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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 143 - 172
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Psychological Assessments Waiting Times
 Header Item School Admissions
 Header Item School Playgrounds
 Header Item Third Level Staff
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Staff
 Header Item Curaclam Scoile
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Applications
 Header Item Third Level Staff Recruitment
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item Apprenticeship Programmes
 Header Item Residential Institutions Redress Scheme
 Header Item EU Funding
 Header Item Schools Amalgamation
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item Protected Disclosures Data
 Header Item State Examinations
 Header Item Teachers' Remuneration
 Header Item Schools Site Acquisitions
 Header Item DEIS Scheme

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 944 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 84 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 143 - 172

Schools Building Projects Status

 143. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton when funding will be provided for the building of a school to accommodate the students of a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14789/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Deputy will be aware that a building project for the school in question is included in my Department’s 6 Year Construction Programme (2019/21).

  In line with the Memorandum of Understanding which formalises the local authorities' part in securing sites for educational use, my Department is working with the relevant Local Authority in relation to identifying and acquiring a suitable site for the school concerned.

  When a site has been secured, a project for the school in question will be progressed into the architectural planning process.

Psychological Assessments Waiting Times

 144. 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 timeframe for an assessment of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14800/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I can inform the Deputy that my Department's National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) provides educational psychology service to all primary and post primary schools through an assigned NEPS psychologist and in some cases through the Scheme for Commissioning Psychological Assessments (SCPA), full details of which are on the Department's website. Under this scheme schools can have an assessment carried out by a member of the panel of private psychologists approved by NEPS, and NEPS will pay the psychologist the fees for this assessment directly.

In common with many other psychological services and best international practice, NEPS has adopted a consultative model of service. The focus is on empowering teachers to intervene effectively with pupils whose needs range from mild to severe and transient to enduring. Psychologists use a problem solving and solution oriented consultative approach to maximise positive outcomes for these pupils. NEPS encourages schools to use a continuum based assessment and intervention process whereby each school takes responsibility for initial assessment, educational planning and remedial intervention for pupils with learning, emotional or behavioural difficulties. Teachers may consult their NEPS psychologist should they need to at this stage in the process. Only in the event of a failure to make reasonable progress, in spite of the school's best efforts in consultation with NEPS, will the psychologist become involved with an individual child for intensive intervention or assessment.

This system allows psychologists to give early attention to urgent cases and also to help many more children indirectly than could be seen individually. It also ensures that children are not referred unnecessarily for psychological intervention.

I have made inquiries in the matter and find that NEPS made no arrangement in relation to the assessment of this child in July 2015. However, I can advise the Deputy that the NEPS psychologist for the school the child in question is attending has recently received a request for involvement in this case from the school and is in the process of arranging a suitable date for all parties so that an assessment can take place.

School Admissions

 145. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will address the concerns of a school (details supplied); if he will accept its submission on this issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14807/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton As the Deputy will be aware I ran a public consultation process from 24 January to 20 March 2017 on the role of denominational religion in the school admission process and possible approaches for making changes.

I have stated that I believe that it is unfair that preference is given by publicly-funded religious schools to children of their own religion who might live some distance away, ahead of children of a different religion or of no religion who live close to the school.

I also believe that it is unfair that parents, who might otherwise not do so, feel pressure to baptise their children in order to gain admission to the local school and I intend to reform the school admissions system in relation to the role that religion can play in that process.

In the Consultation paper I set out four possible approaches for dealing with the issue, in primary schools in the first instance, including:

- A catchment area approach, prohibiting religious schools from giving preference to children of their own religion who live outside the catchment area ahead of non-religious children who live inside the catchment;

- A ‘nearest school rule’, allowing religious schools to give preference to a religious child only where it is that child’s nearest school of that particular religion;

- A quota system, which would allow a religious school give preference to children of its own religion in respect of only a certain proportion of places, meaning that the remaining places would be allocated based on other admissions criteria – proximity to the school, lottery etc.;

- An outright prohibition on religious schools using religion as a factor in admissions, meaning that all places would be allocated based on other factors. Within this approach, there is capacity to allow religious schools to require parents or students to indicate some support or respect for the ethos of the school.

I am mindful of the need to avoid possible pitfalls and unintended consequences with each of these approaches, including possible impacts on minority religions and on the wishes of Protestant, Jewish, Islamic and other communities to be able to run schools in accordance with their ethos and admit children from their communities to attend those schools.

Other possible consequences to be avoided include possible breaches of the Constitution, technical and administrative difficulties impacting on the capacity to effectively run the system of over 4000 schools and the possibility of creating ‘postcode lotteries’, such as other countries have experienced, resulting in pronounced divergence in the quality of schools in more advantaged compared to less advantaged areas.

The eight week phase of receiving written submissions is part of the broader 12 week consultation process which will include additional steps, including any follow-up consultation that is required, collation of responses and development of next steps.

My Department has begun the process of examining the submissions, which includes the submission to which the Deputy refers, and formulating next steps. Clearly I will not make any decisions around next steps until such time as all of the submissions have been examined and considered.

School Playgrounds

 146. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if his attention has been drawn to the situation faced by a school (details supplied) and in particular, the shortage of school yard space allocation; the measures he is taking to resolve it; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14900/17]

 187. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the action he is taking to assist a school (details supplied) to acquire essential space required for children to have a sufficient outdoor play area, which is essential for the 610 pupils in the school; if he will reach an agreement in partnership with Fingal County Council to make provision for this vitally needed space; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15397/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Questions Nos. 146 and 187 together.

  I wish to advise the Deputies that my Department is aware that the school, referred to, has contacted Fingal County Council regarding the ceding of a portion of Council property for use by the school. My Department is liaising with the Council in the matter.

Third Level Staff

 147. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if an existing employee within a publicly funded third level institution when transferring roles within the same third level institution is subject to new entrant public service terms and conditions in their new role; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14840/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton On 2 December 2010 the then Government approved the reduction by 10% of the salary scale and fixed allowances for new entrants to traditional recruitment grades in the public service.

Public servants who were in permanent or temporary employment in the public service on or before 31 December 2010 are not generally to be regarded as new entrants. Therefore, they should, on employment to a permanent position through open or confined schemes of appointment (or other mechanism) to another Public Service post/position or on employment on a temporary basis (including by way of substitution or on a fixed term contract) in one of the grades affected, be assigned to the appropriate pre-1 January 2011 scale in such a new post/position.

However these arrangements apply only where the person is being employed in the same or an analogous grade/role as their previous public service employment, whether that employment was permanent or temporary. As an example, a person employed as a lecturer who assumes a new lecturing role will remain on the rate applicable before 1 January 2011. However if that person following their first period of employment as a member of the administrative staff obtains a permanent contract of employment as a lecturer in a university, the revised rate at 1 January 2011 applies.

Special Educational Needs Staff

 148. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his plans to provide a special needs assistant for every child who is in need of one; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14847/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The investment which is being made to support children with special educational needs is an area of spending which has been prioritised above most other areas by this Government.

  Funding for special education provision in 2017 will amount to some €1.68 billion, which is equivalent to over 19% of the gross overall current allocation for education and training and an increase of 12% in spending in the past two years.  This funding provides for a range of supports and services including providing for access to Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support.

  Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) are allocated to mainstream Primary, Post Primary and Special Schools to assist children with special educational needs who also have additional and significant care needs.  Such support is provided in order to facilitate the full participation of those pupils at school and also to minimise disruption to class or teaching time for the pupils concerned, or for their peers, and with a view to developing their independent living skills.

  SNAs are not allocated to individual pupils but to schools, as a school based resource, in the same manner that teachers are allocated to schools.  I can confirm that access to SNA support is allocated to schools in respect of every qualifying application to the NCSE for children who have assessed additional care needs.

  The provision of a quantum of support to schools gives schools the autonomy and flexibility to manage their allocation of SNA support in order to utilise this support to the best possible effect. It allows schools to target support to those pupils who have the greatest degree of need at any given time, recognising that the level of need that a child may have may be variable over time. The school is in a position to use their educational experience and expertise to manage the level of support which has been allocated to them to provide for the care needs of identified children as and when those needs arise and to provide access to SNA support for all children who have been granted assess to support.

  An additional 115 SNA posts, at an annual cost of €3.8m, is available to the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to allocate to schools from January to June 2017, bringing the total number of SNA posts available for the 2016/17 school year to 13,015, which represents an increase of 23% over the numbers allocated in 2011.  This is the highest allocation of SNA posts that we have ever had.  This increase reflects the growing participation of children with special educational needs and will support their full participation and progression within the educational system, reflecting the Programme for Government commitment to ensure that all children with special needs can maximise their potential. The demand for 2017/18 will not be known until the NCSE SNA application process has been completed.

  The NCSE has published details of the SNA posts allocated to schools for the current school year, 2016/2017, on its website www.ncse.ie.

Curaclam Scoile

 149. D'fhiafraigh Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty den Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton an bhfuil sé i gceist aige deireadh a chur leis an scrúdú cainte roghnach don Teastas Sóisearach, fiú amháin i scoileanna atá lonnaithe i gceantair Ghaeltachta; an dtuigeann sé go bhfuil imní ar phobail Ghaeltachta go ndéanfadh beartas mar seo dochar fadtéarmach don teanga ó thaobh sealbhú teanga agus araile; agus an ndéanfaidh sé ráiteas ina thaobh. [14853/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Le feidhm ó Mheán Fómhair 2017, beidh dhá shonraíocht (siollabais) nua i gceist le soláthar na sraithe sóisearaí don Ghaeilge i scoileanna agus suíomhanna iar-bhunscoile. Tá an tsonraíocht T1 dírithe ar scoláirí i scoileanna a fheidhmíonn trí mheán na Gaeilge agus ar scoláirí i scoileanna a fheidhmíonn trí mheán an Bhéarla a fhoghlaimíonn ábhar amháin nó níos mó (seachas an Ghaeilge) trí mheán na Gaeilge. Tá an tsonraíocht T2 dírithe ar scoláirí eile i scoileanna a fheidhmíonn trí mheán an Bhéarla.

Leagann sonraíochtaí nua na Sraithe Sóisearaí don Ghaeilge (T1 agus T2 araon) béim láidir ar theanga labhartha. Aibhsítear í seo go háirithe i bpríomhshnáithe na sonraíochtaí – Cumas Cumarsáide. Leagann an tsnáithe seo béim mhéadaithe ar an nGaeilge mar theanga na foghlama agus na cumarsáide i seomraí ranga chomh maith le béim ar na scileanna atá de dhíth chun cumarsáid a dhéanamh go héifeachtach le húsáideoirí eile na teanga. Tá an chumarsáid, deiseanna úsáide agus idirghníomhaíocht ríthábhachtach do thascanna sa seomra ranga.  

Bainfear úsáid as cineál éagsúil de mhodheolaíocht measúnaithe do scileanna teanga labhartha (agus scileanna eile) i sonraíocht Ghaeilge nua na Sraithe Sóisearaí. Go dtí seo, bhí triail teanga labhartha roghnach ann, a rinne mionlach scoláirí, agus a bhí á meas i gcoitinne ag a múinteoirí mar chuid de shean-scrúdú an Teastais Shóisearaigh. Anois, mar chuid de shonraíochtaí Gaeilge na Sraithe Sóisearaí, déanfar measúnú foirmiúil ar scileanna teanga labhartha na scoláirí go léir. Déanfar é seo trí bhíthin dhá Mheasúnú Rangbhunaithe (MRBanna) a dtabharfar tuairisc ina leith chuig tuismitheoirí ag deireadh na tríú bliana i bPróifíl Ghnóthachtála na Sraithe Sóisearaí (PGSS). 

Faoin bPolasaí don Oideachas Gaeltachta 2017-2022, tabharfar cuireadh do scoileanna sa Ghaeltacht in Earrach na bliana 2017 aitheantas a lorg mar scoil Ghaeltachta i gcomhréir le critéir theanga-bhunaithe. Chun aitheantas mar scoil Ghaeltachta a bhaint amach, beidh an deis ag scoileanna obair i dtreo soláthair oideachais a dhéantar go hiomlán trí mheán na Gaeilge (seachas Béarla agus curaclaim teanga eile) thar amlíne an Pholasaí cúig bliana seo. I gceann amháin de na critéir teanga do scoileanna dara leibhéal áirítear riachtanas leis na sonraíochtaí Gaeilge T1 a chur i bhfeidhm sa tsraith shóisearach agus na scoláirí, cainteoirí dúchais na Gaeilge go háirithe, a spreagadh le tabhairt fúthu. Tosóidh cur i bhfeidhm an Pholasaí don Oideachas Gaeltachta i scoileanna ar bhonn céimnithe ó Mheán Fómhair 2017.

Student Grant Scheme Applications

 150. 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 a late SUSI application will be accepted in respect of a person (details provided) in County Kerry due to the exceptional health and personal circumstances; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14922/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Under the statutory based Student Grants Scheme, decisions regarding late applications are matters to be determined by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI).

  The online application system for the 2016/17 academic year, closed on 3 November 2016. Students wishing to make an application after that date must satisfy one of the following criteria in order to be granted access to make a late application:

  1. The course started after the online closing date;

  2. The applicant had a change of circumstance after the online closing date, regarding one or more of the following:

  1. Reckonable income;

  2. Number of dependent children;

  3. Relevant persons commencing an approved course;

  4. Normal residence;

  5. Nationality or immigration status; and/or

  6. Change of course or institution.

  7. The applicant experienced extenuating circumstances that adversely affected his/her ability to make an application prior to the online closing date e.g. a close bereavement or medical condition.

  If the student to whom the Deputy refers, satisfies the criteria for submitting a late application then, he should contact SUSI and seek a determination on his late application.

Third Level Staff Recruitment

 151. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will review a matter and address the concerns of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14945/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The position is that the body referred to by the Deputy receives staffing approvals from my Department, for categories of staff such as teachers, other school support staff and administration staff.

It is a statutory body and has responsibility for employment matters. The way in which staff are recruited and assigned between offices, individual schools, colleges and other centres is a matter for the body as it is responsible for the administration and management of its staffing arrangements.

My Department has no direct involvement in the deployment of teachers within the body; it is required to organise its subject options in accordance with its needs and within the limit of its approved staffing allocations.

The issues raised by the Deputy are therefore a matter for the person's employer i.e. the statutory body. The name of the statutory body was not included in the details supplied by the Deputy. If the Deputy wishes to provide me with the name of the statutory body I will arrange for my Department to contact it and request it to revert to the Deputy in relation to this matter.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 152. Deputy Joan Collins Information on Joan Collins Zoom on Joan Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of parents who have contacted him regarding problems accessing services in a school (details supplied); the length of time since his attention has been drawn to problems accessing speech and therapy, access to swimming, access to the July provision, no health nurse provision and access to multi-disciplinary teams; and the action he has taken to resolve this problem. [14951/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department has received correspondence from parents of one child attending the school to which the Deputy refers, dating back to May 2016 relating to the issues raised by the Deputy. 

  The School in question participated in the School Based July Programme for several years up to and including 2015. The school did not participate in 2016. The July Programme is not mandatory and eligible schools are not compelled to participate in the programme. However, where school based provision is not feasible, eligible children may qualify for home based support. 

  Details in relation to the 2017 July Programme have not been published to date and as such it is not possible to ascertain at this point if the school is likely to participate in the Programme this year.

  A Whole School Evaluation was undertaken in the School to which the Deputy refers on 20 October 2016. The report of this evaluation is available at http://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Inspection-Reports-Publications/Whole-School-Evaluation-Reports-List/19151C_WSEMLLP_3317_20170109.pdf.

  Whole-School Evaluations report on the quality of teaching and learning and on the quality of Management and leadership in a school. They affirm good practice and make recommendations, where appropriate, to aid the further development of educational provision in the school.

  The WSE reports that there is evidence of very good quality of teaching and learning in classrooms; a broad curriculum is provided with a positive emphasis on the promotion of the pupils’ language and communication skills and their independence.

  In response to the parent questionnaire as part of this WSE, almost all parents feel communication between home and school is good, that their child feels safe and is well looked after and respected in school. In relation to leadership and management, parents’ questionnaires indicate that parents feel welcome in the school. Almost all parents feel that overall they are happy with the school and that it is well run. While the school has previously had a parents’ association, it has since lapsed. The WSE recommends that consideration should now be given to re-establishing the parents’ association.

  The WSE concluded that there is evidence of an effective school focused on meeting the needs of the pupils and a school community committed to the ongoing development of the work of the school.

  My Department will raise the matters raised by the Deputy which are relevant to my Department with the school concerned.

  Issues relating to the provision of accessing health related supports such as speech and language therapy, health nurse provision and multi disciplinary teams are matters that should be raised with the Department of Health.

Apprenticeship Programmes

 153. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the extent to which efforts continue to be made in the creation of apprenticeship opportunities for various trades throughout the country and especially in counties Sligo and Leitrim; the degree to which specific shortages have been identified; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14969/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan Following the Review of Apprenticeship Training in Ireland, the Apprenticeship Council was established in November 2014 to oversee the expansion of the apprenticeship system into a range of new sectors of the economy. The Council immediately began work on a call for proposals for the development of new enterprise-led apprenticeships.  The call issued in January 2015 and over 80 proposals were received from industry stakeholders working with education and training providers.

The Apprenticeship Council has been working with the proposers of these new programmes to develop them in sustainable apprenticeships that can be delivered on a nationwide basis. In recent months we have seen the first of these new apprenticeships coming on stream with the launch of the Insurance Practitioner Apprenticeship, developed jointly by the Insurance Institute of Ireland and the Institute of Technology Sligo, in September 2016. The new Industrial Electrical Engineer Apprenticeship also got underway last year, commencing in November 2016. Some 13 further new apprenticeships are due to get underway later this year in various sectors including medical devices, polymer processing and financial services.

I have also launched an Action Plan to expand Apprenticeship and Traineeship in Ireland 2016-2020, which sets out how State agencies, education and training providers and employers will work together to deliver on the Programme for Government commitments on the expansion of apprenticeship and traineeship in the period. The Plan sets out how we will manage the pipeline of new apprenticeships already established through the first call for proposals and also commits to a new call for apprenticeship proposals later this year. Over the lifetime of the Plan, 50,000 people will be registered on apprenticeship and traineeship programmes which represents a doubling of current activity. 

Registrations in the 27 craft apprenticeship trades are rising strongly as the employment and economic situation improves and I welcome that employers throughout the country are engaging strongly with the apprenticeship system.  In 2015 there were 3,153 registrations in existing apprenticeships which represented a 17% increase on the previous year. In 2016 there were 3,742 new registrations in craft apprenticeships, a further 19% increase. This year the strong growth in new registrations continues with 893 apprentices registered at the end of February, a 36% increase on the same period last year. Current forecasts are that annual registrations will increase to 4,147 in 2017 and 4,697 in 2018.

A campaign to promote apprenticeship is currently being developed by SOLAS in consultation with key partners, including the Apprenticeship Council. The campaign will raise awareness and promote the values of apprenticeship for individual apprentices and for employers and it will cover both existing apprenticeships and the new apprenticeships now coming on stream.

Residential Institutions Redress Scheme

 154. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the institutions (details supplied) which were under the responsibility of the 18 religious organisations and congregations that signed an indemnity agreement with the Government and which were not. [14992/17]

 155. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the institutions (details supplied) which were responsible for institutions and homes that were on the Residential Institutions Redress Board schedule and were also part of a State indemnity agreement; and if he will provide a list of the institutions they operated, supervised or ran. [14993/17]

 156. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the institutions (details supplied) which were responsible for institutions and homes that were on the Residential Institutions Redress Board schedule but were not part of a State indemnity agreement; and if he will provide a list of the institutions they operated, supervised or ran. [14994/17]

 157. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the amount each institution or organisation listed in the Schedule to the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 that was part of the indemnity scheme pledged in respect of the indemnity agreement. [14995/17]

 158. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the way in which the indemnity liability was reckoned in respect of each organisation that was part of the indemnity agreement (details supplied). [14996/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Questions Nos. 154 to 158, inclusive, together.

I wish to advise the Deputy that the primary consideration of the Government in establishing the Redress Scheme was to provide justice for people who had been abused in childhood whilst resident in institutions which operated under the supervision of the State. The Government's decision to establish the Redress Scheme was made regardless of whether the religious congregations who managed the institutions would contribute to the Scheme or not.

The Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 provided for the establishment of both the Residential Institutions Redress Board and Review Committee and a total of 139 institutions were included in the schedule of specified institutions to the Act including 16 added by way of ministerial order in 2004 and 2005. While the majority of these institutions were managed by the 18 religious congregations who were party to the 2002 Indemnity Agreement, others were managed by other congregations, State bodies, and voluntary bodies/management committees or pursuant to Trusts.

 The Indemnity Agreement between the Government and the 18 contributing religious congregations was signed on the 5th of June 2002 and provided for a collective contribution of €128 million comprising cash, counselling services and property. As the contributions were collective, the Agreement does not apportion those contributions on the basis of individual congregations.

EU Funding

 159. Deputy Eoin Ó Broin Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the total moneys applied for from the European Commission for a programme (details supplied); the total moneys matched by the State; the total spend from both portions of the programme funding; the total amount of money returned to the European Commission; the total spend for each programme head and per each State agency under the programme, with a breakdown of the State spend and the European Commission spend; the portion under each of these headings returned to the European Commission; the total number of redundant workers that benefitted from the scheme; the average spend per redundant worker; the total number of young people not in employment, education or training, NEETs that benefitted from the scheme; the average spend per NEET; and if he will publish the final report from the programme as submitted to the European Commission. [15006/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan The European Globalisation Fund, EGF application in respect of Lufthansa Technik Airmotive Ireland (LTAI) was based on a total estimated programme expenditure of €4,151,264, with an approved EGF contribution of €2,490,758 (60%) and national co-financing of €1,660,506 (40%).  My Department submitted the final report and expenditure statement on the LTAI EGF programme to the European Commission earlier this month and a copy of that report is being published on the dedicated website www.egf.ie.

  The final eligible expenditure under the programme was €2,983,358, resulting in EGF receipts of €1,790,015, or 72% of the approved EGF contribution. Accordingly, €700,743 EGF co-financing (28%) is due to be reimbursed to the European Commission. The national co-financed element of the programme was €1,193,343.

  The breakdown of the LTAI EGF programme expenditure by measure and state agency was as follows:

MeasureEstimated ExpenditureActual Expenditure% Difference Actual vs EstimatedState Agency^
Occupational Guidance and Career Supports€374,074€546,852+46% SOLAS: €546,852
EGF Training Grants€563,840€734,233+30%SOLAS: €734,233
Training/2nd Level Education Programmes€682,000€108,584-84%SOLAS: €104,543

DSP: €4,041
Third Level Education Programmes€847,000€474,014-44%HEA: €443,284

SOLAS: €24,980

SUSI: €5,750
Enterprise/Self-employment Supports€83,000€83,2990%EI: €83,299
Income Supports including Course Expense Contributions€1,373,030€734,729-47%DSP: €443,292

SOLAS: €291,436
Technical Assistance€228,320€301,647+32%DES: €280,977

SOLAS: €20,670
Total€4,151,264€2,983,358-72% 
^Key: DSP - Department of Social Protection; DES – Department of Education and Skills; EI – Enterprise Ireland; HEA – Higher Education Authority; SUSI - Student Universal Support Ireland.

  The breakdown of the State spend and the European Commission spend under each measure was 40% and 60% respectively.

  When implementing approved EGF programmes, Member States have the flexibility to reallocate amounts between the various measures in the programme, provided that the total amount of the budget approved by the European Commission, Parliament and Council is not exceeded. Therefore, the amounts to be reimbursed to the European Commission are calculated on the basis of the programme as a whole and not by measure.

  On conclusion of the programme, EGF supports had been taken up by 253 redundant workers (101% of those targeted) and 171 NEET persons (85% of the target of 200).  Up to 445 NEET persons were offered services with a final take-up of 171.  Excluding technical assistance, the average spend per redundant worker and NEET were €2,516 and €2,547 respectively.

Schools Amalgamation

 160. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if an application for additional funding for a school amalgamation project (details supplied) will be provided; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15010/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I can confirm that my Department is in receipt of an application for additional funding from the school referred to by the Deputy.  The application is currently being assessed and my Department will be in contact with the school authority in the matter shortly.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 161. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the reason only 16 hours of SNA support have been awarded in the case of a person (details supplied); if the decision will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15014/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), which is an independent statutory agency, is responsible, through its network of Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating special educational needs supports to schools, including Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support.  The NCSE allocates SNA support in accordance with the criteria set out in my Department's Circular 0030/2014, which is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie, in order that students who have care needs can access SNA support as and when it is needed.

  Responsibility for deciding on the quantum of educational supports and resources to be allocated to schools to support individual pupils rests with the NCSE.  In making allocations to schools, the NCSE takes into account the assessed individual needs of all children with identified needs in the school.  It should be noted that SNA allocations are not made to individual children, but are made to schools to support the care needs of children with assessed special educational needs in the school.  In making allocations to schools, the NCSE takes into account the assessed individual needs of all children with identified needs in the school.  The NCSE has an Information booklet for parents in relation to the SNA scheme on its website: www.ncse.ie.

  The deployment of SNAs within schools is a matter for the individual Principal/Board of Management.  SNAs should be deployed by the school in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated.  It is a matter for schools to allocate support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilised.

  The NCSE has informed my Department that a full care needs review was carried out by the SENO in the school to which the Deputy refers on 2 March.  The outcome of the review is that the school’s allocation of SNA support has been increased by 0.5 post to assist the school to provide for the care needs of the particular child referred to and the other qualifying children in the school.

  Where a school wishes to appeal the SNA or resource teaching allocation which has been made to them, they may do so through the NCSE appeals process, details of which are set out at www.ncse.ie.  The option to invoke the appeals process is open to the school and to parents.

  My Department encourages parents and school authorities to engage locally regarding pupils' education.  Should a parent be dissatisfied with the manner in which the SNA support has been provided to support their child’s education they should raise the matter directly with the school Principal or the Board of Management of the school.  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.

Protected Disclosures Data

 162. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the process within his Department for dealing with protected disclosures under the 2014 Act; if the examinations of such disclosures are carried out by an independent authority or persons other than those within the organisation to which the disclosure refers; the number of disclosures received by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15073/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department has guidance procedures in place and has provided training to relevant officials at Principal Officer level who will act as recipients for the handling of protected disclosures from staff of the Department.

  The procedures were developed in accordance with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s Guidance for Public Bodies on Protected Disclosures.

  In accordance with Section 22 of the Protected Disclosure Act 2014, my Department has published information on protected disclosures received during 2015 from the Education sector under Section 8 (Disclosures to a Minister) on its website: https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Corporate-Reports/Annual-Report/des_ar_2015_protected_disclosures.pdf.

  In summary, in 2015, 3 protected disclosures were received from workers in the Education  sector.  There were no protected disclosures received from Department staff during the same period.

  Details of the number of protected disclosures received in 2016 will be published, in accordance with Section 22 of the Protected Disclosures Act, not later than 22 June 2017.

State Examinations

 163. Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will approve an appeal to provide access to a reader for a person (details supplied); and the status of the approval. [15088/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations. The Commission in this regard operates a scheme of Reasonable Accommodations in the Certificate Examinations.

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

Teachers' Remuneration

 164. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the way in which a teacher can apply for incremental credit; the way in which a person may make an appeal on a decision if they are not satisfied with the outcome of a decision made on their application for incremental credit being applied to them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15097/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The current scheme for the award of incremental credit for teachers was agreed under the auspices of the Teachers Conciliation Council. This Council is comprised of representatives of teachers, school management, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Department of Education & Skills and is chaired by an official of the Workplace Relations Commission. The application process and the appeal process for non-teaching service as agreed are set out by my Department in circular letters 10/2001, 29/2007 and 29/2010. The scheme as agreed, makes no provision for an appeal for teaching service.

The teacher representatives on the Teachers Conciliation Council have recently asked for a review of the existing incremental credit schemes. This review has commenced under the Council and it is intended to publish the outcome by way of circular letter.

Schools Site Acquisitions

 165. Deputy Catherine Martin Information on Catherine Martin Zoom on Catherine Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will seek to acquire lands which have recently been put on the market adjacent to a school (details supplied); if not, the reason he did not seek to purchase the land for the use of the adjacent school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15101/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton In that regard, my Department understands that the Board of Management for one of the school’s concerned have approached the land owners with a request to retain part of the lands concerned for the benefit of the school.

  As the schools and lands, referred to by the Deputy, are in private ownership, issues pertaining to the school site and lands available for school use would be a matter for the school authorities and the Trustees of the schools concerned.

  In that regard, my Department understands that one of the schools concerned has approached the land owners with a request to retain part of the lands concerned for the benefit of the school.

DEIS Scheme

 166. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the reason a school (details supplied) was not included in the recently announced rural DEIS programme; if he will re-examine his decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15103/17]

 167. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the reason a school (details supplied) was not included in the recently announced rural DEIS programme; if he will re-examine his decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15104/17]

 168. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the reason a school (details supplied) was not included in the recently announced rural DEIS programme; if he will re-examine his decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15105/17]

 169. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the reason a school (details supplied) was not included in the recently announced rural DEIS programme; if he will re-examine his decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15106/17]

 170. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the reason a school (details supplied) was not included in the recently announced rural DEIS programme; if he will re-examine his decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15107/17]

 171. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the reason a school (details supplied) was not included in the recently announced rural DEIS programme; if he will re-examine his decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15108/17]

 172. Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the reason a school (details supplied) was not included in the recently announced rural DEIS programme; if he will re-examine his decision; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15109/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Parliamentary Questions Nos. 166 to 172, inclusive, together.

  DEIS is my Department's main policy initiative to tackle educational disadvantage. The DEIS Plan for 2017 sets out our vision for future intervention in the critical area of social inclusion in education policy.

  In its initial application, the new identification model has identified that there are schools in disadvantaged areas, not previously included in DEIS, whose level of disadvantage is significantly higher than many schools already in the programme.  Accordingly, we are moving as a first step to include these schools in the DEIS School Support Programme.

  Schools included in the list published by my Department on 13th February are those whose level of concentrated disadvantage has been identified as being at the same level as the current DEIS category for schools serving the highest concentrations of disadvantage.  This includes 15 new Urban Band 1 schools, 30 Urban Band 2 schools raised to Urban Band 1 status, 51 new Rural DEIS schools and 13 new Post Primary DEIS schools.  Of the 79 new schools announced as DEIS schools in February, 25% are based in Donegal.

  The key data sources used in the identification process are the DES Primary Online Database (POD) and Post-Primary Online (PPOD) Databases, and CSO data from the National Census of Population as represented in the Pobal HP Index for Small Areas which is a method of measuring the relative affluence or disadvantage of a particular geographical area.  Variables used in the compilation of the HP Index include those related to demographic growth, dependency ratios, education levels, single parent rate, overcrowding, social class, occupation and unemployment rates.  This data is combined with pupil data, anonymised and aggregated to small area, to provide information on the relative level of concentrated disadvantage present in the pupil cohort of individual schools.  This data is applied uniformly across all schools in the country.  Schools were not required to submit an application for inclusion in the programme as the centrally held data required was already held by my Department.

  Further information on the development of the identification process is available in the DEIS Review report which can be found on my Department's website at http://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/DEIS-Delivering-Equality-of-Opportunity-in-Schools-/.

  Schools which have not been included or upgraded at this stage, including the schools referred to by the Deputy, are those which have not been identified as having the highest levels of concentrated disadvantage amongst their pupil cohort, under the new identification process, which is fair and objective.

  The DEIS Plan provides for a verification process and any school wishing to seek verification of the information used to assess the level of disadvantage of its pupil cohort may submit an application for same to social_inclusion@education.gov.ie.

  It is important to note that the school details published on 13 February represent a first step in the application of the assessment process to support pupils in schools with the highest concentrations of disadvantage.  I am fully aware that there are further schools whose concentrated level of disadvantage may not be at the highest level, but may nevertheless be at a level which warrants additional supports for pupils under DEIS.

  However, as noted in the DEIS Plan, the implementation of a new objective central data-based model of identifying levels of disadvantage within school populations will be followed by a further programme of work to create a more dynamic model where levels of resource more accurately follow the levels of need identified by that model.

  Once this work has been completed, consideration will be given to extending DEIS supports to a further group of schools as resources permit.

  In delivering on the DEIS Plan 2017 we must be conscious that there are ongoing changes in demographics which may be more marked in some areas than others.  Populations in some areas have changed considerably since schools were originally evaluated for inclusion in DEIS in 2006.  The new model may reveal that some schools currently included in DEIS have a level of disadvantage within their school population much lower than that in some schools not included within DEIS.  If this turns out to be the case, then we must consider whether it is fair that those schools continue receiving these additional resources, using resources that may be more fairly allocated to the schools with greater levels of disadvantage.

  It is important to note that the fact that a school has not been included in the DEIS programme on this occasion does not preclude its inclusion at a later date, should its level of disadvantage warrant the allocation of additional resources.


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