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Written Answers - School Staffing

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 168.  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  his plans to allow a school (details supplied) in County Donegal to retain its permanent learning support teacher; if not, if an avenue is open to them to appeal this loss; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16076/12]

 184.  Deputy Ann Phelan Information on Ann Phelan Zoom on Ann Phelan  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  if he will examine the case of a school (details supplied) in County Kilkenny which requires 25 general allocation teaching hours, and the difficulties being faced by the principal of the school in attaining an additional five hours for learning support; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16294/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I propose to take Questions Nos. 168 and 184 together.

The staffing arrangements for the 2012/13 school year are set out in Primary Circular 0007/2012 which is available on my Department’s website. The new arrangements incorporate a long overdue updating of the GAM (learning support) allocation for all schools. From September 2012 the combined resources available for GAM (General Allocation Model) and language support are being merged into a single simplified allocation process.

The new simplified approach to the General Allocation Model of support for schools will make it easier to automatically update it annually in line with the changes in the number of classroom teachers in each school. Schools will also have autonomy on how to deploy the resource between language support and learning support depending on their specific needs. The arrangements for the staffing allocation under the General Allocation Model (GAM) are specifically designed to facilitate GAM hours being clustered into full-time posts — either entirely within their own school or with a nearby neighbouring school. The new GAM allocations are being done in 5-hour blocks which is the school. The new GAM allocations are being done in 5-hour blocks which is the equivalent of the tuition time for a full school day. Teachers that are in shared posts between schools can therefore operate local arrangements that enable their travel to a neighbouring school to be done, where possible, from the start of the school day thus avoiding loss of tuition time.

[764]The GAM/EAL allocation for each school is conditional on schools making all reasonable efforts to combine their GAM/EAL hours into full-time GAM/EAL posts through contact with neighbouring schools. Schools that have been unable to get all of their GAM/EAL hours clustered into full-time posts will be processed by the Department at a later stage. If necessary and where appropriate, the Department may use the opportunity to do a Department led clustering process of remaining GAM/EAL hours to facilitate the redeployment of any remaining surplus permanent teachers.

There are also new and separate arrangements for how resource hours for individual pupils are converted into teaching posts in schools. The requirement for resource hours in a school varies from year to year depending on the number, if any, of its pupils with autism etc. Small schools generally have a lower requirement for resource hours. The new arrangements take account of the later timescale for the allocation of these hours necessitated by individual assessment by the NCSE.

All of the changes are designed to enable a more efficient operation of the teacher allocation and redeployment process and to reduce the impact of travel time between schools where teachers are shared. My Department will be working with schools and the relevant education partners to ensure that the new arrangements operate as efficiently as possible. As the process proceeds this work can take account of any appropriate local arrangements that might be made to further optimise travel arrangements.

The staffing schedule also includes an appeals mechanism for schools to submit an appeal under certain criteria to an independent Appeals Board. Details of the criteria for appeal are contained in the staffing schedule, Circular 0007/2012. The Appeals Board operates independently of the Department and its decision is final.


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