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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 21-40
 Header Item Skills Development
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item Educational Disadvantage
 Header Item School Funding
 Header Item Teacher Data
 Header Item Health Promotion
 Header Item Departmental Policy Reviews
 Header Item School Enrolments
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Data
 Header Item School Curriculum
 Header Item State Examinations
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item School Transport Administration
 Header Item Apprenticeship Programmes
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Apprenticeship Programmes
 Header Item Schools Health and Safety
 Header Item Education Policy

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 900 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 67 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 21-40

Skills Development

 21. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan if she is focused on the need to ensure that the skills of those persons leaving the education system can be matched to the requirements of the workplace; the ongoing efforts to augment the process; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43870/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan The Further Education and Training Strategy and the Higher Education Strategy have a major focus on employer engagement being responsive to the skill needs of the economy. Both sectors are closely engaged in the establishment of new Regional Skills Fora to engage with employers and inform the shape of education and training provision.

The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, which is funded by my Department, advises the Government on current and future skills needs of the economy. Its research informs the selection of targeted programmes designed to tackle the skills shortages such as Momentum, Springboard and the ICT skills conversion programme.

My Department is also leading the preparation of a new National Skills Strategy which will provide a framework for determining the volume, type and mix of skills required over the period to 2025.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 22. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan if she is satisfied regarding her ability to meet the full requirements of special needs teachers and special needs assistants at primary and secondary level; the steps she is taking to address emerging needs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43871/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan This year 11,940 SNAs are available for allocation to primary and secondary schools, which is an increase of 13% in the number of posts available since 2011.

  The NCSE has allocated 6832 Resource teaching posts to mainstream schools this year, which is an increase of 29% since 2011.

  In addition, over 150 new Special Classes have been opened for the 2015/16 school year, which means there are now over 1,000 special classes in place.

  I welcome the fact, that even in the constrained economic circumstances we have faced in recent years, we have been able to continue to meet the needs of children with special educational needs attending our schools and to increase provision to address emerging needs in this area.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 23. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the status of the provision of resources hours for children with a disability in primary schools. [43915/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan The NCSE has allocated 6832 Resource Teaching posts to mainstream schools this year. This is an increase of 29% in the allocation since 2011.

  3965 of these posts have been allocated to primary schools, which is an increase of 11% over the allocation made last year.

  The General Allocation Model (GAM) is now updated annually for all primary schools, to take account of increased enrolments. 4273 GAM posts have been allocated to primary schools this year to provide additional supports for pupils with learning needs and mild general learning difficulties.

  The NCSE recommend that a new model for allocating resource teachers to schools should be introduced which would allow the allocation of resources to pupils based on actual learning needs rather than on a diagnosis of disability.

  A pilot of this new model is taking place in a number of schools over the course of the current school year.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 24. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the evaluations that have taken place on the effectiveness of teaching resources provided to assist children with dyslexia under the general allocation model; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43873/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan All mainstream schools are allocated additional teaching resources to cater for children with High Incidence special educational needs, including Specific Learning Disabilities, of which Dyslexia is one such SLD.

  The Special Educational Support Service provides training courses for schools in the area of Dyslexia as well as support for in-school seminars and attendance at relevant conferences and seminars.

  The quality of teaching, the quality of learning and of care and support for pupils with special educational needs, including those pupils with dyslexia, is evaluated and reported on in all whole-school type evaluations at both primary and post-primary levels.

  Inspectors will provide advice and support to teachers regarding their provision for pupils with dyslexia, where relevant and appropriate.

  At primary level, the Inspectorate is currently developing a new evaluation model that has a more specific focus on the use of teaching resources provided to the school to assist pupils with special educational needs.

Educational Disadvantage

 25. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan if she will provide the maximum support to all pupils in disadvantaged schools in 2015-16.  [43918/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan As the Deputy will be aware DEIS – Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools, is my Departments main policy instrument for tackling educational disadvantage. Every effort is made to prioritise funding and support the objectives of improved educational outcomes through the DEIS programme, which includes additional funding and teaching resources in DEIS schools.

The Deputy may also be aware that a process for the review of the DEIS Programme is currently underway in my Department. This process is being undertaken over the course of the current school year and will consider all issues pertaining to educational disadvantage in order to inform future policy direction in this important area. While this process is underway, I do not intend to make any changes to the current programme.

School Funding

 26. Deputy Finian McGrath Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan her plans to fund primary schools to the same level as secondary schools. [43916/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan It is difficult to make precise comparisons between the levels of grants paid and the actual costs of running schools at primary and post primary levels. However it is self-evident that the maintenance and running costs for second level schools are much greater on a unit cost basis than those in primary schools.

In general, second level schools are larger than primary schools and have a lower pupil teacher ratio resulting in more classrooms and specialist rooms such as laboratories, workshops and kitchens. This leads to higher unit costs in second level schools for heat, light, power, maintenance and cleaning.

I do recognise however the need to improve capitation funding for primary schools having regard to the reductions that were necessary over recent years. In the last Budget, I secured additional funding for education and I am determined to continue pressing the case for increased investment so that our schools are better resourced.

Teacher Data

 27. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the number of relief teaching days allocated to teachers on a departmental pension at primary and post-primary levels in 2013-14, in 2014-15, and in 2015-16; the value of these payments; the steps she is taking to reduce this number; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [43867/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan During the 2013-14 school year a total of 9,421 teaching days were worked by 537 retired teachers: 302 retired Primary school teachers worked 5,259 days and 235 retired Voluntary Secondary and Community and Comprehensive schools teachers worked 4,162 days.

During the 2014-15 school year a total of 10,391 teaching days were worked by 560 retired teachers: 320 retired Primary school teachers worked 5,996 days and 240 retired Voluntary Secondary and Community and Comprehensive schools teachers worked 4.395 days.

During the 2015-16 school year up to the end of November 2015 a total of 3,270 teaching days were worked by 368 retired teachers: 234 retired Primary school teachers worked 2,002 days and 134 retired Voluntary Secondary and Community and Comprehensive schools teachers worked 1,268 days.

The policy of my Department is to ensure, as far as possible, that the Managerial Authorities of Primary and Post Primary schools give priority to unemployed registered teachers who are fully qualified when filling vacant teaching posts. It is schools that employ teachers and not my Department. However my Department has issued a number of Circulars addressing this issue in recent years.

Under these Circulars School Principals must maintain a list of unemployed registered teachers who are available for substitute work at short notice and report to the Board of Management on any exceptional occasion where they have had to engage a registered teacher who is retired. Circular 31/2011 details a cascade of measures for the recruitment of teachers, prioritising registered teachers over retired registered teachers and unregistered people.

A retired teacher who returns to teaching on or after 1 February 2012 will commence at the first point of the incremental salary scale (i.e. the lowest point or starting salary for teachers). Incremental credit for service prior to 1 February 2012, qualification allowances and certain job role allowances are also not payable. This measure represents a significant financial disincentive for teachers who retired at the top of their salary scale, often with a post of responsibility allowance, to return to teaching.

Health Promotion

 28. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan her views on the challenge by schools (details supplied) in Greystones in County Wicklow to the location of a fast-food restaurant close to their premises on public health grounds; and the progress she has made on the implementation of the Framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing 2013 to 2025. [43881/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan The manner in which the challenge was taken in this case is a matter for the schools involved. I would like to commend the school for prioritising the health of their students in deciding their school policy on this matter.

Schools and the wider education sector have a vital role to play in contributing to the Government's 'Healthy Ireland' agenda set out in the Framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing 2013-2025.

Healthy Ireland was published by the Department of Health in 2013, and is one of the most ambitious programmes we have ever seen focused on improving the health of the nation.

Healthy Ireland contains a number of goals for the education sector. The Department of Education and Skills is a key partner in the delivery of this agenda, and this work is a personal priority for me during my time as Minister.

Through their primary and post primary education students are equipped with the key skills and knowledge to enable them to make healthier life choices. Schools' efforts should be complemented by students' families and their community.

My Department issued guidance to post primary schools, this September, on promoting healthy lifestyles which includes healthy eating policies. Similar guidance will be provided to primary schools early in 2016. I want to see more active flags in schools, more schools growing their own food, and more schools adopting healthy eating policies – I will be continuing to engage with the education stakeholders to find ways of achieving these goals.

Departmental Policy Reviews

 29. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the progress of consultation on the proposals contained in the review of education in the Gaeltacht policy published by her Department. [43869/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Extensive consultation has taken place since I launched my Department's Policy Proposals on Gaeltacht education last May. The consultation has provided a valuable opportunity to hear the opinions of schools, stakeholders and Gaeltacht communities.

The consultation included a survey, written submissions, public meetings in three Gaeltacht areas, and meetings with a range of stakeholder groups. My Department together with the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht organised a forum in October which provided a rich opportunity to reflect on all feedback. The discussions were open, honest and constructive.

Work is currently underway to finalise the policy for Gaeltacht education in light of the outcomes of the consultation process.

School Enrolments

 30. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the discussions she has had on the inclusion of provisions excluding denominational schools from using a child's religion in selection criteria for schools admissions in the forthcoming schools admissions Bill; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43883/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Under the Equal Status Act, schools are not permitted to discriminate in admission on any of the grounds set out in the Act. However the Act contains an exemption which permits schools in which the objective is to provide education that promotes certain religious values, to admit a student of a particular religion in preference to others.

The Deputy will be aware of the many positive elements of the Admissions Bill, which will put an end to parents being charged fees to apply for a school place, will tear down the soft barriers erected in front of some children with special needs, and will bring openness and transparency to all school admissions.

The issue of the need to amend the Equal Status Act was not a feature of the consultation paper published in advance of the Admission to Schools Bill. When the Oireachtas committee considered this matter, it simply noted that "there is a potential tension between Articles 42 (Education) and 44 (Religion) of Bunreacht na hÉireann, and this poses a particular difficulty when legislating in this policy area." No amendment to the Equal Status Act has been included in the published Admission to Schools Bill.

I have subsequently made clear my view that this is a matter that does need to be reviewed and addressed, and will need to be a priority for the next Government so that this matter can be dealt with in advance of the next school year.

Special Educational Needs Data

 31. Deputy Denis Naughten Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the number of children in primary and post-primary schools who have been diagnosed with dyslexia; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43866/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan All mainstream schools have been allocated additional teaching resources to cater for children with High Incidence special educational needs, including Specific Learning Disabilities, of which Dyslexia is one such SLD.

My Department therefore does not hold details of the number of children attending primary and post-primary schools who have been diagnosed with Dyslexia, as schools are not required to apply directly to my Department or to the National Council for Special Education for learning support for Specific Learning Disabilities. The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) report on Supporting Students Special Educational Needs in Schools sets out that 0.5% of the student population in Ireland is estimated to have a Specific Learning Disability.

The Special Educational Support Service provides training courses for schools in the area of Dyslexia as well as support for in-school seminars and attendance at relevant conferences and seminars.

School Curriculum

 32. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan her plans to remove rule 68 from the school guidelines. [43700/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan As the Deputy will be aware, the Report of the Advisory Group to the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism in the Primary Sector was published in April 2012. The Report recommended a review and updating of the Rules for National Schools and in particular, Rule 68. I believe that the language and tone of Rule 68 is archaic and doesn't reflect the reality of today's primary education sector and accordingly this is a recommendation that I accept.

I am currently engaged in a series of meetings with the different education bodies involved in implementing the recommendations of the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism. I have already met with the Education and Training Boards, and with representatives of the Catholic Church. I will be meeting with Educate Together next week, and the Church of Ireland immediately after Christmas. After I have concluded those meetings, I will outline a number of actions to advance the recommendations which arose from the Forum on Patronage and Pluralism, and these actions will include the immediate repeal of rule 68.

State Examinations

 33. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan if she will introduce an assessment regime for allocating supports under the reasonable accommodations at the certificate examinations scheme for students sitting the leaving certificate, similar to that which exists for students sitting the junior certificate. [43699/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan The State Examinations Commission (SEC), which has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations, has provided me with the following information. The SEC has a scheme of Reasonable Accommodations designed to assist candidates with special needs at the examinations. Within the context of the RACE scheme the term 'special need' applies to candidates who have a physical disability, (including visual and hearing impairments; behavioural and emotional conditions and other disorders), or a specific learning difficulty. Reasonable accommodations are intended to:

(b) ensure that, whilst giving candidates every opportunity to demonstrate their level of attainment, the special arrangements will not give the candidate an unfair advantage over other candidates in the same examination.

Accommodations can only be provided in accordance with the principles and requirements of the scheme and in line with the eligibility criteria that apply. Even though examination candidates may have special educational needs, they may not require the provision of any special facilities provided that they can read the examination papers at the required level and write legibly.

There are differences in the operation of the scheme between the Junior and Leaving Certificate examinations. At Junior Certificate, school authorities determine eligibility in line with guidelines provided by the SEC and in general the SEC provides the accommodations as determined by the school. Accommodations approved for a Junior Certificate student will not automatically be granted at Leaving Certificate and this is clearly outlined to schools, candidates and their parents in the RACE documentation.

A centralised decision making process applies at Leaving Certificate which seeks to recognise the high stakes nature of this examination. Leaving Certificate applications on grounds of specific learning difficulties are referred to the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS), which is part of my Department. Each application must include information which supports the candidate's request for accommodations and which will inform the psychologist's recommendation to the SEC under the scheme's criteria. Applications on physical grounds are decided upon by the SEC in consultation with the school authority. The overall focus of the Leaving Certificate process is to ensure consistency in the application of the scheme's criteria and fairness and objectivity in decision making.

The guidelines provided to schools by the SEC outline the criteria to be used in determining eligibility for the Scheme for Junior Certificate candidates. These criteria are the same as used by the SEC for applications from Leaving Certificate candidates. The SEC recognises that the provision of reasonable accommodations at Junior Certificate does confer an expectation that the same supports should be provided at Leaving Certificate. The issues of consistency in the application process by schools and expectations about the provision of supports between the Junior and Leaving Certificate examinations is currently under review by the SEC. In light of the number and range of supports available and the complexity of the Scheme of Reasonable Accommodations this review is likely to take some months to conclude.

Schools Building Projects Status

 34. Deputy Anthony Lawlor Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the status of a building project at a school (details supplied) in County Kildare; the reason for the delay; when work will commence; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43874/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan The school to which the Deputy refers is at an advanced stage of the tender process. A letter of Intent issued to the preferred tenderer on 2nd December. Subject to no issues arising in the supplementary tender report, it is anticipated that works will commence in early 2016.

School Transport Administration

 35. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan if she is aware that a school (details supplied) in County Westmeath is in breach of its planning guidelines due to excessive traffic at the school gates since the withdrawal of the school's bus service; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [43878/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Under the terms of my Department's Primary School Transport Scheme children are eligible for transport where they reside not less than 3.2 kilometres from and are attending their nearest national school as determined by my Department/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

  I understand that there are a number of children who wish to avail of transport to the school in question who are not eligible for school transport as they reside less than 3.2 kilometres from the school.

  Children who are not eligible for school transport may avail of transport on a concessionary basis subject to a number of conditions including the availability of spare seats and the payment of the annual charge.

  In this regard, parents should liaise with their local Bus Éireann office in Athlone at 090 6473277.

  In general, individual school authorities are responsible, in the first instance, for ensuring the safety and welfare of children and others in their care.

  I also wish to advise the Deputy that the issue of road safety measures outside the vested site areas of schools, such as road signage, traffic calming measures, parking etc., is a matter that should be raised in the first instance with the relevant Local Authority.

Apprenticeship Programmes

 36. Deputy Anthony Lawlor Information on Anthony Lawlor Zoom on Anthony Lawlor asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the status of the apprenticeships approved by the new Apprenticeship Council; if these courses will include day-release rather than block-release, which will accommodate small businesses; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37947/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan The Apprenticeship Council devised and issued a call for proposals from enterprises and education and training providers for the development of new apprenticeships early in 2014. Following the receipt of proposals and an evaluation process, the Council reported to the Minister recommending 25 proposals for priority development. The Minister approved this recommendation and announced the 25 Category 1 proposals in July.

The Apprenticeship Council is now working with the 25 category one proposers on developing the new apprenticeships. Project plans have recently been submitted by consortia and the Council is engaging with them prior to approving the plans. The approved development plans will include timelines for delivery. The Council will work with consortia to commence enrolments on as many of the new apprenticeships as possible in 2016.

The consortia themselves will be developing the curriculum and delivery model for the new apprenticeships and will be taking account of the needs of employers in their sector. It is envisaged that some of the new apprenticeships will use a day release model.

Schools Building Projects Status

 37. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan if she will meet with the board of management of a school (details supplied) in County Donegal to discuss urgent accommodation matters; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43864/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan As the Deputy is aware, the project for the school referred to, is included in the 6 Year Construction Programme that I announced on 17th November last, and is listed to proceed to tender and construction in the period 2019-21. Due to my diary commitments, I am not in a position to meet with the school in question. However, my Department will be in contact with the school authorities in the near future regarding the progression of the school project.

Apprenticeship Programmes

 38. Deputy Paul Murphy Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan the number of persons employed on lower rates of pay due to participation in an apprenticeship or training. [37223/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan I understand that currently there is a population of 8,106 employed apprentices at various stages of the Apprenticeship Programme. The on the job wages and off the job allowances paid to apprentices are determined as a percentage of the qualified rate for the occupation in question and were agreed by unions and employers in the relevant sectors. The rate increases as apprentices move through their apprenticeship and reflects the increased productivity they bring as their learning and experience progresses.

Schools Health and Safety

 39. Deputy Helen McEntee Information on Helen McEntee Zoom on Helen McEntee asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan if she needs to interact more directly and more proactively with local authorities in respect of road safety at rural schools; her views on the experiences of parents, teachers and pupils at three schools (details supplied) in County Meath, as examples of the problems that are arising from what she may regard as a current policy deficit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [43696/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan In general, individual school authorities are responsible, in the first instance, for ensuring the safety and welfare of children and others in their care.

The issue of road safety measures outside the vested site areas of schools on public roads, such as road signage, traffic calming measures etc., is a matter, for the relevant Local Authority. Local Authorities have the power to decide on road safety measures outside schools to ensure that measures are in place to protect the safety of local school children. My Department has no function in this matter.

I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department's Technical Guidance Document – TGD-020 sets out the general principles of Universal Design in schools, which includes guidance on car parking, set-down/pick up areas. In the case of school building projects, parking provision should be as stated in the guidance documents, subject to the planning requirements of the relevant Local Authority.

Education Policy

 40. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan if she will introduce a national strategy for hunger prevention in schools; if her Department will retain responsibility for the development, implementation and monitoring of this strategy; and if a specific person within her Department will be given responsibility for the primary school age group.  [43701/15]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Jan O'Sullivan): Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures is the Government's overarching National Policy Framework for children and young people (aged 0-24 years). This cross-government approach will run from 2014 until 2020 and accommodate a number of constituent strategies. The Framework sets out common outcomes, policy commitments and key actions to ensure innovative and effective ways of working to improve the lives of children and young people. The underpinning principles will ensure that policy and practice protect the rights of children and young people, are family-oriented, promote equality and are evidence-informed and outcomes-focused.

The current focus of my Department is on its participation in the implementation process and on working with relevant Government Departments and non-governmental organisations to progress the education-related commitment of the Policy Framework. In this context I do not plan to introduce a National Strategy for Hunger Prevention in Schools.


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