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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 193-209
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Payments
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Teacher Training Provision
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Applications
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Delays
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Appeals
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Staffing
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item School Management
 Header Item School Staffing
 Header Item School Staffing
 Header Item School Curriculum
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Bullying in Schools
 Header Item School Staffing
 Header Item Broadband Services Provision

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. 193-209

Student Grant Scheme Payments

 193. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn further to Parliamentary Question No. 82 of 22 November 2012, if payments due in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare will be paid immediately; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55532/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Under the terms and conditions of the Student Grant Scheme 2012 a grant awarding authority may pay maintenance grants in three or nine equal instalments in line with the annual rates specified in Schedule 3 of the Scheme. Student Universal Support Ireland are paying all new student grants approved for this academic year by electronic funds transfer on a monthly basis directly to students' bank accounts, rather than by cheque to the relevant college. Payments are made monthly in arrears.

SUSI has confirmed that in the case of the student referred to by the Deputy payments issued on 19th October and 23rd November 2012.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 194. 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 in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55541/12]

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 decision has now been made and a letter will issue directly to the student outlining the position.

Teacher Training Provision

 195. Deputy Dara Calleary Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will clarify that the future of the Bachelor of Education in Home Economics provided at a college (details supplied) in County Sligo is secure and that no decision will be made to relocate the programme. [55590/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I have accepted the recommendations set out in a report commissioned by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on the structures of initial teacher education. The purpose of the report was to identify possible new structures to improve initial teacher education in Ireland so that it is comparable with the best in the world.

The international panel of education experts recommended that teacher education be provided in six "centres for teacher education". Currently there are 19 state funded providers of ITE (and three non-state funded) offering more than 40 college programmes in primary and post-primary teaching. The new collaborations recommended by the international panel will mean that there will be a smaller number of centres for ITE offering education across multiple sectors from early childhood to primary, to post primary to adult education. These centres for teacher education will also possess a critical mass in terms of research capacity which is not always possible in smaller institutions.

The HEA has been requested to consult with the relevant parties and to prepare a detailed plan on how to implement the recommendations of the Panel. I understand that this process has started and a plan is expected by the end of the year.

I will consider the implementation plan from the HEA when received and a further announcement will be made at that stage.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 196. Deputy Michelle Mulherin Information on Michelle Mulherin Zoom on Michelle Mulherin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the position regarding a Student Universal Support Ireland grant application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo; if payment will be expedited; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55592/12]

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 (SUSI) that further documentation was received from the student referred to by the Deputy on 24th November 2012 and this documentation is currently under review. The student will be notified directly of the outcome.

Schools Building Projects Applications

 197. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn his plans for the proposed second level school at Kingswood Heights, Tallaght, Dublin 24; if any decision has now been taken in respect of the management of the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55593/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn It is proposed to provide a new 1000 pupil post-primary school at Kingswood Heights Tallaght Dublin 24. The project was included in the 5 year construction programme announced in March and is scheduled to progress to construction in 2015/16. The process to determine the patronage of the new school has yet to be undertaken.

Student Grant Scheme Delays

 198. Deputy Andrew Doyle Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will provide a comprehensive update on the processing of first-time student grant applications by Student Universal Support Ireland including such applications that are still in backlog or under query; the payments issued thus far and the current situation in terms of clearing the backlog that still exist; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55619/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I understand from Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) that, as at the close of business on the 9th December, it has received 66,891 student grant applications for this year. Processing of 33,936 applications are now complete - 20,859 have been awarded, or awarded pending submission of final course details and 13,077 applications have been refused or cancelled.

SUSI has 8,254 applications on hand which are currently being processed. Only 255 new applications have yet to commence processing. 5,989 applications that have been assessed are currently under query. SUSI is awaiting submission of documentation by the student on the remaining applications.

As at 7th December 8,769 students awarded a maintenance grant have been paid. Maintenance grant payment runs are continuing on a weekly basis to ensure students get paid as soon as possible after they submit their bank accounts details and their institutions confirm their attendance. In addition, 3,782 have been awarded a "fees only" grant (either the student contribution or fees) – these payments are made directly to the relevant institution.

SUSI is staffed to the level that has been requested and the resources have been put in place to enable them to process applications to completion, subject to all the necessary documentation having been submitted in order to make a decision in each case. The number of applications being processed has been increasing in recent weeks and every effort is being made to ensure that students get decisions on their grant applications as soon as possible.

SUSI has indicated that it is on target to progress all applications received to date with the necessary supporting documentation between now and the end of the year.

Student Grant Scheme Appeals

 199. 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 a decision to refuse a student grant to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15 from a socially disadvantaged area will be reviewed as a matter of urgency; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the college is demanding that the student pay €2250 by 9 December which they and their family cannot afford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55622/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I understand that in the case of the student referred to by the Deputy, his student grant application was unsuccessful and that he appealed the decision to the appeals officer in Student Universal Support Ireland on 21st November 2012. SUSI aims to issue determinations as promptly as possible and within the specified timeframes defined in the Student Support Act, 2011.

Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down, in writing, by SUSI, and remains of the view that SUSI has not interpreted the scheme correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board.

Special Educational Needs Staffing

 200. Deputy Pat Deering Information on Patrick Deering Zoom on Patrick Deering asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the total number of special needs assistants employed in pre-school settings; if these are included in the overall national cap of 10,575; his views on whether those SNAs employed in pre-school setting should be excluded from the national cap only relates to primary and secondary level. [55625/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I wish to advise the Deputy that the vast majority of supports for childcare, including pre-school education, is provided by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. The principal vehicle for the delivery of pre-school education is the free Pre-School Year in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) programme which was introduced in January 2010 and provides for early learning in a formal setting to children in the year before they commence primary school.

The HSE is responsible for the provision of care support for pupils attending pre-schools.

Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) are allocated to Special Schools and to mainstream Primary and Post Primary schools to support pupils with special educational needs. This may in some instances include provision for children who are enrolled to early intervention classes in recognised primary schools, or special schools, where support is provided for as part of the schools total quantum of SNA support. However, SNA support is not provided to pre-school services which operate outside of the primary or special school provision. Where care support is required for such children attending pre-schools, it is provided by the HSE.

Schools Building Projects Status

 201. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the position regarding the building of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 16; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55646/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The school, referred to by the Deputy, has applied to my Department for large scale capital funding for a new school. The current status of all projects on the school building programme, including the school in question, may be viewed on my Department's website at www.education.ie. and this is being updated regularly throughout the year.

In light of the need to prioritise available funding for the provision of additional school accommodation, the delivery of major school projects required to meet future demographic demand will be the main focus for capital investment in the coming years. The 5 Year Construction Plan that I announced on 9 March last outlines the major school projects that will commence construction over the duration of the Plan. It is not possible therefore at this point to indicate when a project for the school in question will be progressed.

School Management

 202. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the differences in board structures for community schools and community colleges; the nominating bodies for board positions; the number of positions ascribed to each nominating body; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [55649/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn In general, the Board of Management of a community school consists of 10 members as follows:

- Three nominees of the relevant religious authority,

- Three nominees of the relevant Vocational Education Committee (VEC),

- Two parents of pupils in the school and

- Two teacher nominees

  Community colleges are managed by a Board of Management which is a sub-committee of the relevant VEC. In general, the composition of these boards is three nominees of the religious trustees, three nominees of the VEC, two teachers and two parents with the option of co-opting a tenth member.

School Staffing

 203. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the number of chaplains in Dublin post primary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55650/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Chaplain posts are allocated in respect of Community and Comprehensive Schools and designated Community Colleges.

  There are currently 37 whole time equivalent chaplain posts allocated to Dublin post primary schools.

School Staffing

 204. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the Dublin schools that have lost the service of a career guidance counsellor; the Dublin schools that are sharing the service of a career guidance counsellor; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55651/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Government has protected frontline services in schools to the greatest extent possible in the recent budget and there will be no reduction in teacher numbers in primary schools and in free second level schools for the 2013/14 school year as a result of the budget. The budget measure introduced for the current school year that requires schools to manage the provision of guidance from within their standard staffing allocation, the alternative to which was to make an adjustment to the standard staffing schedule, must be seen in the context of our very difficult budgetary constraints. It is also worth pointing out that, as part of last year's budgetary measures, my Department helped shelter the impact for DEIS post-primary schools by improving their standard staffing allocations.

Teacher allocations to post primary schools for the 2012/13 school year have effectively been settled at this stage and schools have autonomy on how best to prioritise their available resources to meet the requirements in relation to guidance and the provision of an appropriate range of subjects to students.

The day to day management of how teaching resources are used in schools is done at local school level. It is established policy that guidance is a whole school activity and under existing arrangements each school develops a school guidance plan as a means of supporting the needs of its students. I am confident schools will act in the best interest of students.

School Curriculum

 205. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the steps he has taken to address the matter of teenage suicide in Dublin post primary schools; his views on whether wellness is a topic that ought to be provided for at second level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55652/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Well-Being in Post-Primary Schools: Guidelines for Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention (2012) have been developed to implement Action 2.1 of Reach Out: the National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention 2005-2014 (HSE, 2005). The Guidelines, which are being launched shortly, were developed by a Working Group with representation from Teacher Education Section/Inspectorate, SPHE Support Service, National Psychological Service (NEPS) all from this Department along with the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive/National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP). The NOSP and the DES funded their development.

The Guidelines were developed following a process of wide consultation with key education partners and are informed by the findings of the consultation process and recent research. The Guidelines provide practical guidance on how post-primary schools can promote mental health and well-being and school connectedness in an integrated way, which are critical to young people's success in school and in life. The Guidelines also provide evidence-based advice on how to support young people who may be at risk of suicidal behaviour. Information is also provided in the Guidelines relating to accessing support from external agencies and support services.

The Guidelines are for all members of the school community, boards of management and in-school management teams who play a central leadership role in mental health promotion. They will also be useful for parents' associations, student councils, health and other personnel who are seeking an understanding of how to work in and with schools.

The key to successful implementation of these Guidelines lies in taking a coordinated whole-school approach. This involves building and integrating school self-evaluation processes, implementing the Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) curriculum, developing the whole-school guidance plan, adopting the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) continuum of support, and building effective inter-agency relationships.

The Guidelines draw together the various elements that provide for effective student support and build on the significant work already taking place in schools. They provide a clear framework for schools and for agencies supporting schools on how to address issues of mental health promotion and suicide prevention. Mental health promotion and the provision of supports for vulnerable students depend on ongoing cooperation between schools and the range of available services and agencies from the education, health and community sectors.

The European wide Health Promoting School Process (HPS) is outlined and the Guidelines show how the HPS may be adopted by schools to constantly strengthen its capacity to be a healthy setting for learning and working by focusing at whole-school level on all the conditions that affect health and well-being.

In addition, in the new Framework for Junior Cycle which I launched in October, "Wellbeing" is one of the 8 principles which underpin the Framework. Through a student's experience in Junior Cycle, I want the student to be able to take actions to safeguard and promote his/ her wellbeing and that of others.

Schools Building Projects Status

 206. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the proposals his Department have for the school site at a location (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55653/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn As the Deputy will be aware, my Department works closely with local authorities throughout the country in the context of identifying, reserving and purchasing sites to meet identified needs for educational purposes in an area. The site referred to by the Deputy is reserved in the relevant Development Plan to meet future needs within the general area. The acquisition and development of this or any reserved site is subject to a specific educational need being identified by my Department which will then have to be considered within the context of my Department's capital budget for school buildings generally.

Bullying in Schools

 207. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn when the action plan on bullying will be published and if he will indicate his intention to pursue the recommendations therein to confront this serious issue; if he will make a statement on the matter. [55659/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Deputy may be aware that I asked the anti-bullying working group to submit their draft action plan to me by 30th November. The working group met this deadline and I am satisfied with the progress they have made. The Anti-Bullying Working Group identified a number of tasks that needed to be completed before finalising the plan and this work is currently being done. I understand that the Group intend to consult with the education partners in the coming weeks. I expect the anti-bullying action plan to be published early in the new year and I will outline my response to it at that time.

School Staffing

 208. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the number of additional teachers that will be recruited in both the primary and secondary school sectors in 2013; where these teachers will be allocated across the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55660/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Government has protected frontline services in schools to the greatest extent possible in the recent budget and there will be no reduction in teacher numbers in primary schools and in free second level schools as a result of the budget. When account is taken of additional posts for demographics at primary and second level there is an estimated net increase of about 1.4% (900 posts) on overall teacher numbers for the 2013/14 school year compared to the current 2012/13 school year. The criteria used for the allocation of teachers to schools is published annually on my Department's 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 process for the 2013/14 school year at individual school level will be initiated early in 2013, however the final staffing position for all schools will not be known until later in the year (generally Autumn) when the allocation process will be fully completed and all appeals to the Staffing Appeals Board will have been considered.

Broadband Services Provision

 209. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn when second level schools in counties Longford and Westmeath will receive high speed broadband; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55661/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The national roll-out of 100 mbps broadband to post primary schools will be completed over three stages with 200 schools being connected by end 2012, a further 200 being connected next year and the remaining 250 schools being connected in 2014.

Schools in Longford and Westmeath are included in the lot of schools to be completed by the end of 2012. To date 195 schools have been completed with 5 schools remaining to be connected. These 5 schools have been delayed due to major building or renovation works being carried out on the buildings.


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