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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 84-90
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Staffing
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Applications
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Administration
 Header Item Residential Institutions Redress Scheme
 Header Item State Examinations Issues
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Administration

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 806 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 84-90

Special Educational Needs Staffing

 84. Deputy Anthony Lawlor Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the reason special needs assistants in second level schools are not utilised fully during the month of June when they are not assisting students sitting State examinations, but continue to be paid; if he will consider allowing such SNAs to undertake an alternative role within the school during this period, such as scribes or readers for the exams or school administrative duties, which would be a cost-saving measure by the Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28249/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I wish to set out the clear position of the Department and the employers regarding June working for Special Needs Assistants employed in the post-primary sector. The contract for Special Needs Assistants in the post primary sector (DES Circular SNA12/05) specifically requires that SNAs are required to work the month of June on examinations and work appropriate to the grade including training.

  The utilisation of this period is not solely for examinations or training purposes only, although they are two of the purposes for which this period of time can be utilised.

Duties such as assisting students and acting as reader/scribe for a student who is doing a state examination form part of the normal duties of SNAs and attract no additional payment.

Schools Building Projects Applications

 85. Deputy Mattie McGrath Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the reason a school (details supplied) in County Tipperary was not approved and or considered for a major funding grant in the latest round of funding investing in infrastructure and jobs; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this school has been in temporary accommodation for almost 20 years and has now been granted planning permission to progress to the building stage; if he will reconsider this school for funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28252/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I wish to advise the Deputy that the school projects announced as part of the Government's "Investing in Infrastructure & Jobs" Package last week are school projects that have completed extensive architectural planning already and which my Department has identified can progress to tender and construction before end year. In relation to the school, referred by the Deputy, I am aware that planning permission has been recently obtained for an extension for the school concerned.

The Deputy will however also be aware that my Department's over-riding objective is to ensure that every child has access to a physical school place and that our school system is in a position to cope with increasing pupil numbers. To ensure that this is achieved, the delivery of major school projects to meet significant demographic demands nationally will be the main focus for capital investment in schools in the coming years. The five year programme is focused on meeting those demographic needs. The area in which the school, in question, is located has not been identifed as an area of significant demographic growth. In that context, it has not been possible to advance all applications for capital funding concurrently.

All school building projects, including the project for the school in question, will continue to be advanced incrementally over time within the context of the funding available. However, in light of current competing demands on the Department's capital budget, it is not possible at this time to give an indicative timeframe for the construction of a new school building for the school.

Schools Building Projects Administration

 86. Deputy John Lyons Information on John Lyons Zoom on John Lyons asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will include social clauses for the long-term unemployed in the education projects announced as part of the €150 million extra in capital expenditure for 2013 and 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28256/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn In common with the rest of the Public Sector, capital works projects in schools are tendered under the standard Public Works Contracts as required by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Government Contracts Committee for Construction (GCCC). The Guidelines require a competitive process carried out in an open, objective and transparent manner to achieve best value for money in public procurement.

Essential principles to be observed in conducting all procurement functions include non–discrimination, equal treatment, transparency, mutual recognition, proportionality, freedom to provide service and freedom of establishment.

School Building Projects are tendered in compliance with the above guidelines and requirements. The current public works contract does not include social clauses for the long-term unemployed.   

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Government Construction Contracts Committee are currently considering the possibility of inclusion of social clauses in future public works contracts. My Department will implement any future changes to public works contracts in accordance with the guidelines given.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme

 87. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Information on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Zoom on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if an application has been received by the Resisdential Institutions redress board from a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; if this person is entitled to compensation for the period of time spent in the home; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [28268/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Residential Institutions Redress Board was established pursuant to the Residential Institutions Redress Act, 2002 to provide fair and reasonable financial awards to victims of childhood abuse in scheduled institutions. The Board operates independently and the application process is confidential in accordance with the terms of the 2002 Act. Therefore, I am not in a position to comment on any individual application to the Board.

However, I can confirm for the Deputy that the Good Shepherd Mother and Baby Home, Dunboyne, Co. Meath was not a scheduled institution under the Redress Scheme.

The closing date for receipt of applications by the Redress Board was 15th December, 2005. The Board could however accept late applications in exceptional circumstances, up until September 2011. The Board is currently finalising the remaining applications it received.

State Examinations Issues

 88. 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 an election style media moratorium on the reporting of State examinations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28335/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I will not be seeking a moratorium on media coverage during the State examinations. It is important that the examinations are seen to be open and transparent and that is why, for example, the papers are available to everyone on the SEC website www.examinations.ie the evening of the examination. Apart from the difficulty in trying to secure a moratoirum on coverage in the newspapers, radio and television, it would be impossible to have such an arrangement in the social media which many young people use.

I am, however, aware of the effects that adverse media coverage can have on the candidates. It can be unnerving and stressful. In that context, the issue of media coverage is constantly reviewed.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 89. Deputy Dan Neville Information on Dan Neville Zoom on Dan Neville asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if a person (details supplied) should apply for a grant under the higher education grant or the vocational education committee. [28352/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Students commencing a new course in the academic year 2013/14 are required to submit their grant application to Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) via www.susi.ie. to have their eligibility for grant assistance assessed.

To satisfy the terms and conditions of the student grant scheme in relation to progression, a student must be moving from year to year within a course having successfully completed the previous year or be transferring from one course to another where the award for the subsequent course is of a higher level than the previous course.

In the absence of all of the details that would be contained in an individual's application form, it is not possible for me to say how a student should be assessed. However, from the details presented by the Deputy, it would appear that the student may not be progressing to a course at a higher level.

Student Grant Scheme Administration

 90. Deputy Joe Higgins Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if Student Universal Support Ireland should consider where a student is ordinarily resident on 1 October prior to their first point of entry into third level education or at the start of the approved postgraduate course they are undertaking (details supplied). [28364/13]

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, his student grant application was appealed on the 29th May 2013 to the appeals officer in SUSI. On that basis, the application is currently being reassessed and the student will be notified directly by SUSI of the outcome.


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