio of 7:1.  A minimum number of five eligible students is required for a school to retain a SSLD class.  Eligible pupils may spend up to two years in such classes. 

The NCSE continues to monitor and review the requirement for special class places in particular areas and has capacity to establish such new special classes where necessary, subject to the willingness of schools to open classes.  The NCSE welcomes expressions of interest from schools in opening special classes to meet the demand for special class provision.  The opening of a Speech and Language class is, however, contingent on the HSE being in a position to provide Speech and Language therapy to the students in the class. 

In deciding on the location of a special class, SENOs take into account both the present and the future potential need for special class provision and they must be satisfied that the special class is sustainable and appropriately located.  SENOs liaise with relevant professionals in their area to arrive at an informed decision.  In order to qualify for enrolment to a special class for Specific Speech and Language Disorder, a Student should meet each of the following criteria:

- The pupil has been assessed by a psychologist on a standardised test of intelligence that places non-verbal or performance ability within the average range or above.

- The pupil has been assessed by a speech therapist on a standardised test of language development that places performance in one or more of the main areas of speech and language development at two standard deviations or more below the mean, or at a generally equivalent level.

- The pupil’s difficulties are not attributable to hearing impairment; where the pupil is affected to some degree by hearing impairment, the hearing threshold for the speech-related frequencies should be 40Db;

- Emotional and behavioural disorders or a physical disability are not considered to be primary causes.

- Pupils with speech and language delays and difficulties are not to be considered under this category.

- In the case of specific speech and language disorder it is a pupil's non-verbal or performance ability that must be within the average range or above. (i.e. non-verbal or performance IQ of 90, or above).

- The pupil must also have been assessed by a speech and language therapist and found to be at two or more standard deviations (S.D.) below the mean, or at a generally equivalent level (i.e. - 2 S.D. or below, at or below a standard score of 70) in one or more of the main areas of speech and language development.

Two assessments, a psychological assessment and a speech and language assessment are necessary.

The enrolment of pupils in an SSLD special class is managed locally by an Admissions & Discharges Committee, comprising the Speech and Language Therapy Manager, Speech and Language Therapist, Class Teacher and Principal.   

Students who are not enrolled in a special class for SSLD and who meet the criteria for Specific Speech and Language Disorder, as outlined in Circular 0038/2007, may qualify for additional teaching support under the new Model for allocation of Special Education Teaching Support provision introduced to all mainstream primary and post primary schools in September last.

While the specific information requested by the Deputy is not available, in the 2016/17 school year, there were 10,203 students with a diagnosis of SSLD; 451 attending special classes for SSLD; 21 attending special schools and 9,731 were in receipt of additional teaching support allocated to mainstream schools by the NCSE, for low incidence special educational needs.

Questions relating to the provision of speech and language therapy through the HSE primary care service should be addressed to my colleague the Minister for Health.

Students with mild speech and language difficulties may also qualify for supplementary teaching support from within the school's SEN Teaching Allocation, previously the general allocation of learning support/teaching support for high incidence special educational needs. It is a matter for individual schools to use their professional judgment to identify pupils who will receive this support and to use the resources available to the school to intervene at the appropriate level with such students.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

 401. Deputy Jack Chambers Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his plans to ensure the current student teacher ratio at a school (details supplied) is maintained due to the high proportion of students at the school that require additional supports; if his attention has been drawn to the measures the school will have to undertake, including merging classes, if the current student teacher ratio is changed; if his attention has been further drawn to the negative impact such a change will have on all pupils and teachers at the school; the reason the school will not be able to use a new special needs unit when it moves to a new premises; if an arrangement can be made in order that this unit can be used; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [46652/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The criteria used for the allocation of teaching posts is published annually on the Department website. 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.

  The staffing schedule operates in a clear and transparent manner and treats all similar types of schools equally irrespective of location.

  The staffing schedule also includes an appeals mechanism for schools to submit an appeal under certain criteria to an independent Appeals Board. Details of the criteria for appeal are contained in the staffing schedule, Circular 0017/2017.

  Firhouse Educate Together National School submitted an application to the April and October meeting of the Appeals Board under three separate Criteria, Accommodation, Class Size and Developing. The Appeals Board determined that these appeals did not warrant the allocation of additional posts for the 2017/18 school year on confirmation of pupil enrolments on the 30th September 2017.

  The Staffing Schedule also includes a separate provision where schools experiencing rapid increases in enrolment can apply for additional permanent mainstream posts on developing grounds. The school referred to by the Deputy was successful in being granted one additional post on developing grounds for the 2017/18 school year based on confirmed enrolments. The school has been notified accordingly.

  The Primary Staffing Appeals Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

  The school building project referred to by the Deputy is to provide two new 16 classroom primary school buildings including a Special Needs Unit on a shared campus. Both schools are currently in temporary accommodation on the shared campus site.

  The first school building was handed over to the school on the 6th November 2017.  Both schools will occupy this building pending construction of the second school building. Construction of the second school building is on-going and cannot be completed until the temporary accommodation for both schools is removed from site.

  Before the commencement of construction, both schools were invited to a meeting with officials in my Department where it was agreed with both schools that they would share the first school building pending completion of the second school.  The indicative completion date for the second school building is April 2018.

  The co-location of both schools in the same building will not impact the accommodation provided for the special needs unit.

  In relation to the new model for the allocation of Special Education Teachers to schools, DES Circular 0013/2017 for primary schools and 0014/2017 for post primary schools were published on 7th March 2017.

  The revised allocation process replaces the generalised allocation process at primary and post primary school level for learning support and high incidence special educational needs, and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) allocation process which provided additional resource teaching supports to schools, to support pupils assessed as having Low Incidence disabilities. 

  The new Special Education Teaching allocation provides a single unified allocation for special educational support teaching needs to each school, based on each school’s educational profile.

  Under the new allocation model, schools have been provided with a total allocation for special education needs support based on their school profile.

  Included within this is an allocation for:

  - A school educational profile component; which includes:

  - An allocation for pupils with complex needs

  - The learning support needs in schools as evidenced by attainment levels in standardised test results

  - The social context of the school including disadvantage and gender

  - Baseline component provided to every mainstream school to support inclusion, prevention of learning difficulties and early intervention.

  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.

  The special education teaching allocation provided for this school for 2017/18 was 48.05 hours.

  The profiling model had indicated a profiled special educational need for this school, relative to that of other schools, of 47.50 teaching hours.

  However, as no school received an allocation, on the introduction of the new model, which was less than the allocation they received in the previous school year, the school maintained an allocation of 48.05 hours and it was indicated that within this allocation there was a retained element of 0.55 hrs.

  Where a school profile significantly changes following the allocation process e.g. a developing school where the net enrolment numbers significantly increase year on year additional allocations may be made.

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

  Firhouse NS school was provided with an additional net SEN allocation of 2.45 hours on the grounds that the school qualified for one additional developing mainstream teaching post.

  The school received a revised total special education teaching allocation of 50.5 hours. 

  This allocation equates to over 2 full time additional Special Education Teachers.

  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.

  The additional allocations made where schools qualify for developing mainstream teaching posts take account of growing enrolments.

  It is also acknowledged that there will be some schools where exceptional circumstances may arise.

  The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) will also be available to support schools where schools have developed and implemented appropriate plans for the deployment of their special education needs teaching resources, 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 plans that are in place, and possibly a review process once schools can clearly demonstrate that exceptional circumstances have arisen in the school.

  The NCSE has now published details of how schools can seek a review of their allocations, 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.  

  Should this school consider that they fulfil the criteria for a review on the grounds of exceptional circumstances, details of this review process are available at:

  http://ncse.ie/review-of-special-education-teacher-supports-where-there-are-exceptional-circumstances-or-needs-arising-in-a-school .


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