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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 174-186
 Header Item Teacher Fee Refund Scheme
 Header Item Creative Ireland Programme
 Header Item Legislative Process
 Header Item Public Sector Pay
 Header Item Third Level Expenditure
 Header Item Pupil-Teacher Ratio
 Header Item Higher Education Schemes
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Departmental Schemes
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item School Accommodation
 Header Item Minor Works Scheme
 Header Item Student Universal Support Ireland

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 963 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 122 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 174-186

Teacher Fee Refund Scheme

 174. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of teachers who availed of the fee refund scheme in each of the years from 2011 to 2016; the average amount paid to teachers in fee refunds in each of the years from 2011 to 2016; if these payments differ between primary and post-primary teachers; the number of applications to avail of funding in each of the years from 2011 to 2016; the funding provided for the scheme in each of the years from 2011 to 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [53548/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The purpose of the Teacher Fee Refund Scheme is to provide funding towards the cost of course participation and examination fees on successful completion of professional development courses that are directly relevant and of benefit to schools and that are subject to certification/award by an appropriate accreditation authority recognised by my Department.

  Applications for funding under the Scheme are made retrospectively for a course undertaken during the previous academic year.

  My Department allocates €500,000 per annum to the scheme.  

  The Refund of Fees scheme is administered on behalf of my Department by Marino Institute of Education. 

  The table provides the number of teachers availing of the Scheme from the 2011/12 academic year to the most recent data available which is for the 2015/16 academic year. The table provides the average amount paid to teachers in each year.

No Of Teachers
- No Of Teachers No Of Teachers Post Primary Primary Average Fee
School Year Applications Approved Approvals Approvals Refund
2011/12
563
441
270
171
€1,124.72
2012/13
755
683
354
329
€708.64
2013/14
805
764
349
398
€654.45
2014/15
1039
983
445
538
€508.65
2015/16
1227
1158
495
663
€440.41

Creative Ireland Programme

 175. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the funding his Department is providing for the creative youth programme in 2017; the allocation it will receive in 2018; and, if his Department is allocating funding, the amount being provided for media promotion of the programme. [53551/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department has supported the Creative Ireland programme throughout 2017 with funding for two elements of the Creative Youth programme.

Two teachers were seconded to the Arts Council in September of this year to begin work on Scoileanna Ildánacha/Creative Schools. This initiative will begin a pilot cohort of 150 schools across primary and post-primary levels in 2018.

Additionally, the primary school CPD initiative, ‘Teacher-Artist Partnership’ was delivered in twenty education centres during the summer as part of Creative Ireland. This was followed by artist residencies in schools between September and November. This initiative was supported by my Department, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and the Arts Council for a total cost of approximately €290,000. It is intended that it will run in all twenty-one education centres as part of the Creative Youth programme in 2018.

My Department was allocated €1 million for Creative Ireland in 2018. However, I have been able to secure an increase of €0.25 million, bringing the total allocation to €1.25 million. All funding from my Department will be allocated towards initiatives in the Creative Youth programme, with no funding from my Department being spent on media promotion.

I look forward to engaging with the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and the Arts Council in delivering the Creative Youth programme over the coming years.

Legislative Process

 176. Deputy Brendan Howlin Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the Acts, or parts of Acts, awaiting commencement within his area of statutory responsibility; the reason for the delay in the commencement of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53566/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The information that the Deputy has requested is set out in tabular form.

Act
Sections yet to be commenced
Details
Teaching Council Act 2001 Sections 39 This section relates to the continuing education, training and professional development of teachers. In relation to commencement, regard will be had to the development by the Teaching Council of Cosán, the national framework for teachers’ learning which has entered a development phase and is due to conclude in 2020.
Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2007 Sections 1, 2, 4, 6-8. Section 1 relates to definitions. Section 2 relates to a textual amendment of a definition contained in the Education Act 1998. Section 8 relates to the sanction of expenses incurred in the administration of this Act.

The Education (Admissions to School) Bill 2016, which passed Committee stage in June 2017, provides for the repeal of Sections 4 and 6 of the Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2007 and the introduction of an entirely new Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998.

Section 7 of the Act refers to an order to be made with regard to the transfer of the Crawford Art Gallery from Cork City VEC (now Cork Education and Training Board) to the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland. Matters relating to the transfer are the subject of ongoing discussions between this Department and the Department of Arts Heritage Regional Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs.
Student Support Act 2011 Sections 1, 8(3) & 16(5) The Student Support Act 2011 provides a single statutory basis for all student grants to replace four different schemes that were operated by local authorities and VECs.

The Act provides the power to prescribe courses that do not require attendance by a student on a full-time basis to be an approved course. This power enables the Minister, if there are compelling reasons and adequate resources to do so, to consider extending the circumstances where a student may be eligible for a grant where attending an approved course on a part-time basis.

The potential costs of any such policy change will be a decisive factor and the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform will be required for any proposed change.
Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 Sections 3-13, 14(1)(b), 14(1)(d), 14(1)(e), 14(1)(f), 15-18, 38 and 39 The sections of the EPSEN Act that have not yet been commenced are those mainly concerned with the assessment of need, the preparation and review of individual education plans and the associated appeals provisions in relation to these areas. A small number of sections refer to interaction between the NCSE and the health services.

While awaiting the full implementation of the EPSEN Act, the NCSE has published a number of policy advice papers including ‘Supporting Students with Special Educational Needs in Schools’ (2013) and the Report of the NCSE Working Group: ‘Proposed New Model for Allocating Teaching Resources for Students with Special Educational Needs’ (2014).

It is intended to bring into effect many of the good ideas contained in the EPSEN Act, on a non-statutory basis initially, through policy developments, including the introduction of the New Resource Teacher Allocation Model.

Public Sector Pay

 177. 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 his views on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53595/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Public Service Pay and Pensions Bill 2017, which gives effect to the pay measures contained in the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 (PSSA), is currently being considered by the Oireachtas. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has overall responsibility for the Bill. The PSSA provides a framework for further negotiation on a number of issues, including new entrant pay.

Public service agreements have already delivered on a number of issues through structured negotiations and engagement with concerned groups. Through this process a 15-22% pay increase was negotiated for new teachers. The agreements to date have restored an estimated 75% of the difference in pay for more recently recruited teachers and deliver full equality at later points in the scale.

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. These benefits were achieved through continued engagement and collective bargaining.

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 would be in the order of €130 million. Clearly, the cost across the entire public service would be substantially higher.

To have gone further than the pay increases that have been negotiated would mean I would have had less money available to hire over 1,000 extra SNAs in 2018, and over 1,000 extra teachers in 2018. 

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 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. An initial meeting on new entrant pay under this process took place on 12 October 2017. Further progress has been made in this regard through the amalgamation of the post-2011 and post-2012 pay scales as of 1 January 2018.

Third Level Expenditure

 178. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the amount that was spent on the provision of counselling services at third level in each of the years from 2013 to 2017; and the amount that has been allocated for the year 2017-2018. [53613/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department allocates recurrent funding to the Higher Education Authority (HEA) for direct disbursement to the HEA institutions. The HEA allocates this as a block grant to institutions to cover teaching, research and supporting activities. The internal allocation of this grant is a matter for each institution.

  However, details of expenditure incurred in respect of counselling services in the third level sector are outlined below as requested. Data in respect of the academic year 2016/17 is not immediately available, however, it is expected that it would be broadly in line with previous years.

Year/s Universities & Colleges (incl MIC, NCAD & St Angela's College) IoTs
2013/14 €3,963,627 €2,165,369
2014/15 €3,853,638 €2,185,196
2015/16 €4,185,682 €2,299,286

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

 179. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the ratio of students to teaching staff in each of the years from 2013 to 2017 at third level. [53614/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The current staff:student ratio in the higher education sector is 21:1. This is calculated based on the 2016/17 enrolment figures.  This is based on the ratio of full time students to core teaching staff. A breakdown of the ratio for the years 2013 - 2017 is detailed for information.

  Higher education is a priority for this Government. Budget 2017 provided the first increase in higher education funding since 2009. This process of reinvestment was continued in Budget 2018. In total, we will be investing €100m more in higher education in 2018 than in 2016.

  To complement the increased investment in higher education I hope to publish a new System Performance Framework for the higher education sector early in 2018. This will provide the key system objectives for higher education in the years ahead.

2012/2013 Student:Staff Ratio
Core Academics to FTE Students 19.88 : 1
2013/2014 Student: Staff Ratio
Core Academics to FTE Students 20.47 : 1
2014/2015 Student: Staff Ratio
Core Academics to FTE Students 20.80 : 1
2015/2016 Student: Staff Ratio
Core Academics to FTE Students 21.34 : 1
2016/2017 Student: Staff Ratio
Core Academics to FTE Students 20.78 : 1

Higher Education Schemes

 180. Deputy Brendan Howlin Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the reason a housing estate (details supplied) is geographically split in two for the purposes of deprivation indices used for qualification for the higher education access route, HEAR, scheme; his plans to address this in order that all residents of the estate are treated equally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53708/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton HEAR is a college and university admissions scheme offering places on reduced points and extra college support to school leavers from socio-economically disadvantages backgrounds. 

  The HEAR scheme is operated by the Irish Universities Association (IUA) and regulated by the higher education institutions themselves and not by my Department. The operational management of HEAR has transferred from the Shared Services Unit in the IUA to the Central Applications Office (CAO).

  Any queries in relation to the regulation of the scheme should be raised with IUA directly.

Schools Building Projects Status

 181. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton when an extension for a school (details supplied) will go to construction; if every effort will be made to expedite this project in view of current accommodations in the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53709/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The major building project referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of architectural planning Stage 2b (Detailed Design), which includes the application for statutory approvals and the preparation of tender documents. All statutory approvals have been secured.

The Stage 2b submission has been reviewed by the Department and in August 2017 my Department issued comments on the stage 2b submission to the school and its Design Team. My Department requested confirmations from the Design Team that it carries out one final review of all of its tender documentation to ensure compliance with DoES requirements. The Design Team has been requested to submit written confirmation from each Design Team member including the PSDP that they have completed this review and are satisfied that the Tender Documents are complete, correct and in compliance with DoES and Building Control (Amendment) Regulations (BC(A)R) tender documentation requirements. A response is awaited.

Upon receipt of these confirmations, my Department will then revert to the school with regard to the further progression of the project.

Departmental Schemes

 182. 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 if he has received correspondence from a school (details supplied); if the financial assistance to the school will be increased in order to deliver high quality education as Gaeilge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53711/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I can confirm that I have received the correspondence referred to and a response has issued.  

The school in question has opted to participate in the Gaeltacht School Recognition Scheme which provides schools with the opportunity to access extra supports and resources on the basis of the implementation of specified language-based criteria. To date, these resources have included additional continuing professional development and information sessions delivered by An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta (COGG), release days for action-planning and advisory support visits to schools from a team of inspectors in my Department.

The budget for the implementation of the Policy on Gaeltacht Education 2017-2022 has more than doubled to €2.3m for 2018, which means that further supports and resources will be provided to schools participating in the Gaeltacht School Recognition Scheme on the basis of the approval of their action plans for improvement in Spring 2018 including:

- A grant of €1,000 to purchase Irish-medium resources

- Additional language support hours, which will be equivalent to providing an extra 30 whole-time teachers in Gaeltacht primary schools

- Additional professional development for teachers, with substitute cover, provided by COGG, and the opportunity to participate in a new part-time M.Ed. in Irish-medium and Gaeltacht Education

- Extra advisory visits from school Inspectors

- The opportunity to take part in a pilot project to link post-primary Gaeltacht schools digitally to extend subject choice through the medium of Irish

Full details of the additional supports and resources that will be provided to schools participating in the Gaeltacht School Recognition Scheme will be outlined in a new circular, which will be issued by the Department to schools in Gaeltacht language planning areas in early 2018. 

The correspondence received from the school made reference to its non-DEIS status.  As regards the designation of DEIS status to the school, it is important to note that DEIS is designed to address educational disadvantage and adopts a supplied by schools through the POD (primary on-line database) and PPOD (post-primary on-line database) and CSO (Central Statistics Office) Small Area data as represented by the HP Index of Deprivation.

A further assessment of all schools, using updated school data and the updated Pobal HP Index data, is underway. The assessment will demonstrate changes to the socio demographic status of schools and determine the number of schools that meet the criteria for inclusion. Schools with the highest concentration of disadvantage based on updated information will be included in the programme, subject to resources.

Schools Building Projects Status

 183. Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe Information on Kevin O'Keeffe Zoom on Kevin O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the status of the evaluation of new design options in respect of a school (details supplied). [53731/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The school referred to by the Deputy were requested to submit architectural size site drawings recently for each of the proposed options and these have now been received. It is now proposed to arrange for a site visit by a member of the Department's Professional and Technical staff to review the options presented. When this is completed my Department will be in contact with the school authority.

School Accommodation

 184. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if his Department will select and approve a suitable long-term site within a local community for a school (details supplied) in time for it to move to a more appropriate location for the 2018-2019 school year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54057/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton As the Deputy may be aware, a project to provide permanent accommodation for the school in question is included on my Department's Capital Programme.

  Officials in my Department are liaising with officials in the relevant local authority in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding in relation to the identification and acquisition of a suitable site to facilitate this project. 

  All parties are working to advance this progress as expeditiously as possible. The school patron is being kept informed in relation to the school site acquisition process.

Minor Works Scheme

 185. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if provision is made in his Department's Estimate for 2018 for a minor works grant scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54062/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton There are significant demands placed on the 2018 education capital budget due to demographic pressures, and the imperative of ensuring a school place for every child.

  I indicated to the House last week that it is unlikely the Minor Works Grant 2018/2019 will issue during the 2018 calendar year and that it will probably have to be paid early in 2019.

  I should point out that the payment of the Minor Works Grant is not confined to any particular date and can in fact, if paid, be issued during any month of the school year.

  As part of our longer term infrastructural planning, my Department will explore whether it will be possible to give greater certainty to primary schools in relation to the payment of the Minor Works Grant taking account of the Government's 10 Year Public Capital Investment Plan, which is currently under development.

Student Universal Support Ireland

 186. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton when the details of the 2018-2019 higher education grant scheme will be made available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54119/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The 2017 scheme was published on the 31st of March 2017. Details of this scheme can be accessed via the SUSI website at https://susi.ie/resources/. 

  It is anticipated that the 2018 Scheme & Regulations will be published in late March or early April 2018.


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