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 Header Item Written Answers No. 160-173
 Header Item Personal Insolvency Practitioners
 Header Item Government Deficit
 Header Item Defibrillators in Schools Provision
 Header Item School Fees
 Header Item Teachers' Panel Rights
 Header Item Special Educational Needs
 Header Item Gaelscoil Issues
 Header Item School Accommodation Provision
 Header Item Schools Refurbishment
 Header Item Special Educational Needs
 Header Item Gaelscoileanna Il-sainchreidmheacha
 Header Item DEIS Scheme
 Header Item DEIS Scheme

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 911 No. 3

First Page Previous Page Page of 60 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers No. 160-173

Personal Insolvency Practitioners

 160. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan if he will advise on correspondence (details supplied) in relation to the application of value added tax on the fees of personal insolvency practitioners; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14235/16]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan Services provided by Personal Insolvency Practitioners do not qualify for exemption in accordance with the VAT Directive, Irish VAT law, and relevant decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union. The Court of Justice of the European Union has consistently held that the terms used to specify exemptions are to be interpreted strictly since they constitute exceptions to the general principle that VAT is to be levied on all services supplied for consideration by a taxable person.

The Deputy has acknowledged that the Personal Insolvency Practitioner fees which are built into the Debt Settlement Arrangement (DSA) or the Personal Insolvency Arrangement (PIA) and borne by the creditors are liable to VAT at the standard rate (currently 23%). In relation to professional advisory services provided to debtors in advance of proceeding with a PIA or DSA, these services are similar to those provided by accountants and other insolvency service providers such as liquidators, receivers and examiners and as such are also liable to VAT at the standard rate.

Government Deficit

 161. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Finance Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan the impact on the general government deficit of the dividend of €275 million due to be received from the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation's special liquidator; if this impacts on the fiscal space for 2016; if possible future dividends will impact on the general government deficit in 2017 and beyond; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14240/16]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The Special Liquidators of IBRC announced last Friday (via a third progress update report which is available on the Department of Finance website) that they hope to be in a position to make an interim distribution by 31 December 2016 of 25% of all admitted claims made by unsecured creditors. While neither the Department of Finance nor the Special Liquidators announced the sum that the State is due to receive from this interim dividend, there were various reports stating the sum to be in the region of €275m. This is based on 25% of a €1.1bn claim which the State has made.

Given the creditor adjudication process is still ongoing, it is not clear as to what month this interim dividend will be paid.

The Special Liquidators of IBRC also announced last Friday that their expectation is that the eventual unsecured creditor dividend will be in the range of 75% - 100% of all eligible claims. While it is too early to confirm whether there will be further interim dividends or when the final dividend will be paid, the Special Liquidators have advised me that this eventual dividend range is subject to change depending on future events which are outside their control. The ultimate level of dividend paid to each creditor cannot be known until such time as all loan assets are sold, the total level of adjudicated creditors is finalised and the other contingent creditor claims which may crystallise, including those from litigation, are known.

Any amounts paid into the Exchequer would be recorded as a financial transaction in the General Government accounts under Eurostat rules. This means that such proceeds would not count as General Government Revenue and, therefore, have no beneficial impact on Ireland's General Government Deficit. Furthermore, it will not have any effect on the calculation of available fiscal space.  

However, while not improving the deficit, cash proceeds would result in a reduced Exchequer borrowing requirement which ultimately results in lower debt. A lower debt level is not only beneficial in terms of the fiscal sustainability but would also lead to reduced interest payments in future years.

Defibrillators in Schools Provision

 162. Deputy Bobby Aylward Information on Bobby Aylward Zoom on Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton further to Parliamentary Question No. 110 of 25 May 2016, his plans to implement defibrillator training for pupils and designated members of staff in post-primary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14027/16]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Under the provisions of the Education Act 1998, the board of management is the body charged with the direct governance of a school. Schools are required to take all reasonable precautions to provide training for teachers to ensure the safety and welfare of their pupils.

The installation of a defibrillator in a school and the provision of training on its use is a matter for the board of management of each individual school.

Schools are encouraged to engage actively with community groups and a wide range of stakeholders to provide for extracurricular learning opportunities. Many schools invite organisations such as the Red Cross or the Order of Malta to provide some first aid training, or to give talks to students.

The Social Personal and Health Education curriculum, which is currently mandatory for junior cycle students, is focused on promoting the health and well-being of our young people, helping them to create and maintain supportive relationships and to become active responsible citizens in society. The curriculum deals with issues such as making decisions, developing self-confidence, growing and changing and personal safety.

School Fees

 163. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the status of schools seeking mandatory contributions or fees from parents in non-fee paying schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14033/16]

 180. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if schools can charge mandatory fees for expenses such as text service and school insurance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14184/16]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Questions Nos. 163 and 180 together.

Apart from those recognised fee-charging second level schools, recognised primary and post-primary schools are precluded from charging school fees. This includes any mandatory charges or fees in respect of the school's expenses or running costs including costs in respect of the school's own insurance etc.

  Voluntary contributions by parents are permissible provided it is made absolutely clear to parents that there is no question of compulsion to pay and that, in making a contribution, they are doing so of their own volition. The manner in which such voluntary contributions are sought and collected is a matter for school management, however their collection should be such as not to create a situation where either parents or pupils could reasonably infer that the contributions take on a compulsory character.

  A school may seek payment to cover the cost of photocopied material or other such learning materials where the amount sought by the school is consistent with the costs involved and the level of materials provided. It is also permissible for a school to seek payments in respect of extra-curricular activities provided such activities are not obligatory and individual pupils can choose whether or not to participate. No charge may be made, however, in respect of instruction in any subject of the school curriculum or for recreation or other activities where all pupils are expected to take part.

  The Education (Admission to Schools) Bill, which was published in April 2015, contained a provision prohibiting the charging of fees or seeking payment or contributions as part of the school admission process or for continued enrolment in the school. The Bill also provided for exceptions in the case of fees charged by schools known as fee charging schools, fees charged by boarding schools for the boarding element and fees charged by schools for post-leaving certificate courses in so far as those fees relate to the cost of providing such courses.

  The Programme for Government contains a commitment to publish a new School Admissions and Excellence legislation, taking account of current draft proposals. It would be my intention to maintain those provisions relating to the prohibition on charging fees or seeking payments or contributions in the new School Admissions Bill.

Teachers' Panel Rights

 164. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will review the supplementary teaching panel, given the difficulties teachers in rural areas are having meeting the income requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14036/16]

 165. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will provide automatic panel rights to teachers who have been on the supplementary panel for more than three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14037/16]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Questions Nos. 164 and 165 together.

  The core function of the redeployment arrangements is to facilitate the redeployment of all surplus permanent/CID holding teachers to other schools that have vacancies. Thereafter, schools are required under the panel arrangements to fill permanent vacancies from supplementary panels comprised of eligible fixed-term (temporary/substitute) and part-time teachers.

Arrangements for panel access for fixed-term (temporary), substitute and part-time teachers to the Supplementary Redeployment Panel for the 2016/17 school year are set out in Circular 0058/2015 which is available on the Department website.

Applicants must meet all of the published criteria in order to gain access to the Supplementary Redeployment Panel.

Special Educational Needs

 166. Deputy James Lawless Information on James Lawless Zoom on James Lawless asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if children with autistic spectrum disorder have access to primary and secondary school places in County Kildare; if he will increase funding, given the increased demand; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14042/16]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department's policies focus on ensuring that all children can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network.

  A range of placement options for pupils with special educational needs is provided in order to ensure that all pupils can receive a school placement. Many pupils with special educational needs will be able to attend a local mainstream school, whereas for pupils who have needs which require more specialist interventions, special class and special school placements are provided for.

  The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from primary and post-primary schools for special educational needs supports, including the establishment of special classes in various geographical areas as required. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.

  The NCSE continues to monitor and review the requirement for special class places in particular areas and has capacity to establish such new special classes where necessary subject to the willingness of schools to open classes.

  The NCSE has advised that SENOs are currently liaising with schools in the area referred to by the Deputy regarding the establishment of further classes for 2016/17 school year.

  I understand that the number of special classes for students with ASD in Co. Kildare is 57, 11 of which are at post primary level, 41 at primary level and 5 are early intervention classes.

  The enrolment of a child to a school is a matter, in the first instance, for the parents of the child and the Board of Management of a school. Full details of all special classes are available at www.ncse.ie.

Gaelscoil Issues

 167. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton how he will accommodate the demonstrated significant demand for a Gaelscoil in an area following a recent decision by his Department (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [14056/16]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Since 2011 new schools are only established in areas of demographic growth. My Department uses a Geographical Information System to identify the areas under increased demographic pressure nationwide. The system uses data from the Central Statistics Office, Ordnance Survey Ireland, the Department of Social Protection and information from my Department's own databases. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level.

When it is decided that a new school is required to meet demographic needs in an area, the Department runs a separate patronage process to decide who will operate the school. It is open to all patrons and prospective patrons to apply for patronage of the school under this process and parental preferences for each patron is key to decisions in relation to the outcome of the process.

With regard to the decision on the patronage of the new school which will open this September, to which the Deputy refers, my Department assessed the applications received from the prospective patrons, including examining the parental preferences received in the applications, to ensure they represented children living within the school planning area which will be served by this school, and prepared a report for the consideration of the New Schools Establishment Group (NSEG) who then submitted their report with recommendations to me for consideration and final decision. The valid parental preferences for Educate Together as patron was twice as high as those for a Gaelscoil. I accepted the recommendation of the NSEG and the patronage of the new school remains as announced. The NSEG did note the strong level of demand for Irish medium education in the area referred to by the Deputy and recommended that this should be kept under review in the context of future demographic exercises.

My Department is focused on ensuring that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking school places in that area. My officials are keeping the changing demographics in the Drumcondra/Marino/Dublin 1 area under review to take into account updated child benefit data and to take into account the impact of ongoing and planned capacity increases in this and adjacent school planning areas.

School Accommodation Provision

 168. Deputy Jim Daly Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton when he will make a decision on an application by a school (details supplied) for additional accommodation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [14090/16]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I wish to advise the Deputy that my Department has no record of receiving an application for additional accommodation from the school in question. I am pleased, however, to advise the Deputy that the school's application for electrical upgrade under Category 2 of the Summer Works Scheme (2016 - 2017) was recently approved.

Schools Refurbishment

 169. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will approve the replacement of windows in a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14094/16]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I wish to advise the Deputy that a €30 million investment under Summer Works Scheme (SWS) (2016/2017) was announced on 28th April last. This related to successful applicants under Categories 1 and 2, Gas and Electrical works.

I wish to confirm that applications for replacement windows are assessed under Category 7 of the SWS in accordance with the prioritisation criteria outlined in the Circular Letter accompanying the Scheme. Valid SWS applications from schools in respect of Categories 3 to 10 that were not reached under this round will, subject to the overall availability of funding, qualify to be assessed under future rounds of the Scheme. If this arises, the terms and conditions of the scheme, as outlined in Circular Letter (0055/2015) which may be accessed on my Department's website, will continue to apply when allocating funding to such projects.

In the meantime, the school may use its minor works grant, which all primary schools received last November, to carry out the works in full or on a phased basis as that grant permits if the school considers them to be a priority.

Special Educational Needs

 170. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he is considering a school (details supplied) for an autism spectrum disorder unit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14095/16]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department's policies focus on ensuring that all children can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network.

  A range of placement options for pupils with special educational needs is provided in order to ensure that all pupils can receive a school placement. Many pupils with special educational needs will be able to attend a local mainstream school, whereas for pupils who have needs which require more specialist interventions, special class and special school placements are provided for.

  The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), is responsible for processing applications from primary and post-primary schools for special educational needs supports, including the establishment of special classes in various geographical areas as required. The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.

  The NCSE continues to monitor and review the requirement for special class places in particular areas and has capacity to establish such new special classes where necessary subject to the willingness of schools to open classes. The NCSE has advised that its expects to open up to 100 new special classes for the coming school year.

  The NCSE has indicated that, at present, there is sufficient capacity within existing ASD classes to meet demand for placements at primary level in the area referred to by the Deputy.

  All schools have the contact details of their local SENO, while 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.

  The enrolment of a child to a school is a matter, in the first instance, for the parents of the child and the Board of Management of a school. Full details of all special classes are available at www.ncse.ie.

Gaelscoileanna Il-sainchreidmheacha

 171. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Catherine Martin Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton cad iad na pleananna atá aige chun gaelscoil ilchreidmheach a chur ar fáil i gceantar Dhroim Conrach i mBaile Átha Cliath le go ndéanfar freastal ar mhianta cuid mhór tuismitheoirí agus a bpáistí; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh [14121/16]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Ó 2011 ní gnách scoileanna nua a thógáil ach amháin i gceantair ina bhfuil méadú ar an daonra. Tá próiseas oscailte cinnte patrúnachta i bhfeidhm ag an Roinn maidir le cé a bheidh mar phatrún ar na scoileanna. Is faoi gach patrún agus patrún ionchasach atá sé iarratas a dhéanamh faoin bpróiseas seo agus is é éileamh ó thuismitheoirí an rud is tábhachtaí.

Tá Córas Faisnéise Geografaí in úsáid ag an Roinn chun na ceantair ar fud na tíre is mó atá faoi bhrú déimeagrafach a aithint. Sa chóras seo úsáidtear sonraí ón bPríomh-Oifig Staidrimh, ó Shuirbhéireacht Ordanáis na hÉireann, ón Roinn Coimirce Sóisialaí agus ón bhunachair shonraí na Roinne seo. Leis an bhfaisnéis seo, déanann an Roinn seo againne cleachtaí déimeagracha ar fud a tíre le fáil amach cá háit a bhfuil gá le cóiríocht bhreise scoile ar leibhéal bunscoile agus iarbhunscoile araon.

Maidir le mo chinneadh ar phatrúnacht cheantar Dhroim Conrach/Marino, rinne an Roinn seo measúnú ar na hiarratais a fuarthas agus d'ullmhaigh tuarascáil le cur faoi bhráid an Ghrúpa um Bunú Scoileanna Nua, a chuir a dtuarascáil siúd agus a gcuid moltaí ar aghaidh chugamsa le go mbreithneoinn iad agus cinneadh deireanach a dhéanamh. Ghlac mé lena moladh agus beidh an phatrúnacht mar a fógraíodh í. Mar sin féin, rinne an Grúpa tagairt don éileamh láidir ar oideachas Gaeilge i gceantar Dhroim Conrach/Marino agus mhol siad an t-ábhar a choimeád faoi athbhreithniú i gcleachtaí déimeagrafacha a dhéanfar amach anseo.

Mar is eol don Teachta, b'fhéidir, is é an phríomhchúram ar an Roinn seo a chinntiú go bhfuil slí sna scoileanna in aon cheantar ar leith do na daltaí uile a iarrann áit iontu. Dá bharr brúnna déimeagrafacha, is féidir nach bhfaigheadh gach dalta áit sa scoil is céadrogha di nó dó.

DEIS Scheme

 172. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton to immediately include a school (details supplied) under the delivering equality of opportunity in schools scheme and in whatever interim arrangements are in place pending his decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14141/16]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Deputy may be aware that a process to review the DEIS Programme is currently underway in my Department. The overall scope of the review is to assess the existing DEIS Programme in the context of evaluations to date and any relevant policy and other developments in order to inform future policy to tackle educational disadvantage.

All aspects of the DEIS programme are being considered including the identification of schools. A Technical Advisory Group is examining available data sources in order to develop an improved identification process for the allocation of resources in the future.

The majority of the review work programme is scheduled for completion by the end of the current school year. In the meantime my focus, and that of my Department, is on maintaining current DEIS supports while the review process is underway. The programme for a Partnership Government has committed to publish a new updated Action Plan for Educational Inclusion within 12 months. Subject to Government approval, it is intended to start to implement actions arising from an updated plan in the 2017/18 school year.

Accordingly, pending the outcome of the review process I do not propose to make any changes to the current programme, including the addition of further schools or any other interim arrangements.

DEIS Scheme

 173. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the primary schools in County Kildare that have delivering equality of opportunity in schools status and the extra supports and resources this provides to them; the process by which a school can receive this status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14142/16]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The list of primary schools in County Kildare that have DEIS status is available on my Department's website at the following link:-

http://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/DEIS-Delivering-Equality-of-Opportunity-in-Schools-/.

  The resources provided for the schools in question are set out hereunder.

  The Deputy may be aware that a process to review the DEIS Programme is currently underway in my Department. The overall scope of the review is to assess the existing DEIS Programme in the context of evaluations to date and any relevant policy and other developments in order to inform future policy to tackle educational disadvantage.

  Accordingly, pending the outcome of the review process I do not propose to make any changes to the current programme, including the addition of further schools.

  Resources Provided to Primary Schools under the DEIS Programme

  Resources for Band 1 Schools:-

  Reduced class sizes with pupil teacher ratios of 20:1 in junior schools, 22:1 in vertical schools and 24:1 in senior schools.

  With effect from September 2012 DEIS Band 1 schools are given an allocation of 0.2 of a post, where the school has less than 200 students, and 0.4 of a post where the school has 200 or more students, additional to the mainstream provision of 0.2 of a post in all-boys & mixed school and 0.16 of a post in All-girls schools.

  Resources for Band 1 and Band 2 Schools:-

  The appointment of an Administrative Principal in Band 1 schools is based on 116 pupils and in Band 2 schools is based on 145 pupils.

  Access to Home/School/Community Liaison (HSCL) services.

  Access to range of supports under School Completion Programme (SCP).

  Access to literacy/numeracy support service to specific literacy/numeracy measures.

  Access to transfer programmes.

  Resources for Band 1, Band 2 and DEIS Rural schools:-

  Additional non-pay/capitation allocation based on level of disadvantage.

  Additional funding under School Books Grant Scheme.

  Access to Schools Meals Programme.

  Access to planning supports.

  Access to a range of professional development supports.


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