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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 165-176
 Header Item Education Funding
 Header Item Third Level Funding
 Header Item Education Funding
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme
 Header Item Departmental Expenditure
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme
 Header Item Education and Training Boards
 Header Item School Patronage
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Staff
 Header Item School Accommodation Provision
 Header Item School Transport
 Header Item State Examinations

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 947 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 97 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 165-176

Education Funding

 165. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the budgetary allocation and the number of guidance posts for further and higher education over each of the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18541/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department allocates recurrent funding to the Higher Education Authority (HEA) for direct disbursement to the HEA institutions. The HEA allocates this as a block grant to institutions to cover teaching, research and supporting activities. The internal allocation of this grant is a matter for each institution. Higher education institutions are autonomous institutions and my Department does not have any function in their day to day operational affairs, including the appointment of staff and allocation of budgets for individual departments or units.

Supplementary information has been requested from the HEA in relation to the number of guidance posts and budgetary allocation and my officials will revert to the Deputy directly as soon as this information is made available to them.

Third Level Funding

 166. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the allocation to third level research and development over each of the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18542/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department allocated funding over the past 10 years for third level research and development. The details of the funding per year over the last 10 years are as follows:

  - 2017 - €40.6m (provision)

  - 2016 - €37.6m

  - 2015 - €37.6m

  - 2014 - €37.6m

  - 2013 - €37.6m

  - 2012 - €37.6m

  - 2011 - €38.5m

  - 2010 - €52.21m

  - 2009 - €86.989m

  - 2008 - €76.293m

  The reductions in the funding in 2010 and 2011 were mainly the result of the transfer of functions (PRTLI, e journals and strand 2 of the TSR) to the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

Education Funding

 167. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the allocation to the strategic innovation fund over each of the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18543/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Strategic Innovation Fund was established in 2006 with the emphasis on promoting inter-institutional collaboration in bringing about substantial change, reform and quality improvement within the Irish higher education system. The Fund supported a wide range of projects aimed at supporting institutional restructuring, enhancing teaching and learning, enabling post graduate education and improving access and lifelong learning.

  My Department provided the following funding to the Strategic Innovation Fund over the last 10 years.  The funding allocation was last provided in 2012 when the programme finished.

  - 2017 - Nil

  - 2016 - Nil

  - 2015 - Nil

  - 2014 - Nil

  - 2013 - Nil

  - 2012 - €750,000

  - 2011 - €14m

  - 2010 - €18.89m

  - 2009   - €27.07m

  - 2008   - €16m

  Since 2012, a more focused approach has been adopted in the public funding of research and innovation activity. Research prioritisation has concentrated the majority of competitive funding on areas deemed likely to yield greatest economic and societal impact. In the strategy set out in Innovation 2020, the aim is to build on the significant progress of the past decade in developing Ireland’s research and innovation system, by continuing to support excellent research across the full continuum and across all disciplines.

Student Grant Scheme

 168. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the savings that could be achieved if a capital means test was introduced for the student grant with a cut-off point for assets over €500,000, €750,000 and €1,000,000, excluding the family home, working farmland and business assets; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18544/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Deputy will be aware that capital assets do not form part of the means assessment for a SUSI grant and as such, SUSI does not collect data on the capital assets of the persons whose income forms part of the means assessment. It is therefore difficult to accurately cost the Deputy’s proposals.

Departmental Expenditure

 169. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton further to Parliamentary Question No. 505 of 16 September 2016, if he will provide a breakdown of the spend in the same areas for 2016 and to date in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18545/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The information sought by the Deputy is provided in the following table:

CAPITAL EXPENDITURE JANUARY TO DECEMBER 2016 AND JANUARY TO 31 MARCH 2017

(identified under specific headings)

-
2016
2017
SUB-PROGRAMMES
TOTAL
Jan - Mar
(€m)
(€m)
LARGE SCALE PROJECTS
334.046
64.545
SITE PURCHASES
31.634
6.732
ADDITIONAL ACCOMMODATION
75.176
17.576
PREFAB REPLACEMENT SCHEME
3.424
0.767
EMERGENCY WORKS
17.304
3.284
FURNITURE AND EQUIPMENT
9.655
1.572
SUMMER WORKS SCHEME
28.261
3.558
MINOR WORKS GRANT
28.769
0.000
ETB HQ ACCOMMODATION
0.000
0.000
MISCELLANEOUS
1.463
0.417
EDUCATION CENTRES
0.000
0.000
CURRICULAR REQUIREMENTS
0.000
0.000
THIRD LEVEL PPP COSTS
85.126
18.058
FURTHER EDUCATION
3.000
1.000
RESEARCH
37.600
7.393
SCHOOLS ICT PROGRAMME
9.306
21.664
WIRELESS NETWORK INVESTMENT FOR SCHOOLS
0.000
0.000
THIRD LEVEL EQUIPMENT & MINOR WORKS
10.000
0.000
THIRD LEVEL CAPITAL PROJECTS
21.500
0.000
TOTAL
696.264
146.566

Student Grant Scheme

 170. Deputy John Brady Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the estimated annual cost of making jobseeker's transitional payment and the SUSI grant payable to lone parents regardless of the age of the youngest child or whether the family is in receipt of rent supplement. [18548/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Under the Student Grant Scheme, grant assistance is available to eligible students attending an approved course in an approved institution who meet the terms and conditions of funding, including those relating to residency, means, nationality and previous academic attainment.  All applications are assessed with reference to the terms and conditions of the relevant student grant scheme.

Under the Student Grant Scheme, the Jobseekers Transitional payment is an eligible payment for the special rate of maintenance grant and an income disregard (where paid to the applicant). Rent Supplement is considered an income disregard and not included in calculating reckonable income.

The Jobseeker’s Transitional payment is administered by the Department of Social Protection. I understand that this payment is a special arrangement under the Jobseekers Allowance scheme that aims to support lone parents into the workforce where the youngest child is aged between 7 and 13 years inclusive.

SUSI does not hold data on the age of children linked to the Jobseekers Transition payment. Also, I understand that persons in receipt of this payment may subsequently move onto other eligible long-term payments for the special rate of maintenance grant. These payments may not necessarily identify the individual as being a lone parent.

It is therefore not possible to cost this proposal.

Education and Training Boards

 171. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the details of developments concerning the Longford and Westmeath Educational Training Board taking over Columb Barracks. [18627/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department is very supportive of better quality infrastructure for schools and further education and training provision and/or Head Office moves where such developments have the potential to facilitate overall savings or clear strategic benefits. However, this must be considered within the constraints of the many competing demands on my Department’s capital budget.

The potential for educational use of Columb Barracks site has been re-examined in the light of the opportunities which were recently set out.  

Unfortunately, the cost of acquisition and the significant investment that would be required for repurposing of the site rendered such a repurposing unaffordable given the competing demands for available funding.  My Department would not be in a position to prioritise funding to progress the project at this time.  

Of course, it remains open to the Education and Training Board to submit further material supporting the case that savings would accrue from the purchase of Columb Barracks or to explore any alternative more cost-effective options for educational provision which may be available.

School Patronage

 172. 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 when a new patron for the new primary school planned for Dún Laoghaire to open in September 2017 will be announced; the school planning area it is designated for; the engagement his Department has had with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council on the issue; if his Department has a specific site identified for the new school; if temporary accommodation will be required in the first instance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18629/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton On 28 November, 2016 applications were invited for the patronage of four new primary schools to be established in 2017 and 2018, including the school to serve the Dún Laoghaire school planning area.  A total of 14 applications for patronage of the four new schools were received and are currently being assessed by my Department. 

The assessment process is detailed and rigorous. The final assessment reports will be forwarded for the consideration of the New Schools Establishment Group (NSEG), which will submit a report with recommendations to me for consideration and final decision. 

It is expected that the assessment process will be completed and that a determination in relation to the patronage of the new schools will be made in the coming weeks.  The assessment reports and the recommendations of the NSEG will be available on the Department's website following the announcement.  

Officials in my Department are working closely with officials from Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council under the Memorandum of Understanding in relation to the identification and acquisition of a suitable permanent location for the school.

The building project for the school in question is included in my Department's 6 year construction programme that was announced last November.  The school will open in September 2017 in suitable interim accommodation.

Special Educational Needs Staff

 173. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton when a special needs assistant will be assigned to a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18635/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The SNA scheme provides recognised schools with additional adult support staff to cater for the care needs of pupils with disabilities in an educational context, where the nature of these care needs have been outlined in professional reports as being so significant that a pupil will require adult assistance in order to be able to attend school and to participate in education 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. 

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for processing applications from schools for special educational needs supports, including SNA support. 

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 care 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.  The NCSE has published an Information booklet for parents in relation to the SNA scheme on its website: www.ncse.ie.

It is a matter for the individual Principal/Board of Management of the school to allocate SNA support as required, and on the basis of individual need, which allows schools flexibility in how the SNA support is utilized in the school.  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. 

The NCSE has informed my Department that the SENO has considered the level of SNA support available to the school and has informed the school that the pupil in question can be supported from within the school's current allocation of SNA support.

The level of SNA support allocated to all schools can change from year to year, as students with care needs leave the school, as new students with care needs enrol, or as students develop more independent living skills as they get older and their care needs diminish over time.  In this regard the SENO will carry out a further review of SNA provision in this school and process the applications received for two new pupils in time for 2017/2018 school year. 

Where a school wishes to appeal the level of SNA support which has been made to their school, they may do so via the appeal process which is available at: www.ncse.ie.

A major building project for the school to which the Deputy refers was included on the 6 year Construction Programme (2019-21).  Officials in my Department are working closely with officials from Kerry County Council under the memorandum of understanding in relation to the identification and acquisition of a suitable permanent location for the school.

My Department’s main responsibility is to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking places, in this regard, my Department is currently reviewing the demographic demand in the area serviced by the school.  This review will inform on the appropriate level of accommodation to be provided for the proposed building project.

School Accommodation Provision

 174. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the status of the provision of accommodation at a school (details supplied) in County Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18675/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I can confirm to you Deputy that a project for the school in question was included in the Department's 6 Year Capital Programme announced in November 2015 to proceed to the tender and construction stages in 2019 - 2021.

My Department is currently finalising the project brief and once this process is complete, my Department will be in further contact with the school. The project will be progressed into the architectural planning process when the brief has been finalised.

School Transport

 175. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on the ongoing industrial action in Bus Éireann that will affect school transport; his plans to address this concern in view of upcoming exams; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18688/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.

  Currently almost 116,000 children, including some 12,000 children with special educational needs, are being transported in over 4,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually.

  School transport services generally are not affected by the Bus Éireann dispute. However, in the region of 1,000 children who normally avail of school transport services on Bus Éireann public scheduled services are affected by the industrial action.

  Where a dedicated Bus Éireann service could not operate, a replacement vehicle has been contracted to provide the service.

State Examinations

 176. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the estimated cost of providing the junior certificate oral exam in every school; the cost of providing sufficient state examiners to assess the orals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18689/17]

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.

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


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