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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 85-109
 Header Item Tax Agreements
 Header Item Parliamentary Questions Data
 Header Item Estimates Process
 Header Item Forensic Science Ireland Laboratory
 Header Item Office of Public Works Projects
 Header Item Flood Risk Assessments
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Parliamentary Questions Data
 Header Item School Accommodation Provision
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item DEIS Eligibility
 Header Item School Transport Provision
 Header Item Teaching Qualifications
 Header Item Schools Building Projects
 Header Item Garda Vetting of Personnel
 Header Item National Educational Psychological Service Administration
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Staff
 Header Item Schools Building Projects
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Schools Site Acquisitions
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 976 No. 5

First Page Previous Page Page of 84 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 85-109

Tax Agreements

 85. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Finance Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe when he expects the so-called single malt tax avoidance loophole to be completely closed off by Ireland and Malta; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52478/18]

Minister for Finance (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Ireland’s corporate tax residence rules were amended in Finance Act 2014 to shut down an aggressive tax planning structure referred to as the ‘Double Irish’.  Subsequently, reports emerged of a new alternative aggressive tax planning structure, known as the ‘Single Malt’ that sought to achieve a similar objective.   I understand that the ‘Single Malt’ structure involves an Irish incorporated company relying on the fact it is tax resident in Malta, a country with which Ireland has a Double Taxation Convention, to prevent it from also being tax resident in Ireland.   Tax was ultimately avoided in certain circumstances where payments from an Irish group company to the ‘Single Malt’ company were not ultimately received in Malta. 

I understand that US tax reform should already have significantly reduced the potential tax advantages of using a ‘Single Malt’ structure.  However, I asked my officials to examine what additional actions could be taken to remove any remaining concerns.  This examination resulted in the agreement of a Competent Authority Agreement between the Revenue Commissioners and the Maltese authorities.

I am advised by Revenue that the recent Competent Authority Agreement gave notice that, with reference to the Ireland-Malta Double Taxation Convention, a specific result of the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (MLI) will be prevent the Irish-incorporated ‘Single Malt’ company from using its status as a Maltese tax resident to prevent it from being Irish tax resident under section 23A of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997.  On their becoming Irish-resident for corporation tax purposes, the relevant provisions of the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997 will then render previously untaxed income of the companies concerned fully chargeable to corporation tax.

The timing of the change coming into effect will depend on the date at which both Ireland and Malta deposit their notices of ratification of the MLI with the OECD.  The change will impact companies’ accounting periods beginning after the 9th full calendar month following the month in which both Ireland and Malta making the relevant deposit with the OECD.  Ireland intends to deposit its notice of ratification with the OECD in January 2019, and accordingly, where Malta have also done so by the end of January, the changes will be in effect for periods from November 2019.

For companies that were incorporated in Ireland prior to 1 January 2015, the Irish corporation tax residency rules that were in place prior to Finance Act 2014 remain in effect until the end of 2020.

The action taken by Ireland in respect of this aggressive tax planning structure is another sign of Ireland’s commitment to tackling aggressive tax planning, as set out in Ireland’s Corporation Tax Roadmap.

Parliamentary Questions Data

 86. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the number of parliamentary questions his Department has processed in the past three years to date; the number of questions answered directly; the number of questions referred to bodies or agencies under the aegis of his Department for direct reply; the number of staff who are assigned to his parliamentary questions section; and if non-departmental staff, advisers and-or public affairs and relations companies have composed parliamentary question replies or had an act or hand in forming parliamentary question replies in the timeframe specified. [52246/18]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The number of Parliamentary Questions received by my Department is set out in the following table:

Year PQs Received
2016 1,051
2017 1,424
2018 1,432


  My Department is committed to answering Parliamentary Questions in a timely and consistent manner and almost all questions are answered directly.  

  The following table sets out the number of Parliamentary Questions that were referred to bodies under the aegis of my Department for direct reply:

Body Number of PQs

Answered Directly
National Shared Services Office 1
Public Appointments Service 1
Institute of Public Administration 0
Economic and Social Research Institute 0
State Laboratory 0
Office of the Ombudsman 0
Office of the Regulator of the National Lottery 0*


  * The Office of the National Lottery Regulator responded directly to a Deputy as a follow up to a Parliamentary Question.

  Please note that the Office of Public Works will respond to the Deputy directly in relation to the number of questions answered by them.

  The Corporate Support Unit has responsibility for the allocation of Parliamentary Questions in my Department.  The Unit has five staff but they have a very broad range of other roles, including, for example, in relation to FOI.

  Advisers to the Minister assist in the checking and processing of parliamentary questions as part of their normal duties.

  Finally, non-Departmental staff or external bodies have no involvement in the composition of replies to Parliamentary Questions in my Department.

Estimates Process

 87. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe the details of approved Supplementary Estimates in each of the years 2000 to 2017 and to date in 2018, for each Department in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52350/18]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Due to the scale of Government expenditure and the cash basis of Government accounting, the need for Supplementary Estimates can arise for a number of reasons, including policy decisions, timing issues and overspends. Supplementary Estimates are an important element of our expenditure management toolkit, allowing for the proper alignment of resources with allocations.

  The attached document sets out the Supplementary Estimates by Vote for each year from 2000 to 2018. The tables for each year reflect the Vote structure that was in place in that year. Where two amounts are included in respect of a Vote in a particular year, this arises when a second Supplementary Estimate was provided to that Vote.  There is an amount included for each year from 2000 to 2017 in respect of the net amount appropriated. This corresponds to net voted expenditure for each year and reflects the amount included in the Appropriation Act of that year.

  The tables are available at the following link:

Tables

Forensic Science Ireland Laboratory

 88. Deputy Brendan Ryan Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if tenders have been reinvited from the short-list of building contractors for a laboratory (details supplied) in County Kildare; if so, the closing date for receipt of tenders; when construction will commence and cease on the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52377/18]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Office of Public Works (OPW) is managing the delivery of the new Forensic Science Laboratory at the Backweston campus.

The Deputy should be aware that enabling works for Forensic Science Ireland that commenced in October 2017 have now been completed.

However, due to recent changes in international forensic laboratory standards, the merging of the Garda Technical Bureau with Forensic Science Ireland and changes to staff numbers, it was necessary to add further material to the tender documentation. Forensic Science Ireland (FSI) and the OPW design team are currently examining the issues involved, which relate primarily to laboratory interior finishes and mechanical and electrical adjustments.

Once this examination has been completed, the OPW will review all tender documentation and intends to re-issue a complete set of documents in Q4 2018. As this process is still ongoing, it is not possible at this stage to give exact timeframes for the procurement process for contractors. When the construction contract for the main building is placed, the estimated construction period is 24 months followed by a validation and test period prior to occupation.

Office of Public Works Projects

 89. Deputy Brendan Ryan Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe further to Parliamentary Question No. 148 of 18 September 2018, if the engineering consultants have been appointed; when planning permission will be sought for a centre (details supplied); when tenders will be sought for construction; when construction will commence; the estimated construction time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52378/18]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe Engineering consultant tenders were revived on the 10th September 2018. They are presently being assessed. Planning application is due to be lodged in Quarter 4 2018. The programme for the tender and construction stages of the project will be confirmed when the planning permission process is completed.

Flood Risk Assessments

 90. Deputy Brendan Ryan Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe further to Parliamentary Question No. 72 of 9 October 2018, if consultants have been hired to complete the reassessment of the local hydrology of the area in question and the operation of the local drainage network; the expected date for completion of the studies; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52381/18]

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe A flood study of the Hazelhatch area of Celbridge, County Kildare, carried by consultants on behalf the local authority, highlighted the need for a re-assessment of the local hydrology for the area.

  The Office of Public Works (OPW) and Kildare County Council have  jointly developed the Project Brief for this further study that will be commissioned by Kildare County Council.

Schools Building Projects Status

 91. Deputy Martin Heydon Information on Martin Heydon Zoom on Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the status of progress on a new school (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52232/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The major building project for the school referred to by the Deputy is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning, Stage 2(b) – Detailed Design.

The outcome of the pre-qualification process for the main contract has been notified to contractors who expressed interest in tendering for this project.  Feedback and issues arising from same has resulted in a legal challenge to the pre-qualification process for the main contact from one unsuccessful contractor. This matter is being handled on my Department's behalf by the Chief State Solicitor’s Office. The Deputy will appreciate that as there is an ongoing legal challenge in relation to the project it is not possible for my Department to comment further at present.

When the pre-qualification process for the main contract and reserved specialists contracts can be successfully concluded the project will then be progressed to tender stage.

Parliamentary Questions Data

 92. Deputy Catherine Murphy Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the number of parliamentary questions his Department has processed in the past three years to date; the number of questions answered directly; the number of questions referred to bodies or agencies under the aegis of his Department for direct reply; the number of staff who are assigned to his parliamentary questions section; and if non-departmental staff, advisers and-or public affairs and relations companies have composed parliamentary question replies or had an act or hand in forming parliamentary question replies in the timeframe specified. [52239/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh For the Deputy’s information, the following number of Parliamentary Questions were processed by my Department for the timeframe 2016 to end November 2018.

  2016: 55 oral and 3,042 written Parliamentary Questions

  2017: 94 oral and 4,927 written Parliamentary Questions.

  2018: 78 oral and 4475 written Parliamentary Questions (end November)

  As part of their duties, three Clerical Officers assigned to the Office of the Secretary General manage and co-ordinate the processing of Parliamentary Questions in my Department. Relevant officials who deal with the particular issues raised in Parliamentary Questions draft responses that are then submitted for approval.  Parliamentary Questions are not referred to external companies nor are they referred to aegis bodies for direct reply.

  The Deputy will note that my Department receives a significant number of Parliamentary Questions annually and this provides me, as Minister, with regular opportunities to report publicly on matters for which I am accountable. On occasions, and when appropriate, advisers may input into a response on my behalf.

School Accommodation Provision

 93. Deputy Willie Penrose Information on Willie Penrose Zoom on Willie Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the steps he will take to expedite an application by a school (details supplied) for AFD facilities and a science room which are urgently required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52259/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department is currently considering the school's application for additional accommodation. My Department expects to be in a position to convey a decision on the application to the school authority shortly.

Schools Building Projects Status

 94. Deputy Róisín Shortall Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the location a school (details supplied) will be located; the type of premises it will occupy; the facilities that will be included; when the permanent school facilities will be put in place; when more information for prospective students and parents will be made available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52285/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh April 2018 saw the announcement of the establishment of 42 new schools over the next 4 year period from 2019 to 2022.  The 17 schools due to open in Sept 2019 including the school to which the Deputy refers remain on schedule.

  A suitable permanent site for the school has been identified in the Belmayne/Clongriffin area and my officials are working to advance matters in that respect so that the school's permanent accommodation can be delivered at the earliest possible date.

  In advance of that the school will be established in September 2019 in suitable interim accommodation pending delivery of its permanent school building.

  My Department has appointed a Project Manager to assist in the procurement of interim school accommodation for the schools opening in 2019.   Work is still ongoing in this regard and due to commercial sensitivities attaching to property matters generally my Department is unfortunately not in a position at present to provide further information on site locations etc. at this time.

  However, once the interim location is secured the relevant school authorities will be informed and the details of the location can then be made public.

DEIS Eligibility

 95. Deputy Brendan Griffin Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh his views on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52324/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh As the Deputy will be aware DEIS Plan 2017 was the culmination of more than 18 months of consultation and discourse with education partners and other stakeholders to ensure that identification of schools and future delivery of interventions is fully informed by the practical experience of teachers, parents, students and non-governmental organisations working on behalf of children at risk of educational disadvantage and their families

  My Department has introduced an objective, statistics based model for assessing which schools merit inclusion in the DEIS Programme, so that all stakeholders can have confidence that we are targeting extra resources at those schools with the highest levels of concentrated disadvantage.

  The key data sources used in the DEIS 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 Haase Pratschke Deprivation Index  (HP Index).  The HP Index combines three underlying dimensions of affluence/disadvantage, identified as Demographic Profile, Social Class Composition and Labour Market Situation, to achieve a balanced measure of relative affluence and deprivation, which evenly applies across the urban-rural continuum.   Variables used in the compilation of the HP Index include those related to demographic growth, dependency ratios, single parent rates, education levels, 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 to all schools in the country in a fair and objective way, to identify the relative level of concentrated disadvantage present in each school.  

  The calculation of the level of disadvantage in each school is based on the socio-economic background of their pupil cohort using centrally held data as previously outlined and is not based on the location of the school but on the geographical CSO Small Areas where the pupil cohort resides.

A detailed document explaining the methodology used in the Identification process is available on the Department’s website at

https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/DEIS-Delivering-Equality-of-Opportunity-in-Schools-/DEIS-Identification-Process.pdf

  DEIS Plan 2017 states that the improved data on the socio-demographic of schools resulting from the new identification model will have an impact not only on the assessment of schools for inclusion in the programme but also on the scaling of resources to allow for more graduated levels of support.  This in turn allows for the ultimate objective of allocating resources to best meet the identified need of individual schools.

  In order to achieve this, the current identification model needs to be as accurate as possible and this will be facilitated by the use of Eircode to ensure correct inputting of addresses. Further analysis is also required to examine other variables known to be strong predictors of educational disadvantage in the context of resource allocation. 

  Therefore, in order to ensure the quality of the address data and conduct further analysis, it is not intended to extend the DEIS Programme to any further schools until this work is complete.

School Transport Provision

 96. Deputy Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Information on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy Zoom on Marcella Corcoran Kennedy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the number of private school transport contractors (details supplied) which have had their fleet suspended by Bus Éireann while awaiting inspection by the FTA; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52326/18]

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.

  In the 2017/18 school year over 117,000 children, including over 12,000 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 4,500 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually at a total cost of almost €190 million in 2017.

  Bus Éireann is finalising the information sought and I have requested that they forward the figures directly to the Deputy when they are finalised.

Teaching Qualifications

 97. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if special educational needs will be included as a core part of initial teacher training in all colleges; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52352/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The Teaching Council is the statutory body with responsibility for professional standards and regulation of the teaching profession. Under Section 38 of the Teaching Council Act, all initial teacher education programmes are subject to review and accreditation by the Teaching Council, in accordance with the Criteria and Guidelines for Programme Providers (published in 2011 and revised in March 2017). In accordance with these Criteria and Guidelines, inclusive education is a mandatory component for all students in ITE. Inclusive education encompasses education of children with special educational needs.

The learning outcomes of ITE programmes also reflect the need for the teacher to be able to conduct a systematic, holistic assessment of learner needs; to apply knowledge of the individual potential of students, their disposition towards learning and their backgrounds, identities and learning styles to their teaching; to set clear, challenging and achievable expectations for pupils; to evaluate learner progress; to act as an advocate for students, referring students for educational support as required and participating in the provision of that support, amongst other relevant outcomes. 

The Teaching Council is currently carrying out a review of the impact of the current programmes, with a view to amending the Criteria and Guidelines before the next round of accreditation commences in 2020.

A recently published report from the National Council for Special Education on Initial Teacher Education for Inclusion: Phase 1 and 2 (NCSE Research Report No. 26), found that there is much good practice related to inclusive education in ITE, particularly in relation to the fostering of positive attitudes to inclusion, while also noting scope for further alignment between theory and practice, in particular as between student placement and the university experience. These findings will be considered by the Teaching Council in the course of its work.

Schools Building Projects

 98. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if an audit of accommodation and a programme of upgrading and refurbishment will be carried out over time; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52353/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The Deputy will be aware that the National Development Plan (NDP) provides for an €8.4 billion investment in school buildings over the period 2018 to 2027 to deliver on NDP and National Planning Framework objectives. It is intended that this will address the twin priorities of catering for demographic need as well as ensuring a strengthened focus on refurbishment of existing school stock at that point.

Garda Vetting of Personnel

 99. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if Garda vetting for special needs assistants and bus escorts will be centralised and streamlined in order that they can move more easily between schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52354/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh Since the introduction in 2006 of the non-statutory Garda vetting arrangements the Teaching Council has played a central role in the vetting of registered teachers both for the purposes of registration with the Council and as a conduit for school employers for the purposes of the vetting of registered teachers for employment.

Under the non-statutory vetting arrangements, vetting of non-teaching staff (such as Special Needs Assistants (SNAs)) and others was conducted via the relevant diocesan office or school management body which acted as the conduit for schools for this purpose. In the case of ETB schools, vetting of such persons was conducted via the relevant ETB.

In April 2016, the Minister for Justice and Equality commenced the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 to 2016 (the Vetting Act) which put in place statutory requirements for the Garda vetting of persons involved in working with children and vulnerable persons.

The Vetting Act applies not just to schools but to any relevant organisation that employs, contracts, permits or places a person in relevant work with children or vulnerable persons.  The Vetting Act provides that vetting is conducted by the National Vetting Bureau on foot of an application by a relevant organisation that is registered with it.  The vetting legislation and the vetting procedures operated by the National Vetting Bureau fall within the remit of the Minister for Justice and Equality.

When the vetting requirements were commenced in 2016, my Department issued circular 0031/2016 which set out the statutory vetting requirements applicable to schools along with the practical arrangements in place to support the vetting procedures.  A Frequently Asked Questions document was also published by my Department to assist schools with queries in respect of the circular. 

At the same time, the previous Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D. commenced the vetting related provisions of the Teaching Council (Amendment) Act, 2015 which, inter alia, enabled the Teaching Council to put in place a streamlined mechanism for school employers to meet the statutory vetting requirements in respect of registered teachers.  The existence of the Teaching Council, as a statutory body with a statutory role in the registration of registered teachers, has enabled my Department to bring forward the relevant legislative provisions under the Teaching Council Amendment Act 2015 which have allowed for such a streamlined mechanism to be put in place in the case of registered teachers.  However, it is not possible for my Department to put in place similar legislative arrangements in respect of non-teaching staff, such as SNAs and bus escorts.

Under the new statutory vetting procedures, the vetting of SNAs and other non-teaching staff continues to be conducted via the relevant diocesan office or school management body as the relevant conduit organisation for the vetting of SNAs and other non-teaching staff employed by schools. In the case of ETB schools the relevant ETB is the relevant organisation for such vetting.

National Educational Psychological Service Administration

 100. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if access for all pupils with SEN to the National Educational Psychological Service will be achieved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52355/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh I can inform the Deputy that my Department’s National Educational Psychological Service provides educational psychological support to all primary and post-primary schools. This involves direct support in the event of a critical incident, access to national and regional support and development work to build school capacity to support students, access to a NEPS psychologist for responses to queries arising, and access to individual pupil casework via a NEPS psychologist or through the Scheme for the Commissioning of Psychological Assessments. (SCPA).

NEPS in common with many other psychological services and best international practice, 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.

This Government and my Department remains committed to maintaining a robust NEPS service and under Budget 2017 the approved number of NEPS psychologist posts was increased (from Sept 2017) from 173 to 184 whole-time equivalents (w.t.e.). Budget 2018 further increased NEPS numbers with 10 new posts being sanctioned from September 2018 bring total approved numbers to 194 w.t.e.

 I can inform the Deputy that my Department and the Public Appointments Service (PAS), following the completion in the early autumn of a national recruitment competition and formation of regional recruitment panels , are actively pursuing pursuing recruitment up to this approved level.  

Furthermore 10 new NEPS psychologists posts have been sanctioned for September 2019.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 101. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if a clear pathway will be created for all families following an SEN diagnosis of their child from early intervention supports through to adult services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52356/18]

 120. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh his plans to introduce clear communication and co-operation between the HSE, his Department, special schools and service providers (details supplied) regarding multidisciplinary teams, respite, adult and residential services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52416/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh I propose to take Questions Nos. 101 and 120 together.

My Department works with service-providing partners in the health and disability sectors to support and plan for the co-ordinated delivery of services to families of children with special educational needs across the disability sector, including children in special schools. Cooperation and coordination has progressively improved between the education and health sectors in providing the supports for children with special educational needs. This is being achieved through participation on the interdepartmental Cross-Sectoral Team, which is chaired at Assistant Secretary level and comprises of representatives of my Department, National Educational Psychological Service, Department of Health, Department of Children and Youth Affairs, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

My Department works in cooperation with management bodies of special schools, particularly the National Association of Boards of Management in Special Education (NABMSE) which is a representative and networking association which seeks to support Boards of Management of schools providing education for children with special needs in Ireland and is a recognised partner in the education process. Officials of my Department also meet with representatives of special schools and principal networks throughout the school year

The NCSE and NEPS work with HSE service providers at local level in the delivery of supports to children and young people with disabilities.

The provision of Health Services, including the provision of respite and residential services, is a matter for the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive.

Some people with a disability, over the age of 18, and who have complex needs, may require specialised support throughout their lives. Ongoing care and support services within the community, in a post school setting, are provided by voluntary or statutory organisations; responsibility for such care and support rests with the HSE.

Special school staff typically have extensive engagement with parents, HSE multi-disciplinary teams and the NCSE which involves planning for the child’s future, including options for further education, training, employment or other placement options subject to the child’s abilities, including the young person’s transition to adult services when they reach the age of 18 years.

It is important to note that students who transfer to adult service settings can continue to participate in educational programmes through further adult educational programmes or in adult settings which are allocated resources towards educational provision.

Special Educational Needs Staff

 102. Deputy Billy Kelleher Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if a review of the role of special needs assistants in special schools will be carried out; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52357/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The Comprehensive Review of the Special Needs Assistant (SNA) Scheme, which set out to ensure that the Scheme is achieving the best outcomes possible for children with special educational needs, was published by the National Council for Special Education in May this year. This Review was conducted on the operation of the SNA scheme in all school settings, including special schools. The Review outlines a range of recommendations on how schools can be best supported to meet the needs of children with additional care needs.  They include the provision of training for SNAs and a broader range of specialist supports for schools and students. Consideration is currently being given to the implementation of the Review's findings. There are no plans for a review of the role of SNAs in special schools at this time.

Schools Building Projects

 103. Deputy Brendan Ryan Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh further to Parliamentary Question No. 241 of 18 September 2018, if the accommodation needs of a school (details supplied) have been agreed; when a design team will be appointed for the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52369/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh As the Deputy is aware, a building project for the school to which he refers is included in my Department's Construction Programme. In the context of progressing the building project, my Department undertook a technical site visit to the school and my Department will be in contact with the school when the project brief has been completed.

In the context of the school's immediate accommodation needs, the school authority has been advised that my Department is willing to approve rental of temporary accommodation should this be required.

Schools Building Projects Status

 104. Deputy Brendan Ryan Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if he has received the pre-qualification report on the building of a school (details supplied); if the report has been received; if it has been approved; and when tenders will be invited for the project from the short-list of contractors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52370/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The major building project referred to by the Deputy is currently at Stage 2b – Detailed Design.   

  My Department has been informed that the Design Team Leader published the contract notice inviting contractors to tender for Pre-Qualification on e-tenders on 2 August 2018 with a closing date for receipt of submissions of 10 September 2018.  The Design Team is currently assessing the expressions of interest. A pre-qualification report will be compiled and forwarded to the Department once this exercise is complete. 

  Once the pre-qualification process is complete the Department will be in contact with the Board of Management with a view to progressing the project to tender stage.

  A tender stage normally takes between 7 and 8 months to complete.

  In March 2018 my Department issued a letter to the school and its Design Team outlining the projected timeframe for the progression of this project to tender and construction stage and the steps involved.

Schools Building Projects Status

 105. Deputy Brendan Ryan Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if the pre-qualification process for a school (details supplied) has been concluded; if so, if tenders have been invited for the project from the short-list of contractors; if so, the closing date for receipt of tenders; when construction will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52371/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The major building project referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of architectural planning, Stage 2(b) – Detailed Design which includes the application for Planning Permission, Fire Cert and Disability Access Cert and the preparation of tender documents.  All statutory approvals have been secured.   

  The outcome of the pre-qualification process has been notified to contractors who expressed interest in tendering for this project.  Feedback and issues arising from same are currently being dealt with by the school and its Design Team.  When this process has concluded the project will then be progressed to tender stage. 

  A tender stage normally takes between 7 and 8 months to complete.

Schools Building Projects Status

 106. Deputy Brendan Ryan Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if the pre-qualification report for a college (details supplied) has been received; if the report has been approved; if tenders have been invited from the short-list of contractors; if so, the closing date for receipt of tenders for the project; when construction will commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52372/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The project to which the Deputy refers has been devolved to the local Education and Training Board for delivery.  The pre-qualification process for the project is currently being finalised and is expected to conclude shortly. Once this process has concluded, tenders will be invited from the short-listed contractors and further preparations in that respect are being made. The project will proceed to construction upon completion of the tendering process.

Schools Site Acquisitions

 107. Deputy Brendan Ryan Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if the required clarifications have been received from the vendor of the site for schools (details supplied) in County Kildare; if satisfactory, if a design team will be appointed for both projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52373/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh Engagement with the vendor is still ongoing in respect of outstanding aspects regarding the proposed school site acquisition. Progress continues to be made on a range of matters relating to the proposed site. At this juncture, it is still premature to appoint a design team.  I can assure you that officials in my Department are working to do so as soon as is possible.

Schools Building Projects Status

 108. Deputy Brendan Ryan Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh further to Parliamentary Question No. 358 of 6 November 2018, if a school (details supplied) in County Kildare has been included in the projects to be progressed under the ADAPT 2019-2021 programme; if so, when an external project manager will be appointed to progress the school project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52374/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh A building project which involves an extension to the school building for the school referred to by the Deputy is included in my Department’s 6 year Construction Programme. 

  A project brief has been finalised and the project will be delivered via the ADAPT programme.  The ADAPT programme uses a professional external Project Manager to coordinate and drive the respective design teams on each project.

  In this regard, my Department will shortly commence the process of procuring a Project Manager for the programme and will be in further contact with the school authorities when this process has been completed. 

  I wish to confirm to the Deputy that my Department is committed to providing a new school building for the school in question.

Schools Building Projects Status

 109. Deputy Brendan Ryan Information on Brendan Ryan Zoom on Brendan Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if the pre-qualification report for a school (details supplied) County Kildare has been received; if so, if it has been approved; when tenders will be invited for the project from the short-list of contractors; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52375/18]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The process of Pre-Qualification of contractors for the project in question is underway. For this particular project, pre-qualification of reserved specialists for the mechanical and electrical works is also required. The Pre-qualification process culminates in the compilation of shortlists of suitable candidates for each respective discipline.

The closing date for pre-qualification of contractors was November 1 2018 and 17 potential main contractors have expressed an interest in the project. An assessment of the submissions has commenced and validations have been requested from the potential contractors. 

On receipt of the validated submissions the tender assessment report can be completed and the final shortlist prepared. When pre-qualification is complete the project will then be progressed to tender stage which normally takes between 7 and 8 months to complete.

This project is included in the Department of Education and Skills' 6 year construction programme.


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