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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 188-207
 Header Item Schools Establishment
 Header Item School Transport Provision
 Header Item School Funding
 Header Item School Curriculum
 Header Item School Enrolments
 Header Item School Patronage
 Header Item EU Funding
 Header Item School Accommodation Provision
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item DEIS Status
 Header Item School Curriculum
 Header Item School Accommodation
 Header Item Third Level Courses Availability
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Schools Data
 Header Item Departmental Legal Costs
 Header Item Schools Health and Safety
 Header Item School Curriculum

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 980 No. 4

First Page Previous Page Page of 91 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 188-207

Schools Establishment

 188. Deputy Jack Chambers Information on Jack Chambers Zoom on Jack Chambers asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if the development of a secondary school for Hollystown, Dublin 15 will be examined; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10412/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level. 

  Where demographic data indicates that additional provision is required, the delivery of such additional provision is dependent on the particular circumstances of each case and may, depending on the circumstances, be provided through either one, or a combination of, the following:

  - Utilising existing unused capacity within a school or schools,

  - Extending the capacity of a school or schools,

  - Provision of a new school or schools.

  As the Deputy may be aware, the Government recently announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022). This announcement follows nationwide demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country and the 4-year horizon will enable increased lead-in times for planning and delivery of the necessary infrastructure.   

  For school planning purposes, Hollystown is located in the Mulhuddart_Tyrrelstown_D15 school planning area and as the Deputy may be aware, a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school was established in 2014 to serve this school planning area.

  While the recent announcement did not include a new post-primary school in the area, the requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and in particular would have regard for the increased rollout of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.

School Transport Provision

 189. Deputy Sean Sherlock Information on Seán Sherlock Zoom on Seán Sherlock asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if he will direct the school bus transport scheme and Bus Éireann to provide services for students in an area (details supplied). [10415/19]

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.

  There are currently over 117,500 children, including over 13,000 children with special educational needs, transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually. The purpose of the scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school. 

  Under the terms of the Post-Primary School Transport Scheme, children are eligible for transport where they reside not less than 4.8 kilometres from and are attending their nearest education centre as determined by the Department of Education/Bus Éireann, having regard to ethos and language.

  Children who are eligible for school transport and who complete the application process on time are accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation. Children who are eligible for school transport but for whom no service is available may be offered the Remote Area Grant towards the cost of making private transport arrangements.

  Children who are not eligible for school transport, but who complete the application process on time, are considered for spare seats that may exist after eligible children have been facilitated; such seats are referred to as concessionary seats. Where the number of applications from ineligible children exceeds the number of spare seats available, tickets are allocated using an agreed selection process. 

  Families wishing to avail of school transport services for the 2019/20 school year should ensure that their applications are submitted online at www.buseireann.ie.  The closing date for receipt of applications for the 2019/2020 school year is Friday  26th April 2019.

School Funding

 190. Deputy John Curran Information on John Curran Zoom on John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if he will continue to keep the summer works scheme and minor works grant scheme as a permanent source of annual funding for all schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10428/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The announcement of the major package of investment in education under Project Ireland 2040 confirmed that all primary schools will receive the Minor Works Grant in either December or early January of each school year.

The 2019 Summer Works scheme is based on the assessment of projects in three priority categories – Windows, Curricular requirements and Structural improvements. In total, 307 school projects are being funded with a projected expenditure of €40 million in 2019 and successful schools were informed in December 2018.  A new Summer Works Scheme will open for applications in the first quarter of 2019 for projects to be delivered from Summer 2020 onwards.

School Curriculum

 191. Deputy John Curran Information on John Curran Zoom on John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the status of his plans to have the subject of computer science made available as an option to all schools from September 2020; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10434/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh From the beginning of the 2020/21 academic year, the new Leaving Certificate Computer Science subject will be made available to all interested schools, should they wish to offer it as an option for their Leaving Certificate programme for incoming 5th years in September 2020.

  A communication circular outlining the application/expression of interest process for the national rollout will be issued to all second-level schools early in the 2019/2020 school year.

  In order to facilitate the national rollout, it is essential that schools who opt to provide the subject are in a position to begin teaching of the subject in September 2020. The Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) will provide an intense programme of Continuous Professional Development for teachers involved in delivering the new subject in these schools.

 In addition to the above, a circular on Curriculum-related developments at Senior Cycle issued from the Department in December 2018 advising schools, inter alia, of the new specifications being introduced from September 2020.  Schools have been advised that should they wish to introduce Computer Science they should ensure they have in place the appropriately qualified teaching personnel, digital devices and infrastructure required for their implementation. Schools can, in this regard, deploy some of the ICT Infrastructure grants paid under the Digital Strategy for Schools towards this purpose. The circular is available at: https://www.education.ie/en/Circulars-and-Forms/Active-Circulars/cl0083_2018.pdf

School Enrolments

 192. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the position regarding enrolment policies of secondary schools; his views on whether feeder schools may be considered as a fair method of allocating secondary school places; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10473/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh In relation to enrolment generally, it is my Department's responsibility to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all pupils seeking school places in an area. Parents can choose which school to apply to and where the school has places available the pupil should be admitted.

  It is the responsibility of the managerial authorities of all schools to implement an enrolment policy in accordance with the Education Act, 1998.  In schools where there are more applicants than places available a selection process may be necessary. In this regard a Board of Management may find it necessary to prioritise enrolment of children from particular areas or particular age groups or on the basis of some other criterion, including giving priority to applicants who have attended a particular primary school known as a feeder school.  The criteria to be applied by schools in such circumstances are a matter for the schools themselves.

  The selection process used by schools and the enrolment policy on which it is based must be non-discriminatory and must be applied fairly in respect of all applicants. However, it may result in some pupils not obtaining a place in their school of first choice.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 was signed into law by the President on the 18th July 2018.

  The overall objective of the Act is to provide a new framework for school enrolment that is designed to ensure that every child is treated fairly and that the way in which schools decide on applications for admission is structured, fair and transparent.

  The measures provided for in the Act will make the admissions process more equitable and consistent for all. Schools that are not oversubscribed must continue to accept all applicants and this will be further enforced by the Act when it is commenced.

School Patronage

 193. 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 if consideration is being given to the divestment of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 9; if so, the stage at the which the divestment process is at; if divestment will lead to amalgamation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10509/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The Programme for Government commits to increasing the number of multi-/non-denominational schools to 400 such schools by 2030. As the Deputy will be aware, my Department has developed the Schools Reconfiguration for Diversity process, the Identification Phase of which is currently underway in 16 initial areas nationwide, to help to deliver on this commitment through transferring existing schools from denominational to multi-/non-denominational patronage, in line with the choices of local parents and school communities. 

This process, which involves the transfer of live schools as opposed to the amalgamation and closure model of the patronage divesting process, is aimed at significantly increasing patron diversity. 

While the Schools Reconfiguration process structures are being progressed, my Department is continuing to work to progress delivery of diversity in areas already identified as part of the 2012 and 2013 surveys under the patronage divesting process. 

In addition to the process outlined above, the “early movers” provision of the Schools Reconfiguration process enables school communities which have already decided to seek a transfer of patronage (independent of the Identification Phase process) to request their existing patron to apply to the Minister for a direct transfer of patronage under section 8 of the Education Act. 

I would encourage any school community which is seeking a transfer of patronage under the “Early Movers” provision to contact their school patron directly in the first instance.

My Department has not received correspondence from the school Patron in relation to divesting the school to which the Deputy refers.

EU Funding

 194. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh further to Parliamentary Question No. 267 of 4 May 2016, if the structures and systems necessary to certify expenditure under the European Union regulations and have them verified by a designated body to a level acceptable to the European Commission in order to draw down youth employment initiative funding were ever implemented; if not, the amount of funding which was lost; and the reason the system was never implemented. [10531/19]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan The Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) is one of the main EU financial resources to support the implementation of the EU youth guarantee.  The YEI is integrated into European Social Fund (ESF) programming as a dedicated priority axis within the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020 (PEIL).  The specific YEI allocation for Ireland of €68m (for 2014 and 2015) is matched by equal amounts from our ESF allocation and from the Exchequer, giving an overall total allocation of €204m.  All ESF activities, including YEI activities, are fully funded up-front by the Exchequer with the EU (ESF/YEI) funding being claimed in arrears.  

Following the designation of the Irish ESF authorities, the first payment application in respect of the PEIL, which included €112m in respect of YEI activities, was submitted to the European Commission last November.  Receipts of €67m were received from the Commission in respect of the YEI/ESF cofinancing contributions towards the YEI activities concerned.

There has been no loss of EU funding and the ESF authorities will continue to ensure that sufficient payment applications are submitted to fully drawdown the YEI funding allocations.

School Accommodation Provision

 195. Deputy Bobby Aylward Information on Bobby Aylward Zoom on Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the position regarding an application for an extension and associated building works by a school (details supplied) to the school capitals appraisal section, planning and building unit; if his attention has been drawn to the need for an efficient decision to be returned in order that the school can apply for planning permission in advance of the next academic year when it will facilitate an extra class; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10545/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh I wish to advise the Deputy that the school in question submitted an application for major capital funding to undertake significant works to the school building including the provision of an additional classroom to accommodate an additional teaching post.

My Department's current priority is the provision of essential classroom accommodation where an additional teaching post has been sanctioned and where there is no suitable accommodation available within the existing school. In this regard, my Department approved a devolved grant to the school for the construction of an additional mainstream classroom and to replace an existing prefab.

The school subsequently applied for further capital grant to construct a General Purpose Room. As my Department's current priority is the provision of essential classroom accommodation, it is not possible to consider the school's request at this time. I can confirm that the school has been advised accordingly.

The Deputy will be aware that under the National Development Plan (NDP), increased funding has been provided for the school sector capital investment programme.  This funding allows for a continued focus on the provision of new permanent school places to keep pace with demographic demand and also provides for an additional focus on the refurbishment of existing school buildings.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 196. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh if the process by which the National Council for Special Education fulfils its statutory function to plan and co-ordinate the provision of education and support services to children with autism spectrum disorder includes a mechanism to determine the number of places needed nationally on an annual basis in advance of the school year.  [10578/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The National Council for Special education (NCSE), an independent agency of my Department, is responsible for planning, coordinating and advising on education provision for children with special educational needs in consultation with the relevant education partners, the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Parents.

This includes identifying the number of children that will require special classes or special school placements. The NCSE, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), plans on an annual basis and long term basis to ensure that schools in an area can, between them, cater for all children who have been identified as needing special class placements.

Individual school boards of management are responsible for the establishment of special classes.  It is open to any school to make application to the NCSE to establish a class. In deciding where to establish a special class in an area, the NCSE takes account of the current and projected demand and the available school accommodation both current and planned.  In this regard, the SENO may approach individual schools to discuss the matter with a view to finding the optimal location in terms of convenience and sustainability.

When the NCSE sanctions a special class in a school, the school can apply to my Department for capital funding to reconfigure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class and/or to construct additional accommodation. 

Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) who are locally based are available to assist and advise parents whose children have special needs.  Where Parents have been unsuccessful in enrolling their child in a school, they should update their local SENO to inform the planning process.

SENOs are also available to assist and advise schools on special education supports and planning.

There are now 1,459 special classes in place, compared to 548 in 2011.  Of these 1,196 are ASD special classes.

124 special schools also provide specialist education for those students with complex special educational needs.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 197. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the reason the allocation for special education teaching hours was not increased in a school (details supplied) in County Wexford which will soon enrol an additional two children with complex needs; his views on whether the allocation of special education teaching hours for the school is fair; the areas in which special education teaching hours will be allocated when a school nearby closes at the end of June 2019; if additional supports will be provided to schools in the area in view of the closure; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10585/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh I wish to advise the Deputy that this Government is investing heavily in supporting our children with special educational needs, with €1.8bn being spent annually, about €1 in every 5 of the education budget.

  All mainstream schools are provided with special education teachers based on the profiled needs of their school.

  There are currently almost 14,000 special education teachers in schools, an increase of 37% since 2011.

  From September 2017, a new model for allocating special education teachers was introduced. This model allocates special education teachers to schools based on the profiled needs of schools, as opposed to the assessed needs of individual children.   

  The profiled allocations initially made to schools in 2017 have now been revised to take account of more up to date profiling data, including updated enrolments.

  As reprofiling occurs, some schools will gain additional allocations, where the profile indicator data indicates these schools have additional needs.  Some schools will receive slightly reduced allocations, where the data indicates less need.

  The data on which the revised allocations are based are set out in my Department's Circulars 007/2019 for primary schools and 008/2019 for post-primary schools.

  The provision of a profiled allocation is designed to give a fair allocation for each school which recognises that all schools need an allocation for special needs support, but which provides a graduated allocation which takes into account the level of need in each school.

  Schools are frontloaded with resources, based on each school’s profile. The allocations to schools include provision to support all pupils in the schools, including where a child receives a diagnosis after the allocation is received by a school, or where there are newly enrolling pupils to the school.

  Notwithstanding this, adjustments can be made for schools which achieve rapidly developing status due to significantly increased enrolments, or where exceptional needs arise in a school.

  In the event of a significant adjustment to the school profile occurring, for the school referred to in the Deputy’s question, or for other local schools in the area, which may arise from a school closure in the region, this can be taken into account.

  As considerations are ongoing with regard to potentially amalgamating the closing school with another school in the area, it is not yet clear where the pupils from this school will enrol next September.

  However, if there is a significant effect on the enrolments of a local school, from September 2019, account can be taken of this adjustment.

DEIS Status

 198. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the DEIS status of a school (details supplied). [10607/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh As the Deputy is aware, and as I previously advised on this matter, the school in question is in the DEIS programme. The list of schools included in the DEIS programme is available at the following link:

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

School Curriculum

 199. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the reason for the demotion of geography as a core junior certificate subject; and if the decision will be reversed. [10661/19]

 200. Deputy Clare Daly Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh his views on whether the demotion of geography as a core junior certificate subject at a time when climate change is accelerating and posing an ever increasing threat to the future of human life on the planet could undermine efforts to curb global warming in addition to efforts to mitigate climate change here. [10662/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh I propose to take Questions Nos. 199 and 200 together.

The Department has every confidence that, through the implementation of the Framework for Junior Cycle the place of Geography will be retained and given a new impetus across the junior cycle curriculum. As part of the rollout of the new Framework for Junior Cycle, Geography was one of five new subject specifications that were introduced to schools in September 2018.

The new Framework for Junior Cycle gives students the opportunity to develop a wider range of knowledge and skills – to equip them for further learning, for work, for responsible and active citizenship, and for healthy living. It gives students better learning opportunities, and rewards and recognises non-academic performance and achievements, with a central focus on the student’s quality of life, well-being and mental health.

Prior to the introduction of the new Framework for Junior Cycle the status of Geography in junior cycle varied by school type. Geography was only a core subject in voluntary secondary schools (52% of schools).

The new Framework for Junior Cycle, currently being rolled out, focusses on active and collaborative learning. It gives greater flexibility and autonomy to schools in terms of subject selection, and new short courses, to tailor a student’s learning to achieve better outcomes for that student. Students are able to study up to 10 subjects for certification through the new Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement.

It is important to note that currently some 92% of students across all schools choose to study Geography at Junior Cycle, although it is not compulsory in all schools.

This is a clear indication that in respect of subjects like geography, schools make curricular decisions in the absence of directives and we expect this to continue.

We have a dedicated cohort of geography teachers in our post-primary schools, who will be promoting the inclusion of their subject within programmes provided to students by their schools. There is every reason to be confident that through the implementation of the Framework for Junior Cycle 2015 the curricular significance of Geography will be retained and given a new impetus across the junior cycle curriculum.

The direction of Junior Cycle reform is consistent with practice in other high-performing education systems such as New Zealand, Queensland, Estonia and Finland, where schools have been given greater autonomy and flexibility in developing the programmes they offer.

I hope you find this information useful.

School Accommodation

 201. 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 when a school (details supplied) in County Kerry will be able to proceed with its new building. [10738/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh My Department will be issuing written confirmation to the school in question shortly confirming the level of approved accommodation. As soon as the approval letter is received the school authority may progress the project.

Third Level Courses Availability

 202. Deputy Thomas Pringle Information on Thomas Pringle Zoom on Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh his plans to provide more courses on pharmacy in Dublin apart from an existing institution (details supplied); if his attention has been drawn to the difficulties for students in accessing pharmacy courses in Dublin due to a limited number of places available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10787/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh Universities in Ireland are autonomous institutions under the Universities Act 1997. As such, the management of their academic affairs, including the selection and delivery of courses, are matters for individual institutions. Neither I nor the Department has any role in relation to such matters.

In Dublin, Trinity College Dublin and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland provide fully integrated five-year degree programmes which are accredited by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) – the Pharmacy Regulator.  Both programmes lead to the award of MPharm and, in the case of Trinity College Dublin, may be accessed through direct entry and graduate entry routes.  University College Cork also delivers a PSI accredited degree in pharmacy.

In 2017, The Department of Health published Working Together for Health: A National Strategic Framework for Health and Social Care Workforce Planning.  Existing and future demand for health and social care workers will be examined under this framework and appropriate supply responses formulated with the higher education institutions where necessary.

Schools Building Projects Status

 203. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the progress being made on the new school building for a school (details supplied); the date a school will move into the existing school; the timeframe for both; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10790/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh I wish to advise the Deputy that the major building project to which he refers is at an advanced stage of architectural planning, Stage 2b (Detailed Design). All statutory approvals have been secured.

The Stage 2(b) report was submitted to my Department in late December 2017 and following an initial review was deemed incomplete. Revisions and Addendums have been submitted by the Design Team throughout 2018. These incomplete reports have also been returned to the Design Team for revision, along with guidance comments from my Department. The Design Team is currently completing work on a revised submission. In order to expedite the progress, pre-qualification of contractors is being carried out in tandem. 

Upon receipt and review of the revised Stage 2(b) report, my Department will advise the Board of Management of the timeline for the progression of this project to tender and construction.

In view of the above, it is not possible at this point to indicate when the existing school will be vacated.

Schools Data

 204. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh his plans to increase the number of secondary school places in Gorey, County Wexford; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10799/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh In order to plan for school provision and analyse the relevant demographic data, my Department divides the country into 314 school planning areas and uses a Geographical Information System, using data from a range of sources, to identify where the pressure for school places across the country will arise. With this information, my Department carries out nationwide demographic exercises to determine where additional school accommodation is needed at primary and post-primary level. 

Major new residential developments in a school planning area have the potential to alter demand in that area. In that regard, as part of the demographic exercises, my Department engages with each of the local authorities to obtain the up-to-date data on significant new residential development in each area.  This is necessary to ensure that schools infrastructure planning is keeping pace with demographic changes as there is a constantly evolving picture with planned new residential development, including additional residential developments arising from the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF).

Where data indicates that additional provision is required, the delivery of such additional provision is dependent on the particular circumstances of each case and may, depending on the circumstances, be provided through either one, or a combination of, the following:

- Utilising existing unused capacity within a school or schools,

- Extending the capacity of a school or schools,

- Provision of a new school or schools.

As the Deputy may be aware, the Government recently announced plans for the establishment of 42 new schools over the next four years (2019 to 2022). This announcement follows nationwide demographic exercises carried out by my Department into the future need for primary and post-primary schools across the country and the 4-year horizon will enable increased lead-in times for planning and delivery of the necessary infrastructure.

In addition to the new schools announced, there will be a need for further school accommodation in other areas in the future through either planned capacity increases in existing schools or additional accommodation or extensions to existing schools. 

As the Deputy will be aware, a new 1,000 pupil post-primary school was established in 2011 in Gorey and moved into its permanent accommodation in 2014 and the school has capacity to meet demand in the area.

While the announcement did not include a new post-primary school for the Gorey school planning area, the requirement for new schools will be kept under on-going review and in particular will have regard for the increased rollout of housing provision as outlined in Project Ireland 2040.

Departmental Legal Costs

 205. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh the amount spent to date by his Department and agencies under his remit appealing the case of a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10821/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh Leaving Certificate examination candidate Rebecca Carter appealed the result of her Business examination which she sat in June 2018. She claimed that a calculation error in the marking of her paper, which she viewed under the State Examinations Commission’s (SEC) script viewing process on 31 August 2018, resulted in her receiving less marks than she should have received. She was advised by the SEC that the results of her appeal would be available on 10 October 2018, beyond UCD’s deadline of 30 September 2018.

Following this, the claimant sought relief by way of a High Court judicial review, which sought to order that the SEC expedite her appeal and that UCD put a stay on their allocation of places in Veterinary Medicine pending the outcome of the judicial review. Judgement in the case was delivered on 26 September.

The SEC legal team submitted their costs to the Commission on 31 October 2018 for the judicial review case taken by Ms Carter. They totalled €69,265.44 and have been paid in full. Whilst Ms Carter was awarded her costs, these have not yet been agreed upon so no payment has been made to date.

Elements of the judgement delivered are being appealed by both the Minister for Education and Skills and the State Examinations Commission.

The appeal is being taken in the public interest and will have no implications for the Plaintiff, financial or otherwise, who has now secured her place in university.

The legal costs of my Department in the appeal will comprise counsel fees. There is no solicitor legal fee due to the fact that the Chief State Solicitor’s Office provides the solicitor service at no charge to the Department. No fee notes have been received to date.

Schools Health and Safety

 206. 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 if he will engage with an organisation (details supplied) in order to facilitate the distribution of an information pack on scoliosis to schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10828/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh My officials will contact Scoliosis Ireland to discuss this request and to determine the appropriate action to be taken.

School Curriculum

 207. Deputy Alan Farrell Information on Alan Farrell Zoom on Alan Farrell asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh his views on making home economics compulsory for students up to junior certificate level with a view to reducing levels of childhood obesity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10840/19]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Joe McHugh): Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The NCCA initiated a debate on the nature of junior cycle in 2010, with an initial discussion paper entitled Innovation and Identity: Ideas for a New Junior Cycle. The mandatory nature of subjects was considered in this debate.  Following consultation and consideration, the decision was made that English, Irish and Mathematics would be ‘core’ subjects which all students would experience in junior cycle. Given the multiplicity of views around what other subjects, if any, should be core, the NCCA created the 24 Statements of Learning to reflect the main priorities for learning for all students which emerged from the feedback and introduced short courses to keep the door open for ‘new’ areas of learning to be introduced in schools.  Some of these statements for learning are relevant to the health and well-being of students, for example one of the statements of learning is 'takes action to safeguard and promote her/his wellbeing and that of others'.

My Department is active in the area of promotion of health and well-being in schools.  The issue of promoting healthy eating is addressed in schools through subjects such as Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE), and Home Economics as well as in Physical Education.  The aim is to equip students with such skills and knowledge to enable them to make appropriate choices for healthy lifestyles.

Healthy Lifestyles guidance issued to post-primary schools in 2015 and primary schools in 2016. This guidance was drafted in consultation with the Department of Health and my Department would like to acknowledge the commitment of schools in promoting healthy lifestyle choices for students in a number of ways, through the curriculum, through schools policy including healthy lunch policies and by the use of resources and programmes chosen by the school.

Schools are strongly encouraged to have a formal healthy eating policy that has been developed in consultation with students and parents. 

The NCCA has developed a new home economics specification which was introduced for new junior cycle entrants from September 2018.


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