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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 71-90
 Header Item School Curriculum
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item Education and Training Provision
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item School Accommodation Provision
 Header Item Teachers' Remuneration
 Header Item Schools Site Acquisitions
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item School Accommodation Provision
 Header Item Schools Mental Health Strategies
 Header Item Pupil-Teacher Ratio
 Header Item Schools Establishment
 Header Item Teaching Qualifications
 Header Item School Patronage
 Header Item Schools Establishment
 Header Item School Accommodation Provision
 Header Item Schools Refurbishment
 Header Item School Curriculum
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 971 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 107 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 71-90

School Curriculum

 71. Deputy Bríd Smith Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his plans to implement a non-ethos based sex education programme in schools as recommended by the Citizens' Assembly; if such plans will encompass the issues of consent and LGBT+ pupils; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29418/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton In April of this year, I announced a major review of the Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) curriculum and this review, by the National Council on Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), is underway. 

  The review will cover both the content of the RSE curriculum and support materials, as well as the delivery of the curriculum in schools.

  Some elements of the current RSE curriculum are twenty years old and I believe that it is now time to carry out a major review of the curriculum to ensure that it is fit for purpose and meets the needs of young people today in modern Ireland.

  In relation to the content of the curriculum, I have asked the NCCA to specifically consider a number of areas in conducting its evaluation. These include:

  - Consent, what it means and its importance;

  - Developments in contraception;

  - Healthy, positive sexual expression and relationships;

  - Safe use of the internet;

  - Social media and its effects on relationships and self-esteem;

  - LGBTQ+ matters.

  I have also asked the NCCA to examine the experience and reality of RSE as delivered in schools. This will provide an opportunity for teachers, students, principals and parents to be consulted about RSE in their particular contexts.

  Every student has a right to access information about sexual health, relationships and sexuality, and this must be delivered in a factual manner in every school, regardless of the ethos of the school. This review will help to inform decisions regarding the content of the curriculum and how it is delivered.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 72. 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 if a report on the implementation of the National Council for Special Education’s policy advice on educational provision for children with autism spectrum disorder will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29345/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton A key priority for this government is ensuring that children with special educational needs are supported and given the opportunity to reach their full potential.

In 2018, some €1.78 billion will be invested in Special Education. This represents an increase of almost 42% since 2011 and amounts to almost one fifth of the Department’s overall Budget.

The National Council for Special Education’s Policy Advice on Educational Provision for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders was published in July 2016.  The report acknowledges that there has been substantial investment in the education of students with autism over the 14 years since the publication of the last major report on autism in 2001.  The report sets out 11 recommendations, for further improvement and outlines associated actions to give effect to its recommendations. Many of these recommendations relate to the services provided by other Departments or agencies including the HSE.

My Department has convened an Implementation Group with representatives of the NCSE, NEPS, the Inspectorate and representatives from other Departments and agencies to ensure that the Report’s recommendations are fully and appropriately considered.

While a number of the recommendations including those on the development of additional primary and post primary provision, have already been partially or substantially implemented, work is planned on the implementation of the remaining recommendations including those for other parties.

It is acknowledged that the implementation of a number of the recommendations including that on the development of an alternative scheme to the Extended School Year scheme will be challenging. I have asked my officials to prepare a progress report setting out expected timeframes for full implementation and I expect that report by early Autumn.

Education and Training Provision

 73. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on the statement of IBEC that as many as 80,000 additional construction workers will be required to meet infrastructure targets; if adequate plans are in place to meet the training needs for that number in the specific skills associated with construction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29295/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan I am aware of the report referred to in the Deputy's question regarding projected significant additional demand for construction workers to meet infrastructural priorities set out in the National Development Plan (NDP).  

I can assure the Deputy that securing additional skills supply from education and training to meet the requirements of the construction sector is a major focus of my Department as part of the broader Government actions to increase housing supply and successfully implement the NDP and the National Planning Framework (NPF) under Project Ireland 2040.

In this context, as the Deputy may be aware, a Construction Sector Working Group is being established to ensure regular and open dialogue between Government and the construction sector in relation to issues that may impact on the successful delivery of the NDP on a value-for-money basis for the State.  As set out in the NDP, part of the Construction Group's remit will be to consider the supply of necessary skills and enhancing the capacity of the sector.  The NDP also highlights the importance of examining the role of Building Information Modelling and adopting other technologies and innovative practices in driving improving productivity and efficiencies.  The work of the Group will, therefore have an important role to play in ensuring that the construction sector enhances its capacity to meet infrastructural priorities over the next decade.

In responding to specific skill needs for the construction sector, a particular focus of my Department and the education and training sector more generally has been the expansion in apprenticeships spearheaded by the Apprenticeship Council.

Construction related apprenticeship registrations increased from 1,713 in 2015 to 2,314 in 2016 which represents an increase of 35%.  This trend continued in 2017 with a further increase of 28% bringing the total number of construction related registrations to 2,963. 

Apprenticeship is a demand driven educational and training programme, which aims to develop the skills of an apprentice in order to meet the needs of industry and the labour market.  Consequently, the number of construction related apprentices being registered is determined by employers within the construction sector. My Department and SOLAS are committed to supporting the registration of apprentices in the construction sector.

The range of apprenticeships on offer is also being expanded to meet the identified skill needs of the sector. Arising from two calls for apprenticeship proposals three new apprenticeships in the construction sector are currently in development, Engineering Services Management, Scaffolding and Advanced Quantity Surveyor.

In addition to apprenticeship provision, almost 7,000 beneficiaries participated in SOLAS-funded construction related further education and training programmes provided by Education and Training Boards (ETBs) during 2017.  Separately, following a series of discussions with the Construction Industry Federation, programmes have been put in place to produce approximately 100 form workers, 100 steel-fixers and 50 curtain wallers per year.  SOLAS will continue to engage with the ETBs to expand provision to meet needs in these areas.

In conclusion, in responding to the broader issue of the appropriate level of employment in the construction sector, it will be important - as highlighted in the NDP - to be acutely conscious of the experience of the last fifteen years which highlighted the dangers for society and the economy when the construction sector expands too greatly and contracts too steeply.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 74. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if the proposal to bring specialised therapists into schools and pre-schools will also provide services for applied behaviour analysis. [29225/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I recently announced that a demonstration project to provide in-school and pre-school therapy services will be introduced for the 2018/19 school year.

  The project will be managed and coordinated by the National Council for Special Education.

  The model has been developed by the Departments of Education, Children and Youth Affairs, Health, and the Health Service Executive, and is part of the government’s overall aim to help every child to fulfil their full potential.  

  75 schools, including a representative sample of primary, post primary, and special schools will take part in the project. 75 pre-schools will also participate.

  The project is taking place in the Community Healthcare Organisation 7 Region of South West Dublin, Kildare and West Wicklow.

  As part of the programme, 19 speech and language therapists and 12 Occupational Therapists will be recruited by the HSE to work with the 150 schools and pre-schools.

  The purpose of the project is to test a model of tailored therapeutic supports that allows for early intervention in terms of providing speech and language and occupational therapy within ‘educational settings’.  This innovative pilot will complement existing HSE funded provision of essential therapy services. 

  The pilot is designed to test the provision of speech and language and occupational therapies in schools settings. It therefore does not include Applied Behaviour Analysis. 

  The Special Education Support Service (SESS) which is now part of the NCSE support service, provides training for teachers and schools in a range of programmes, including Applied Behaviour Analysis.

Schools Building Projects Status

 75. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the status of the delivery of a permanent school building for a school (details supplied) and the plans for temporary accommodation for the 2018-19 school year. [29237/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton This project is being delivered under my Department’s “Rapid” Design & Build programme.  The brief for the project is to provide a new 24 classroom primary school with a 3 classroom Special Needs Unit on a green field site at Carr’s Hill, Douglas, to the south west side of Carrigaline Road, Maryborough, Co. Cork. 

An application for planning permission was lodged on 28 May 2018. 

  The project is expected to proceed to tender in Quarter 3 2018.  It is anticipated that construction will begin in early 2019 with delivery anticipated by the end of Quarter 1 2020. 

  The project for additional temporary accommodation for the school for September 2018 has been devolved to the patron body Educate Together. The Patron body appointed a consultant engineer in February 2018, to assist with the delivery of this accommodation.

  Planning permission to consolidate the school in a single 12 classroom unit on the Garryduff Sports Centre site was sought from Cork county Council on 21 March 2018.  Full Planning permission was granted on 14 June 2018. 

  To expedite the project my Department gave sanction to the patron body to run the tender process for the provision of the temporary accommodation required in tandem with the planning application. A contract for this provision was awarded in May 2018 (subject to planning permission).

  Site works have commenced on the Garryduff site and it is anticipated that the accommodation will be delivered in time for the new academic year in September 2018.

School Accommodation Provision

 76. Deputy Darragh O'Brien Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the action being taken to help oversubscribed secondary schools in Fingal, County Dublin. [29393/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton As the Deputy may be aware, I announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022). This announcement follows nationwide demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country and the 4-year horizon will enable increased lead-in times for planning and delivery of the necessary infrastructure.

  This announcement included three new post-primary schools to be established in the Fingal area as follows:

  - A new 1,000 pupil post-primary school to serve the Donaghmede_Howth_D13 school planning area to be established in 2019;

  - A new 800 pupil post-primary school to serve the Blanchardstown_West D15 & BlanchardstownVge_D15 school planning areas as a regional solution to be established in 2020; and

  - A new 800 pupil post-primary school to serve the Donaghmede_Howth_D13 school planning area to be established in 2021.

  In addition to the new schools announced, my Department's capital investment programme also provides for devolved funding for additional classrooms for existing schools where an immediate enrolment need has been identified.

  I have highlighted that the requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and in particular would have regard for the increased rollout of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.

Teachers' Remuneration

 77. Deputy Jack Chambers Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the status of efforts to achieve pay equality within the teaching profession; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28856/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The public service agreements have allowed a programme of pay restoration for public servants to start. I negotiated, together with my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, a 15-22% pay increase for new teachers. The agreements to date have restored an estimated 75% of the difference in pay for more recently recruited teachers and deliver convergence of the pay scales at later points in the scale.

As a result of these changes, the current starting salary of a new teacher is €35,958 and from 1 October 2020 onwards will be €37,692.

Section 11 of the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017 provides that “the Minister [for Public Expenditure and Reform] shall, within three months of the passing of this Act, prepare and lay before the Oireachtas a report on the cost of and a plan in dealing with pay equalisation for new entrants to the public service.”

The report laid before the Oireachtas on foot of this provision by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform assesses the cost of a further change which would provide a two scale point adjustment to new entrants recruited since 2011. The total cost of such an adjustment across the public sector is of the order of €200 million, of which Education accounts for €83 million. The report also acknowledges that, during the financial crisis, there were policy changes which affected remuneration in different occupations across the public sector (including education). Addressing any issues arising from changes which are not specifically detailed in the report would give rise to additional costs over and above the foregoing figures.

The matter of new entrant pay is a cross sectoral issue, not just an issue for the education sector alone. The Government supports the gradual, negotiated repeal of the FEMPI legislation, having due regard to the priority to improve public services and in recognition of the essential role played by public servants.

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform’s report will inform discussions among the parties to the agreement on remaining salary scale issues in accordance with the commitment in the Agreement to consider the issue of new entrants’ pay. That process commenced with a first meeting on 12 October 2017.  The three teacher unions attended that meeting. Further talks were held on the 27th of April with all public service unions in relation to new entrant pay. Engagement between the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the trade unions has been ongoing and meetings are currently taking place as the parties continue to work through the various aspects of this issue.

Schools Site Acquisitions

 78. Deputy Jack Chambers Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the status of the location for a new secondary school for the Castleknock-Carpenterstown area of Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28855/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton As the Deputy is aware, the school to which he refers is included in my Department’s 6 year construction programme.

Officials in my Department continue to liaise with officials in Fingal County Council in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding in relation to the identification and acquisition of a suitable location for the school in question and have identified a preferred site option within the relevant school planning areas. Negotiations with the landowner in respect of this proposed acquisition are currently ongoing.

Due to commercial sensitivities relating to site acquisitions generally, the Deputy will appreciate that I am not in a position to provide further details at this time but I can confirm that the school patron is being kept appraised of developments in respect of the site acquisition process.

Schools Building Projects Status

 79. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the progress on the provision of a new school in Trumera, Mountrath, County Laois; and the projected timescale for same. [29331/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I am pleased to inform the Deputy that a building project for a new school has been approved for Trumera National School.  A letter of approval issued to the school authority on 11th June 2018 in this regard.

  The delivery of the project has been devolved to the school authority who will now arrange for the progression of the project through the design stages and on to construction.

School Accommodation Provision

 80. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the status of the expansion to primary school provision in Ashbourne, County Meath. [29342/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton As the Deputy is aware, plans were recently announced for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019-2022). This announcement follows nationwide demographic exercises carried out by the Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the county and the 4-year horizon will enable increased lead-in times for planning and delivery of the necessary infrastructure.

In addition to the new schools announced, there will be a need for further school accommodation in other areas in the future which, based on the current analysis, can be addressed through either planned capacity increases in existing schools or additional accommodation or extensions to existing schools.

In line with the ongoing review of school planning areas generally, I can confirm that my Department is currently reviewing the position in relation to primary provision for the Ashbourne school planning area. My Department is aware of issues raised by schools regarding pressure on school places in the Ashbourne area for September 2018. In that regard, my Department officials recently met with the Ashbourne primary school principals and further discussions are ongoing with school patrons in relation to the expected enrolment position in each school and with the aim of ensuring that there is adequate accommodation to cater for the demand for places next September.

Schools Mental Health Strategies

 81. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on the recent survey by Dublin City University's school of nursing and human sciences of primary school principals and counsellors dealing with children from four to 13 years of age. [29323/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The issue to which the Deputy refers arise from a recently published report commissioned by St Patrick’s Mental Health services.  The report includes an analysis of the findings from a survey of primary-school principals and interviews with twelve principals and nine counsellors, and makes certain recommendations.

While the report has not been formally submitted to my Department, it has been seen by relevant officials. 

From a preliminary consideration of the report, it does not appear to set out the context of the supports already provided by my Department to support schools in the promotion of wellbeing and the prevention of mental health difficulties.  The report highlights the importance of the promotion of emotional wellbeing in primary schools as a critical factor for both academic progression and school engagement.  My Department promotes a whole-school, preventative, multi-component approach to the promotion of wellbeing and positive mental health in schools.  It supports the provision of interventions at both the universal level, focusing on the entire school community, and targeted levels, focusing on building the skills of groups and individual young people with identified need.  My Department’s support services, including NEPS, help build school capacity in this regard.

NEPS psychologists do not generally provide therapeutic interventions as part of their work in schools.  Where they encounter cases, however, where specialist services are required for a student they provide support for the onward referral of those students.  In the coming weeks, I intend to publish my Department’s Wellbeing Policy Statement and Framework for Practice.  This policy statement provides an overarching structure encompassing ongoing and developing work to further support schools in the area of wellbeing promotion.  Part of the implementation of that policy includes an action that the provision of therapeutic interventions to children will be examined within the context of the Youth Mental Health Pathfinder Project.  At present, the provision of counselling services to children falls within the province of the HSE and my colleague the Minister for Health.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio

 82. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his plans to reduce primary class sizes and DEIS class sizes in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28781/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Budget 2018 marks the second year of major reinvestment in the education sector, as we continue to implement the Action Plan for Education, which has the central aim to make the Irish education and training service the best in Europe within a decade.

Improvements to the staffing schedule at primary level in Budget 2016 and Budget 2018 brings the teacher allocation ratio to the most favourable ever seen at primary level.  From this September, schools will operate on the basis of a general average of 1 classroom teacher for every 26 pupils with lower thresholds for DEIS Band 1 schools.

In the last two years, we have hired 5,000 additional new teachers and Budget 2018 provides for an additional 1280 teaching posts in the 2018/19 school year.

This budget measure delivers on a commitment made in the Confidence and Supply Agreement and Programme for Government to reduce primary schools class size.

Each 1 point adjustment to the primary staffing schedule is estimated to cost in the region of €16.5m per annum.  Any additional improvement would have to be considered as part of the next annual budgetary process, alongside the many other demands from the education sector.

Schools Establishment

 83. 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 further to Parliamentary Question No. 191 of 19 June 2018, the extent of the engagement with existing schools in Swords regarding the decision to prioritise the progression of a new primary school for Mooretown, Swords. [28859/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton As the Deputy will be aware, I recently announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022), including an 8-classroom primary school to be established in Swords North (Mooretown) in 2019 and an 8-classroom primary school to be established in Swords South in 2019. For school planning purposes, Mooretown is located in the Swords school planning area.

There are 13 primary schools and 4 post-primary schools to be established in September 2019 which includes the schools in Swords.  It is envisaged that these schools will be established in interim accommodation initially pending permanent accommodation solutions being put in place as part of the Department’s Design and Build Programme. 

The Department recently tendered for and expects to appoint a Project Manager in July 2018 who will assist in the procurement of interim school accommodation for the schools opening in September 2019. 

Regarding the permanent accommodation position, the Department is equally committed to the progression of permanent school projects for both schools announced. In the case of the new school being established in Swords North, the school building project concerned has reached a point where it has been possible to seek planning permission for the project.

Teaching Qualifications

 84. Deputy James Lawless Information on James Lawless Zoom on James Lawless asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if one-in-five 14 year olds are being taught mathematics by a teacher who is not qualified in the subject; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29348/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Deputy will note that the performance of students in Ireland in mathematics is relatively high by international standards. The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study found that only six out of 39 countries obtained significantly higher mean scores than Ireland in mathematics.

The STEM Policy Statement and Implementation Plan, which I launched in November 2017, aims to make Ireland the best in Europe in STEM by 2026. Within our school system, new initiatives and curriculum developments will support greater participation and improved performance in STEM. Curricular reform at junior and senior cycle will provide enhanced opportunities for teaching and learning in those key subjects.

This will build on the good progress that has already been made. A report in 2010 by the University of Limerick showed that in a study of 51 schools, 48% of teachers in the study did not have a major teaching qualification in mathematics. With funding from the Department, over 1000 out-of-field maths teachers will have gained a post-graduate qualification through the a programme led by EPI-STEM, the National centre for STEM Education at University of Limerick, by 2020.

Significant progress has been made on this issue since 2010.  However I recognise that there are still challenges and the achievement of our STEM goals will rely on the availability of suitably qualified teachers to meet our schools' needs. This is one of a range of issues being considered by the Teacher Supply Steering Group, that I recently established. Already, as I announced earlier this year, following consultation with the Irish Universities Association, extra places on initial teacher education programmes have been provided by the universities in targeted subjects, including in STEM, from September 2018.

The Steering Group last met on 29 June and I hope to be in a position to announce further measures in teacher supply over coming months.

School Patronage

 85. Deputy Bríd Smith Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will report on the progress in the divestment of church run schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29415/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton As the Deputy may be aware, following on from the report of the Advisory Group to the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector, my Department undertook surveys of parental preferences in 43 areas of stable population in 2012 and 2013 to establish the level of parental demand for a wider choice in the patronage of primary schools within these areas.  Analysis of the parental preferences expressed in each area surveyed indicated that there was sufficient parental demand to support changes in school patronage in 28 areas.  

From 2013 to 2017, ten multi-denominational schools have opened under the patronage divesting process.  As the Deputy may be aware, the divestment model does not involve building new schools but requires the availability of school premises vacated, for example, due to amalgamation or closure.

Given the modest pace of progress with the Patronage Divestment process, I developed the new schools reconfiguration for diversity process, which is aimed at providing more multi-denominational and non-denominational schools across the country, in line with the choices of families and school communities and the Programme for Government commitment for 400 such schools by 2030.  I believe that this new Schools Reconfiguration process, which involves the transfer of live schools, has the potential to significantly increase patron diversity in our school system.  Already the first reconfiguration has successfully taken place, with Two-Mile Community National School opening in September 2017 under the "Early Movers" provision of this new process.

While these new structures are being introduced, my Department is continuing to work with the main stakeholders to progress delivery of diversity in areas already identified as part of the 2012 and 2013 surveys.

Schools Establishment

 86. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan Information on Aindrias Moynihan Zoom on Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the progress that has been made on the development of the new second level school at Ballincollig, County Cork, which was announced earlier in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29406/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton As the Deputy is aware, I recently announced the opening of 42 new schools over the next 4 years.  This announcement followed nationwide demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the current and future need for primary and post-primary school places across the country. The new post primary school to serve Ballincollig was part of that announcement.

In line with the policy on the use of state assets (Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Circulars 11/15 and 17/16), my Department will be seeking to maximize the use of sites already in my ownership and of available properties in the ownership of other State bodies, where these are considered suitable for the provision of accommodation for the newly announced schools.  In addition as part of my Department's ongoing engagement with Local Authorities in respect of statutory planning processes and under the MoU on school site acquisitions, my Department will be examining all potential suitable site options, including appropriately zoned sites, to serve the relevant area.  Engagement with Cork County Council in respect of the identification of a suitable site for this school is already underway.

Taking into account all of the above, a decision will then be made as part of the site acquisition process in relation to an appropriate site for the school and this will be confirmed at the earliest possible date.

School Accommodation Provision

 87. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the progress made on the ongoing review of the need for a new secondary school in south County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29362/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton As the Deputy will be aware, I announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022). This announcement follows nationwide demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country and the 4-year horizon will enable increased lead-in times for planning and delivery of the necessary infrastructure.

  In addition to the new schools announced, there will be a need for further school accommodation in other areas in the future.  Based on the current analysis, this need can be addressed through either planned capacity increases in existing schools or additional accommodation or extensions to existing schools. Approximately 40% of extra school places are delivered by extending existing schools.

  I have highlighted that the requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and in particular would have regard for the increased rollout of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.

  While the announcement did not include a new post-primary school in the South Kildare school planning areas, additional capacity in the region of 1,700 school places will be provided when projects at the following four schools in this area are completed:

  - St. Conleth's Community College, Newbridge;

  - Athy Community College, Athy;

  - Cross and Passion Secondary School, Kilcullen; and

  - St Paul's Secondary School, Monasterevin.

  A building project for the Patrician College Newbridge is also included in my Department's 6 Year Construction Programme.

  However, in line with the ongoing review of school planning areas generally, I can confirm that my Department is currently reviewing provision at post-primary level across the school planning areas in South Kildare.

Schools Refurbishment

 88. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton when funding will be provided to a school (details supplied) for roof replacement works; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29238/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department has no record of receiving a recent application, for works referred to, from the school in question.

The latest interaction that my Department had with the school was in July 2017 and this related to the approval of an application from the school for an Emergency Works Grant in respect of essential works to the roof.  These work are completed and the school drew down the final funding in this regard in September 2017.

School Curriculum

 89. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will report on the inspection of relationships and sexuality education in primary and secondary schools; if measures are being taken to improve the delivery of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29392/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Provision for Relationship and Sexuality Education (RSE) in primary schools is currently evaluated through two main models of inspection:  Curriculum Evaluations of Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and Whole School Evaluations (WSE) where SPHE is one of the subjects of focus in the WSE. At post-primary level, provision for  RSE is evaluated during Subject Inspections of SPHE in post-primary schools.

In addition, there are a number of other types of inspection during which inspectors review school planning documents to determine the provision a school is making for RSE. They include: Whole-School Evaluations – Management Leadership and Learning (WSE-MLLs) in primary and post-primary schools, Evaluations of Special Care Units, Evaluations of Centres for Education (Youthreach) and Evaluations of action planning for Improvement in DEIS schools (both primary and post-primary).

In April of this year, I announced a major review of the Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) curriculum and this review (by the NCCA) is underway. 

The review will cover both the content of the RSE curriculum and support materials, as well as the delivery of the curriculum to students.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 90. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will report on the provision of autistic spectrum disorder specific classes in west County Dublin; if the provision of the classes will be increased; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29391/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department's policy is to provide for the inclusive education of children with special educational needs, including Autism, in mainstream school settings, unless such a placement would not be in the best interests of the child concerned, or the children with whom they will be educated.

  The National Council for Special Education is responsible, through its network of Special Needs Organisers, for the development and delivery and co-ordination of education services to children with Special Educational Needs, including the establishment of special classes.

  Enrolment in a special class should only be considered where it has been demonstrated that a student requires the support of a special class because he/she is unable to learn effectively in a mainstream class for most or all of the school day even with appropriate supports.

  Some students, although academically able to access the curriculum in mainstream, may find it too difficult to manage full-time placement there. This can be due to significant difficulties in areas such as behaviour or sensory needs which have not been ameliorated, even with appropriate intervention, in mainstream.

  In order to access a special class a student must have a report from a relevant professional stating that:

  - S/he has a disability in line with the designation of the special class in question and

  - S/he has complex learning needs that require the support of a special class setting and the reasons why this is the case.

  The NCSE is aware of emerging need in Dublin, from year to year, and where special provision is required it is planned and established to meet that need.

  There are 37 special schools and 218 special classes attached to mainstream schools in Dublin. Of these, 18 are ASD early intervention classes, 124 are primary ASD classes and 36 are post primary ASD classes. The number of ASD special classes in Co. Dublin have increased from 66 in 2011/2012 to 178 in 2017/2018.

  The NCSE has informed my Department that to date they have sanctioned 17 new Special Classes in Co. Dublin for 2018/19 school year. This process is ongoing. The NCSE is continuing to work with schools, parents, NEPS, health professionals and other staff who are involved in the provision of services for children with special educational needs in Dublin, to ensure that each child has a school placement appropriate to their needs for the 2018/19 school year and beyond.

  My Department continues to work with the NCSE to ensure that there is appropriate planning in place to ensure that all children who require special class placements can access such placements in schools within their communities.

  My Department has acknowledged that in recent years the establishment of special class provision in some schools and communities has been challenging.

  As part of the process of planning for future provision, a number of measures have been included in the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2016 to provide certain powers to the NCSE to designate a school placement for a child in circumstances where a child is experiencing difficulties in securing enrolment.

  The Bill also proposes powers for the Minister, in certain circumstances, to require a school to open a special class for children with special educational needs. This amendment will give the Minister the power to compel a school to open a special class or classes where the National Council for Special Education has identified a need for such provision within an area.

  These proposed measures would further enhance the ability of my Department and the NCSE to plan for special class provision and to address issues in provision that may arise from time in time at local levels.

Guidelines for Boards of Management and Principals of Primary and Post Primary schools contain information on setting up and organising special classes, including information on resources which may be provided to schools to establish special classes are available to download from www.ncse.ie.


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