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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 64-89
 Header Item Public Sector Pay
 Header Item Education and Training Provision
 Header Item Home-School Community Liaison Scheme
 Header Item Oideachas trí Ghaeilge
 Header Item Schools Mental Health Strategies
 Header Item Schools Facilities
 Header Item School Accommodation Provision
 Header Item School Transport Applications Data
 Header Item Schools Site Acquisitions
 Header Item Schools Site Acquisitions
 Header Item School Curriculum
 Header Item Schools Health and Safety
 Header Item Boird Oideachais agus Oiliúna
 Header Item Sports Facilities Provision
 Header Item Student Universal Support Ireland Administration
 Header Item Education Welfare Service
 Header Item Schools Establishment
 Header Item School Enrolments
 Header Item Third Level Fees
 Header Item School Enrolments Data
 Header Item Public Sector Pay
 Header Item Public Sector Pay
 Header Item Schools Health and Safety
 Header Item National Council for Special Education
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 975 No. 6

First Page Previous Page Page of 85 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 64-89

Public Sector Pay

 64. Deputy Gino Kenny Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh his views on a union's (details supplied) rejection of the proposed agreement on new entrant pay for teachers; his further views on the exclusion of 2011 to 2014 entrants who, under the proposed agreement, would still suffer a significant pay loss; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [49227/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The public service agreements have allowed a programme of pay restoration for public servants to start. As a result, the starting salary of a teacher is now €36,318 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.

On 24 September 2018, an agreement was reached between the Government and the public services committee of ICTU in respect of new entrant pay.

This agreement will benefit 16,000 teachers and nearly 5,000 SNAs within the education sector and thus comprehends 2011 to 2014 new entrants. The deal provides for a series of incremental jumps for new entrants and enhances their pay progression.

These restorations for new entrants have been achieved through continued engagement and collective bargaining between the Government and the public service unions and shows the benefits that such engagement can bring.

I am of course disappointed that the members of the INTO have not balloted in favour of the 24 September agreement. It is important that the INTO be given the time and space to reflect.

The Public Service Stability Agreement provides a range of protections and benefits to public servants who are covered by the agreement. Continued co-operation with the agreement maintains these benefits.

Education and Training Provision

 65. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the extent to which the educational system continues to meet the requirements of the market place with specific emphasis on the need to ensure a ready supply of graduates at all levels capable of meeting the modern demands of industry whether at academic or other levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49453/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The education and training system at all levels has a number of key strategies in place to ensure we meet existing and future skills demands in the workplace and equip young people with the skills to meet these demands to enhance the level of human capital in Ireland and provide a solid basis for long-term economic sustainability and rising living standards.  These strategies include, in particular, the National Skills Strategy 2025 and the Action Plan for Education 2016-2019, .

According to an OECD 2017 Report, the employment prospects and expected financial benefits from completing tertiary education in Ireland are also higher than in most other European countries, suggesting that the education system provides skills that are relevant to the labour market.

In relation to graduate supply, in 2017 there were a total of 48,931 graduates from the Higher Education system.  In relation to key skills areas, 2,765 were in relation to ICT, 5,729 in relation to Engineering Manufacturing and Construction and 4,200 in relation to Science and Maths.  

A new ICT Skills Action Plan is in the process of development by my department in consultation with the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, the National Skills Council and other key stakeholders.  One of the objectives of the Plan is to increase graduate supply in this critical skills area.

I am satisfied that these and other important elements of skills planning being carried out by my Department in collaboration with key stakeholders, will help ensure that we are successful in meeting our skills needs on an ongoing basis to support the long-term success of our economy.

Home-School Community Liaison Scheme

 66. Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh his plans to put home school liaison officers into special schools such as a school (details supplied). [49323/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh As the Deputy will be aware 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.

  This Government has significantly increased investment in special education in recent years. Funding

  for special education provision in 2018 will amount to some €1.75 billion, up 43% since 2011 and equivalent to 18.7% of the gross overall current allocation for education and training. Budget 2019 announced the funding of 950 additional SNA posts and 372 teaching posts to cater for the growth in student population and additional special classes.  

  The Deputy will also be aware that the Home School Community Liaison (HSCL) Scheme is a school-based intervention provided to DEIS schools to address the needs of all pupils/families at risk of educational disadvantage through acknowledging and developing the role of the parent as prime educator. The role of the HSCL Coordinator is to work primarily with the salient adults in the child’s life, in order to empower them, so that they can better support their children to attend school, participate in education and develop positive attitudes to life-long learning. Central to the HSCL initiative, is the identification of educational needs and the provision of a tailored and proportionate response to those needs, through a range of interventions, which are evidence-based, focused and structured.

  The scheme is delivered by 416 full-time HSCL Coordinators who are teachers in these schools and assigned to HSCL duties either in individual schools or clusters of schools, catering for approximately 156,000 pupils.   The current cost of this provision to my Department is €25 million. For DEIS schools included in the HSCL Scheme, it is a requirement that at least 10% of the annual DEIS Grant to each school should be allocated for use on HSCL activities and made available to the HSCL Coordinator. The total allocation for the DEIS grant from my Department is approximately €16 million.  While the HSCL scheme is funded by my Department, Tusla the Child and Family Agency, has responsibility for the management of the HSCL Scheme.

  My Department has no plans at present to extend the HSCL Scheme beyond DEIS Schools.

Oideachas trí Ghaeilge

 67. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh cé na socraithe sainiúla atá déanta aige le cinntiú go bhfuil tacaíochtaí cearta, ar aon dul leis na tacaíochtaí atá ag scoláirí sna scoileanna atá ag múineadh trí Bhéarla, ar fáil do scoláirí atá ag fáil a gcuid oideachais bunscoile agus meanscoile trí Ghaeilge agus go mbeidh na seirbhísí seo ar fáil trí mheán na Gaeilgeó ghach leibhéal den chóras; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [49222/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh Mar atá ráite sa Chlár do Rialtas Comhpháirtíochta “Is é an t-oideachas an eochair chun comhdheis sa saol a thabhairt do gach leanbh.” Soláthraíonn mo Roinn tacaíocht do gach socláire in ár scoileanna ar fad. Tá an Roinn tiomanta do rochtain scoláirí atá ag freastal ar scoileanna a fheidhmíonn trí mhéan na Gaeilge agus trí mheán an Bhéarla araon ar thacaíochtaí ó, mar shampla, An tSeirbhíse Náisiúnta Síceolaíochta Oideachais (NEPS) agus an Chomhairle Náisiúnta um Oideachas Speisialta (NCSE) a chinntiú.  

Tá dul chun cinn suntasach déanta chun an soláthar oideachais trí mheán na Gaeilge a neartú. Áirítear anseo an próiseas pátrúnachta, soláthar curaclaim agus bunú an Aonaid um Oideachas Gaeltachta sa Roinn.  

Tá teanga anois mar rogha ar leith sa phróiseas pátrúnachta rud a chiallaíonn go bhfuil teanga níos infheicthe mar rogha. Tá sé beartaithe tuilleadh athbhreithnithe a dhéanamh ar an bpróiseas pátrúnachta ionas go mbeidh aitheantas ag comhréireacht mar a bhaineann le tuismitheoirí a chuireann in iúl gurb é an t-oideachas trí mhéan na Gaeilge a rogha.    

Cuirimíd ár gcuraclaim ar fáil go lárnach agus is do gach scoláire iad. Ag aithint an ról lárnach atá ag scoileanna in athbheochan agus i gcaomhnú na Gaeilge mar theanga pobail, tá soláthar difriúil déanta don Ghaeilge i scoileanna a fheidhmíonn trí mheán na Gaeilge agus i scoileanna a fheidhmíonn trí mheán an Bhéarla i gCuraclam na Bunscoile agus sa tSraith Shóisearach. Tá fáil ag gach múinteoir i ngach scoil ar fhorbairt ghairmiúil leanúnach agus ar acmhainní a chuirtear ar fáil go lárnach chun tacú le cur i bhfeidhm curaclaim agus polasaithe eile na Roinne.   

Tá an-dul chun cinn déanta i bhfeidhmiú an Pholasaí don Oideachas Gaeltachta. San áireamh tá dhá chlár nua d’oideachas múinteoirí agus na tionscnaimh phíolótacha ‘Ríomh-mhoil’ agus ‘Forás’. D’fhéadfadh go rachadh na tionscnaimh seo chun tairbhe scoláirí i scoileanna uile na tíre sa todhchaí.

Schools Mental Health Strategies

 68. Deputy Kathleen Funchion Information on Kathleen Funchion Zoom on Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the status of the proposal to include mindfulness in primary school education; if there is a timeframe for it to be added to the curriculum; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [49412/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh On 18th October, I appeared before the Joint Committee on Education & Skills  in relation to the Committee’s Report on Positive Mental Health in Schools, whose recommendations included the proposal to introduce  Mindfulness into the curriculum.

Research into mindfulness reminds us to be cautious with regard to its introduction to young people as a means to address mental health issues.  While mindfulness is proven to be beneficial for adults, children and young people may respond differently. Interventions need to be need and age appropriate.

Wellbeing for all students is a priority for the Department. The Department’s approach is to support the implementation of a whole-school approach to wellbeing. My Department published a  Wellbeing Policy Statement and Framework for Practice earlier this year.  It set a target that all schools and centres for education will have embedded a Wellbeing Promotion Process by 2023.  The Statement provides advice and direction for schools to do this. It is open to schools to be innovative in how they implement this and many schools are already using mindfulness programmes and accessing training through the Education Centre’s Network and other sources. Circulars 42/2018 and 43/2018 issued advising schools on the appropriate use of wellbeing programmes.

A Wellbeing Policy Implementation Plan is included in the Wellbeing Policy Statement. Actions 3.1 and 3.2 provide for the mapping of existing resources and supports available for CPD in the area of wellbeing promotion  provided by the Department’s support services and the HSE. Following this, a gap analysis will be completed with recommendations identified for the implementation of priority actions to ensure clear pathways to support and resources are made available to all schools and centres for education.

Mindfulness is a skill that can usefully be taught to young people as part of the SPHE curriculum. The use of mindfulness in education has a lot in common with and can complement the SPHE curriculum which aims to teach children about managing emotions and developing relationships etc. Mindfulness practice is likely to be a useful tool to support SPHE implementation but is unlikely to replace it. The NCCA are currently reviewing and redeveloping the Primary curriculum; SPHE will form part of this review.

Schools Facilities

 69. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh when a school (details supplied) will receive a new accessible toilet; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49501/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh I would like to advise the Deputy that the school in question submitted an application for additional accommodation to my Department.

This application was assessed and the school was advised to make contact with my Department again in September 2018 if their circumstances had changed. The school was advised the application would be reviewed again once information was provided.  In this regard I can confirm that my Department received information this week from the school which will now be considered.  My Department will be in direct contact with the school as soon as possible.

School Accommodation Provision

 70. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if the oversubscribed list at a school (details supplied) for 2019 will be accommodated; and his plans to deal with future oversubscription in the years ahead.  [49259/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh As the Deputy is aware, a building project for the school to which she refers is included in my Department’s 6 year Capital Programme.  The acquisition of a suitable site is required to advance the project and my Department is progressing this. 

In the meantime, my Department recently conveyed approval in principle to the Board of Management of the school for the rental of 2 Science Laboratories, 1 Technical Graphics/Design Communication Graphics Room and 1 general classroom, as an interim measure, pending delivery of the permanent building project.

School Transport Applications Data

 71. Deputy Bobby Aylward Information on Bobby Aylward Zoom on Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the number of children from counties Carlow and Kilkenny that applied for concessionary school transport tickets and were not allocated same; when affected families were notified; his plans to review the workings of the school transport system in particular the system for the allocation of concessionary tickets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49537/18]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.

  In the 2017/18 school year over 117,000 children, including over 12,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 4,500 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually at a total cost of almost €190 million in 2017.

  Children are eligible for school transport if they satisfy the distance criteria, are attending their nearest school and it is economically feasible to provide a service.

  Children who are eligible for school transport and who have completed the application process on time have been accommodated on school transport services for the current school year where such services are in operation.

  Children who are not eligible for school transport may be facilitated where spare seats are available after eligible children have been accommodated.  Where the number of ineligible children exceeds the number of spare seats available Bus Éireann allocates tickets for the spare seats on the basis of an agreed selection process.

  Bus Éireann has advised that 56 children in counties Carlow and Kilkenny were unsuccessful in obtaining school transport on a concessionary basis for the 2018/19 school year; of these 28 were late in submitting their payment details and were not considered in the allocation of spare seats.  Families who paid on time and did not receive a ticket were notified at the beginning of August and refunds were issued.

  The terms of the scheme (which are regularly communicated) make it clear that concessionary places are not guaranteed for the duration of a child's education.

  The terms of the scheme are applied equitably on a national basis.

Schools Site Acquisitions

 72. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh his plans for the construction of a permanent school (details supplied); if the discussion on the site location on the Phoenix Park racecourse adjacent to a club is completed; if he will sanction the purchase of the site; when the permanent school is likely to commence construction; and when he expects the permanent school to open. [49508/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh  As the Deputy is aware, the school to which she refers is included in my Department’s 6 year construction programme.  The acquisition of a suitable site is required to facilitate this project.

With the assistance of officials in Fingal County Council under the Memorandum of Understanding for the acquisition of school sites a number of site options were identified.  These were comprehensively assessed and a preferred site option has been identified.  Negotiations with the landowner in respect of the proposed acquisition of this site are currently at an advanced stage and officials are working to bring matters to a conclusion at the earliest possible date.

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.

Once the site for the school is secured the project to deliver the school's permanent accommodation can progress into architectural planning.  In the interim the school is based since September 2018 at the former Institute of Horology property, Mill Road, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15 on a temporary basis.

Schools Site Acquisitions

 73. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if he has received clarification from the landowner of a preferred site to accommodate a campus (details supplied) in respect of his Department's most recent offer for the site; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49219/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh As the Deputy is aware the project in respect of the education campus to which he refers is included on my Department's capital programme. 

Negotiations with the landowner in respect of the preferred site option to accommodate the campus are currently underway.  The Deputy will appreciate that negotiations in respect of site acquisitions are, by their nature, sensitive and in that context I am not in a position to provide further information at this time.  However, I can assure you that all parties are working to bring matters to a conclusion at the earliest possible date and Department officials will continue to keep the relevant school authorities appraised of progress.  In that regard, a meeting between school authorities and Department officials has been arranged for later this week.

School Curriculum

 74. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh when he plans to complete the review of history as a compulsory subject for the junior certificate; his views on the decision to make history non-compulsory; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49459/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh Since my arrival in the Department I have been considering the issue of History in the curriculum. I have spoken publicly of how vital it is that our young people can learn from the past so that they can plan for the future. I think it is very important that our education system should provide the opportunity to learn about, and learn from, key times and events in our history, events that we particularly recall in this decade of centenaries. These include the end of the First World War, the delicate path we walk to mark the foundation of the State, and the role of women in society.  The study of our history can also afford the opportunity to consider and learn from the story of Irish migration, of the journey from conflict to peace on this island, and to learn about the rich history of our Irish language and its place in our culture and our heritage.

It is against this backdrop, of the importance of learning from our past, that I have asked the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) to review the optional nature of history under the new Framework for Junior Cycle. History was one of the new subject specifications introduced to schools just last September.

As part of their review I have also asked the NCCA to identify how we can best promote the study of history in our schools. 

I met with officials of the NCCA yesterday and had an initial discussion on this matter. I expect to receive a report from the Council by the end of the first quarter of next year.

Schools Health and Safety

 75. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if his attention has been brought to issues regarding the construction quality of a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49452/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh A Department official has recently been in contact with the school and the school has been asked to submit details of the issues for review. These details are awaited from the School Authorities.

Boird Oideachais agus Oiliúna

 76. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Aindrias Moynihan Information on Aindrias Moynihan Zoom on Aindrias Moynihan den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh an bhfuil sé sásta le plean Bhoird Oideachais agus Oiliúna Chorcaí, Thiobraid Árann, agus Chill Chainnigh agus Cheatharlach príomhoifigigh fheidhmiúcháin a fhostú gan riachtanas Gaeilge; an raibh aon teagmháil ag a Roinn leis na Boird; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [49511/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh Is é mo chúram mar Aire agus príomhfheidhm mo Roinne i dtaca leis an gceist seo, ná a chinntiú go gceaptar na daoine cearta do phoist Phríomhfheidhmeannigh ar na Boird Oideachais agus Oiliúna (BOOna) a bhfuil na heochairscileanna agus na hinniúlachtaí acu a theastaíonn chun feidhmiú go héifeachtach agus eagraíochtaí móra coimpléascacha a bhainistiú.

Mar is eol don Teachta, is forais reachtúla iad na BOOna a bhfuil a stádas corparáideach féin acu, a bunaíodh faoi Acht na mBord Oideachais agus Oiliúna 2013, agus tá siad freagrach as réimse d’fheidhmeanna forchoimeádta agus feidhmiúcháin faoin Acht sin.    Is é an Príomhfheidhmeannach atá freagrach as feidhmeanna feidhmiúcháin an bhoird a chur i gcrích agus tá sé freagrach don bhord as comhlíonadh cuí a c(h)uid feidhmeanna. Ta an Príomhfheidhmeannach freagrach as a dheimhniú go n-éiríonn leis an BOO a chuid aidhmeanna agus cuspóirí straitéiseacha a bhaint amach, lena n-áirítear soláthar, ar dhóigh éifeachtúil agus éifeachtach, an iliomad seirbhísí agus gníomhaíochtaí ilchineálacha a bhíonn ag an BOO, de réir dea-chleachtas, agus tá sé freagrach don bhord agus freisin do Choiste na gCuntas Poiblí agus do Choistí eile de chuid an Oireachtais. 

Ní mór d’iarrthóirí do ról an Phríomhfheidhmeannaigh a bheith in ann na hinniúlachtaí seo a leanas a léiriú:

- ceannaireacht straitéiseach, nó ionchur suntasach straitéiseach, ar ghnó nó ar eagraíocht i gceann amháin, nó níos mó, de na hearnálacha seo a leanas – oideachas Bunscoile, Iar-Bhunscoile, Breisoideachas agus Oiliúint nó oideachas Tríú Leibhéal

- taithí shuntasach rialachais, riaracháin agus bainistíocht airgeadais, taithí shuntasach eagraíochtúil ar bhainistiú athruithe ag leibhéil straitéiseacha agus oibríochta araon

- taithí ar fhoirne rathúla nó líonraí dea-fhorbartha a thógáil, a threorú, a spreagadh agus a fhorbairt, laistigh den timpeallacht oideachais, oiliúna agus scileanna agus / nó sa Rialtas nó san earnáil phoiblí go ginearálta

- taithí ar phrionsabail an chomhionannais deiseanna, na hilchineálachta agus na cuimsitheachta a leabú laistigh de bheartais agus de chleachtais eagraíochta

D’fhonn a chinntiú go mbíonn iarrthóirí atá cáilithe mar is cuí ar fáil do ról an Phríomhfheidhmeannaigh, ní mór dóibh a bheith ábalta na hinniúlachtaí thuas a léiriú. B’fhéidir go gcaithfeadh an Príomhfheidhmeannach cuid áirithe dá g(h)nó a dhéanamh trí Ghaeilge mar sin de, is inmhianaithe go mbeadh ardchaighdeán Gaeilge acu ach níl sé riachtanach. Bhí mo Roinn ag plé le Boird Oideachais agus Oiliúna Éireann i dtaca leis an gceist seo.  Is é BOOÉ an eagraíocht a bunaíodh faoi Acht BOO 2013 chun ionadaíocht a dhéanamh ar na BOOna i dteannta a chéile agus aithníonn mo Roinnse amhlaidh é chun na críche sin. 

Is faoin tSeirbhís um Cheapacháin Phoiblí a bheidh sé ar deireadh a shocrú cé hé an duine / na daoine is mó ag a bhfuil na cáilíochtaí cuí acu de réir na gcritéar atá leagtha amach.

  Question No. 77 answered with Question No. 45.

Sports Facilities Provision

 78. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if he will provide assistance to sports clubs seeking alternative venues following the closure of a centre (details supplied) due to building defects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45633/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh As the Deputy is aware, over the course of the mid-term break my Department undertook structural assessments on all 42 school buildings constructed by Western Building Systems since 2003 which were part of the Department's Design and Build school building programme.  The safety of school students and staff has been and will continue to be, my Department's overriding priority.

  The summary outcome of the structural assessments conducted across the 42 schools is as follows:

19   schools cleared to open in full without any precautionary works

19   schools enabled to open in full following external precautionary measures in the form of fencing around all or part of the building and protective decking

  3   schools enabled to open, initially at ground floor level only, following the implementation of both internal and external precautionary measures.  This relates to two schools in Tyrrelstown and Gaelscoil Eiscir Riada in Lucan.

  1   building (Phase 1 of Ardgillan Community College) closed

  Tyrellstown Community Centre, which is operated under the auspices of the Fingal County Council, and is shared facility utilised by the schools during school hours and by the wider community outside of school hours and was initially closed on 23 October in conjunction with the two schools on the same campus pending a structural assessment.

  I can advise the Deputy that following the structural review of the Tyrellstown Community Centre which was concluded in early November, the Tyrellstown Community centre safely re-opened from 6 November for use by the public.

Student Universal Support Ireland Administration

 79. Deputy Kathleen Funchion Information on Kathleen Funchion Zoom on Kathleen Funchion asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh his plans to review the requirements from Student Universal Support Ireland, SUSI, for grant allocation, particularly for those students who do not qualify due to their addresses being marginally outside the agreed set SUSI distance boundaries and therefore do not meet the requirements.  [49534/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The student maintenance grant is a contribution towards the living costs of a student.  It is not intended to cover the full costs of attending college. 

Budget 2011 provided for a number of student grant measures which came into effect for the 2011/12 academic year, including the change in the assessment of the qualifying distance criterion for the non-adjacent rate of grant from 24 kilometres to 45 kilometres.

The 24km distance criterion was originally set in 1968 and had not been updated in more than 40 years. Since then, significant improvements have taken place in the road and rail network and it is considered that the revised distance criteria is more consistent with the type of distances that students may legitimately be expected to commute to college.

The current qualifying distance of 45km for the higher non-adjacent rate of student grant takes into account a reasonable radius within which students may commute on a daily basis.

There are no plans at present to change the current arrangements. Students in third-level institutions experiencing exceptional financial need can apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund. This Fund assists students, in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise be unable to continue their third level studies due to their financial circumstances. Information on the fund is available through the Access Officer in the third level institution attended. This fund is administered on a confidential, discretionary basis.

Education Welfare Service

 80. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if his attention has been drawn to reports on the use of reduced timetables in schools for children with behavioural issues; his views on whether the lack of funding for disadvantaged schools may be contributing to this policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49509/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The position of my Department is that all pupils who are enrolled in a school should attend school for the full day, unless exempted from doing so for exceptional circumstances, such as medical reasons.

Reduced timetables should not be used as a behavioural management technique, or as a de facto suspension or expulsion.

Where schools apply a shorter school day in relation to a child, such arrangements should only be put in place in exceptional circumstances in order to assist a pupil to return to a school, where a pupil has been experiencing an absence due to a medical or behavioural related condition.

Any such arrangement should be a transitionary arrangement, which is designed to assist the reintegration of a pupil to a school environment.

In making any such arrangements, school authorities should be mindful of the best interests of the child and of the child's right to a full day in school. Schools should seek the advice of the National Educational Psychology Service before implementing such arrangements.

The Education (Welfare) Act 2000 requires a school principal to inform an educational welfare officer in writing where a student is suspended from a recognised school for a period of not less than 6 days. The school is also obliged to record and maintain attendance records and to report to Tusla, unauthorised non-attendance above the threshold of 20 days, or where the school principal is of the opinion that a student is not attending school regularly. This is done currently through the School Returns mechanism to TUSLA Educational Welfare Services.

Developing a Code of Behaviour: Guidelines for Schools (NEWB, 2008) states that “Exclusion of a student for part of the school day, as a sanction, or asking parents to keep a child from school, as a sanction, is a suspension. Any exclusion imposed by a school is a suspension, and should follow the guidelines relating to a suspension”.

Section 29 of the Education Act 1998 makes provision for a parent to take an appeal against a school in relation to suspension of a student. In certain circumstances reduced timetables could be appealed by a parent under this provision.

It is also important to note that all schools, have available to them a range of supports provided by the Department to meet the identified additional educational needs of their pupil cohort. These include additional teaching and other resources to meet special educational needs, language and behavioural supports and educational psychological supports. Further services provided by the Professional Development Service for Teachers are also available to support teachers and school leaders in the delivery of teaching and learning in their schools.

The range of supports offered by the National Educational Psychological service includes support to teachers in schools to develop and implement behavioural management plans for individual pupils with behavioural and emotional regulation difficulties. DEIS schools have an enhanced time allocation for NEPS services.

 I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department is engaging with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and TUSLA Educational Welfare Service on the matter of reduced timetables, with a view to examining options which can be taken to address the issue.

Schools Establishment

 81. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the studies he has undertaken in respect of population growth in Dublin 15 and the adjacent Navan road area of Dublin 7; if his attention has been drawn to the demand for places in second level schools and that many children in the catchment area and attending feeder primary schools are not receiving places in the local secondary school and are now on long waiting lists for a place in 2019; and if his attention has been further drawn to the trauma and disappointment for families and children that have been residents for many years in an area and have failed to get places in the local school.  [49507/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level. 

Where demographic data indicates that additional provision is required, the delivery of such additional provision is dependent on the particular circumstances of each case and may, depending on the circumstances, be provided through either one, or a combination of, the following:

- Utilising existing unused capacity within a school or schools,

- Extending the capacity of a school or schools,

- Provision of a new school or schools.

As the Deputy may be aware, the Government announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022) including a new 800 pupil post-primary school to serve the Blanchardstown_West_D15 and BlanchardstownVge_D15 school planning areas as a regional solution to be established in 2020.

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. 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.

In addition, the following post-primary schools were established in recent years in the area referred to by the Deputy: 

- 1,000 pupil post-primary school established in 2017 to serve the Carpenterstown_D15 and Castleknock_D15 school planning areas as a regional solution;

- 1,000 pupil post-primary school established in 2014 to serve the Mulhuddart Tyrellstown_D15 school planning area; and

- 1,000 pupil post-primary school established in 2014 to serve the Blanchardstown_West_D15 school planning area.

It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of all schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act, 1998. The enrolment policy must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants.

My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking school places in the area. Parents have the right to choose which school to apply to and where the school has places available the pupil should be admitted. However, in schools where there are more applicants than places available a selection process may be necessary. 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. However, this may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice. 

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 Educational 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. Further information on the Section 29 appeals process is available on the Department's website www.education.ie. The Education Welfare Service of the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child.

The Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018, which was signed into law by the President on the 18th July 2018, is an important piece of legislation which will introduce a more parent-friendly, equitable and consistent approach to how school admissions policy operates for the almost 4,000 primary and post-primary schools in this country and a fair and balanced school admission process for all pupils.

School Enrolments

 82. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if a masterplan for school placements will be established for schools in north County Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49257/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh I wish to advise the Deputy that the matter of enrolments is one for managerial authorities of schools who are required to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act, 1998. 

Parents can choose which school to apply to and where the school has places available the pupil should be admitted. However, in schools where there are more applicants than places available a selection process may be necessary. 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. However, this may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice.

My Department’s main responsibility is to ensure that the existing schools in an area can, between them, cater for the demand. I wish to assure the Deputy that my Department will continue to monitor the enrolment position in the North Dublin area closely.

Third Level Fees

 83. Deputy Seán Barrett Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the steps that can be taken to waive the payment of €9,000 in fees for a college student (details supplied) who transferred from science in TCD to medicine in UCD after first year; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [49260/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The position is that currently under the terms of my Department’s Free Fees Initiative, tuition fees are not paid in respect of a repeat period of study, where the previous third level course attracted exchequer funding (including free fees).

  As the student in question has already completed one year of a Level 8 course in Trinity College  Dublin (TCD) she is therefore not eligible for free fees for the same duration of time spent on the previous course.

  The assessment of eligibility under the Free Fees Initiative in individual cases is a matter for each higher education institution to determine within the terms of the scheme.

  Where students do not meet the eligibility criteria of the Free Fees Initiative they must pay the appropriate tuition fee as determined by the third level institution in accordance with their own criteria.

  Another option open to students may be the Student Assistance Fund (SAF).  The SAF assists students, in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise be unable to continue their third level studies due to their financial circumstances. Details of this fund are available from the Access Office in the college that the student is attending, University College Dublin (UCD).

  You will appreciate that as the terms of the scheme are for general application, exceptions can not be made in individual cases.

   

School Enrolments Data

 84. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan Information on Aindrias Moynihan Zoom on Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the projected demand for junior infants places in September 2019 in Ballincollig; the availability of school places; his plans to deal with shortfalls in this regard; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49512/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department does not hold the specific information to which he refers.  More detailed information relating to enrolment levels in all primary and post-primary schools nationwide is available on the Department's website at the following link:

https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Statistics/Data-on-Individual-Schools.

  In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level. 

  Where demographic data indicates that additional provision is required, the delivery of such additional provision is dependent on the particular circumstances of each case and may, depending on the circumstances, be provided through either one, or a combination of, the following:

  - Utilising existing unused capacity within a school or schools,

  - Extending the capacity of a school or schools,

  - Provision of a new school or schools. 

  As the Deputy may be aware, the Government 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.  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 primary school in the Ballincollig school planning area, two new primary schools were announced for the adjoining school planning areas as follows:

  - a new 8 classroom primary school to serve the Glasheen_CorkCity/Pouladuff school planning area to be established in 2019; and

  - a new 16 classroom primary school to serve the Carrigaline school planning area to be established in 2020.

  My Department's responsibility is to provide sufficient accommodation to meet 20,000 new and replacement school places each year, to ensure that every child has a school place.  It is open to an individual school to apply for accommodation under the additional accommodation scheme if the school does not have sufficient capacity to meet school places.

Public Sector Pay

 85. 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 his plans to deal with the outstanding issues of pay equality in the view of possible industrial disputes in schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49541/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The public service agreements have allowed a programme of pay restoration for public servants to start. The starting salary for a new entrant teacher in 2011 was €27,814. As a result of the programme of pay restoration, the starting salary of a teacher is now €36,318 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).

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.

On 24 September 2018, an agreement was reached between the Government and the public services committee of ICTU in respect of new entrant pay.

This agreement will benefit 16,000 teachers and nearly 5,000 SNAs within the education sector. The deal provides for a series of incremental jumps for new entrants.

These restorations for new entrants have been achieved through continued engagement and collective bargaining between the Government and the public service unions and shows the benefits that such engagement can bring. In the context of the agreement reached and which applies across the public sector, further measures in this area are not being contemplated.

The Public Service Stability Agreement provides a range of protections and benefits to public servants who are covered by the agreement. If a union opts to withdraw from the agreement, they are choosing to forgo these protections and benefits.

Public Sector Pay

 86. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh his plans to restore full parity in respect of teachers’ salaries in respect of staff recruited on the lower pay scales; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49506/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The public service agreements have allowed a programme of pay restoration for public servants to start. As a result, the starting salary of a teacher is now €36,318 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.

On 24 September 2018, an agreement was reached between the Government and the public services committee of ICTU in respect of new entrant pay.

This agreement will benefit 16,000 teachers and nearly 5,000 SNAs within the education sector. The deal provides for a series of incremental jumps for new entrants.

These restorations for new entrants have been achieved through continued engagement and collective bargaining between the Government and the public service unions and shows the benefits that such engagement can bring.

In the context of the agreement reached, which applies across the public service, further adjustments in this area are not being contemplated. 

Schools Health and Safety

 87. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the status of works conducted on schools completed by a company (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49446/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh As the Deputy is aware, over the course of the mid-term break my Department undertook structural assessments on all  42 school buildings constructed by Western Building Systems since 2003  following the identification of significant structural issues at Ardgillan Community College in Balbriggan during an assessment undertaken by a structural engineer at the school on 19 October. The safety of school students and staff has been and will continue to be, my Department's overriding priority.

  The summary outcome of the structural assessments conducted across the 42 schools is as follows:

- 19   schools cleared to open in full without any precautionary works

- 19   schools enabled to open in full following external precautionary measures in the form of fencing around all or part of the building and protective decking

-   3   schools enabled to open, initially at ground floor level only, following the implementation of both internal and external precautionary measures.  This relates to two schools in Tyrrelstown and Gaelscoil Eiscir Riada in Lucan.

  - building (Phase 1 of Ardgillan Community College) closed

  Internal precautionary measures works are currently ongoing on the upper floors to the 3 schools which were opened at ground floor initially only.  This will enable all 3 schools to fully open and students who temporarily decanted offsite to return in the coming weeks.  This is the immediate priority for my Department.

  The Department will be moving as quickly possible to the next phase of detailed structural investigations at all the 42 schools, which will determine the nature and extent of permanent remediation measures required.  The initial planning and preparations for this next phase has now commenced.  

National Council for Special Education

 88. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh when he will introduce an implementation plan in respect of the recommendations drafted by the National Council for Special Education which suggest that SNA training should be funded by the State and not SNAs; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [49499/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The current entry level qualification for Special Needs Assistants is set out in my Department's circular 0021/2011 which requires a FETAC level 3 major qualification on the National Framework of Qualifications, OR a minimum of three grade Ds in the Junior Certificate, OR the equivalent.

The Comprehensive Review of the Special Needs Assistant Scheme which set out to ensure that the Scheme is achieving the best outcomes possible for children with special educational needs was published by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) in May this year. 

One of the recommendations in the Review is the development of a national training programme at FETAC level 5 on the National Framework of Qualifications for existing and new SNAs, recognising the fundamental importance of building schools' capacity to meet students' additional care needs.

In response to the Review, I have undertaken to develop proposals for the implementation of the NCSE's recommendations and to return to Government following engagement with the Departments of Public Expenditure and Reform and Health, with a proposed implementation plan to include governance and accountability framework and detailed costings of any recommendations that subsequently may be approved by Government.

Work in this regard is underway and I expect to bring proposals for implementation of the Review's recommendations to Government shortly.

Schools Building Projects Status

 89. Deputy John Curran Information on John Curran Zoom on John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if a project will move rapidly to the construction phase in view of the long delays in advancing the redevelopment of the school building project (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49306/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The major building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of Architectural Planning – Stage 2b (Detailed Design) which includes the application for statutory approvals and the preparation of tender documents.  All statutory approvals have been secured.

Dublin and Dún Laoghaire ETB and its Design Team are actively progressing this project with guidance and the assistance of my Department. 

A revised Brief Change Request has recently been reviewed and approved by the Department.  Dublin Dún Laoghaire Educational and Training Board has been advised by the Department to instruct its Design Team to incorporate the approved Brief Change Request into the Stage 2(b) submission.  The Design Team is currently proceeding to complete work on the Stage 2(b) report.

Upon receipt and review of the Stage 2(b) submission, my Department will revert to Dublin Dún Laoghaire Educational and Training Board with regard to the further progression of this project at that time.


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