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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 194-214
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Services Provision
 Header Item Departmental Contracts
 Header Item Maternity Benefit Issues
 Header Item Public Sector Staff Grades
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Payments
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Application Numbers
 Header Item Emergency Works Scheme Applications
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Services Provision
 Header Item Pupil-Teacher Ratio
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Expenditure

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 96 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 194-214

  Question No. 194 answered with Question No. 159.

  Questions No. 195 and 196 answered with Question No. 128.

Special Educational Needs Services Provision

 197. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the position regarding the allocation of funding to a school(details supplied) in County Kerry to provide an autism unit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56336/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I am pleased to inform the Deputy that devolved funding for the provision of a 2-classroom ASD Unit was approved in October 2012 under my Department's Additional Accommodation Scheme for the school referred to by the Deputy.

Departmental Contracts

 198. 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 any concerns have been conveyed to him in relation to non-payment, underpayment or late payment for work done on projects funded by his Department since his appointment in March 2011. [56345/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn My Department although it is the primary funding agency, is generally not the contracting authority on building projects in the Education Sector. As such it has no legal authority to intervene in legally binding contracts involving third parties.

In general when bodies in receipt of funding from my Department seek payment by way of grant aid, my Department processes payments in time to enable for those organisations to meet their contractual obligations.

A building project is a complex arrangement of contractual relationships between the client, the main contractor, specialist sub-contractors, domestic sub-contractors, suppliers of materials, suppliers of plant etc. In general all sub-contractors employed on education sector building projects are employed directly by the Main Contractor or indirectly by the Main Contractor through other sub-contractors. It is a matter for all sub-contractors to agree terms and conditions and a schedule of payments with the Main Contractor as their direct employer. The Deputy may be aware that the Construction Contracts Bill 2010 as currently drafted, provides statutory arrangements for payments under construction contracts, including providing for interim payments, thus reducing a payee's exposure to non-payment, and by introducing a new mechanism for the swift resolution of payment disputes through a process of adjudication. The sponsoring Department of this Bill is the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform which is best placed to expand on the provisions of this Bill.

Maternity Benefit Issues

 199. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will provide the background to the maternity leave in lieu arrangements for teachers that he is proposing to abolish in 2013; the number of teachers that will be affected in a calendar year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56370/12]

 209. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn further to his statement following Budget 2013, if it is his intention to reduce entitlement of teachers and special needs assistants to maternity leave-in-lieu arrangements; if it is his intention to eliminate all entitlements to such maternity leave-in-lieu arrangements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56449/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I propose to take Questions Nos. 199 and 209 together.

Under previous arrangement teachers and SNAs who had been absent on maternity leave could avail of a maximum of 30 additional paid absence days in lieu of any school closures which overlapped with the 26 week period of maternity leave to which they were entitled. Teachers and SNAs who had been absent on statutory unpaid maternity leave could also avail of leave in lieu for public holidays which occurred during that period.

These additional days, which were taken during a period when the school was open, required the school to employ a substitute teacher or SNA to cover the absence at considerable cost to the taxpayer.

Statistics are normally provided by my Department on a school year basis and, for the 2011/12 school year, 2378 teachers and 294 Special Needs Assistants availed of maternity leave in lieu.

The Government has decided it is no longer justifiable to provide additional paid days off for those on maternity leave and this arrangement has been ended. This will not affect a teacher or SNA's entitlements to 26 weeks' paid leave and an optional 16 weeks' unpaid maternity leave.

A similar change has been made to adoptive leave in lieu.

I am conscious that teachers may be already planning their maternity leave arrangements and I have given the sector as much notice as possible before implementing this change. It will take effect from 1 May 2013, and will deliver savings of up to €20m in a full year. Days in lieu of maternity leave will not be accrued on and from 1 May 2013 but any remaining leave in lieu on that date may be taken after it.

My alternative choice in this Budget was to increase the pupil-teacher ratio for all mainstream schools and I decided to retain the existing ratio in order to avoid having larger class sizes for our children.

Public Sector Staff Grades

 200. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the date on which he intends to review the salary grading structure of the public service as it affects his Department as committed to in the Programme for Government. [56383/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn While the Programme for Government includes a commitment for a review of the grading structure of the Public Service, this review is primarily a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 201. 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 a Student Universal Support Ireland grant will be granted in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56395/12]

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 17th 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.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 202. 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 a Student Universal Support Ireland grant will be granted in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56398/12]

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 her application is currently being assessed and a letter will issue shortly directly to the student outlining the position when a decision is made.

Student Grant Scheme Payments

 203. 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 a Student Universal Support Ireland grant will be paid in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56400/12]

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 14th 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.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 204. 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 a student grant in respect of a person (details supplied) County Kilkenny will be processed without delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56405/12]

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 the application of the student referred to by the Deputy is currently under review and SUSI will notify the student directly of the outcome.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 205. 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 a Student Universal Support Ireland grant will be issued without delay to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56406/12]

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.

Student Grant Scheme Application Numbers

 206. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the number of student grant applications that have been received by Student Universal Support Ireland on a county basis; the number that have been processed, awarded, paid, refused or awaiting decision to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56412/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The table provides a breakdown on a county basis of the status of student grant applications received by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI). The data provided is at a point in time on the 18th December 2012. It gives the position for student grant applications for attendance at both further and higher education. This data has been provided to my Department by SUSI. SUSI is continuing to make payments on a weekly basis to ensure students can get paid their grant as expeditiously as possible, once they have been awarded a grant. This will continue over the holiday period, with payments on the 21st December and 28th December. In addition to the numbers already paid their maintenance grant outlined in the attached document at least 2,000 will be paid on 21st December. Those awarded a grant must supply bank account details and confirmation of registration must be received from the institution in order for the first instalment to be paid.

SUSI Applications - Processing position by County

County Total

Appli-

cations
Awarded Can-

celled/

Refused
Appealed

To

SuSi
Awaiting

Pro-

visional

Assess-

ment

(New

applica-

tions

after

closing

date)
With

SUSI

Awaiting

Review

(Docu-

ments

Received)
Reviewed

and

Support-

ing

Docu-

ments

Requested
Mainten-

ance

Payments
Fees

Only

Payments
Carlow 971 373 164 22 6 26 380 166 49
Cavan 1326 486 231 39 3 63 504 268 28
Clare 1781 659 276 58 3 80 705 349 73
Cork 6878 2315 1351 155 8 259 2790 1062 360
Donegal 2886 1179 453 90 8 109 1047 632 101
Dublin 14057 4209 3037 281 27 323 6180 1903 291
Galway 4420 1530 750 127 8 194 1811 732 284
Kerry 2479 925 423 56 9 104 962 436 103
Kildare 2707 902 595 71 4 75 1060 449 55
Kilkenny 1394 512 253 32 3 46 548 244 90
Laois 1054 407 182 26 2 45 392 208 35
Leitrim 642 226 105 17 0 48 246 106 23
Limerick 2851 1025 489 69 4 80 1184 463 62
Longford 755 282 126 18 5 27 297 136 23
Louth 2154 788 376 69 7 49 865 383 42
Mayo 2479 923 409 71 8 108 960 456 106
Meath 2419 863 465 70 0 79 942 448 45
Monaghan 1106 413 195 36 2 49 411 210 28
Offaly 1236 512 221 36 1 41 425 276 32
Ros-

common
1173 431 206 37 3 59 437 224 62
Sligo 1217 406 215 30 3 47 516 167 35
Tipperary 2641 988 479 79 1 81 1013 502 128
Waterford 1914 706 404 43 5 43 713 326 141
West-

meath
1670 639 302 54 2 63 610 355 45
Wexford 2345 957 430 61 4 71 822 505 176
Wicklow 1938 687 412 45 6 56 732 356 62
Outside

of

Ireland
537 109 143 15 1 9 260 42 8
Total 67,030 23,452* 12,692** 1,707*** 133 2,234 26,812# 11,404 2,487##
*This figure includes some 1,800 provisionally awarded awaiting final course acceptance forms.  The figure does not include grants awarded but currently under appeal status.

**This figure does not include grants cancelled or refused that are currently under appeal status.

***This figure includes grant applications currently under appeal status and also a number where recent decisions have been made.

#This figure includes some 26,684 applications for which SUSI is awaiting documentation and some 128 on hand with SUSI which are being checked to ensure all documentation submitted is complete.

##This figure does not include some 2,121 students awarded a "fees only grant" (either student contribution or fees) - these payments will be made directly to the relevant institution on receipt of the appropriate invoice.

Emergency Works Scheme Applications

 207. Deputy Michael Lowry Information on Michael Lowry Zoom on Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if his attention has been drawn to an application for emergency works for a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary; the reasons this application was refused; if his attention has been drawn to the health and safety issues in the school arising from this decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56422/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn An application for funding under my Department's Emergency Works Scheme to replace the fire and intruder alarm systems along with upgrading the exterior security lighting and CCTV system has been received from South Tipperary VEC in respect of the school referred to by the Deputy. As the scope of works for this project is outside the terms of the Emergency Works Scheme they cannot be considered for emergency funding. The school authorities were advised of this.

Special Educational Needs Services Provision

 208. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will provide copies of the minutes of meetings held between is Department and professional bodies representing behaviour analysts over the past decade, as his Department researched and devised its policy on the education of children with autism. [56442/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I am assuming that the Deputy is referring to the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) which is a professional body with a division of behaviour analysis. I can inform the Deputy that there is no record in my Department of a formal bilateral meeting during the period in question with the PSI on applied behaviour analysis or indeed of a request from the professional body for such a meeting.

  Question No. 209 answered with Question No. 199.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

 210. Deputy Shane Ross Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will bring forward any derogation for fee-charging protestant secondary schools from the two point increase in pupil teacher ratio, in view of the fact that the ultimate impact of this change will mean that increasing numbers of protestant families will not be able to send their children to the school of their ethos and choice; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56452/12]

 211. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the impact of the teacher/pupil ratio on costs to families in a school (details supplied) in Dublin 13. [56471/12]

 221. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn his views on the impact of increasing the pupil teacher ratio in fee paying schools (details supplied) in Dublin 13. [56557/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I propose to take Questions Nos. 210, 211 and 221 together.

  The Government has protected frontline services in schools to the greatest extent possible in the recent budget and there will 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 recent budget. The DEIS scheme for disadvantaged schools is also fully protected with no overall changes to staffing levels or funding as a result of the budget.

    However, at a time of severely reduced resources, priorities have to be made. In an effort to ensure fairness in the education system, the PTR in fee charging second level schools will rise by two points to 23:1 in September 2013.

    A report conducted by my Department on the analysis of the tuition income of fee-charging schools will be published in the New Year. This report is expected to show that fee charging schools have considerable discretionary income and are best placed to manage with reduced public funding.

    I would like to assure the Deputies that this Government recognises the importance of ensuring that students from a Protestant or reformed church background can attend a school that reflects their denominational ethos while at the same time ensuring that funding arrangements are in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

    With regard to the fee-charging Protestant schools, an arrangement exists whereby funding is provided by my Department to the Secondary Education Committee (SEC), an organisation run by the churches involved in managing the Protestant secondary schools. The SEC then disburses funds to the Protestant fee-charging schools on behalf of pupils who would otherwise have difficulty with the cost of fees and who, in the absence of such financial support, would be unable to attend a second level school of a reformed church or Protestant ethos. Funding amounts to €6.5 million annually. This fund ensures that necessitous Protestant children can attend a school of their choice.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

 212. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn his views on the fact that farming families receive more educational grants than urban or PAYE families. [56472/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Higher Education Authority gathers Equal Access information each year from new entrants at undergraduate level on their socio-economic background, disability and ethnicity. The survey however is not mandatory. For the academic year 2011/12 it demonstrates that the proportion of student entrants from farming backgrounds who qualify for a grant is estimated at some 41.8%. This compares with 38.8% for all new entrants. This information has been supplied to my Department by the Higher Education Authority. The table shows the percentage of new awards made to students in higher education from the different socio economic categories for the academic year 2011/12. It demonstrates how new grant awardees from farming families compare with those from other occupations such as lower professional, non manual, manual skilled, semi skilled and own account workers.   This indicative data is subject to considerable qualification for interpretation purposes in relation to the reliability due to, inter alia, the level of undeclared status among the returns from the awarding authorities and the provision of accurate and or/adequate information in respect of occupation by the principal earner to enable the awarding authorities to classify them by socio-economic background. The information contained in the table has been supplied to my Department by the awarding authorities who submitted a return.

Breakdown of New Awards of Grants in Higher Education for 2011/12 academic year by Socio Economic Categories

A B C D E F G H I J Z Total
Employ-

ers &

Man-

agers
Higher Profess-

ional
Lower Profess-

ional
Non-

Manual
Manual

Skilled
Semi-

Skilled
Unskilled Own

Account Workers
Farmers Agri-

cultural Workers
All

Others gainfully occupied

&

unknown
 
2.53% 2.02% 11.12% 13.84% 9.73% 5.37% 7.19% 8.41% 5.00% 0.52% 34.27% 100.00%

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 213. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn when grants will issue to persons (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56473/12]

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 grants have been awarded to both students. An award letter issued on 17th December to the first student referred to by the Deputy while an award letter issued on 12th December last to the second student referred to by the Deputy.

Student Grant Scheme Expenditure

 214. 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 with regard to the change over to Student Universal Support Ireland, the amount by which the costs will exceed the savings for year one and two. [56475/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn During the transition period which migrates the administration from the local authorities and VECs to Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI), staff resources and associated staffing costs will continue to be incurred by both the local authorities and VECs, as well as SUSI. Staffing resources and staffing costs associated with the processing of grant applications for students renewing their grants are met by local authorities and vocational education committees within their overall resources. Details of the administration costs for local authorities and VECs for year one and two is not readily available. It was however estimated in 2011 that the cost of administration of student grants by the other 66 grant awarding authorities was in the region of €10.5m.


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