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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 95 - 103
 Header Item Third Level Facilities
 Header Item Higher Education Grants Eligibility Criteria
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Teachers' Remuneration
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item School Staffing
 Header Item In-service Training
 Header Item Public Sector Staff Recruitment

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 800 No. 4

First Page Previous Page Page of 92 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 95 - 103

Third Level Facilities

 95. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn his views on a matter (details supplied) regarding public access to a university library; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19381/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Under the Universities Act 1997 universities are autonomous statutory bodies and the management and operation of their facilities is therefore the responsibility of the college authorities. Accordingly I have no function in relation to access to the library of the university in question. I understand that the university in question has various arrangements in place for non-members of the university to access the library and its resources and members of the public requiring access for research and scholarly purposes may apply to use the library as either an external reader or an external borrower. Details of the arrangements are available on the university's website.

Higher Education Grants Eligibility Criteria

 96. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn his plans to review the higher education grant scheme to assess income based on net rather than gross income; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19387/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Student grant applications are means tested on gross income from all sources earned inside and outside the State within a specified reference period. The assessment of income from the same starting point is deemed to be fair and reasonable because this approach eliminates any distortion which might arise from different spending arrangements in different households. In the interest of equity, I currently have no plans to change this procedure.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 97. Deputy Paschal Donohoe Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the circumstance behind the decision to remove the entitlement to resource teaching hours in respect of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19417/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I wish to advise the Deputy that, in primary schools, teaching supports for pupils with special educational needs are provided in two ways. Under the terms of the General Allocation Model (GAM) of teaching supports, schools are resourced to cater for pupils whose educational psychological assessment places them in the high incidence, or less complex, disability category, including children with mild general learning difficulties. In this context, children with a mild intellectual disability qualify for resources under GAM. Separately, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) allocates additional resource teaching hours to schools for children who have been assessed within the low incidence, or more complex, category of special need, as defined by my Department's Circular Sp Ed 02/05.

Once allocations have been made, it is a matter for schools to monitor and utilise their allocation of resource teaching support, including supports allocated under the GAM, to best support the needs of qualifying pupils, in accordance with my Department's guidance. Should a parent be dissatisfied with the manner in which the resources or facilities which have been provided to support their child's education are being applied in school, or with regard to their child's educational progress in school, they should raise this matter directly with their school Principal or the Board of Management of the school.

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

The position in relation to pupils with Down syndrome attending mainstream schools is that they may receive additional teaching support in primary schools, either under the terms of the General Allocation Model (GAM) of teaching supports, if the pupil's educational psychological assessment places the pupil in the mild general learning disability/high incidence disability category, or through an allocation of individual additional resource teaching hours which are allocated by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), if the child is assessed as being within the low incidence category of special need, as defined by my Department's Circular Sp Ed 02/05.

I have asked the National Council for Special Education to provide me with policy advice on the issue of whether Down syndrome should be reclassified as a low incidence disability in all instances, regardless of assessed cognitive ability. This advice will be included in the NCSE's comprehensive policy advice on how the education system can best support children with special educational needs which is currently in preparation and which is expected in the coming months. Parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

Schools Building Projects Status

 98. Deputy Emmet Stagg Information on Emmet Stagg Zoom on Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he has received an application for capital funding for the re-development of a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; the status and band assigned to same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19424/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I can confirm to the Deputy that the school to which he refers has an application with my Department for large scale capital funding. The current status of all schools on the school building programme may be viewed on my Department's website at www.education.ie. The Deputy will be aware that the Five Year Construction Plan, that I announced on 9 March 2012, outlines the major school projects that will commence construction over the duration of the Plan. The primary aim at the core of the Five Year Plan is focussed on meeting demographic demands to ensure that every child will have access to a physical school place and that our school system is in a position to cope with increasing pupil numbers. Given the need to meet demographic growth, the delivery of new schools, together with extension projects to meet future demand, will be the main focus of the Department's budget for the coming years. In this context, it is not possible to indicate at this point when a building project for the school in question will be progressed.

Teachers' Remuneration

 99. Deputy Emmet Stagg Information on Emmet Stagg Zoom on Emmet Stagg asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the reason his Department has failed to pay a teacher (details supplied) in County Kildare at the appropriate point on the scale for post primary qualified teachers with post graduate qualification working at primary level which is the third point on the scale; and the reason the person has not been paid an allowance for their honours level teaching diploma. [19425/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn An official from my Department was in contact with the person referred to by the Deputy with a view to resolving the queries raised by him.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 100. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn his plans to put in place special needs educational units within existing mainstream second level schools acknowledging that new second level schools are being built with such facilities but recognising that existing second level schools are in the main lacking in such facilities and leading to large numbers of students with special needs availing of such facilities at primary level but they do not have this option when they reach second level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19437/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Deputy will be aware that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) through its local Special Education Needs Officers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from primary and post primary schools for special educational needs supports, including the establishment of special classes or units in various geographical areas as necessary.

It is general practice for my Department to include a special needs unit in the accommodation brief for new school buildings. In the case of existing schools, additional accommodation may not be required in all cases to establish a special class or special needs unit as the schools concerned may have sufficient capacity to facilitate this. My Department endeavours to respond positively to applications from existing schools for additional accommodation where the need for a special class or special needs unit has been approved by the NCSE and where the schools existing accommodation is not capable of hosting the additional accommodation required.

School Staffing

 101. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the position regarding the mainstream staffing for 2013/14 in respect of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 11; if he will outline his intentions with regard to subsuming and retaining concessionary legacy teaching posts which form part of the current and future staffing arrangement for this school; and if there is an appeal mechanism to appeal against this decision. [19453/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The staffing arrangements for the 2013/14 school year are set out in Primary Circular 0013/2013 which is available on my Department's website. Following the Government's decision of 21 February 2012, the school to which the Deputy refers was among the schools which retained disadvantaged legacy posts from previous disadvantage schemes.

As the Deputy may be aware, a range of factors contribute to determining the staffing requirement for individual schools including changes to enrolment and the reforms to the teacher allocation process in 2012. As the teaching allocation to schools, including disadvantage legacy posts, are enrolment based, this determines whether schools gain or lose teaching posts from year to year. Some schools seemed to be under the impression that the Government decision of February 2012 in relation to legacy posts, implied that they would retain the number of legacy posts which they had in the 2011/12 school year. I wish to clarify that legacy posts are retained in schools from year to year, only where warranted, based on the enrolment of the previous 30th September. The individual schemes such as Breaking the cycle, Giving children an Even Break and the Disadvantage Areas Scheme no longer operate.

The enrolment at the school in question, which is a DEIS Band 2 school currently has two legacy posts. The school's enrolment increased slightly on 30 September 2012 over its previous year's enrolment. As a result of this increase, one of the legacy teaching posts, which is part of the current staffing (2012/13 school year), will be subsumed as part of the mainstream staffing for the 2013/14 school year. The school will retain one legacy teaching post for the 2013/14 school year. In summary, the school in question will retain the same number of classroom teaching posts for the 2013/14 school year as it has for the current school year, operating a more favourable pupil teacher ratio than other comparable DEIS schools while not exceeding this entitlement for the 2013/14 school year.

In-service Training

 102. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if retired principals are being employed by his Department, the vocational education committees or directly by schools or colleges to provide continual personal development in-service training for teachers; and if he will provide in tabular form the money paid to retired teachers providing this service on an individual basis for the past two years. [19468/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn My Department does not employ retired principals or deputy principals for the purposes of the provision of in service training for teachers. However, I understand that a number of qualified teachers, including retired principals, are employed on a part time basis through Blackrock Education Centre to assist national support services to deliver CPD for schools in identified priority areas in the primary and post primary sectors. The part-time personnel provide support in specialist areas where there is no capacity within the full-time teams.

  In the school year 2010-2011 retired personnel, including principals, worked for an average of just over 4 days, and in the school year 2011-2012 retired personnel, including principals, worked for an average of just over 5 days. The amounts paid by Blackrock EC in the period 2010-2012 are as follows:

2010 - €104,509 of which €53,233 relates to travel and subsistence expenses

2011 - €247,380 of which €135,444 relates to travel and subsistence expenses

2012 - €94,433 of which €33,021 relates to travel and subsistence expenses

The information requested by the Deputy in respect of VECs, colleges of education or individual schools is not held centrally by my Department.

The following revised reply was received from the Department on 26 April 2013.

My Department does not employ retired principals or deputy principals for the purposes of the provision of in service training for teachers. However, I understand that a number of qualified teachers, including retired principals, are employed on a part time basis through Blackrock Education Centre to assist national support services to deliver CPD for schools in identified priority areas in the primary and post primary sectors. The part-time personnel provide support in specialist areas where there is no capacity within the full-time teams.

In the school year 2010-2011 retired personnel, including principals, worked for an average of just over 4 days, and in the school year 2011-2012 retired personnel, including principals, worked for an average of just over 5 days. The amounts paid by Blackrock EC in the period 2010-2012 are as follows:

2010 - €104,509 of which €53,233 relates to travel and subsistence expenses

2011 - €247,380 of which €135,444 relates to travel and subsistence expenses

2012 - €429,882 of which €163,027 relates to travel and subsistence expenses

The information requested by the Deputy in respect of VECs, colleges of education or individual schools is not held centrally by my Department.

Public Sector Staff Recruitment

 103. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if persons who have worked in the education sector and have availed of retirement under the terms of the Croke Park 1 deal are barred from returning in any way to public service or receiving payments for constituency work, training teachers, principals, deputy principals or school/college management in-service training or delivery of continual personal development of any kind. [19469/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I assume the Deputy is referring to public servants who retired before 29 February 2012 with their pensions calculated by reference to their salary prior to the introduction of the FEMPI (No. 2) Act 2009. No specific terms and conditions were applied to this group of retired public servants compared to other retired public servants.

My Department has introduced measures to minimise the recruitment of retired teachers in schools. Schools may only employ a retired teacher where no appropriately qualified unemployed registered teacher is available. Furthermore, retired teachers must start at the first point of the teachers salary scale and are treated as new entrants to teaching for pay purposes. Under the Employment Control Framework for the Higher Education Sector, retired staff who are re-engaged can only be paid a maximum of 20% of their pre-retirement salary, including any salary adjustments which may have occurred since their retirement. However, notwithstanding those provisions, there is no bar as such to retired public servants returning to public service employment.


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