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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 235-255
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Teacher Training Provision
 Header Item Irish Language Issues
 Header Item School Staffing
 Header Item School Staffing
 Header Item School Transport Provision
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item School Funding
 Header Item Schools Numbers
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Payments
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 96 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 235-255

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

 235. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will investigate if a student (details supplied) in County Laois is eligible to receive the special rate of maintenance of €5,915, having being approved a standard rate full maintenance grant of €3,025 under the student grant scheme 2012 in view of the fact that his father is on jobseekers allowance for 373 days before the 31 August 2012 and if there is discretion to allow the special rate of maintenance to be paid as the financial loss to the student will be €2,890 because his father was on jobseekers allowance for 18 days less than the required 391 days; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56671/12]

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, in the case of the student referred to by the Deputy, a grant has been awarded and an award letter issued on 4th December, 2012.

If the applicant considers that the grant awarded is not the correct one, 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 SUSI has not interpreted the scheme correctly in his/her case, an appeal form outlining the position may be submitted by the applicant to the Student Grant Appeals Board. The relevant appeal form will be available on request from SUSI.

Teacher Training Provision

 236. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if attendance on gaeltacht placement is a required element of programmes of initial primary teacher education and a requirement for registration; the cost of such placements and the financial assistance available to students to attend such course; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56677/12]

 237. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn in view of the cost of Gaeltacht placements particularly to students in receipt of higher education grants, if he intends to provide grant aid to attend these courses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56678/12]

 238. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the proposals in the 20 year Strategy for the Irish Language in relation to Gaeltacht placements for primary school teacher education students; the steps he has taken to ensure the implementation of this aspect of the strategy; the funding provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56679/12]

 243. 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 if any level of subsidy will be provided for students in first year in 2012-2013 towards the cost of their two week teacher training courses over the Easter term break; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56749/12]

 244. 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 level of subsidy that was provided to each student undertaking primary teacher training courses in 2011-2012 towards their mandatory two week Irish training courses in a Gaeltacht college; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56750/12]

 245. 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 if he has decided to discontinue subsidising two week Irish training courses in the Gaeltacht, which are mandatory for first year students who are studying to become primary education teachers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56751/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I propose to take Questions Nos. 236 to 238, inclusive, and 243 to 245, inclusive, together.

  Attendance on the Gaeltacht placement is a required element of programmes of initial teacher education for primary teachers and so a requirement for registration with the Teaching Council.

  The 20 year Strategy for the Irish Language states in relation to Gaeltacht placements for primary school teacher education students that "student teachers will follow a defined programme of language teaching in the Gaeltacht. The tuition time and attendance of student teachers who attend Gaeltacht courses will also be increased." The Teaching Council has set out that student primary teachers will now complete four weeks Gaeltacht Placement in total in two separate blocks and has also set out revised criteria for course structure and content.

  A grant of €637 per student per 3 week course was paid directly to the Gaeltacht Colleges by my Department for students who commenced their primary initial teacher education course prior to 2012/13. As part of the Government's budgetary considerations and the Comprehensive Expenditure Review in 2011, a decision was made to abolish the payment of the grants by this Department towards the cost of student teachers' attendance at Gaeltacht courses.

  The decision came into effect for students commencing their programme of primary initial teacher education in the 2012/13 academic year. This move brings the primary ITE courses more into line with other degree programmes where students are required to bear the costs of additional special requirements themselves.

The student grant is the main source of financial assistance available from the Irish State for students in full-time higher education undergraduate courses. Postgraduate students who meet the qualifying conditions for the special rate of grant will be eligible to have their post-graduate tuition fees paid up to the maximum fee limit of the scheme.

  Primary initial teacher education students who are in receipt of a student grant which includes a 100% fee grant or who would have qualified for a full fee grant but for the Free Fees Schemes, can apply for funding towards travel and accommodation costs under the field trip element of a fee grant subject to the normal terms and conditions of the student grant scheme.

  Apart from the student grant system, in circumstances of particular need students may apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund which assists students in third-level institutions in exceptional financial need. Information on the fund is available through the Access Officer in the third level institution attended. The Access Officers themselves will also continue to provide support and advice to students to enable them to continue with their studies.

  Questions Nos. 239 to 242, inclusive answered with Question No. 218.

  Questions Nos. 243 to 245, inclusive answered with Question No. 236.

Irish Language Issues

 246. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if in view of its being moved into the aegis of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta will continue to be facilitated in conducting all business through Irish and the ongoing research pertaining to the teaching of Irish as a first and second language will continue to be facilitated; if he envisages any curtailment of services or research otherwise undertaken by the COGG; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56756/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I would see An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta continuing to carry out its statutory functions as they relate to Irish, through Irish.

School Staffing

 247. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn his views on whether the current system of subbing lists in use in primary schools, in particular insofar as the way in which substitute teachers are selected for positions in schools and offered covering work on a day to day or week to week basis, to be unbiased and fair. [56760/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The recruitment and appointment of teachers to fill teaching posts is a matter for the individual school authority, subject to procedures agreed under Section 24(3) of the Education Act 1998 (as amended by the Education (Amendment) Act 2012). The Constitution of Boards and Rules of Procedure document 2011 sets out the procedures for appointment of teachers and special needs assistants at primary level.

From 1 December 2011 all advertising of teaching and special needs assistant positions at primary level must be through one of the four listed websites, which include sites run by the Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN) and the management bodies. Vacancies for the post of principal may also be advertised on www.publicjobs.ie.

I issued Circular 31/2011 in May of last year which requires that, from September 2011, schools at primary and post-primary level maintain a list of appropriately qualified registered teachers who notify the school that they are available for substitute teaching at short notice.

Job-seeking teachers at primary level may also register with the IPPN's www.educationposts.ie website for both permanent and temporary roles and with SubSearch, a facility which is run by the INTO.

School Staffing

 248. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if his attention has been drawn to retired teachers doing substitution work, in particular the supervision of trainee teachers in schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56761/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The staffing arrangements for the supervision of students undertaking their School Placement is a matter for the initial teacher education providers. I understand that supervision of students on School Placement is undertaken by a combination of full-time staff in the Colleges concerned along with a number of external supervisors if needed due to the number of students involved. The external supervisors engaged are often retired teachers as the work requires experienced personnel with a thorough knowledge of the Curriculum and experience of a wide variety of classroom situations.

  More generally, the recruitment and appointment of teachers to fill teaching posts is a matter for the individual school authority, subject to procedures published by my Department.

  Circular 31/2011, published in May 2011, details a cascade of measures for recruitment of teachers, prioritising unemployed registered teachers over retired registered teachers and registered teachers over unregistered persons.

  Schools at primary and post-primary level are required to maintain a list of appropriately qualified registered teachers who have notified the school that they are available for substitute teaching at short notice. Where a substitute teacher is needed at short notice and advertising for the position is not feasible, the school must contact a person on the list established by the school or use a national service such as SubSearch or TextaSub.

  Where these procedures are adhered to, an unregistered person should only be engaged for a limited period of time in exceptional circumstances. The school remains under an obligation to source an appropriately qualified and registered teacher at all times.

  Each principal must report to his or her board of management on a regular basis on the fact that a list of unemployed registered teachers is being maintained, and the circumstances in which he or she has had to engage a registered teacher in receipt of a pension under a public service pension scheme or an unregistered person.

  In response to a request under the Freedom of Information Acts, my Department recently provided information on the number of retired teachers employed in schools on a substitute or temporary basis between 28 August 2012 and 26 October 2012. This information is included in this reply.

Number Teachers
Number of retired primary teachers who were employed on a substitute or temporary basis up to five days
175 Teachers. 
Number of retired primary teachers who were employed on a substitute or temporary basis from six days and greater 62 Teachers
Number of retired post primary teachers who were employed on a substitute or temporary basis up to five days 74 Teachers. Please note that in compiling this report if a retired teacher carried out substitution for a class period in a day the record indicates a full day
Number of retired post primary teachers who were employed on a substitute or temporary basis from six days and greater 59 Teachers. Please note that in compiling this report if a retired teacher carried out substitution for a class period in a day the record indicates a full day
Number of retired primary teachers who were employed continuously in the same school on a substitution or temporary basis up to five days. 1 day absences, either substitute or temporary capacity, covered by 104 retired teachers

2 day absences, either substitute or temporary capacity, covered by 56 retired teachers

3 day absences, either substitute or temporary capacity, covered by 35 retired teachers

4 day absences, either substitute or temporary capacity, covered by 30 retired teachers

5 day absences, either substitute or temporary capacity, covered by 15 retired teachers
Number of retired primary teachers who were employed continuously in the same school on a substitution or temporary basis for six days or greater 6 – 10 days absences, either substitute or temporary capacity, covered by 28  retired teachers

11 – 20 day absences, either substitute or temporary capacity, covered by 15 retired teachers

21 – 30 day absences, either substitute or temporary capacity, covered by 6 retired teachers

31 days and over absences, either substitute or temporary capacity, covered by 2 retired teachers
Number of retired post primary teachers who were employed continuously in the same school on a substitution or temporary basis up to five days 1 day absences, either substitute or temporary capacity, covered by 16 retired teachers

2 day absences, either substitute or temporary capacity, covered by 22 retired teachers

3 day absences, either substitute or temporary capacity, covered by 15 retired teachers

4 day absences, either substitute or temporary capacity, covered by 13 retired teachers

5 day absences, either substitute or temporary capacity, covered by 12 retired teachers
Number of retired post primary teachers who were employed continuously in the same school on a substitution or temporary basis for six days or greater 6 – 10 days absences, either substitute or temporary capacity, covered by 36 retired teachers

11 – 20 day absences, either substitute or temporary capacity, covered by 14 retired teachers

21 – 30 day absences, either substitute or temporary capacity, covered by 3 retired teachers

31 days and over absences, either substitute or temporary capacity, covered by 5 retired teachers
Please note that the same retired teacher may have carried out substitution or temporary service in a different school and therefore is included under one or more categories above.

School Transport Provision

 249. Deputy Pat Breen Information on Pat Breen Zoom on Pat Breen asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the reason a person (details supplied) has not been facilitated with school transport; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56793/12]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciarán Cannon Zoom on Ciarán Cannon Changes to the terms of my Department's Post Primary School Transport Scheme mean that children are eligible for transport where they reside not less than 4.8 km from and are attending their nearest education centre as determined by my Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

Bus Éireann, which operates the school transport scheme on behalf of my Department, has advised that the child referred to by the Deputy is not attending his nearest education centre and is therefore not eligible for school transport.

Children who are not eligible for school transport, under the terms of the scheme, may apply to Bus Éireann for transport on a concessionary basis subject to a number of a conditions including the availability of spare seats on an existing service and the payment of the annual charge.

Only children who are eligible for school transport and who hold valid medical cards (GMS Scheme) are exempt from paying the annual charge.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 250. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the position regarding an application for third level grant in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Donegal; and when a decision will be made on same. [56811/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Officials in my Department have confirmed with SUSI, the new centralised grant awarding authority, that on the 4th December, 2012 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.

School Funding

 251. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan Information on Maureen O'Sullivan Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will make representations to ensure that schools will not have to pay the same fixed energy costs as small and medium business; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56819/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Deputy may be aware that in October 2012, Minister Rabbitte and I jointly launched the new 'Energy in Education' initiative to help schools manage energy costs and potentially save €6m over the next year.

Developed by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), in collaboration with my Department, the web-based initiative provides a vital service to help schools make energy savings requiring little or no capital expenditure. This new initiative gives schools the tools to manage their own energy and identifies opportunities for significant savings. The initiative can also help to reduce the environmental impact of the school, while also teaching students about good energy using behaviour.

The programme, available to all schools who sign up to workshops and online supports via the website www.energyineducation.ie, takes participants through a five step process to implement energy management, offering a school the unique opportunity to learn about energy management with a view to implementing and making continued savings themselves. To date SEAI has worked with over 250 schools aiding them to make savings in excess of €800k on energy bills through a number of energy saving supports.

The Deputy may also be aware that the National Procurement Service (NPS) has put in place a large number of framework agreements for use by Departments and public bodies when procuring a range of commonly acquired goods and services. In the specific area of energy supply, procurement is already aggregated across the VEC and Higher Education sectors where significant savings have been achieved. My Department will continue to work with the NPS and school management bodies to achieve procurements savings for schools including the supply of energy.

It would not be appropriate for me to intervene in the setting of tariffs for the supply of energy.

Schools Numbers

 252. 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 total number of post primary schools throughout the country and fully operational in the current academic year; the number, if any, in the DEIS category; the extent to which the remainder are fee-paying schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56837/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The information request by the Deputy is as follows:

  Total number of post-primary schools in 2012/13 - 722. Total number of DEIS post-primary schools - 195. Total number of fee paying post-primary schools - 55.

Student Grant Scheme Payments

 253. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn further to Parliamentary Question No. 258 of 20 November 2012, if he will give assurances to students in receipt of a maintenance and top up grant for the academic year 2012/2013 under the category NA1-T, that second and subsequent instalments are guaranteed and will not be reduced as a result of Budget 2013; if he will, in addition provide details of postgraduate funding options and for prospective students and details of the way these have been affected by Budget 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56842/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn There was no change in Budget 2013 to the non-adjacent or adjacent rates of grant, including the higher special rate of grant for the 2013 financial year, therefore there will be no reduction in the remaining instalments due for the 2012/13 academic year.

Students entering approved postgraduates courses who meet the qualifying conditions for the special rate of grant will be eligible to have their post-graduate tuition fees paid up to the maximum fee limit of €6,270 under the Student Grant Scheme. A further limited number of students will qualify to have a €2,000 contribution made towards the costs of their fees. The income threshold for this payment is €31,500 for the 2012/13 academic year, increasing relative to the number of dependent children.

Budget 2013 provided for a 3% reduction in grant income thresholds in 2013 grant scheme. The measure will apply to both new and renewal. This reduction in thresholds does not apply to the threshold for the special rate of grant and the threshold for the €2,000 contribution at postgraduate will still be €31,500 for the 2013/14 academic year.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 254. Deputy Tom Fleming Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn when a decision will issue on a student grant application in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56843/12]

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 (SUSI) that further documentation was received from the student referred to by the Deputy on 3rd December 2012 and this documentation is currently awaiting review. The student will be notified directly of the outcome.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 255. 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 a student grant in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [56871/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Officials in my Department have confirmed with SUSI, the new centralised grant awarding authority, that in the case of the student referred to by the Deputy a decision has now been made and a letter will issue shortly directly to the student outlining the position.


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