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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 461-485
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Land Acquisition
 Header Item Public Procurement Regulations
 Header Item Chaplaincy Services
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Delays
 Header Item School Transport Provision
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item Disability Support Services
 Header Item School Staffing
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Applications
 Header Item Technological Universities
 Header Item State Bodies Establishment
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Site Acquisitions
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Appeals
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Applications
 Header Item School Staffing
 Header Item Teachers' Remuneration
 Header Item Residential Institutions
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 799 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 461-485

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 461. Deputy Ciarán Lynch Information on Ciaran Lynch Zoom on Ciaran Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the position regarding a student grant application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17070/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland, that on 19th March 2013, a request for further documentation was issued to the student referred to by the Deputy. When the requested documentation is returned the student will be notified directly of the outcome.

Land Acquisition

 462. Deputy Tom Barry Information on Tom Barry Zoom on Tom Barry asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the number of hectares purchased in Munster by his Department between 2008 and 2011; the amount paid by his Department and vocational education committees for land purchase; and the amount paid to external consultants, auctioneers and valuers and in extraordinary/other and legal costs in relation to these purchases. [17112/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The information sought by the Deputy is not readily available in the format requested by him. However, I will forward on the information sought to the Deputy at an early date.

Public Procurement Regulations

 463. Deputy Nicky McFadden Information on Nicky McFadden Zoom on Nicky McFadden asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn his policy in relation to the procurement of school supplies; if procurement has been centralised; if he will acknowledge the potentially adverse impact on local stationery suppliers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17113/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Public Service Reform Plan, published in November 2011, recognises the key strategic importance of public procurement and provides for the development of a new policy framework for procurement. This work is now being led by the newly appointed Chief Procurement Officer, Paul Quinn. Under his leadership, a new national procurement office for the public sector is being established. Paul Quinn is currently working with officials across the public sector, including those in my Department, to put in place new sectoral and centralised procurement arrangements.

My colleague Minister Howlin has highlighted the importance of ensuring that the public sector is achieving maximum value for money and operational efficiency in its approach to public procurement. It has been estimated that €9 billion is spent by public bodies annually on the procurement of supplies and services. Centralising the procurement of commonly used goods and services can deliver significant benefits which include: cash savings; administrative savings from reduced duplication of tendering; greater purchasing expertise; improved consistency and enhanced service levels.

The National Procurement Office (NPS) is already supporting Small and Medium Business Enterprises (SMEs) to participate in public sector procurement competitions through its education and guidance strategies. All of the NPS tender documents explicitly seek to encourage the participation of SMEs in competitions, by encouraging them to explore the possibilities of forming relationships with other SMEs or with larger enterprises.

I understand that Irish SMEs have been successful in winning NPS frameworks and about three quarters of existing NPS contracts/frameworks are held by SMEs. These SMEs may, in turn, source many of their services and products from local manufacturers and agents. However, I do appreciate the concerns being raised by local school supply companies and I have asked relevant officials here in the Department, who are coordinating procurement reform in the Education and Training sector, to take these concerns into consideration in the context of the work being undertaken on procurement reform.

Chaplaincy Services

 464. Deputy Eric Byrne Information on Eric J. Byrne Zoom on Eric J. Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the position regarding the provision of chaplaincy services by his Department; the amount of money spent on these services; the denominations involved; if humanist chaplains are provided by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [17131/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn My Department allocates chaplain posts to Community and Comprehensive Schools and designated Community Colleges. There are currently 152 whole time equivalent chaplain posts allocated to these schools. The annual cost is approximately €9m. The appointment of catholic or Protestant chaplains to these schools flow from the original agreements concluded when the schools concerned were established. The chaplains are not necessarily teachers of religion and perform pastoral and counselling roles. Under current arrangements they can teach a minimum number of hours and subject to their individual qualifications this may be for subjects other than religion.

Student Grant Scheme Delays

 465. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn further to Parliamentary Question No. 144 of 27 March 2013, if he will provide the number of third level student grant applicants who have waited more than three months, six months, nine months and 12 months for their claims to be processed. [17159/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Deputy will appreciate that the average waiting time for the processing of grant applications is dependent on a number of variables including the volume of applications received, staffing resources, whether or not completed application forms have been received and how quickly complete further documentation requested is returned. The existing SUSI management reporting systems does not provide an age analysis in the format sought by the Deputy.

School Transport Provision

 466. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will confirm who has the legal responsibility to provide school transport in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Louth; the procedures and protocols in place regarding the removal of transport services to children; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17166/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon The policy parameters of the School Transport Scheme are set by the Department and the scheme is administered by Bus Éireann in accordance with that policy. The purpose of the School Transport Scheme for Children with Special Educational Needs is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children with special educational needs arising from a diagnosed disability. The safety of schoolchildren carried on services provided under the School Transport Scheme is of paramount importance to both my Department and Bus Éireann. In circumstances where the behaviour of a child on board a school transport service has the potential to undermine the safety of the child themselves and/or the safety of other children being carried, the safe operation of the service itself, or the safety of other road users, Bus Éireann has a responsibility to take immediate steps to restore a safe environment on board that service.

The withdrawal of school transport facilities is a reluctantly taken final option exercised when all other options have been tried without success. In this particular case Bus Éireann tried a number of different methods to provide suitable transport for the pupil in question including the changing of vehicles, the provision of an exclusive service and the assistance of escorts. Regrettably these proved unsuccessful. Where a service is withdrawn, a Special Transport Grant is offered to parents towards the cost of private transport arrangements.

  Question No. 467 answered with Question No. 444.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 468. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he has discussed the issue of special needs education policy with his counterparts at EU level in terms of Council of Minister meetings or informal meetings; if so, if he will provide an overview of such discussions and any conclusions arrived at; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17183/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I wish to advise the Deputy that interaction with our European counterparts in relation to the development of policy for pupils with special educational needs is ongoing. For example, my Department subscribed in 1994 to the Salamanca Statement endorsing the principle of all children's fundamental right to education, acknowledging that education systems should be designed to accommodate each child's unique characteristics, interests, abilities and learning needs. These principles were further endorsed by the Council of Europe's Political Declaration in 2003 and its Action Plan in 2006, and more recently in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Ireland's participation in these organisations has contributed to the putting in place of structural and legislative frameworks to govern the provision of education for children with special educational needs, the development of an inclusive education system which is designed to meet their needs, and enhanced levels of provision for children with special educational needs at the various stages of the education system.

Ireland continues to engage in dialogue with national governments through its involvement in international organisations such as the European Community and the United Nations. I can confirm that my Department will continue to take account of international developments in special education and to liaise with our partners in the EU in the development policy in respect of provision for pupils with special educational needs.

Disability Support Services

 469. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will provide details of all reports and strategies which have been developed by his Department or agencies under his Department's remit in relation to disability services and any specific disabilities or special needs or special educational needs from 1997 to date; the name of the report or strategy, date of publication and action taken arising from the publication of the report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17186/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The information requested by the Deputy is extensive and, as such, it is not possible to provide the material sought in the timeframe available for reply.   I will arrange for my officials to contact the Deputy's office in relation to the information sought.

School Staffing

 470. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the reason a school (details supplied) in County Kerry did not receive an additional teacher for 2013/14 as a developing school with growing numbers; if the matter will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17187/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The criteria used for the allocation of teaching posts to schools for the coming school year 2013/14 is set out in Circular 0013/2013, which is available on the Department website. These arrangements include the provision whereby schools experiencing rapid increases in enrolment can apply for additional permanent mainstream posts on developing grounds, using projected enrolment. Under the terms of Circular 0013/2013, Section 3, where a school is expanding the number of intake classes which would generate a new stream of pupils, the school must have received prior approval for such expansion from both the school patron and from the Planning and Building Unit of my Department. The Forward Planning Section of my Department carried out an analysis on the catchment area in which the school referred to by the Deputy is included and concluded that there are sufficient primary school places in the catchment area to meet demand. As a result the school has been advised by the Planning and Building Unit that the staffing of the school should remain at Principal + 8 mainstream teachers and 2 special classes (ASD). The application for a post on developing grounds was refused on this basis.

Schools Building Projects Applications

 471. Deputy Dan Neville Information on Dan Neville Zoom on Dan Neville asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn when a school (details supplied) in County Limerick will be placed on a school building list; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [17200/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of architectural planning. The design team is currently working on the completion of the Stage 2(b) submission. When that submission is received and reviewed my Department will then contact the Board of Management of the school as to the potential, at that time, for further progress of the project. In view of the financial constraints imposed by the need, as outlined in the Five Year Plan, to prioritise available funding for the provision of essential school accommodation to meet demographic demand, it is not possible to indicate at this point when the major project for the school will be progressed.

  My Department recently received copies of the reports referred to by the Deputy. These have been considered and a response has issued to the school advising that, in the meantime, for works that are of a very urgent nature, it is open to the school authorities to consider if the works in question qualify for funding under the Department's Emergency Works Scheme.

  An emergency is deemed to be a situation which poses an immediate risk to health, life, property or the environment which is sudden, unforeseen and requires immediate action and, in the case of a school, if not corrected, would prevent the school or part thereof from opening. Details of the Scheme, together with an application form for grant assistance, can be accessed on my Department's website at www.education.ie.

Technological Universities

 472. Deputy Paudie Coffey Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the current progress on the development of a technological university for the south east region; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17234/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn As the Deputy is aware, I endorsed the framework for system development laid out in the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 which outlines a developmental pathway towards designation as a Technological University for merged institutes of technology who seek to apply. The roll-out of the approved process now provides an opportunity to meet the commitment set out in the Programme for Government to "explore the establishment of a multi-campus Technical University in the South East".

  In relation to the evolutionary pathway laid out in the National Strategy for institutes of technology, the implementation process is well underway. The Landscape document published in February 2012 lays out a clear four stage process and criteria for institutes of technology who wish to apply for designation as a technological university. The process for designation is designed to ensure educational quality, objectivity, international expertise, fairness and transparency. The process will consist of four stages overseen by HEA, with an independent international panel of experts to advise the Authority in the final stages.

  The first stage requires institutes of technology to submit a formal expression of interest in merging and seeking designation. I understand from HEA that three such expressions of interest have been received. One of these is a proposal that Waterford Institute of Technology and Carlow Institute of Technology to seek designation.

The Higher Education Authority are considering all proposals and their advice on system configuration will include their advice on the progress of institutes of technology interested in seeking designation to the second stage of the designation process. I am expect to receive this advice shortly.

  Having regard to the process that has been put in place to assess proposals for designation as technological universities I do not propose to comment specifically on any potential applications for designation by any group of Institutes of Technology.

State Bodies Establishment

 473. Deputy Paudie Coffey Information on Paudie Coffey Zoom on Paudie Coffey asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn when the new SOLAS organisation will be fully established and operational; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17238/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon The passing of the primary legislation is required for the establishment of SOLAS. The Further Education and Training Bill, 2013 was published in January this year. The timing for establishment of the new authority is dependent on the entry into force of this legislation, which is expected to be enacted before the end of summer 2013.

The Bill, among other things, provides for the establishment of SOLAS, the dissolution of FAS and the transfer over time of the FÁS training division, both staff and property, to the 16 Education and Training Boards that will be established following the enactment of the Education and Training Boards Bill, 2012.

Schools Building Projects Status

 474. Deputy Emmet Stagg Information on Emmet Stagg Zoom on Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if the contract has now been signed in relation to the completion of a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; the name of the successful contractor; when they will be on site; and the timeframe stipulated in the contract for completion of the works. [17314/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Subject to no issues arising, it is anticipated that works will commence on site in early May for the school building project referred to by the Deputy and will be completed in quarter 2 of 2013.

Schools Building Projects Status

 475. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn when a school (details supplied) in County Kildare will be completed in line with specifications and open and available for intake of students; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17322/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Subject to no issues arising, it is anticipated that works will commence on site in early May for the school building project referred to by the Deputy and will be completed in quarter 2 of 2013.

Site Acquisitions

 476. Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if, when the site has been acquired for a new post primary school at a location (details supplied) in County Kildare, his Department will avail of the services of the relevant county council to prepare and submit plans under part VIII of the Planning and Development Act 2000, similar that done in County Laois; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17323/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has sought the assistance of, and is working closely with, Kildare County Council, the relevant Local Authority, in relation to identifying and acquiring a suitable site for the provision of permanent accommodation for the school to which he refers.

As the Deputy will be aware, negotiations are at an advanced stage. Given the sensitivities associated with land acquisitions generally, I am not in a position to comment further on that aspect at this time. However, I can assure the Deputy that consideration will be given by my Department to all the options open to it in obtaining the requisite Planning Permission, should the site acquisition proceed to conclusion.

Student Grant Scheme Appeals

 477. Deputy John Perry Information on John Perry Zoom on John Perry asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will review a Student Universal Support Ireland application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [17371/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn An appeal from the student in question was considered by the independent Student Grants Appeals Board on the 27th November, 2013. I understand that the awarding authority was requested to review the application under a change in circumstances.

Officials in my Department have confirmed with Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) that the student referred to by the Deputy has had her application reviewed and was issued with a decision on the 5th April 2013.

If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a student grant, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to SUSI. Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down in writing by SUSI and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the independent Student Grant Appeals Board. The relevant appeal form will be available on request from SUSI.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 478. Deputy Dominic Hannigan Information on Dominic Hannigan Zoom on Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if there has been a change to the rules for children to get access to resource teaching hours this academic year; if a decision has been taken that takes resource hours from children who have a mild intellectual disability; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17392/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I wish to advise the Deputy that, in primary schools, teaching supports for pupils with special educational needs are provided in two ways. Under the terms of the General Allocation Model (GAM) of teaching supports, schools are resourced to cater for pupils whose educational psychological assessment places them in the high incidence, or less complex, disability category, including children with mild general learning difficulties. In this context, children with a mild intellectual disability qualify for resources under GAM. There has been no alteration to this policy provision.

Separately, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) allocates additional resource teaching hours to schools for children who have been assessed within the low incidence, or more complex, category of special need, as defined by my Department's Circular Sp Ed 02/05.

  All schools have been advised to apply to the NCSE for resource teaching and SNA support for the 2013/14 school year by 15th March 2013 and schools will be notified by SENOs of their resource teaching and SNA allocation in advance of the 2013/14 school year, based on the number of valid applications received.

  Once allocations have been made, it is a matter for schools to monitor and utilise their allocation of resource teaching support, including supports allocated under the GAM, to best support the needs of qualifying pupils, in accordance with my Department's guidance.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 479. Deputy Dominic Hannigan Information on Dominic Hannigan Zoom on Dominic Hannigan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the current guidelines for a child who has Down's Syndrome to get access to resource teaching hours; if these guidelines have changed in the past 12 months; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17393/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Deputy will be aware of this Government's ongoing commitment to ensuring that all children with special educational needs, including those with Down syndrome, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs. The policy of my Department is to secure the maximum possible level of inclusion of students with special educational needs in mainstream primary and post-primary schools, or where a special school or special class placement may be required to ensure such placements are provided for.

Pupils with Down syndrome attending mainstream schools may receive additional teaching support in primary schools, either under the terms of the General Allocation Model (GAM) of teaching supports, if the pupil's educational psychological assessment places the pupil in the mild general learning disability/high incidence disability category, or through an allocation of individual additional resource teaching hours which are allocated by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), if the child is assessed as being within the low incidence category of special need, as defined by my Department's Circular Sp Ed 02/05. There has been no alteration to this policy provision in the past 12 months.

It is a matter for schools to monitor and utilise their allocation of additional teaching support to best support the needs of identified pupils, in accordance with my Departments guidance.

I wish to advise the Deputy also that I have asked the NCSE to provide me with policy advice on the issue of whether Down syndrome should be reclassified as a low incidence disability in all instances, regardless of assessed cognitive ability. This advice will be included in the NCSE's comprehensive policy advice on how the education system can best support children with special educational needs which is currently in preparation and which is expected in the coming months.

Schools Building Projects Applications

 480. Deputy Peter Mathews Information on Peter Mathews Zoom on Peter Mathews asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the position regarding the provision of two new schools (details supplied) in Dublin 24; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17397/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn As the Deputy is aware, I announced in June 2011 that forty new schools comprising of twenty new primary schools and twenty new post-primary schools, were to be established up to 2017 across a number of locations. My Department subsequently invited patron bodies to make applications for patronage of the new primary schools to be established in 2012 and 2013. Following the assessment process of the applications concerned, approval was conveyed in March 2012 for the establishment in September 2013 next of two new primary schools in the area referred to by the Deputy.

My Department is currently in discussion with both the school Patrons and the local authority in relation to accommodation options for the start-up schools and also the permanent location of the schools.

School Staffing

 481. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the position regarding a school (details supplied). [17428/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The staffing schedule is the mechanism used for allocating mainstream teaching posts to all schools. It operates in a clear and transparent manner and treats all similar types of schools equally irrespective of location. It currently operates on the basis of a general average of 1 classroom teacher for every 28 pupils with lower thresholds for DEIS Band 1 schools. The configuration of classes and the deployment of classroom teachers are done at local school level. My Department publishes annual statistics on class size data for each school. The most recent statistics are for the 2011/12 school year. The national average class size is 24.4 pupils. However, with over 20,600 classes in over 3,100 primary schools throughout the country there will always be variations in class sizes at individual school level. My Department's guidance to local school management is that such variations should be kept to the minimum.

Teachers' Remuneration

 482. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if a teacher who started teaching prior to 1 February 2012 but was not yet qualified will be treated any differently in terms of pay and allowances as a teacher who was qualified on that date; and if so, if he will outline the full list of differences. [17453/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I propose first of all to outline the sequence of policy and budgetary measures in relation to new appointees to teaching and their pay entitlements that have been introduced in recent years.

The first measure took effect on 1 September 2010. It requires that, in order to be eligible to receive the qualified rate of pay and allowances, a person on their first appointment to teaching must be registered with the Teaching Council and appropriately qualified for that position or sector. This was introduced for the purpose of ensuring quality and promoting professional standards in teaching and this goal has been strongly supported by the teacher unions.

The second measure was taken as part of Budget 2011. The last Government applied a reduction in the pay of new entrants to the public service. In the case of new teachers, a reduction of 10% was applied to pay and certain allowances and all new teachers were required to start on the first point of the scale rather than the third point as had previously been the case for most teachers. The new pay rates applied to all teachers who were new appointees appointed on or after 1 January 2011. Where a person gave any service - qualified or unqualified - in an analogous teaching position before 1 January 2011, he or she was not regarded as a new appointee to teaching and so was not

The third measure formed part of Budget 2012 and related to qualification allowances. The Government announced that additional qualification allowances would not be payable to existing teachers and new teachers would be paid qualification allowances up to a maximum of the allowance applicable to an honours primary degree level.

Furthermore, in 2012 a public service-wide review of allowances was also carried out by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and, pending its outcome, the payment of qualification allowances was suspended with effect from 1 February 2012. As a result of the review, the Government abolished qualification allowances with effect from that date and a new salary scale was created with a starting point equivalent to the fourth point of the previous scale. This reduced the impact of the ending of the qualification allowances and ensured a broad consistency across the public service. Circular 8/2013 outlines the details of the review and the new arrangements that apply to teachers.

If the Deputy has a specific query in relation to an individual teacher he should forward the detail to my Department. The introduction of this new salary scale has been a complex task which has required a detailed implementation process. My Department, in consultation with the unions and VECs, is working through the operational aspects of these changes as they affect existing teachers and their pay.

Residential Institutions

 483. Deputy Sandra McLellan Information on Sandra McLellan Zoom on Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the way the residential institute State fund can be accessed; the entitlements from the fund available to a person who believes they are passed the age of needing further education as they are retired; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17463/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The recently established Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Board will oversee the use of the cash contributions of up to €110 million pledged by the religious congregations to support the needs of some 15,000 survivors of residential institutional child abuse, who have received awards from the Residential Institutions Redress Board or equivalent Court awards. Supports across a range of services, including mental health services, health and personal social services and housing services, as well as education services will be available.

The Board held its inaugural meeting on 27th March and has commenced work on the arrangements to be put in place for the operation of the Fund. Further publicity will be undertaken as the work of the Board progresses and a website with detailed information on the Fund's services will be developed.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 484. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn his policy on children with Autism; and the reason he is not issuing a definitive policy document on Autism. [17464/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Deputy will be aware that policy can be expressed and manifested through a variety of forms. Explicitly, it is communicated via legislation, regulations, rulings, orders, plans, strategies, policy statements, and other forms – or through a combination of these. Therefore the Deputy will appreciate that specific policies and objectives are not always articulated in just one document. However my Department is mindful that greater clarity would be useful for schools and parents and accordingly my Department is currently in the process of preparing a comprehensive statement of existing policy within the boundaries of one document. This process is ongoing.   The Department's policy on the education of children with Autism resides within the overall policies on the education of children with special educational needs. In the main these policies are non condition specific. In this context, the Autism policy, whether expressed in a multiple of documents or in a single document, should not be viewed as a separate 'stand alone' policy. The new policy statement will not be exclusive. Policies are subject of necessity to change from time to time. Also, the new statement will neither alter nor add to existing policy. It will reflect the current policy in a coherent and articulate manner for the benefit of schools and parents.

  My Department strives to ensure that a continuum of special education provision is available as required for children with special educational needs. In line with this approach the policy is to promote a child-centred approach to education of all children with special educational needs including those with autism. As each child with autism is unique they should have access to a range of different approaches to meet their individual needs.

  Children with autism present with a wide range of needs. Some children are capable of being fully integrated into mainstream schools without additional teaching or care supports. Others are able to attend mainstream schools but need additional teaching and/or care assistance. Many are best enrolled in autism-specific classes where more intensive and supportive interventions are required. Some may move from one setting to another as they get older and differing needs/strengths/abilities emerge.

The preferred policy of my Department is that children with autism are educated in school settings where children may have access to individualised education programmes (IEPs), fully-qualified professional teachers, special needs assistants, the appropriate school curriculum with the option, where possible and appropriate, of full or partial integration and interaction with other pupils.

  Autism classes are established with a staffing ratio of 1 teacher and a minimum of 2 Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) for every 6 children. Other SNAs may be allocated if required to meet the care needs of the children. Start-up grants are provided to the schools to enable special equipment to be purchased. Enhanced capitation is paid in respect of each child and assistive technology is funded where this is recommended.

  This approach promotes the maximum level of inclusion which accords with the intent of the EPSEN Act. While some children may be able to attend a mainstream class, for others the most appropriate provision may be in a special class or unit in the school or in a special school.

  My Department supports provision in mainstream schools, some 540 special classes for autism attached to mainstream and special schools and 18 special schools for children with autism throughout the State which cater for the educational needs of some 5,000 children with autism, all of which operate broadly within the policy parameters.

  This policy is based on advice received from international experts on autism, NEPS, the Inspectorate and the report of the Irish Task Force on Autism. My Department has satisfied itself that research does not support the exclusive usage of any one approach as a basis for national educational provision for children with autism. It is for this reason that my Department's preferred policy is for a child centred approach where the approach to be taken is based on the individual child's needs.

  My Department continues to develop policy and programmes for children with special educational needs, including those with autism, and will continue to take relevant professional advice into account in this regard.

Schools Building Projects Status

 485. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Information on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Zoom on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn when building will commence on a new school building (details supplied) in County Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17467/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Responsibility for the delivery of the school referred to by the Deputy has been devolved to the Office of Public Works. The OPW has recently forwarded a tender report for this school project to the Department and the Department is currently, with the OPW, considering these documents. The school project is being progressed so that the accommodation required for the school will be provided at the earliest possible date within the Department's five year construction programme. My Department is in contact with the school to ensure that there is sufficient accommodation for September 2013.


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