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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 379 - 390
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Expenditure
 Header Item State Examinations
 Header Item Student Universal Support Ireland Administration
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Staffing
 Header Item School Accommodation
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Summer Works Scheme Expenditure
 Header Item National Parents' Council
 Header Item Departmental Funding
 Header Item Residential Institutions
 Header Item School Accommodation
 Header Item School Transport Provision

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 861 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 379 - 390

Special Educational Needs Expenditure

 379. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan further to Parliamentary Question No. 436 of 25 November 2014, the reason a request (details supplied) submitted to her Department on 21 March 2011 by a preschool registered as a charity, which was established by parents of children with autism and which requested that the funds relating to the home tuition scheme would go directly to the pre-school, was completely ignored by the Department even though the Department already had such an arrangement in operation with a private commercial organisation at that time.  [46801/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan The details supplied by the Deputy refer to a comprehensive proposal to the Department to fund an Academy for Children with Autism for children aged 4 – 14 as an alternative to State funded placements in State funded schools. A decision was taken not to provide the funding to support the proposal as it was not in line with departmental policy on educational provision for children with autism and the applicants were advised accordingly. The applicants were informed of this decision in writing in June 2011.

A section of the rejected submission related to pre-school services and suggested that the Academy would rely on home tuition funding to fund this element of provision if three significant changes could be made to the scheme.   

The Deputy is aware the Home Tuition scheme is intended to provide support for children for whom State funded school placements are not available, as an interim measure pending placement. My officials could not consider favourably, as proposed by the applicants, removing this core eligibility criterion by providing Home Tuition funding for children who were ineligible for Home Tuition under the terms of the scheme. Similarly, my officials could not agree to a proposal to guarantee continued funding for such children until the age of 6.

Having rejected the application on these grounds , the third change, which related to direct payment arrangements to the applicants to support the proposed venture did not arise.

State Examinations

 380. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan if she will provide an update regarding the proposal to reform the junior certificate system; the benefits of the proposed new system and particularly the way it will benefit students; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46828/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Since my appointment as Minister, I have consulted widely with all education partners on the proposed reform of the Junior Cycle, including with representatives of parents. I have listened to their concerns and reflected on how I could present the necessary reforms to address their concerns and those of other partners.

On November 10th I presented my revised proposal to the Teacher Unions. It includes a combination of 60% of marks to be allocated to a final exam at the end of third year which will be set and marked by the SEC, alongside 40% of marks to be allocated for school based work such as portfolios and projects to be assessed by teachers which will be accompanied by the SEC monitoring 10-15% of these marks.

What is assessed is valued; school based assessment promotes a learning culture in schools. It recognises and rewards skills which cannot readily be assessed through externally assessed written final examinations.

It is essential that students are marked by their own teachers to promote better student learning and improved student outcomes. School based assessment empowers teachers to support the unique talents and skills of the students in their classrooms. It allows for a much more rounded picture of student achievement to emerge.

This combined approach with its external checks and balances will lead to state certification on completion of junior cycle.   It will have integrity and validity and teachers will be supported in this change.

This reform is not about protecting systems, it is about improving standards. The positive aspects of the existing junior certificate will be maintained and improved by my proposal.

Student Universal Support Ireland Administration

 381. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan when a Student Universal Support Ireland grant application will be paid in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Laois in view of the fact that the person's last additional information was requested of the person's spouse in mid October and dealt with and the same information was requested of the person on 11 November 2014, however this information should have been requested of both at the same time and hence there is a further delay due to no fault of their own but an error on SUSIs part and that the person has now been told they may not receive payment until next year; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46831/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan As part of a comprehensive customer service and communications strategy provided by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI), to ensure that all necessary avenues are open to applicants to receive the information they need, a dedicated email and phone line service is provided by SUSI for Oireachtas members. This was established to meet an identified need for applicants who choose to engage the assistance of their public representatives in making enquiries about their grant applications.

This service compliments the established channels provided by SUSI which include online application tracking, a dedicated website, a telephone helpdesk, email and social media, including Facebook and Twitter.

  Enquiries may be emailed direct to SUSI at oireachtas@susi.ie. SUSI are responding to email queries within a matter of days.

Special Educational Needs Staffing

 382. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the number of special needs assistants and resource teachers who are employed nationally in our schools by her Department; of these the number who have been employed through JobBridge or any other Department of Social Protection scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46851/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan There are 11,000 learning support/resource teacher posts, including those provided under the General Allocation model, in mainstream primary and post primary schools providing additional teaching support to pupils with special educational needs this year as well as 11,110 Special Needs Assistant (SNA) posts providing support for children with significant care needs.

I recently announced, as part of Budget 2015, that an additional 365 Special Needs Assistant posts would be provided in 2015, as well as an additional 480 Resource Teachers, to take into account increased demand and demographic growth and to ensure that children can continue to have access to additional supports in school.

This is the highest number of Resource Teaching and SNA support that we have ever had. These increases, building on increases which have already been provided in recent years, will ensure that children with special educational needs can continue to participate in education and be supported in a manner appropriate to their needs.

The Work Placement Programmes (WPP1 for graduates and WPP2 for non-graduates), along with the JobBridge National Internship Scheme, are operated, managed and funded by the Department of Social Protection.

These schemes provide an opportunity for the exchange of expertise and experience between the host organisation and those in a placement/internship.

Circular Letter 66/2010, issued by my Department in relation to the WPP in November 2010, and circular letter 46/2011, issued by my Department in relation to JobBridge in October 2011, permitted schools to participate should they so wish.

Officials in the Department of Social Protection have informed my Department that there are currently 79 SNAs and 1 Resource Teacher in internships. There are no SNAs or Resource Teachers identified as being on Work Placement Programmes. These posts are not displacing allocated posts and are additional to the numbers listed above.

School Accommodation

 383. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan if she will facilitate the relocation of a school (details supplied) in County Laois.  [46876/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan I wish to advise the Deputy that the school in question has submitted a proposal to relocate the school to alternative permanent accommodation in the area concerned to meet it's long term requirements.

My Department has been in contact with the school Patron seeking further information in respect of the proposal. When the further information concerned is received, the proposal will be considered further by my Department.

Schools Building Projects Status

 384. Deputy Fergus O'Dowd Information on Fergus O'Dowd Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the position regarding a school (details supplied) in County Louth now that Stage 2 B has been approved by her Department; the criteria that will apply before this building project can proceed to tender; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46883/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan The Major School Building Project referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of Architectural Planning. The Stage 2b Detailed Design Submission was recently approved by my Department.

Due to competing demands on my Department's capital budget, imposed by the need to prioritise the limited funding available for the provision of additional school accommodation to meet increasing demographic requirements, it was not possible to include the project referred to by the Deputy in the five year construction programme announced in 2012.

School building projects, including the project referred to by the Deputy, which have been initiated but not included in the current five year construction programme continue to be progressed to final planning stages of architectural planning in anticipation of the possibility of further funds being available to my Department in the future. The project for the school referred to by the Deputy remains available to be considered for progression in that context

Summer Works Scheme Expenditure

 385. Deputy Joe Carey Information on Joe Carey Zoom on Joe Carey asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan when the balance will be paid on the summer works scheme in respect of a school (details supplied) in County Clare; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46889/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan I assume the Deputy is referring to an outstanding balance in respect of an emergency works grant allocated to the school in question. I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the outstanding balance in respect of this grant has recently been issued to the school management authority

National Parents' Council

 386. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the funding allocated to the National Parents Council during each year since 2009.  [46913/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan The information requested by the Deputy for both National Parents Councils', primary and post-primary, is available in the attached tables.

  Table 1: National Parents Council (primary), Department of Education and Skills funding 2009 to 2014.

YearCore Grant

Outturn
Training Grant

Outturn
Total
2014€326,000€197,465€523,465
2013€330,000€136,682€466,682
2012€330,000€76,682€406,682
2011€330,000€96,792€426,792
2010€330,000€106,488€436,488
2009€355,000€25,000€380,000


  Table 2: National Parents Council (post primary), Department of Education and Skills funding 2009 to 2014.
YearCore Grant

Outturn
Training Grant

Outturn
Total
2014€221,000Nil €221,000
2013€202,000€12,079€214,079
2012€202,000€45,460€247,460
2011€202,000€38,831€240,831
2010€177,000€33,300€210,300
2009€177,000Nil€177,000

Departmental Funding

 387. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the funding allocated to the Irish Second Level Students Union during each year since 2009.  [46914/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan My Department provides funding to the Irish Second Level Student Union (ISSU) as follows:

For the 2013/14 academic year a sum of €18,000 was allocated. This was paid in two instalments.

For the 2014/15 academic year a sum of €40,000 has been sanctioned. One instalment has been allocated.

In addition my Department allocated €10,335 to the ISSU to fund a student led study on the Transition Year Programme.

Residential Institutions

 388. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan her plans to repeal Section 28 of the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 as survivors believe it curtails their right to justice; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46921/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Section 28 of the Residential Institutions Redress Act, 2000 (as amended by section 34 of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Amendment Act 2005) prohibits the disclosure of information provided to the Redress Board and Review Committee other than in specified circumstances.

  It also prohibits any person from publishing any information concerning an application or an award made under the Act that refers to any person (including an applicant), relevant person or institution by name or which could reasonably lead to the identification of any such other person, relevant person or institution.    The legal advice available to my Department is that this provision does not prohibit applicants from recounting the stories of their childhood.

The section also provides that the Board and Review Committee, shall prior to the making of an Order for their dissolution, determine the disposal of the documents concerning applications made to them. The Government agreed in principle to legislative proposals being brought forward to allow for the retention of the records of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, the Residential Institutions Redress Board and the Residential Institutions Review Committee. These proposals will include amendments to existing legislation where necessary. It is intended that the records will be retained in the National Archives and completely sealed for a period of at least 75 years. I expect to be in a position to report to Cabinet in this regard shortly.

School Accommodation

 389. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan if her Department recognises the need for a new primary school in Pelletstown, Finglas, Dublin 11, in view of the increases in population in that area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46953/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan My Department is currently analysing the latest demographic data on a nationwide basis to determine where additional school accommodation might be needed from 2015 onwards.

  This process includes an examination of the Pelletstown area. When this exercise has been completed arrangements will be made to make additional accommodation available where it is needed.

School Transport Provision

 390. Deputy Michael Lowry Information on Michael Lowry Zoom on Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan if she will intervene in a school transport issue affecting a person (details supplied) in County Tipperary; if she will review, and alter, the current bus route in place, in view of the danger being posed to this person as a result of the current pick up point; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that this minor alteration will not make the route longer and in fact would return to a route that was used previously; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46961/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Damien English): Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English The purpose of my Department's Post Primary School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest education centre.

Bus Éireann is responsible for the planning and timetabling of school transport routes.

Bus Éireann endeavours to ensure that each eligible child has a reasonable level of school transport service in the context of the Scheme nationally. Routes are planned to avoid an eligible child having to travel more than 3.2 kilometres to or from a pick up/set down point; parents are responsible for ensuring that children are brought safely to and collected safely from Bus Éireann designated pick up and set down points. Home pick-ups were never envisaged as being part of the School Transport Scheme.

In this regard, Bus Éireann has advised that the child in question avails of a service within the above guidelines and the alteration suggested by the Deputy would incur additional mileage.

The terms of the School Transport Scheme are applied equitably on a national basis.


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