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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 66-73
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Staffing
 Header Item Departmental Reports
 Header Item School Enrolments
 Header Item School Patronage
 Header Item National Strategy for Higher Education
 Header Item Freedom of Information Manuals
 Header Item School Transport Appeals
 Header Item School Enrolments

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 821 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 78 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 66-73

Special Educational Needs Staffing

 66. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the potential cost to the State of increasing the number of special needs assistants employed by his Department from the current figure of 10,575 to 12,775. [48630/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Deputy will be aware that the previous Government, as part of the Programme for National Recovery, introduced a cap on the number of Special Needs Assistants. This figure was set at 10,575 posts and has remained in place since the 2011/12 school year.

Since the cap was introduced, every child meeting the criteria for access to SNA support has received this support, with some remaining posts available each year for allocation throughout the school year for new assessments of disability, new entrants, or emergency or late applications, in accordance with the terms of the SNA scheme.

Increasing the number of Special Needs Assistant posts from 10,575 posts to 12,775 posts would require an additional 2,200 SNA posts to be provided for annually. The full year cost of providing for an additional 2,200 posts is estimated to be €66 Million, per annum.

Departmental Reports

 67. Deputy Niall Collins Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will make available the findings of the report on post-primary provision in Limerick initiated in November 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [48637/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn A review of the configuration and development of post-primary provision for Limerick city and part of its environs over the period 2014 to 2024 for the Department was commenced by George O'Callaghan in October 2013. It is anticipated that the report concerned will be made available, when completed.

School Enrolments

 68. 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 the options available to a person (details supplied) in County Kildare who was expelled from their school and currently is endeavouring to secure a place in an alternative second level school in view of the fact they are facing difficulties; if in such circumstances a second level education is likely to be available to them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48664/13]

 74. 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 how best a second level school place can be acquired in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48755/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I propose to take Questions Nos. 68 and 74 together.

Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 provides for an appeal by a parent or guardian to the Secretary General of my Department, or in the case of an Education and Training Board (ETB) school to the ETB in the first instance, where a Board of Management of a school, or a person acting on behalf of the Board, refuses to enrol a student in a school, expels a student or suspends a student for 20 or more days in any school year. My Department has no authority to compel a school to admit a pupil, except in the case of an appeal under section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 being upheld.

Under section 15 (2) (d) of the Education Act, 1998, each school is legally obliged to disclose its enrolment policy and to ensure that as regards that policy that principles of equality and the right of parents to send their children to a school of the parents choice are respected.

Section 29 appeal forms are available from my Departments website or directly from section 29 Administration Unit. The contact details for section 29 Administration Unit is Section 29 Department of Education & Skills, Friars Mill Road, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath or by phone 044 9337018.

The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The NEWB may be able to offer assistance and advice on securing a school placement within the pupil's area. The contact details for the NEWB is National Educational Welfare Board, Block 3, South Dublin County council, Tallaght, Dublin 24, phone number 01-4635513.

School Patronage

 69. 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 further to Parliamentary Question No. 147 of 2 October 2013, if his Department has instructed all school management bodies and National Parents' Councils - Primary to provide the information leaflet inviting parents to make submissions on patronage and pluralism to all parents of children attending their schools and if he intends to investigate the reason schools and management bodies have not distributed this information.  [48666/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn As the Deputy is aware, I launched a public consultation on promoting inclusiveness in primary schools in September.

  Working in conjunction with the National Parents' Council - Primary, an information leaflet on the consultation, specifically targeted at parents, was distributed to all parents' associations. The associations were asked to use the leaflet as part of their efforts to raise awareness of the consultation and to encourage parents to respond to the call for submissions. The information leaflet was also distributed directly to primary schools for information purposes.

  The leaflet was not distributed directly to every parent. Instead, a number of leaflets were sent to each association so that they could utilise their own contacts in informing parents about the consultation process.

  The parents' information leaflet and the call for submissions were also publicised on my Department's website - www.education.ie. School management bodies were also informed of the consultation and encouraged to respond.

National Strategy for Higher Education

 70. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the progress that has been made on the implementation of the priority areas from the national strategy for higher education, specifically the sustainability review, the landscape process, the national quality PhD framework and the national student survey; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48670/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn An Implementation plan which sets out the actions necessary to implement the recommendations in the Strategy is available on my Department's website at http://www.education.ie/en/The-Education-System/Higher-Education/. The Plan identifies the lead organisations and the timeframe for implementation of each action. A detailed progress report on the implementation of all of the actions in the Plan to the end of 2012 is also available on the website.

  In May 2013 I announced a major re-organisation of the higher education system which will provide for the reduction in the size of the publicly funded higher education system from 39 to 25 institutions. In July 2013 a new framework for system governance was published which sets out the Government's national priorities, key system objectives and key performance indicators for the period 2014-16. The configuration report and the performance framework are also available on my Department's website.

  A study on the sustainability of the current funding system for higher education, which was initiated at my request, is currently being undertaken by the HEA. The objective of the study is to identify a range of approaches that, combined, will offer the best prospect of achieving the required outcomes from resources, the mechanisms through which the institutions can have access to these resources and their capacity and flexibility to deploy and manage the resources. An initial report has been published which makes it clear that immediate work is required to prepare for a longer term approach to a system that can be maintained through a sustainable funding base which will be able to address the continual expansion of the sector while protecting the quality of education. The HEA is continuing its work in this area and I will be advised further as this work progresses.

  Work on the development of a quality framework for doctoral education is well advanced. A consultation document issued jointly from the Higher Education Authority and Quality and Qualifications Ireland to higher education institutions and other stakeholders in early November and it is expected that the framework will be finalised by the end of this year. A further piece of work will be undertaken by QQI in 2014 involving a review of the effectiveness of quality assurance arrangements that currently apply to doctoral education and the development of a new Code of Practice.

  A full national pilot of the student survey, involving all universities, institutes of technology and five colleges of education, was undertaken in March/April 2013. It was the first national survey of student engagement and the first survey of its kind in Europe. Almost 13,000 responses were received from students in 26 institutions. The number of responses means that results from the 2013 survey are representative of the overall student voice, even at pilot stage. A report on implementation of the pilot survey will be published in December 2013. Planning is at an advanced stage to ensure implementation of the first full student survey in early 2014, with further iterations due in 2015 and 2016.

Freedom of Information Manuals

 71. 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 when he expects his Department to publish a section 15 and 16 freedom of information manual; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [48720/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I would like to inform the Deputy that my Department's Section 15 and Section 16 Freedom of Information manuals are available on the Department of Education and Skills website.

  They can be accessed at http://www.education.ie/en/The-Department/FOI/FOI-Freedom-of-Information.html

School Transport Appeals

 72. 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 if favourable consideration will be given to the appeal in the matter of school transport in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48753/13]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon The case referred to by the Deputy, in the details supplied, is the subject of an appeal to the School Transport Appeals Board. This Board is independent of my Department and I understand their next meeting is scheduled for 21 November 2013. The Board will inform the family directly of their determination on the matter.

School Enrolments

 73. 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 if it will be possible to facilitate the second level Protestant ethos school placement requirements in respect of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 15; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48754/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of all schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act, 1998. In this regard a Board of Management may find it necessary to restrict enrolment to children from a particular area or a particular age group or, occasionally, on the basis of some other criterion. The criteria to be applied by schools in such circumstances are 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 its 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 my Department.

The National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The Board can be contacted at National Educational Welfare Board, National Headquarters, 16-22 Green Street, Dublin 7 or by telephone at 01-8738700.


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