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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 166-179
 Header Item School Staff
 Header Item School Accommodation Provision
 Header Item Education and Training Boards
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item Schools Building Projects
 Header Item National Training Fund
 Header Item Schools Building Contractors
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Third Level Institutions

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 984 No. 6

First Page Previous Page Page of 90 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 166-179

School Staff

 166. Deputy Seán Haughey Information on Seán Haughey Zoom on Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if a DEIS primary school (details supplied) will not lose a teacher in the forthcoming academic year in view of the exceptional circumstances of the case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28304/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous 30th September.

  The school referred to by the Deputy is due to have one teaching post suppressed due to a fall in enrolments in September 2018.  

  The staffing process includes an appeals mechanism for schools to submit a staffing appeal under certain criteria to an independent Appeals Board. It is open to Boards of Management to assess the criteria which best applies to their school and submit an appeal to the Primary Staffing Appeals Board. To date, the Department has not received a staffing appeal from the school referred to by the Deputy.

  Circular 0019/2019, “Staffing Arrangements in Primary Schools for the 2019/20 School Year” provides details for schools wishing to make an appeal.

School Accommodation Provision

 167. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the status of an application by a school (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28332/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh I can confirm that my Department received an application in March 2019 for a general purpose room from the school referred to by the Deputy.

  The immediate priority of my Department is providing 20,000 new and replacement school places each year, to ensure that every child has a school place.  

  As the Deputy is aware my Department is committed to a PE Hall build and modernisation programme, starting in the second half of the Project Ireland 2040 period (2018 -2027), that ensures that students in all post-primary schools have access to state of the art facilities to support PE provision, particularly also in the context of the roll-out of P.E. as a leaving certificate subject.  

  The school authority has been informed of the outcome of their application.

Education and Training Boards

 168. Deputy Paul Kehoe Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the status of a project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28380/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The proposed development of Shielbaggan Outdoor Centre on Forth Mountain, County Wexford is by means of a partnership between Waterford and Wexford ETB and Wexford County Council.

The Forth Mountain Outdoor Education and Training Centre referred to by the Deputy is being purpose built by Wexford County Council and there has been consultation between Waterford and Wexford Education and Training Board and the local authority on this project.

My Department is not directly involved in the building project but we have received a copy of the proposal from the ETB to relocate the services and facilities of Shielbaggan Outdoor Education and Training Centre to this new facility, and this is currently under review.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 169. Deputy Catherine Martin Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if his attention has been drawn to the case of a child (details supplied) with special needs who will be five years of age in July 2019 and has no appropriate school place for September; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28385/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh It is the policy of my Department that all children with Special Educational Needs, including those with Autism, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network.

  The National council for Special Education (NCSE) is an independent statutory body whose functions include planning and co-ordinating the provision of education and support services to children with special educational needs in conjunction with schools and the health Service Executive (HSE).  Details of all special classes for children with special educational needs are available by county on the NCSE website www.ncse.ie.

  The NCSE, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for the establishment of special classes in various geographical areas where there is an identified needs.  The NCSE is aware of emerging need from year to year and where special provision is required it is planned and established to meet that needs.

  The enrolment of a child in a school is a matter, in the first instance, for the parents of the child and then a matter for the school/ Board of Management having regard to their own enrolment/admissions policy.  The Department and the NCSE has no role in relation to processing applications for enrolment to schools.

  It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of all schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act, 1998. The criteria to be applied by schools in such circumstances is a matter for the schools themselves. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants. Under section 15 (2) (d) of the Education Act 1998, each school is legally obliged to publish it's enrolment policy.

  Section 29 of the Education Act 1998, provides parents with an appeal process where a board of management of a school or a person acting on behalf of the Board refuses enrolment to a student. Where a school refuses to enrol a pupil, the school is obliged to inform parents of their right under Section 29 of the Education Act 1998 to appeal that decision to either the relevant Educational Training Board or to the Secretary General of the Department.

  Parents/guardians who may need advice or are experiencing difficulties in locating a school placement should contact their local Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO) who can assist in identifying an appropriate educational placement for their child.  Contact details are available on www.ncse.ie.

  The NCSE also works in collaboration with the Educational Welfare Services (EWS) of the Child and Family Agency which is the statutory agency that can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child or can offer assistance where a child is out of school. The local service is delivered through the national network of Educational Welfare Officers (EWO). Contact details are available at http://www.tusla.ie/get-in-touch/education-and-welfare/.

  Where there is no placement available for a child with Special Educational Needs, the Department will consider applications under the Home Tuition Grant Scheme, where a student can receive up to 20 hours home tuition per week as an interim measure until a placement becomes available. The availability of a school placement is assessed by the NCSE having regard to, although not limited to, the relevant diagnosis and relevant professional report.

  Accordingly, the NCSE advises parents, to seek to enrol their child, by applying in writing, to the school/s of their choice as early as possible. Where parents have been unsuccessful in enrolling their child in a school, they should update their local SENO to inform the planning process.

  As the matter raised by the Deputy refers to a particular child, I have arranged for the Deputy's question to be forwarded to the National Council for Special Education for their attention and direct reply.

Schools Building Projects

 170. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh when the policy under review for hiring clerks of works on additional accommodation schemes will be concluded; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28390/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The Deputy will be aware that it is standard practice that a Clerk of Works is appointed on all major school building projects when the project is progressing to site. The current position with respect to Additional Accommodation projects is that a Clerk of Works is provided where warranted based particularly on the scope and scale of the relevant project.  Requests for same are and will continue to be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

National Training Fund

 171. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan Information on Maurice Quinlivan Zoom on Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the amount of revenue collected by the national training fund levy in each of the years 2000 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the amount spent from the national training fund in each of the years 2000 to 2018 and to date 2019, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28391/19]

 172. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan Information on Maurice Quinlivan Zoom on Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the amount in the national training fund, including funds held in reserve and carried over from underspends in previous years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28392/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan I propose to take Questions Nos. 171 and 172 together.

  The National Training Fund (NTF) comprises part of the overall annual expenditure ceiling for the Department of Education and Skills.  On that basis NTF spending is subject to the EU expenditure rule which as the Deputy will be aware is designed to ensure that growth in public expenditure is sustainable and supports the achievement of key fiscal targets. 

  There has been very substantial growth in NTF spending in recent years on the basis of the +0.1% increase in the Training Levy in both 2018 and 2019 with expenditure increasing by €58m (16%) and €69m (17%) respectively.  This has supported a very significant expansion in NTF priorities. 

  The NTF currently supports 18,000 apprentices; 42,000 jobseekers looking for work; 5,000 trainees; 31,000 students in enterprise; 9,247 Springboard courses; 62,000 places on courses to meet skills gaps; and upskilling another 5,000 workers.

  As detailed in the National Training Fund Expenditure Report 2019 published last week, €485m is being invested in programmes in 2019 which meet skills needs in the economy, support unemployed people in their journey back to work and assist those in employment to acquire new skills. This includes the expansion of the apprenticeship and traineeship schemes, additional investment in Springboard and additional support to increase skills for those in employment through Skillnet Ireland.

  The surplus in the NTF at the end of 2018 amounted to €473m. The accumulated surplus in the NTF has previously been critical in maintaining expenditure levels, particularly in the provision of training for the unemployed, in recession years when NTF income declined.  It is clearly prudent to continue to maintain an adequate surplus in the Fund to meet demand in future years and while the surplus represents a very significant amount, it would only cover twelve month's NTF expenditure at current levels.

  A further increase in NTF spending estimated at €70m approximately is expected to take place in 2020 on the basis of the further +0.1% increase in the Training Levy. 

  This will be supplemented in 2020 by €60m investment in the Human Capital Initiative (HCI) also funded from the NTF announced in Estimates 2019.  The HCI is a 5-year programme of increased investment in priority skills in higher education amounting to €300m over the period 2020 - 2024.

  Details in relation to NTF income and expenditure in each of the years from 2000 to date as requested by the Deputy are in the table.  The Deputy should note that NTF accounts for 2001 include the period from the NTF's establishment on 21 December 2000 to 31 December 2001.

  Income from National Training Fund Levy Total Expenditure from fund
2001 187,921,236 168,941,224
2002 239,000,000 204,583,430
2003 250,000,000 233,722,861
2004 273,000,000 276,678,337
2005 327,000,000 312,738,093
2006 366,000,000 352,718,974
2007 408,000,000 394,589,181
2008 413,000,000 399,146,178
2009 372,000,000 366,482,465
2010 309,000,000 395,221,768
2011 316,000,000 326,269,322
2012 299,000,000 340,896,121
2013 317,000,000 348,804,784
2014 338,000,000 346,906,382
2015 364,000,000 334,210,109
2016 390,000,000 344,399,000
2017 431,000,000 357,230,000
2018 565,500,000 415,394,000
To June 2019 356,000,000 231,793,087

Schools Building Contractors

 173. Deputy Catherine Martin Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the timeline for the construction of the permanent building for a school (details supplied) in view of the fact that planning permission has been granted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28437/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh Permanent accommodation for the school referred to by the Deputy is being delivered under the Department’s Design & Build Programme.  This delivery programme uses a professional Project Manager to progress the project through the relevant stages of architectural planning and construction.

The brief for this project is to provide a 16 classroom primary school with a 2 classroom special educational needs unit. 

A planning application for the project was lodged in January 2019.  Additional information sought by the local authority was provided and a notification of decision to grant planning permission was received on 24th May 2019.  The final grant of plannning permission will enable the project to proceed to tender after the tender documentation is finalised. It is intended that the project will proceed to tender in the coming weeks  and a contractor  will be appointed to commence work in quarter 4 of 2019.

Schools Building Projects Status

 174. Deputy Paul Kehoe Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the progress of a school building project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28453/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh As the Deputy may be aware, agreement in principle has been reached with the vendor for the acquisition of a site at Clonard, Co. Wexford. This site is proposed to facilitate the permanent accommodation needs of the school to which he refers. Work is progressing and is ongoing in respect of technical matters on the acquisition

In the meantime, I can inform the Deputy that the school project in question is being devolved for delivery to Waterford and Wexford ETB (WWETB).

My Department will shortly be making the necessary arrangements to enter into a Service Level Agreement with WWETB in that respect.  This is the first step to initiate the delivery of the project.  Thereafter, the ETB will procure a design team for the project to design the buildings, obtain the necessary statutory planning permissions and move the project onward to construction in due course.

Questions Nos. 175 to 178, inclusive, answered with Question No. 117.

Third Level Institutions

 179. Deputy Jackie Cahill Information on Jackie Cahill Zoom on Jackie Cahill asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if he will engage with a college (details supplied) in County Tipperary that wishes to provide a course for the provision of home economics teachers in view of the fact that the only course nationally is based in County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28496/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh My Department is currently considering a submission in relation to the provision of a Home Economics Programme in the Higher Education Institution (HEI) referred to by the Deputy.   

  I wish to advise the Deputy that any decision made by my Department on this issue will need to take into account a number of factors including Teacher Supply and the availability of Capital Funding.   

  Once the submission has been fully considered my Department will respond directly to the HEI.  It is expected that a full response will issue in the coming weeks.


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