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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 372-389
 Header Item State Examinations
 Header Item School Accommodation
 Header Item Youthreach Programme Staff
 Header Item Weight of Schoolbags
 Header Item Third Level Institutions
 Header Item Summer Works Scheme Applications
 Header Item School Funding
 Header Item Recognition of Further Education and Training Programmes
 Header Item School Transport Administration
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item Quality and Qualifications Ireland Administration
 Header Item State Examinations
 Header Item School Staffing
 Header Item School Enrolments
 Header Item Schools Data

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 118 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 372-389

State Examinations

 372. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will ensure extra time is provided for the project maths exam this summer for students with dyslexia, as the new maths language-based format means dyslexic students have to decode the text-based question to make sure they understand the terms and details and then answer the question in language rather than figures.  [13753/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations.

  The State Examinations Commission operates a scheme of Reasonable Accommodations in the Certificate examinations. Applications for such accommodations are submitted by schools on behalf of their students. Full details of the scheme are available for downloading from their website: www.examinations.ie/candidates/reasonableaccommodations.

  In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you

School Accommodation

 373. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will recognise the efforts of a school (details supplied) in County Dublin which has agreed to take in a seventh junior infant class to go some way to dealing with the large number of children who did not get places in schools in Swords for this September; and if he will facilitate its funding requirements for a prefab to house the extra class. [13786/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn My Department is aware of the proposal submitted by the school referred to by the Deputy to enrol a 7th stream of junior infants from September 2014.

Demographic projections for the area in question indicate a spike in Junior Infant demand this coming September which is expected to level off in 2015, 2016 and beyond. In that regard, my Department has sanctioned additional provision for one school in the area that already has spare accommodation available. In addition, my Department contacted all schools in the area to gather further data in respect of the demand for school places and also discussed the matter with the schools Patron.

There are currently two schools in the area that have lost or are due to lose mainstream teaching posts. These schools have spare capacity within their buildings and have expressed a willingness to accept an additional stream of Junior Infants each, to alleviate any pressure in the area.

In that regard, the Department has advised the school referred to that the 7th stream will not be sanctioned by my Department.

It is important that school size is monitored and that a balance is preserved among all the schools in catchment areas to ensure one school is not expanding at the expense of the viability of another school. This may sometimes result in children not being offered a place in their school of first choice.

Youthreach Programme Staff

 374. 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 he will provide the detail of changes to the positions and job titles of Youthreach co-ordinators; the reason for these changes; if he will provide the detail of any changes to the terms and conditions of their employment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13790/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciaran Cannon Zoom on Ciaran Cannon There have been no changes to the positions, job titles or terms and conditions of employment of Youthreach Co-Ordinators in recent years.

Weight of Schoolbags

 375. 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 if he has explored the possibility of reducing the weight of schoolbags. [13802/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn My Department issued circulars to all primary and post-primary schools in 2005 to highlight the potential health hazard of overweight schoolbags and to outline a range of local measures that could be put in place to help alleviate the problem.

The circulars referred to the recommendations of the previously published report of the Working Group on the Weight of School Bags. This report acknowledged that many of the solutions to this issue belong at local school level and made various recommendations in this regard, such as optimum use of storage facilities, developing pupil organisation skills and timetabling.

It is a matter for each individual school to determine which particular measures are most suited to its individual circumstances and to how the school concerned organises teaching and learning.

The circulars (PC 13/05 and M35/05) and the report of the Working Group on the Weight of School Bags are available on my Department's website at www.education.ie.

Third Level Institutions

 376. 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 the amount of money University College Dublin has spent on court proceedings (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13803/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Under the Universities Act 1997 University College Dublin is an autonomous statutory institution and its management authorities are responsible for the operational affairs of the University.

  I understand that the case referred to by the Deputy involves two Supreme Court appeals which remain outstanding and in that context it would not be appropriate to comment further on the matter.

Summer Works Scheme Applications

 377. 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 the position regarding an application for the summer works scheme in respect of a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13804/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Deputy will be aware that on 19th March last I announced that 386 schools across every county in Ireland will be able to undertake school improvements this summer. This first round of funding will allow schools to carry out small and medium scale building works across three categories of projects - Gas, Electrical & Mechanical.

I am pleased to advise the Deputy that the application from the school referred to has been successful. Schools can access further details and instructions on how to proceed on-line using the Esinet Portal.

School Funding

 378. Deputy Terence Flanagan Information on Terence Flanagan Zoom on Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if a grant is available for a school event (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13818/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The Department provides specific teaching resources and additional grant aid to schools that offer the transition year programme.

  Schools in the Free Education Scheme qualify for payment of a transition year grant of €95 for each pupil participating in the programme.

  The cost of transition year grants in 2013 was €2.88m.

  The Department allocated circa 1,790 whole time equivalent teaching posts in the 2013/14 school year in respect of transition year with an estimated cost of €116m.

  The Department does not provide grants for activities, such as an exchange programme, to schools who offer transition year. Given the scale of our economic crisis, I have no scope to introduce new or additional funding measures.

Recognition of Further Education and Training Programmes

 379. Deputy Ciarán Lynch Information on Ciaran Lynch Zoom on Ciaran Lynch asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the way and where a person (details supplied) can receive a decision regarding accreditation of prior learning; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13843/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) is maintained by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) in accordance with the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act, 2012. The NFQ is a 10-level Framework of awards and the modules and qualifications of the Institute of Bankers which are referred to in the Deputy's question are not themselves recognised through the Framework.

However, it may be possible for the individual concerned to have that learning recognised in a manner which could lead to a Framework-recognised award. The usual process would be for the person concerned to approach a provider of a similar programme of education and training which leads to a Framework-recognised award and seek to have that provider recognise the learning already undertaken. This could result in a full or partial exemption from some of the learning involved in that programme. As the Institute of Bankers is now a recognised college of UCD, it may be most useful to approach UCD in the first instance. With regard to the suitability of the qualifications concerned for teaching in second or third level colleges, all teachers at post-primary level must have their qualifications recognised by, and be registered with, the Teaching Council. Therefore the individual concerned should contact the Teaching Council in order to ascertain the suitability of their qualifications. With regard to teaching at third level, qualifications requirements are set by individual educational institutions.

School Transport Administration

 380. Deputy John Browne Information on John Browne Zoom on John Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the type of information deemed to be of a commercially sensitive nature; the reason information regarding overhead and indirect costs associated with the administration of the school transport scheme contained in the FGS report fall into this definition; if this information was considered commercially sensitive, the reason it was only after completion of the FGS report that a confidentiality agreement was entered into; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13869/14]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Ciarán Cannon): Information on Ciaran Cannon Zoom on Ciaran Cannon The confidentiality agreement referred to was put in place prior to the commencement of the review.

  This agreement facilitated open and transparent co-operation with FGS by Bus Éireann including the provision of all financial data as required by FGS. This included aspects of the Company's cost base and this information was considered to be commercially sensitive.

  Question No. 381 answered with Question No. 279.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 382. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn his view on whether the constitutional right to an appropriate and adequate education of a child in the State is, at present, upheld by the policies and practices in respect of children with special needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13876/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I wish to firstly advise the Deputy that, in accordance with the duty of the State to provide for education as set out in the Constitution, all pupils with special educational needs have access to educational services and facilities in order to ensure that they can be provided with education.

I wish to explain also that my Department's policy is to secure the maximum possible level of inclusion of students with special educational needs in mainstream primary and post-primary schools, in order to ensure that as many children as possible can be educated with their peers within their own community. This policy is in line with the provisions of the EPSEN Act 2004.

Some children may be supported in a special class attached to a mainstream school. These students have the option, where appropriate, of full/partial integration and interaction with other pupils.

Other children may have such complex needs that they require specialist supports in a special school.

Students with special educational needs have access to a range of support services including additional teaching and/or care supports. In special schools and special classes, students are supported through lower pupil teacher ratios. Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) may also be recruited specifically where pupils with disabilities and significant care needs are enrolled.

My Department therefore provides for a range of placement options and supports for schools which have enrolled pupils with special educational needs.

This Government is committed to the protection of front-line services for pupils with special educational needs. The level of resources devoted to supporting children with Special Educational Needs has been maintained and increased for this school year.

Approximately 15% of the entire budget of my Department – some €1.3 billion – was spent in support of children with Special Educational Needs in 2012/13. The provision for the 2013/14 school year is in line with expenditure last year and shows that the overall level of funding for special education has been protected, and increased, despite the ongoing severe financial position.

Inter alia, this provides for additional learning and resource teaching support, Special Needs Assistant support, special transport arrangements, building adaptations, enhanced capitation and funding for the purchase of specialised equipment.

The overall level of investment being provided will ensure that provision can continue to be made for the educational requirements of children with special educational needs in both mainstream and special schools.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 383. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the timeframe for the implementation in full of Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13877/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn A significant number of sections of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act have been commenced, principally those establishing the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and those promoting an inclusive approach to the education of children with special educational needs.

In light of the very difficult economic situation and the significant costs involved, the previous Government deferred the full implementation of EPSEN.

In 2012, my Department requested the NCSE to provide policy advice on how the education system can best support children with special educational needs. The NCSE Report on Supporting Children with Special Educational Needs in Schools has now been published and is available on the NCSE website www.ncse.ie.

While the report recommends that the EPSEN Act be fully implemented as soon as possible, the report also states that the NCSE recognises that the current economic climate makes it unlikely that the Government will be able to implement this recommendation in the short to medium term. While awaiting the full implementation of the EPSEN Act, the NCSE has made a number of recommendations aimed at developing a better or more effective alternative to the current resource allocation model, which aims to move the system towards ultimate implementation of the EPSEN Act.

It also recommends that under a proposed new allocation model, all children should be allocated additional resources in line with their level of need, rather than by disability category.

The Chairperson of the Working Group established to develop this proposal, submitted its report to me on 5th March and I will now consider the report's recommendations.

Quality and Qualifications Ireland Administration

 384. Deputy Jerry Buttimer Information on Jerry Buttimer Zoom on Jerry Buttimer asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will consider ensuring the community education sector is supported by a waiver of fees by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13883/14]

 387. 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 the level of funding that would be required for his Department to subsidise the cost of Quality and Qualifications Ireland fees for community education providers. [13968/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I propose to take Questions Nos. 384 and 387 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, QQI has, in accordance with Section 80 of the Qualifications and Quality Assurance (Education and Training) Act, 2012, determined a number of fees which will apply to all providers seeking to engage with it, including those in the community and voluntary sector. The fees were determined in accordance with QQI's policy and fees which provides, inter alia, that fees will be comprehensive, coherent and reflect the amount and complexity of the work undertaken by QQI.

There is a significant amount of work involved in assessing applications from providers seeking access to QQI's awards, so that QQI can be assured that they meet their rigorous quality standards. The purpose of those standards is to ensure that providers have the capacity to provide quality programmes of education and training to their learners. The fees therefore underpin QQI's ability to ensure and monitor compliance with its standards. Furthermore, and importantly, the fees help to ensure that only those providers which are serious about complying with those standards, and have the capacity to do so, apply to QQI.

It is not possible to estimate the total cost of these fees to the community and voluntary sector as that is entirely dependent on the number of providers from that sector which apply to QQI for initial access to validation and on the number and type of programmes which those providers submit for validation by QQI.

At the meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Social Protection on 19 February, representatives from QQI committed to continue to consult with stakeholders from the community and voluntary sector in order to explore how that sector can continue to provide quality education and training to learners.

State Examinations

 385. Deputy James Bannon Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the reason an application to have a reader for the leaving certificate was denied in respect of a person (details supplied) in County Longford even though the person had been granted a reader for the junior certificate. [13903/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations.

  The State Examinations Commission operates a scheme of Reasonable Accommodations in the Certificate examinations. Applications for such accommodations are submitted by schools on behalf of their students. Full details of the scheme are available for downloading from their website: www.examinations.ie/candidates/reasonableaccommodations.

  In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.

School Staffing

 386. Deputy Michael McCarthy Information on Michael McCarthy Zoom on Michael McCarthy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the criteria for a secondary school to be eligible to appoint a second deputy principal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13932/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Teacher allocations to all second level schools are approved annually by my Department in accordance with established rules based on recognised pupil enrolment. The criteria for the allocation of posts are communicated to school managements annually and are available on the Department website.Under these arrangements an ex-quota Deputy Principal Post is allocated to each post primary school with an enrolment of at least 500 recognised pupils (such posts are filled in-quota in smaller schools). A second ex-quota Deputy Principal post is allocated to each school with a minimum enrolment of 1,000 or more recognised pupils or in DEIS schools with a minimum enrolment of 900 or more recognised pupils.

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn   Question No. 387 answered with Question No. 384.

School Enrolments

 388. Deputy Timmy Dooley Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn his views on a matter (details supplied) in County Clare regarding school provision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14052/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The selection and enrolment of pupils in schools is the responsibility of the authorities of the individual school. My Department's main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking school places in an area. However, this may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in the school of their first choice. As schools may not have a place for every applicant, a selection process may be necessary. This selection process and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants.

  Under section 15 (2) (d) of the Education Act, 1998, each school is legally obliged to disclose its enrolment policy and to ensure that as regards that policy that principles of equality and the right of parents to send their children to a school of the parents choice are respected.

  Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 provides for an appeal by a parent or guardian to the Secretary General of my Department, or in the case of an Educational Training Board (ETB) school to the ETB in the first instance, where a Board of Management of a school, or a person acting on behalf of the Board, refuses to enrol a student in a school, expels a student or suspends a student for 20 or more days in any school year. My Department has no authority to compel a school to admit a pupil, except in the case of an appeal under section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 being upheld. Section 29 Appeal Forms are available on my Departments website at the following link http://www.education.ie/en/Parents/Services/Appeal-against-Permanent-Exclusion-Suspension-or-Refusal-to-Enrol/Section-29-Appeals-Application-Form.doc. or from Section 29 Appeals Administration Unit, Department of Education & Skills, Friars Mill Road, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, phone 0761 108584.

  The Educational Welfare Service of the Child and Family Agency (EWS) is the statutory agency which can assist parents who are experiencing difficulty in securing a school place for their child. The EWS may be able to offer assistance and advice on securing a school placement within the pupil's area. The contact details for the EWS is Educational Welfare Service of the Child and Family Agency, Heritage Business Park, Bessboro Road, Mahon, Cork, phone number 021-4536314.

  The Deputy maybe aware that the draft General Scheme and draft regulations were referred to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection, to allow a full public discussion, including inputs from parents and the education partners. The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Social Protection invited written submissions from interested individuals or groups in relation to the Draft General Scheme of an Education (Admission to Schools) Bill 2013. The closing date for submissions to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Social Protection was Thursday 31 October 2013.

  The Committee considered the submissions received, and invited individuals and groups to a public hearing where it felt that this was beneficial. The Committee's report was published on 05 March 2014. The report will be carefully considered before progressing to the next stage of legislation.

Schools Data

 389. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the number of one-teacher schools nationwide and per county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14072/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The data requested is available on my Department's website at the link below under the heading Class Size Information at Individual Primary School Level. The information includes the number of teachers and pupils in each primary school and is for school year 2012/2013. http://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Statistics/Data-on-Individual-Schools/

  Data for the current school year (2013/2014) is being finalised at present and results will be published on the website later in the year.


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