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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 159-175
 Header Item Teacher Training Provision
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Services Provision
 Header Item School Transport Provision
 Header Item Adult Education
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Foreign Language Assistant Scheme
 Header Item School Staffing
 Header Item Industrial Disputes
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Services Provision
 Header Item Teacher Training Provision
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 159-175

Teacher Training Provision

 159. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if the teacher refund scheme will be re-opened in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55092/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I intend to have a Teacher Fee Refund Scheme in 2013 and this scheme will apply to courses successfully completed during the 2011/12 academic year. As in previous years the scheme will be administered by Marino Institute of Education. Full details of the scheme have yet to be finalised but I expect details to be available in the first quarter of 2013.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 160. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn when an application for a third level Student Universal Support Ireland grant wil be approved in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55109/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland that, in the case of the student referred to by the Deputy, a grant has already been awarded and an award letter issued on 4th December 2012.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 161. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn when a decision will issue on a student grant application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; if this application will be processed as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55122/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland that, in the case of the student referred to by the Deputy, a grant has already been awarded and an award letter issued on 5th December 2012.

Special Educational Needs Services Provision

 162. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the position regarding disability services north east and disability services south west, both co-funded by the Health Service Executive and FÁS; if it is the case that disability services in these areas are being put out to tender; the reason for same; the consultation that has taken place with service providers across both areas or with REHAB nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55124/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon I am informed by FAS that all people with disabilities are eligible to access FÁS mainstream services. In addition vocational training for people with disabilities is provided through Specialist Training Providers (STPs), which provide training and employment services specifically for people with disabilities including people with physical, intellectual, mental health or sensory disabilities.

Learners on Specialist Training programmes have the opportunity to participate in training ranging from FETAC level 3 to level 5 on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). All training programmes delivered through these interventions address both the generic and vocational skills requirements of participating learners.

I understand that FÁS and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (to which FÁS reported at the time) considered relevant EU legislation, case law and directives together with Department of Finance public procurement guidelines and agreed that a new approach to procurement of Specialist Training provision should be implemented. This new approach to procurement of Specialist Training is being developed through an Official Journal of the EU tendering process which will be piloted in a number of regions. Specialist Training Providers including National Learning Network, which is part of the REHAB Group, have been advised of these developments on an ongoing basis since the process commenced.

It should be noted that FÁS is not responsible for the provision of disability services other than vocational training including Specialist Training for people with disabilities.

School Transport Provision

 163. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn in view of the difficulties that parents with different school aged children face with differing finishing times, if he will consider developing a single fare in addition to the return fare for school transport. [55127/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon One of the main objectives of the School Transport Scheme is to ensure that, as far as possible, eligible children have a reasonable level of service while at the same time, ensuring that school transport vehicles are fully utilised in an efficient and cost effective manner.

In this regard, Bus Éireann generally plan and timetable school transport services for children who are in attendance for the full school day.

Children in infant classes may have a school day that is one hour shorter than the length of the normal school day. This is a concession in the interests of young children and allows for a perceived inability on their part to sustain the work of the full day. It is a matter for the Board of Management of a particular school to decide whether the concession should be applied in the case of the school or not. It is also a matter for the managerial authorities to arrange adequate supervision for children while they are on the school premises.

The annual charge for school transport is a contribution towards the overall cost and does not reflect the true cost of providing these services.

Adult Education

 164. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the reason for the delay in approving FETAC courses; the way that he intends to address this backlog; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55178/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn As the Deputy will be aware, FETAC was formally dissolved on 6 November when I established the new amalgamated qualifications and quality assurance body, Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), which involved the amalgamation of FETAC with the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland (NQAI) and the Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC).

Significant work was undertaken by those bodies on the necessary core administrative preparations for the establishment of the new Authority. However, the establishment of QQI also involves the amalgamation of processes, including ones that have operated differently in the different agencies due to the history and nature of the different sectors. This will require the reconfiguration of current services such as the registration process for new providers, the validation and accreditation of programmes, the monitoring and review of providers and the development, review and certification of awards. This will include the development of formal guidelines, criteria and procedures pursuant to the new Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act 2012.

It is anticipated that new applications will be accepted by QQI from Spring 2013.

Schools Building Projects Status

 165. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the steps that he has taken to ensure that the school build programme in County Meath contributes to the local economy and job creation through the provision of local labour, local sourcing and other social clauses within the procurement process. [55182/12]

 172. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the steps he has taken to ensure that the school build programme at Johnston, Navan, County Meath, contributes to the local economy and job creation through the provision of local labour, local sourcing and other social clauses within the procurement process. [55234/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I propose to take Questions Nos. 165 and 172 together.

It is a key principle, enunciated in the Public Procurement Guidelines, published by the NPPPU, that the public procurement function is discharged honestly, fairly, and in a manner that secures best value for public money. Contracting authorities must be cost effective and efficient in the use of resources while upholding the highest standards of probity and integrity.

The Guidelines require a competitive process carried out in an open, objective and transparent manner to achieve best value for money in public procurement. This is in line with EU Treaty principles and EU Directives on public procurement.

Essential principles to be observed in conducting all procurement functions include non – discrimination, equal treatment, transparency, mutual recognition, proportionality, freedom to provide service and freedom of establishment. The Directives impose legal obligations on public bodies in regard to advertising and the use of objective tendering procedures for contracts above certain value thresholds. The estimated cost of the development at the school to which the Deputy refers is above the relevant threshold. In common with the rest of the Public Sector, capital works projects in schools are tendered under the standard Public Works Contracts as required by the Department of Finance and the Government Contracts Committee for Construction (GCCC).

School Building Projects, including the one referred to by the Deputy, are tendered in compliance with the above requirements. While building projects, by their nature, generally contribute to economic activity in the locality in which they are carried out, my Department does not regard it as feasible to use the Public Works Contracts to require contractors to use local labour or materials.

Schools Building Projects Status

 166. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the reason for the delay in locating a new site for the provision of a new school building (details supplied) in County Cork, a site that funding was ring fenced for in early 2012 and to date no progress has been made. [55184/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn My Department is working with the relevant Local Authority in relation to identifying and acquiring a suitable site for the provision of permanent accommodation for the school referred to by the Deputy and options are currently being explored in that regard. However, given the sensitivities associated with land acquisitions generally, I am not in a position to comment further at this point in time.

Once a suitable site has been identified and acquired, it is intended that the proposed building project will be progressed in accordance with the five year programme announced earlier this year.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

 167. Deputy Patrick Nulty Information on Patrick Nulty Zoom on Patrick Nulty asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if the Ministerial guidelines, as per SI No. 189 of 2012, Article 15 (8), which were issued to the awarding authorities on 15 August 2012, are publicly available; if not, the reason for same; if he will have them published on-line as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55199/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Guidelines in accordance with the Student Grant Scheme 2012 are published for the guidance of the awarding authorities and are available from my Department.

The guidelines have been made available at http://www.studentfinance.ie/mp9519/further-downloads/index.html

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 168. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn further to parliamentary question No. 323 of 27 November, 2012, when the Student Universal Support Ireland application will be processed in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cavan; the date on which first payment will be made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55201/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Officials in my Department have confirmed with SUSI, the new centralised grant awarding authority, that in the case of the student referred to by the Deputy a decision has now been made and a letter will issue shortly directly to the student outlining the position.

Foreign Language Assistant Scheme

 169. Deputy John Deasy Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the grants or funding made available to primary or post primary schools for the provision of foreign language skills; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55212/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Foreign Language Assistant scheme has its origins in Cultural Agreements between Ireland and the countries of France, Germany, Spain, Austria and Italy. Graduates or under-graduates from these countries exchange with their Irish counterparts and are placed in second level schools for an eight month period (October to May).

  The purpose of the exchange is two-fold. Firstly, it gives the assistants intending to proceed to a teaching career an opportunity to perfect their knowledge of the language and culture of the host country; the second objective is to improve the Irish students' knowledge and understanding of the foreign language and culture.

A total of 109 assistants were assigned to second-level schools in Ireland for the 2012/13 school year. They receive a monthly allowance of €918.

  As part of the Budget 2012 decisions, the Modern Languages in Primary Schools Initiative (MLPSI) ceased at the end of the 2011/12 school year.

  The MLPSI was a pilot scheme involving approximately 550 primary schools and had been operating since 1998. There were approximately 270 schools employing part-time tutors to deliver language tuition. There were a number of tutors employed in more than one school and the number of tutors would be less than 270. The tutors were paid by school Boards of Management from grants issued by my Department. The grant was paid where the school could not teach the modern languages from within the existing staff.

School Staffing

 170. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the reason the EAL teacher granted in April this year to a school (details supplied) in County Dublin on an appeal was removed in October without any warning or input from the school. [55228/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The criteria used for the allocation of teaching posts for the current school year is set out in Primary Circular 0007/2012 which is available on the Department website. In addition, the staffing appeal process at primary level includes the provision whereby schools with high concentration of pupils requiring English as an additional language (EAL) can apply for additional temporary language support posts. These EAL allocations are made on the basis of appeals by schools to the Primary Staffing Appeals Board.Teaching posts allocated on the basis of projected enrolments are allocated subject to verification of the projected enrolment at 30 September.

The school referred to by the Deputy sought a post under EAL criterion through the Primary Staffing Appeals Board. The school was notified by my Department on 23 April 2012 that the board had approved a temporary EAL post subject to achieving projected enrolments on 30 September and that if the enrolments were not achieved the post would be suppressed.

As the projected enrolment was subsequently not achieved the temporary EAL post was withdrawn.

Industrial Disputes

 171. Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the position regarding a case (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55232/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The matter referred to by the Deputy involved two appeals to the Labour Court. The first concerned an appeal pursuant to the Industrial Relations Acts, 1946 to 2004. The second concerned an appeal of an earlier decision of a Rights Commissioner pursuant to the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001.

The Labour Court hearing was held in June 2010.

The Department's position was upheld, as the appeals were disallowed and the decision of the Rights Commissioner was affirmed by the Labour Court.

  Question No. 172 answered with Question No. 165.

Special Educational Needs Services Provision

 173. Deputy Regina Doherty Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if school leavers with Down's Syndrome will have access to full training services from September; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55265/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon I am informed by FAS that all their mainstream training options are available for all people with Disabilities.

In addition, FÁS contracts with Specialist Training Providers countrywide to deliver training programmes for people with disabilities who do not avail of the mainstream options. A range of specialist courses is available at two levels of training, Introductory Skills Training (IST) and Skills Specific Training (SST), at 49 locations across the country. The specialist training provision includes in-centre, employer based and blended learning approaches to accommodate learners training needs.

  These training courses lead to certification from levels 3 – 5 in awards recognised on the National Framework of Qualifications. Entry to specialist training is open to all persons with disabilities over 16 years of age. Specialist training offers additional supports to learners which include individualised training and progression plans, literacy and numeracy support, longer training duration, adapted equipment, transport arrangements, enhanced programme content and enhanced trainer/learner ratio.

Teacher Training Provision

 174. Deputy Olivia Mitchell Information on Olivia Mitchell Zoom on Olivia Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if there are any financial supports available for student teachers to facilitate their participation in the Gaeltacht placement programme where their means are limited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55268/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  As part of the Government's budgetary considerations and the Comprehensive Expenditure Review last year, a decision was made to abolish the payment of grants by this Department towards the cost of student teachers' attendance at Gaeltacht courses. The decision came into effect for students commencing their programme of primary initial teacher education in the 2012/13 academic year. As the Deputy will be aware, priority is being given to protecting resources for front line services in the coming years.

This move brings the primary ITE courses more into line with other degree programmes where students are required to bear the costs of additional special requirements themselves.

The student grant is the main source of financial assistance available from the Irish State for students in full-time higher education undergraduate courses. Postgraduate students who meet the qualifying conditions for the special rate of grant will be eligible to have their post-graduate tuition fees paid up to the maximum fee limit. In addition, the field trip element of a fee grant may also be payable subject to the terms and conditions of the student grant scheme. A further limited number of students who would previously have qualified under the standard grant thresholds will qualify to have a contribution made towards the costs of their fees.

In circumstances of particular need students may apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund which assists students in third-level institutions in exceptional financial need. Information on the fund is available through the Access Officer in the third level institution attended. The Access Officers themselves will also continue to provide support and advice to students to enable them to continue with their studies.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 175. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if an application for Student Universal Support Ireland grant in respect of a person (details supplied) will be granted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55282/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Officials in my Department have confirmed with SUSI, the new centralised grant awarding authority, that on the 2nd December, 2012 a request for further documentation was issued to the student referred to by the Deputy. When the requested documentation is returned the student will be notified directly of the outcome.


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