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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 40-46
 Header Item Institutes of Technology Funding
 Header Item School Textbooks
 Header Item Educational Tours
 Header Item Student Universal Support Ireland Administration
 Header Item School Completion Programme
 Header Item Education and Training Boards Issues
 Header Item School Textbooks

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 809 No. 3

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Written Answers Nos. 40-46

Institutes of Technology Funding

 40. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will outline in tabular form the capital funding which has been allocated to institutes of technology over the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [32281/13]

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

INSTITUTE201020112012TOTAL
Athlone Institute of Technology5,659,071.394,621,199.084,343,807.3814,624,077.85
Institute of Technology, Blanchardstown616,807.40338,759.250.00955,566.65
Institute of Technology, Carlow5,392,533.53541,529.2413,566.855,947,629.62
Cork Institute of Technology2,937,236.312,966,694.03213,150.416,117,080.75
Dublin Institute of Technology4,871,187.708,274,426.522,755,027.6115,900,641.83
(Incl Grangegorman)    
Dundalk Institute of Technology4,113,934.92660,891.000.004,774,825.92
Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, 1,593,475.38342,393.001,026,627.352,962,495.73
Design and Technology    
Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology2,212,641.381,144,606.4256,847.423,414,095.22
(Incl Castlebar)    
Letterkenny Institute of Technology10,211,731.302,394,266.921,444,776.8814,050,775.10
(Incl Killybegs)    
Limerick Institute of Technology1,648,969.60858,802.000.002,507,771.60
(Incl TRBDI)    
Institute of Technology, Sligo5,877,201.172,970,334.87150,307.338,997,843.37
Institute of Technology, Tallaght1,956,523.871,539,507.410.003,496,031.28
Institute of Technology, Tralee999,669.25469,017.0018,160.001,486,846.25
Waterford Institute of Technology5,539,974.931,795,969.16632,264.577,968,208.66
TOTAL53,630,958.1328,918,395.9010,654,535.8093,203,889.83


  NOTE

  1. INCLUDES EXCH, FUND, PRTLI

School Textbooks

 41. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if there are plans for the widespread introduction e-books in schools nationwide; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [32282/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Encouraging the deployment of high-quality curriculum-relevant digital resources is a clear priority for the ICT in Schools programme. In this context, I am fully aware of developments in the digital textbook publishing industry and I believe that the digital format can complement other formats and modes of learning to greatly enhance teaching and learning. It is important for schools, in conjunction with parents, to retain local autonomy in deciding whether to recommend their pupils purchase e-books and how best to manage their integration into classroom practice over the medium and long terms. In making this decision, each school should consider all the available information and in this regard the Professional Development Service for Teachers, which now incorporates the ICT in Schools function, is available to advise schools. A detailed advice sheet on the adoption of e-books will be available from my Department shortly.

Educational Tours

 42. Deputy Derek Keating Information on Derek Keating Zoom on Derek Keating asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the arrangements for supervision of students during school organised Gaeltacht residential trips and classes; if his attention has been drawn to a reported major breakdown in supervision following an organised school trip to Donegal with 38 students from a school (details supplied); if he has been notified that the school principal has removed himself from the board of management investigation because of a reported conflict of interest; the responsibility his Department has in such issues; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [32017/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I am aware of the media reports in relation to the matter raised by the Deputy. The issues raised by the Deputy are matters to be dealt with at local school level rather than centrally by my Department. The general position from my Department's perspective is that an educational tour should provide a significant benefit in the educational, intellectual, cultural and social development of pupils taking part.

It is a matter for each individual school to decide on the suitability of any proposed school tour having regard to these requirements. The Board must exercise all reasonable care in respect of the pupils involved and take all necessary steps to ensure that sufficient supervision is in place and that all appropriate and necessary safeguards in respect of the welfare and safety of participating pupils are in place.

Student Universal Support Ireland Administration

 43. Deputy Mick Wallace Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn his views on the case of a student (details supplied) who cannot access their examination results due to difficulties with Student Universal Support Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32245/13]

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 (SUSI) in relation to the student referred to by the Deputy that on 25th June, 2013 they contacted the college by e-mail confirming that the student registration fee would be paid and further requested that the student examination results be released.

School Completion Programme

 44. Deputy Joan Collins Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn his views on the proposals put forward by the SCP co-ordinator of the Dominican Campus school completion programme with the support of the three primary schools; if he has considered the proposals and when he will respond to the proposals. [32052/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn My Department has received a request from the School Completion Programme (SCP) Coordinator of the Dominican Campus School Completion Programme for funding to create a new post of Traveller Education Support Worker to serve those schools.

The Report and Recommendations for a Traveller Education Strategy published in 2006 recommends that the development of community initiatives aimed at Travellers as education workers should be considered and that any such initiative would require clarity of role vis-à-vis existing services such as Home School Community Liaison (HSCL) and should only be pursued in a co-ordinated manner with other relevant state agencies.

The School Completion Programme is administered by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, while the Home School Community Liaison scheme is administered by the National Education Welfare Board which operates under the aegis of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. Accordingly the request of the Dominican Campus SCP has been referred to that Department for attention.

Education and Training Boards Issues

 45. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the impact of the move from Dún Laoghaire to Tallaght, Dublin, for the staff of Dún Laoghaire Vocational Education Committee and the delivery of services in the area; if he has considered the impact on education services; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [32244/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn In June 2011, the Government decided to reduce the overall number of vocational education committees (VECs) from 33 to 16, to merge particular VECs, including the VECs covering County Dublin and Dun Laoghaire, and to approve in principle the preparation of a new Bill to replace the existing VEC legislation. The VECs were dissolved on 1 July last and were replaced with Education and Training Boards (ETBs).

  The new ETBs will strengthen locally managed education and enhance the scale of local education and training. This represents a major component of the public service transformation agenda. The new configuration paves the way for exciting new provisions that will provide for the establishment of SOLAS, the dissolution of FÁS and the transfer of training functions to the newly formed Education and Training Boards.

In October 2011, I decided on the headquarter locations for the new ETBs. In relation to the merger of Co. Dublin VEC with Dun Laoghaire VEC, I decided that the headquarters for the new ETB will be in Tallaght. In arriving at this decision, I considered a range of factors including the need to ensure that the location of a VEC headquarters will, to the greatest extent possible, facilitate staff redeployment under a redeployment scheme within the context of the Croke Park Agreement and the need to operate at lowest cost having regard to the accommodation available in existing locations.

  In terms of these criteria, I was aware that redeployment of staff from Dun Laoghaire to Tallaght is possible under the Croke Park agreement. However, I expect that the offices in Dun Laoghaire will remain open for some time and that the approach to redeployment will be measured and considered. I am satisfied that, properly managed, the move will positively impact on education services offered by the new ETB.

School Textbooks

 46. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn his plans to assist families with the cost of school books; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32267/13]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I am very conscious that the cost of textbooks is a considerable burden on families. Since becoming Minister for Education and Skills, I have attempted to take steps to reduce the burden on families. Shortly after coming into office I met with members of the Irish Educational Publishers' Association and impressed on them the need to limit the cost of textbooks. I have also stressed to them the real need to avoid placing schools and families in a position where textbooks are altered unnecessarily. The Association responded positively to my approaches and agreed a voluntary Code of Practice among their members. The Code commits the publishers to limit the publication of new editions and to maintaining editions of books in print unchanged for at least six years. The publishers have also given assurances to me that they will sell textbooks to schools at discounts so that schools can purchase textbooks in bulk to stock textbook rental schemes. All these developments are welcome, and I look forward to seeing the members of the Association implement these commitments. The Department provided approximately €15m in total to first and second level schools by way of book grants in 2012 and the same level of funding will be provided in 2013.

  As the Deputy may be aware I launched new "Guidelines for Developing Textbook Rental Schemes in Schools" on the 28th January last. These Guidelines provide practical advice to primary and post-primary schools on how rental schemes can be established and operated. The aim of the Guidelines is to help as many schools as possible to start such book rental programmes.

  The publication of these Guidelines follows a survey of schools by the Department, and which I published in May 2012. This had a 99% response rate at primary level, and showed that 76% of primary schools operate a book rental scheme. At second level, the response rate was lower, at 44%. Of those which did respond, 88% of those in the VEC sector and 73% of those in the Community & Comprehensive sector operated a book rental scheme. I believe these results show that we have a good foundation to build on across the country. I hope that schools that are not yet operating book rental schemes will be encouraged to use the Guidelines to introduce them. If they do, it will result in substantial savings for parents. Schools which already have rental schemes can save parents up to 80% of the cost of buying new books.

A special "Guide for Parents" was also published, to inform them of how the schemes operate and how parents can help schools to establish and run them. I have been very clear in my support for book rental schemes. All of us who are parents know how expensive textbooks can be and what a burden it places on already hard pressed families at the start of every school year.

  I am pleased to see the high level of book rental schemes in operation at primary level and I believe that these Guidelines will encourage this practice across all schools in our education landscape.

  I also published a Report on Textbook Rental Schemes in Schools and the Allocation of Textbook Grants by the Department of Education & Skills in May 2012. This report presented four policy options to encourage schools to establish textbook rental schemes. None of the options are ideal, each one involves a trade-off of advantages and disadvantages. I will continue to monitor the number of schools operating book rental schemes, and if it proves necessary consider further steps to encourage schools to do so.

  Educational book publishers are independent private companies not under the direct control of my Department. Apart from a small number of prescribed texts at second-level, mainly in the case of language subjects, decisions on textbooks are taken at school level. Individual schools need to adopt a more cost-conscious approach to the selection of books in their classes.


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