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 Header Item Written Answers Nos 168-183
 Header Item Pupil-Teacher Ratio
 Header Item Teacher Data
 Header Item Teacher Data
 Header Item Teacher Redeployment
 Header Item School Accommodation
 Header Item School Accommodation
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Digital Strategy for Schools
 Header Item Residential Institutions Redress Scheme Data
 Header Item Preschool Services
 Header Item Language Schools
 Header Item Teacher Data
 Header Item Services for People with Disabilities
 Header Item Teaching Qualifications
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item School Textbooks

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 946 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos 168-183

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

 168. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the status of an appeal for a school (details supplied); if he will ensure that this school will not lose a teacher; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17470/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The criteria used for the allocation of teaching posts for the 2017/2018 school year is set out in the Staffing Schedule (Circular 0017/2017) which is available on the Department 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 30 September 2016. The staffing schedule also includes an appeals mechanism for schools to submit an appeal under certain criteria to an independent Appeals Board.

The school referred to by the Deputy has submitted an application for consideration by the Appeals Board at its April meeting.

The Appeals Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.

Teacher Data

 169. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of teachers employed in the voluntary secondary sector who are in receipt of a salary from his Department; the number of these that are subject to salary deductions to facilitate membership of the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland and the Teachers Union of Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17473/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The information requested by the Deputy is being compiled and will be forwarded directly to him.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

  On 30 March 2017, 14,185 teachers in the voluntary school sector were paid on my Department's payroll. Of these, 11,687 had deductions in respect of ASTI membership and 258 had deductions in respect of TUI membership.

Teacher Data

 170. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of teachers in the voluntary secondary sector who are in receipt of the payment for participation in the supervision and substitution scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17474/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Under the terms of Circular 0006/2014 the supervision and substitution allowance was discontinued with effect from the commencement of the 2013/14 school year. This Circular also provided that a gross additional payment of €1,592 in lieu of the supervision and substitution allowance would be included in the Common Basic Scale for teachers in two moieties - half in the school year 2016/17 and half in the school year 2017/18. This payment is payable to members of the TUI who have accepted the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

The number of teachers in the voluntary secondary sector who are currently in receipt of the gross additional payment of €796 in respect of the 2016/2017 school year is 320.

Teacher Redeployment

 171. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if his Department will apply the same criteria for the awarding of contracts of indefinite duration and access to the redeployment scheme to all teachers in the voluntary secondary sector irrespective as to whether they are members of the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17475/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The ASTI's withdrawal from the Croke Park hours means that the union has repudiated the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

The financial and other consequences for ASTI members of failure to co-operate with the terms of the agreement were formally notified to ASTI in June 2016. By deciding to reject the Lansdowne Road Agreement, the ASTI has placed its members outside that Agreement and has decided that the Agreement’s benefits and protections will not apply to its members. The protection from compulsory redundancy that public servants have arises from commitments given by the Government under the Lansdowne Road Agreement. Another benefit of the Agreement is the continuation of the Ward Report measures in relation to contracts of indefinite duration and a revised sequence for filling posts – both of which enable fixed-term and part-time teachers to gain permanent, full-time jobs more easily and quickly than before.

The purpose of the redeployment scheme for school surpluses is to deal with situations where teacher surpluses arise without the need for compulsory redundancies. The process of identifying staff surpluses takes place in the first half of each year and takes effect from the start of the following school year. The process operates and deals with any surplus for the following school year.

The process for the 2017/18 school year is currently under way in the Department. 60 secondary schools were identified as possible surplus schools for the 2017/18 school year. These 60 schools received a letter notifying them of their surplus and were given an opportunity to respond to same. This represents the total number of schools where potential surpluses could arise.

However, at this stage of the process it is too early to say what the final position as regards the level of surplus will be, either generally or in particular schools. The level of surplus is influenced by many factors including retirements, career breaks, job-sharing etc. and additional allocations for the forthcoming year in respect of demographics. This continues to evolve as new information is received from relevant schools. Given that Budgets 2016 and 2017 did not negatively impact on teacher allocations, it would not be surprising that the level of redeployment would be lower than in recent years.

The Department expects to know the final position in relation to the number of surplus teachers shortly. This is no different to what has transacted in previous years.

School Accommodation

 172. Deputy Mary Butler Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the status of an application made by a primary school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17482/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton As the Deputy is aware, my Department recently approved funding to the school in question to construct an additional classroom to accommodate the appointment of a third teacher. While the school's application did not include a request for the accommodation referred to in the details supplied by the Deputy, my Department considers that the school has sufficient accommodation for this purpose, including access to a multi-purpose room.

School Accommodation

 173. Deputy Mary Butler Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the status of an application for funding (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17484/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton As the Deputy is aware, the school in question submitted an application to my Department, for capital funding for improved school accommodation, including prefab replacement. The application was considered in the context of the very significant challenges facing my Department in prioritising available capital funding for essential mainstream classrooms to meet the demand for extra school places and in cases where additional teachers have been appointed. The school has not been sanctioned an additional teaching post and on that basis, my Department was not in a position to provide grant to the school. My Department wrote to the school last December explaining the position.

With regard to prefab replacement, over the lifetime of my Department's Capital Programme, it is my intention to replace all purchased temporary accommodation with permanent accommodation, where the need is established. To enable this development, my Department will be carrying out an assessment of the number of prefabs being used in all schools, including the school to which the Deputy refers, to deliver the curriculum. This will also determine whether or not individual prefabs need to be replaced in the context of the long-term accommodation needs of each individual school. When completed, this assessment will quantify the number of prefabs to be replaced.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

 174. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the income thresholds for which applications for a third level grant can be applied for in respect of the academic year 2017-2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17507/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Under the terms of the student grant scheme, grant assistance is awarded to students who meet the prescribed conditions of funding including those which relate to nationality, residency, approved course, previous academic attainment and means.

  The income thresholds for the Student Grant Scheme are announced annually as part of the Budget process. No changes to the thresholds were included in Budget 2017.

  The Student Grant Scheme provides for higher income thresholds for larger families. In addition to this, further increases in the income thresholds are provided for where additional family members are attending further and higher education at the same time.

  The income threshold for the special rate of grant is €23,000. The student must also meet other qualifying criteria for the special rate of grant. The highest income threshold, for a family of less than 4 dependent children, is €54,240. This will qualify a student for 50% of the student contribution.

  The 2017 Student Grant Scheme was published recently. Details of the thresholds can be accessed via the following link: www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2017/si/125/made/en/pdf.

Digital Strategy for Schools

 175. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on an organisation (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17515/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The “Digital Strategy for Schools 2015-2020, Enhancing Teaching, Learning and Assessment sets out a clear vision that is focused on realising the potential of digital technologies to transform the learning experiences of students by helping them become engaged thinkers, active learners, knowledge constructors and global citizens who participate fully in society and the economy.

  The Strategy is organised around four themes:

  - Teaching, Learning and Assessment Using ICT

  - Teacher Professional Learning

  - Leadership, Research and Policy

  - ICT Infrastructure

  The Strategy recognises the significant barriers schools face in embedding ICT in teaching and learning and these will be addressed over the period of the Strategy. Significant additional training focussed on the use of technologies for teaching and learning is planned. Extensive support will be provided on planning for the embedding of ICT in teaching and learning.

  As a public body, the Department is required to follow Government procurement procedures in relation to the purchase of services to support implementation. It is an essential part of these procedures that contracts are only made available through a public procurement process. While schools are autonomous in their decision making, they are also expected to follow public procurement procedures.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme Data

 176. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will provide a copy of all ministerial orders to the Residential Institutions Redress Board, pursuant to section 28(5A) of the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002, as inserted by section 34(h) of the Commission to Inquire in to Child Abuse (Amendment) Act 2005; and if he will provide a copy or copies of correspondence or reports issuing from the Residential Institutions Redress Board or from any other person or body, in compliance with, or regarding, the above order or orders. [17528/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Section 34(h) of the Commission to Inquire in to Child Abuse (Amendment) Act, 2005 inserts the following subsections after subsection 28 (5A) of the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002

  “(5A) Nothing in subsection (1) operates to prohibit the production of a document prepared for the purposes or in contemplation of an application to the Board or a submission for a review by the Review Committee, or given in evidence in such application or review, to—

  (a) a body or other person when it, or he or she, is performing functions under any enactment consisting of the conducting of a hearing, inquiry or investigation in relation to, or adjudicating on, any matter, or

  (b) such body or other person as may be prescribed by order made by the Minister, when the body or person concerned is performing functions consisting of the conducting of a hearing, inquiry or investigation in relation to, or adjudicating on, any matter as may be so prescribed.

  There have been no Ministerial orders made under this legislation and subsequently no correspondence in relation to compliance with an order.

Preschool Services

 177. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will expedite a decision on an application to open a preschool on the premises of a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17544/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I wish to advise the Deputy that, in general, school authorities have a considerable degree of autonomy in relation to how their premises are managed and utilised at local level. It should be noted that the vast majority of primary school buildings in the country are in private ownership, including the school referred to by the Deputy.

The Department has a general policy of encouraging the use of school facilities by community and other groups where this is possible. However, any proposal for the use of school facilities must be approved by the Patron/owner. I understand that the Patron/owner has not granted approval for the operation of a pre-school on the premises in question.

Proposals to the Minister to allow use of accommodation during the school day have been facilitated in the past, provided that the school's current and future accommodation needs are not compromised and the consent of the patron has been received. I understand that the school has been in contact with the Patron in this regard.

Language Schools

 178. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Information on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Zoom on Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will provide a list of LTIs across the State. [17547/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The majority of English language schools in Ireland are privately run and statistics on the number of these providers are not maintained by my Department.

Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) operates ACELS (the Accreditation and Coordination of English Language Services). ACELS is a voluntary scheme which grants recognition to English language schools in Ireland annually. A list of schools holding this recognition is available online at www.acels.ie/schools.

English language schools in Ireland seeking to enrol non-EEA students must be listed on the Interim List of Eligible Programmes (ILEP). The ILEP, which is maintained by the Department of Justice and Equality in association with my Department, is a list of education programmes considered to justify the granting of permission to students to live and work in Ireland. Details of English language providers that are listed on the ILEP is available online at: www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/Interim%20List%20of%20Eligible%20Programmes%20-%20ILEP.

Teacher Data

 179. Deputy Joan Collins Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of teachers in voluntary secondary schools in receipt of the supervision and substitution allowance. [17551/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Under the terms of Circular 0006/2014 the supervision and substitution allowance was discontinued with effect from the commencement of the 2013/14 school year. This Circular also provided that a gross additional payment of €1,592 in lieu of the supervision and substitution allowance would be included in the Common Basic Scale for teachers in two moieties - half in the school year 2016/17 and half in the school year 2017/18. This payment is payable to members of the TUI who have accepted the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

The number of teachers in the voluntary secondary sector who are currently in receipt of the gross additional payment of €796 in respect of the 2016/2017 school year is 320.

Services for People with Disabilities

 180. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the status of an appeal by a person (details supplied) for assistive technology; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17556/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department provides funding to schools towards the cost of assistive technology for pupils with physical or communicative disabilities, for educational purposes, as set out in my Department's Circular 0010/2013. Provision under the scheme is made for those pupils whose degree of disability is such that without such technological support it would not be possible for them to access the school curriculum.

The criteria which must be evidenced to qualify for support under the scheme are that the professional reports state that the equipment is essential for the effective education of the child, illustrating how the recommended equipment is to be used for educational purposes throughout the school day and that the needs outlined in the professional report cannot be met from within the school’s existing school I.T. equipment.

The scheme is targeted at pupils with specific educational needs and provides equipment of a direct educational benefit which has been recommended by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) as being essential for those pupils to access the school curriculum.

An application for assistive technology support for the child in question was initially refused by my Department on the basis that the device is recommended for communication purposes; the professional report submitted sets out that the equipment will provide an augmentative means of communication for the child in question. Funding is provided by my Department, under the Assistive Technology scheme, for equipment for educational purposes, whereas communication devices are provided for by the Health Service Executive (HSE) through its Aids and Appliances scheme. The equipment recommended is to enable the child in question to communicate not only in school, but in the broader social context.

As the Deputy is aware officials at my Department meet cross sectorally with officials from the Department of Health, the HSE, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, and the NCSE, on a regular basis, in order to consider issues in relation to the provision of educational services for children with special educational needs. The purpose of such cross sectoral meetings is to enhance co-ordination and co-operation between the health and education sectors in planning for the education of children and related matters across a range of service areas. This matter will, therefore, be raised with the interdepartmental Cross-Sectoral Team.

Teaching Qualifications

 181. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his plans regarding the DIP after September 2017 (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17561/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton In 2012, the Teaching Council took over responsibility for the induction and probationary processes for teachers. Since then, at the request of the Teaching Council, the Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Skills has operated probationary inspections arrangements for newly qualified teachers. This was agreed in order to allow the Teaching Council time to develop, trial and put in place more appropriate induction/probation arrangements to enable teachers gain full registration with the Council.

In the meantime, the Teaching Council has established standards for post-qualification professional practice, as set out in Droichead, the new model of induction and probation for newly qualified primary and post-primary teachers. The Droichead programme promotes ongoing, sustained professional development through an initial period of in-school induction and mentoring and gives effect to one of the Teaching Council’s primary functions – that of peer regulation and setting the standards of entry into the profession and registration as a teacher.

The Droichead programme was the subject of a three-year pilot before it was approved by the Council in March 2016. The programme is being introduced on a phased basis since last September. Inherent to this policy is a structure to support the growth and development of Droichead over a number of years, whereby the availability of the traditional Inspectorate route to gaining full registration with the Council (known as probation) will be phased-out in favour of the new Droichead path for the early professional development of teachers and their induction into the profession. The growth and development phase of the Teaching Council’s Droichead policy has identified teachers employed in a special education or restricted setting to be the first cohort of teachers for whom Droichead would be the only route available to achieve full registration with the Council during the 2016-17 school year. The traditional probation route, therefore, is not available to these teachers during this initial and in subsequent phases of Droichead.

While a new policy on teacher probation was adopted by the Teaching Council in December 2016, this does not change the requirement for teachers in a special education setting to avail of Droichead in order to gain full registration with the Teaching Council during the current school year.

My Department is considering the impact of the new policy adopted by the Council.

Schools Building Projects Status

 182. Deputy Willie O'Dea Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the status of the provision of a new community school in the Mungret area; the current stage it is at; when he expects the school to be completed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17568/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I can confirm to you Deputy that a project for the school in question was included in the Department's 6 Year Capital Programme announced in November 2015 to proceed to the tender and construction stages in 2018.

A suitable site has been identified and Department officials are working to advance its acquisition. Due to the commercial sensitivities which attach to site acquisitions generally I am unfortunately not in a position to provide further information at this time.

School Textbooks

 183. Deputy Peadar Tóibín Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the projected funding an organisation (details supplied) will receive for 2017 to develop primary and secondary school textbooks and resources in Irish. [17594/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta (COGG) was established to undertake the functions set out in Section 31 of the Education Act 1998. Those functions are:-

  (i) to plan and co-ordinate the provision of textbooks and aids to learning and teaching through Irish,

  (ii) to advise the Minister on policies relating to the provision and promotion of education through the medium of Irish in recognised schools generally and in schools located in a Gaeltacht area,

  (iii) to provide support services to those schools through the medium of Irish, and

  (iv) to conduct research into any or all matters to which this paragraph applies,

  and

  (v) to plan and co-ordinate the provision of textbooks and aids to the learning and teaching of Irish and to conduct research into and to advise the Minister on strategies which have as their objective the enhancement of the effectiveness in the teaching of Irish in recognised schools and centres for education.

  For the delivery of its core functions COGG received an allocation of €1.7 million for 2017. It is not possible to provide a precise breakdown at this stage of the amount that will be spent on developing primary and secondary school textbooks and resources in Irish. In 2016 COGG’s outturn was €1.4m of which €340,000 was spent on learning and teaching resources for Primary and Post-Primary schools. COGG expects to spend somewhat more in 2017 due to Junior Cycle developments and implementation of the new policy on Gaeltacht Education.

  COGG will additionally receive funding in 2017 of some €340k for their role in implementation of the policy on Gaeltacht Education.


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