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 Header Item Written Answers Nos. 59-78
 Header Item Planning Issues
 Header Item Foreign Birth Registration
 Header Item Brexit Issues
 Header Item Defence Forces Reports
 Header Item Defence Forces Personnel
 Header Item Defence Forces Remuneration
 Header Item Defence Forces Personnel
 Header Item School Transport
 Header Item State Examinations
 Header Item School Curriculum
 Header Item School Transport
 Header Item School Transport
 Header Item School Funding
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Staff
 Header Item School Facilities
 Header Item Minor Works Scheme
 Header Item School Accommodation
 Header Item Covid-19 Pandemic Supports
 Header Item Special Educational Needs

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 997 No. 4
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 82 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 59-78

Planning Issues

 59. Deputy Ged Nash Information on Ged Nash Zoom on Ged Nash asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien if the promoters of a development (details supplied) in Warrenpoint, County Down were obliged to notify Louth County Council of this development under transnational planning regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24368/20]

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Deputy Darragh O'Brien): Information on Darragh O'Brien Zoom on Darragh O'Brien The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive (2011/92/EU), as amended by Directive 2014/52/EU, and the UN Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (the Espoo Convention) both set out the obligations of Member States/Parties to assess the environmental impact of certain activities or proposed development at an early stage of planning. They also lay down the general obligation of States to notify and consult other States on all major projects under consideration that are likely to have a significant adverse transboundary environmental impact.

Under the EIA Directive and the Espoo Convention, “the Party of Origin” (the State in which the proposed development or activity is situated), is required to notify and consult with “Affected Parties” (adjacent/neighbouring States), where it considers that a proposed development or activity is likely to have significant adverse transboundary impacts. The Party of Origin then has to provide the public in the other State(s) with the opportunity to participate in a transboundary environmental public consultation on the proposed development or activity. This involves the Party of Origin making the relevant environmental information available to the other States and accepting submissions from the public during the consultation period.

My Department is responsible for ensuring that the planning system in Ireland is compliant with the State’s EU and International planning obligations, which includes EIA Directive and Espoo Convention processes in the Irish planning system. Ensuring that the EIA Directive or Espoo Convention obligations of Promoters or potential development applicants in another jurisdiction are adhered to, is a matter for the appropriate authorities in that jurisdiction, in accordance with their respective domestic legislation transposing such EIA Directive/ Espoo Convention obligations.

I can confirm that officials in my Department contacted officials in Louth County Council who have advised that permission was granted by authorities in Northern Ireland for the development referred to in this question on 20 October 2015, and that no transboundary notification was received by Louth County Council with respect to the proposed development. I can also confirm that my Department has no record of receiving any transboundary notification with respect to the proposed development which was permitted in 2015. 

Foreign Birth Registration

 60. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore Information on Jennifer  Whitmore Zoom on Jennifer  Whitmore asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if the processing of foreign birth registrations, which was ceased due to Covid-19 has resumed; and if not, when processing will recommence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24269/20]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Foreign Births Registration Section has now resumed the processing of applications. Foreign Births Registration, by its nature, can be a detailed and complex process, often involving official documentation related to three generations and issued by several jurisdictions. At present, it takes between 12 to 18 months to process an application to completion.

The Foreign Births Registration Section has also introduced a dedicated webchat service for those seeking further information in relation to their application for FBR. This webchat service is open weekdays from 9AM - 4:30PM and can be accessed through the Citizenship page on my Department's website. 

Brexit Issues

 61. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the outcome of the most recent discussion he has had with his British counterpart in relation to the Withdrawal Agreement with particular reference to the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24431/20]

 62. Deputy Brendan Smith Information on Brendan Smith Zoom on Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney the outcome of the most recent discussions he has had with parties in the Northern Ireland Executive in relation to Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24432/20]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I propose to take Questions Nos. 61 and 62 together.

An Taoiseach, my Cabinet colleagues and I take every opportunity to engage, as appropriate, with counterparts in Britain and in Northern Ireland, to discuss matters arising from the UK's withdrawal from the EU, including the EU-UK future partnership negotiations, implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.

Following the publication of the UK’s Internal Market Bill on 9 September, the Taoiseach raised Ireland’s grave concern with regard to the Bill directly with Prime Minister Johnson on that same day. We are also in continuing close contact with EU leaders on this matter and the Taoiseach spoke most recently with Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, on 13 September. The Embassy in London also continues to have extensive contact with representatives of the UK Government.

On 10 September, Ireland also took part in the extraordinary meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement at senior official level as part of the EU delegation. This meeting was also attended by representatives of the Northern Ireland Executive. At this meeting, the EU and Ireland made very clear to the UK Government our very serious concerns about the UK’s Internal Market Bill. Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic stated after the Joint Committee meeting that, if the Bill were to be adopted, it would constitute an “extremely serious violation of the Withdrawal Agreement and of international law”. He called on the UK Government to withdraw by the end of the month those measures from the draft Bill which are in clear breach of substantive provisions of the Protocol.

We are in regular contact at political and official level with Northern Ireland representatives on a range of issues, including those related to Brexit. I particularly welcome the meeting in plenary format of the North South Ministerial Council which took place on 31 July, the first in over three years. Given the impact that Brexit will have across a range of economic and social sectors and on how we cooperate North South in these sectors and more generally, Ministers discussed the implications of the UK withdrawal at this plenary meeting. The Plenary will be followed by Ministerial meetings across the NSMC’s policy sectors in due course. In July, I also met with the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in Belfast, as well as with the leaders of the parties, for constructive discussions including on Brexit related issues. I continue to have regular and ongoing contact with party leaders in Northern Ireland.

In all of our engagements with the UK Government to date, we have made very clear the vital importance of full implementation of the Protocol, as agreed. Its negotiation was lengthy and detailed, and it represents a fair and balanced outcome for all parties, with compromises on all sides. It is clear that any unilateral departure from the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement is not acceptable.

Our view is that such a departure could seriously erode and damage political trust in Northern Ireland and between the EU and the UK. It also damages the trust needed to deliver a successful outcome to the Future Relationship negotiations. The Commission has clearly stated that violating the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement would put at risk the ongoing talks.

We call on the UK Government to step back from this deeply concerning approach and to work now to repair the trust that is needed to successfully and faithfully implement the Withdrawal Agreement and Protocol. A positive resolution to this issue is in all our interests.

  Question No. 62 answered with Question No. 61.

Defence Forces Reports

 63. Deputy Patrick Costello Information on Patrick Costello Zoom on Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if the commission on the Defence Forces will be ready by the end of 2020 as agreed in the Programme for Partnership Government; if he will provide a detailed timeline for its establishment and work and the details of its membership; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24389/20]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Programme for Government provides for the establishment of an independent Commission on the Defence Forces.

  The Commission is to be established before the end of this year, with a mandate to report within twelve months. Planning for the Commission is in the early stages and no final decisions have yet been taken to date on its terms of reference and membership. 

  I am working to ensure that the Commission is established as early as possible before the end of this year. 

Defence Forces Personnel

 64. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his plans to recruit an additional full-time clinical psychologist for the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24236/20]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney There are currently two full-time clinical psychologists employed by the Defence Forces. This number was increased following the review of mental health services for the Defence Forces in 2017, which recommended the appointment of a civilian psychologist in addition to the existing Defence Forces psychologist. There are no plans currently in place to recruit additional clinical psychologists.

Defence Forces Remuneration

 65. Deputy Emer Higgins Information on Emer Higgins Zoom on Emer Higgins asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney his strategy to increase funding for the salaries of members of the Defence Forces. [24276/20]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Public Service pay policy is determined by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform having regard to Public Sector Pay Agreements.

Similar to other sectors in the public service, the pay of Permanent Defence Force personnel was reduced as one of the measures to assist in stabilising national finances during the financial crisis.

Pay is being restored to members of the Defence Forces and other public servants in accordance with public sector pay agreements. The focus of these increases is weighted in favour of those on lower pay.

A 2% increase in annualised salaries is due for all members of the Permanent Defence Force from 1 October 2020, in accordance with the terms of the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020. By the end of the Agreement the pay scales of all public servants (including members of the Defence Forces), earning under €70,000 per annum, will be restored to the levels in place prior to the introduction of the Financial Emergency in the Public Interest (FEMPI) legislation. The restoration of the 5% reduction to allowances cut under FEMPI is also scheduled for that time.

A High Level Implementation Plan “Strengthening our Defence Forces – Phase 1” is being progressed. The increase to Military Service Allowance and restoration of certain other allowances specific to the Defence Forces, as recommended by the Public Service Pay Commission, have been delivered. A Service Commitment Scheme for flying officers has also been restored. A number of  projects in the Plan to enhance recruitment and retention are being delivered, while other projects relating to Defence Forces pay will feed into the negotiations for the next pay agreement.

The Government is committed to addressing pay and conditions in the Defence Forces and this is reflected in the Programme for Government. The Programme for Government provides for the establishment of a Commission on the Defence Forces. This will consider recruitment and retention issues and pay and conditions in the Defence Forces. Upon completion of the Commissions work, a permanent pay review body will be established.

Defence Forces Personnel

 66. Deputy Eoghan Murphy Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Defence Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney if he has concerns regarding the recruitment and retention of trained medical personnel for the Defence Forces. [24364/20]

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Defence Forces medical capability encompasses a broad range of disciplines including doctors (medical officers), dentists, physiotherapists and pharmacists. Vacancies in these disciplines are advertised as they arise and are filled in a number of different ways. The Defence Forces have also trained enlisted Defence Forces personnel at Emergency Medical Technician, Paramedic and Advance Paramedic grades.

Vacancies that exist within the medical officer discipline are filled by direct entry recruitment and through the Military Medicine Training Scheme.  To date, in 2020, the Military Medicine Training Scheme has recruited an additional 2 doctors.  There are currently 3 pending offers of employment for Direct Entry Medical Officer and consideration is being given to the conduct of further competitions. 

The recruitment and retention of trained medical personnel, as with other specialist areas within the Defence Forces, is a matter of prioritiy for me. 

School Transport

 67. Deputy Pearse Doherty Information on Pearse Doherty Zoom on Pearse Doherty asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley when refunds will issue to parents who applied and paid for concessionary school transport tickets in circumstances in which no seats are available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24226/20]

Minister for Education (Deputy Norma Foley): Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education.  In the 2019/20 school year over 120,000 children, including over 14,200 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €219m in 2019. 

  The purpose of my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school. 

  The closing date for payment for the 2020/2021 school year was Tuesday 4th August 2020.  All children who are eligible for school transport and who applied and paid by the deadline have been accommodated on school transport services where such services are in operation.  

  Children who are not eligible for school transport may apply for transport on a concessionary basis and are facilitated where spare seats exits after eligible children have been accommodated.  Where the number of ineligible children exceeds the number of spare seats available Bus Éireann allocates tickets using an agreed selection process. Bus Éireann has already issued refunds to a number of ineligible children who were unsuccessful in acquiring a ticket on services that are operating to capacity at present.

  The School Transport Scheme Family Portal was temporarily closed for applications and payments on the 20th August 2020.  This temporary closure was necessary to complete the work required to issue tickets to families who at that time remained due to be allocated a ticket for school transport services for the 2020/2021 school year. 

  The School Transport Scheme Family Portal has now re-opened.  However, parents/guardians making an application/payment at this time for the 2020/2021 school year are reminded that the closing date for payments for the 20/21 school year  was Tuesday 4th August 2020.  While it is possible to submit a payment, payments made at this time are now late. Late applicants and/or families who pay late are not guaranteed a seat and will only be allocated a seat if capacity is available once seats are allocated to those families who applied and paid on time for transport services for the 2020/2021 school year.

  In addition, payments for Post-Primary seats completed or made after 4th August 2020 can only be considered when 50% capacity, required by new Covid19 public health guidelines, is achieved on each route.

  In the event of not securing a ticket where no capacity exists, or on cancellation, a full refund will be issued.

State Examinations

 68. Deputy Richard Bruton Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley the basis of appeal of grades in the leaving certificate; if the deviation of the results of a school from a pattern in previous years can be a basis for appeal; if there is consideration being given to reserving some of the extra college places for late entry for persons who choose to sit the exam in November 2020 rather than accept calculated grades; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24205/20]

Minister for Education (Deputy Norma Foley): Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley The results of the Leaving Certificate 2020 Calculated Grades were made available to all students who opted to receive them at 9.00 am on 7 September via the Calculated Grades Student Portal. I would like to congratulate all students for their achievements in what has been a very trying time for them due to the impact of COVID-19 on their education.

  The Calculated Grades Student Portal has reopened on 14 September at 9.00 am to allow students to view their estimated percentage mark and calculated mark. Students may wish to have access to and consider this data if they are considering an appeal of their Calculated Grade.

  Students who are disappointed with the Calculated Grades they have received in one or more subjects will have the opportunity to submit an appeal.

  The appeals process is a process review focused on looking for errors in the transmission and processing of student data through the process.

  It is not possible to appeal the information (estimated percentage mark or rank order) provided by the school.  Due to the nature of the Calculated Grades system the professional judgement of the school is outside of the appeals process.

  It should further be noted that the design of the statistical model and the application of the national standardisation process is also outside of the scope of the appeals process. 

  The appeals process has opened on 14 September and students can access this via the Calculated Grades Student Portal. Students will have until 5.00 pm on 16 September to submit an appeal.

  The appeal process will include three stages:

  Stage 1: Checks will be undertaken on the forms completed by the school and that the information was transferred correctly from the forms to the data collection system.

  Stage 2: There will be a review to ensure that the data was correctly received and processed through the systems used in the national standardisation process conducted by the Department.

  Data checks will include a check to ensure that the rank order of the class group for the subject and level taken has been preserved in the standardisation process and that students placed on the same school-estimated mark in the same subject and at the same level taken by the school are conferred with the same calculated mark.

  Stages 1 and 2 will be taken together.

  Stage 3: Students unhappy with the outcome of the above process can invoke a separate process to have their appeal reviewed by independent Appeals Scrutineers. These Scrutineers are independent of the Department.

  The Independent Appeals Scrutineers will check to ensure the correct procedures were followed throughout the appeals process. The Scrutineers will have access to the records and documentation considered at Stages 1 and 2. 

  Students who consider that their case has not been processed correctly can make a complaint to the Ombudsman or, in the case of students under 18 years of age, the Ombudsman for Children.

  If following the appeals process students  remain dissatisfied with the outcome, students  will be able to sit the 2020 written Leaving Certificate exams. Subject to health advice, these will begin on 16 November. Further details about these exams will be provided by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) at a later stage. Those who sit the examinations  will be credited with the higher subject grade achieved between the Calculated Grade and the written exam.

School Curriculum

 69. Deputy Ged Nash Information on Ged Nash Zoom on Ged Nash asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley the guidelines for the teaching of the practical aspects of geography, including field work; when she plans to publish guidelines relating to the issue; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24217/20]

Minister for Education (Deputy Norma Foley): Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley The Leaving Certificate Geographical Investigation accounts for 20% of the overall marks for Leaving Certificate Geography.  The purpose of the investigation is to allow students to experience the practical application of the core geographical skills that are central to all units of the syllabus including physical, regional, human and economic geography.  Students are required to identify aims, objectives and hypotheses for their investigation, select and use methods of collection and gathering appropriate to the chosen investigation topic, analyse and interpret results, draw valid conclusions and prepare a report.

  The topic for the investigation must be chosen from an annual list of prescribed topics issued from the State Examinations Commission.  The list of prescribed topics is prepared to ensure that the range of topics relate to as many of the units of the syllabus as possible including physical, regional, human and economic geography.  This broad scope also ensures that the geographical investigation is accessible to as broad a range of learners and learning environments.

  Furthermore, the list of topics provides scope and flexibility for a broad range of approaches to the investigation which may include the undertaking of a field study or an investigation which may involve desk based research.  The 2021 investigation topics include a study of changing land-use, impact of migration, a local environmental issue, geology in a local area, impact of economic activity and impact of erosion on the landscape.   The collection and gathering of information for each of these topics may involve gathering data through outside the school vis-à-vis an field study, survey, questionnaire etc.  Alternatively, data may be collected using primary and secondary data available from journals, databases, government departments, published reports etc.

  Some students may have the collection and gathering of data completed at this stage and in such cases they should complete their analysis and write up their report.  In cases where the collection and gathering of data has not being undertaken,  the flexibility of approach provided by the range of prescribed topics should be considered when choosing a topic for the geographical investigation in order that the investigation can be completed in line with public health requirements and guidelines.  Any activity undertaken as part of the investigation should be done in compliance with these requirements. 

  The Department has also published a series of guidance documents as part of the reopening of our schools. These are available on www.gov.ie/backtoschool.   

  This includes guidance regarding practical subjects in post-primary schools. While this guidance does not specifically name Geography, the guidance provided in provided in relation to Science is applicable. The guidelines outline areas that may be considered when schools are making decisions about implementing the curriculum, while acknowledging that teachers are best placed to consider how to safely manage equipment within current public health guidelines as they may account for their own local context.   

  For example, the guidance advises that where the sharing of equipment between students cannot be avoided, each piece of shared equipment should be cleaned/wiped between each use and that group sizes should be kept as small as resources allow.

School Transport

 70. Deputy Colm Burke Information on Colm Burke Zoom on Colm Burke asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley if a review will be carried out regarding the provision of a bus escort for a child (details supplied) travelling to and from school; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24231/20]

Minister for Education (Deputy Norma Foley): Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.

In the 2019/2020 school year over 120,000 children, including over 14,200 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €219m in 2019.  

The purpose of the Department's School Transport Scheme for Children with Special Educational Needs is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children with special educational needs arising from a diagnosed disability.

In general, children with special educational needs are eligible for school transport if they are attending the nearest school that is resourced to meet their special educational needs.   Eligibility is determined following consultation with the National Council for Special Education through its network of Special Education Needs Organisers. 

The pupil referred to by the Deputy is not attending her nearest school and is availing of a concessionary seat.  Bus Éireann has advised that the pupil requires a 2pm collection time and while there is an escort on the morning service there is no escort travelling on the 2pm service.  School Transport Section has not received a request for additional escort hours for this bus service but will liaise with the school directly on this matter.

School Transport

 71. Deputy Michael Creed Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley if the 70 years of age limit will be reviewed for drivers in circumstances in which appropriate medical evidence supports this and if necessary on a self-indemnification basis by the drivers in view of the requirement for additional buses to provide socially distant school transport to secondary schools. [24235/20]

Minister for Education (Deputy Norma Foley): Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley School Transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education.  In the 2019/20 school year over 120,000 children, including over 14,200 children with special educational needs, were transported in over 5,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres at a cost of over €219m in 2019. 

The purpose of my Department's School Transport Scheme is, having regard to available resources, to support the transport to and from school of children who reside remote from their nearest school. 

It is Bus Éireann policy that the normal retirement age for all staff is currently 66 years. Bus Éireann part-time school bus drivers and drivers nominated by private operators as school bus drivers may continue to perform this role, subject to completing an annual medical examination up to the retirement age of 70 years.

This criteria is applied to all drivers who provide services as part of the School transport scheme that is operated by Bus Éireann, on behalf of the Department of Education.  As this age limit has been examined previously and the retirement age extended to 70 years, there are no plans to extend this limit further at this point in time.

School Funding

 72. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley the number of schools in County Carlow receiving an ancillary services grant, in tabular form. [24253/20]

Minister for Education (Deputy Norma Foley): Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley My Department provides ancillary grant assistance towards the cost of secretarial and caretaking services to all recognised Primary schools, approximately 43 of which are in Co Carlow

Within the grant programme, the level and extent of services provided is a matter for the school authorities who, through the discretion afforded by the scheme, apply their own arrangements for secretarial and caretaking services as resources permit. 

Special Educational Needs Staff

 73. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley the number of requests received for additional special needs assistants from schools in County Carlow; and the number of requests that have been approved.  [24254/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Josepha Madigan): Information on Josepha Madigan Zoom on Josepha Madigan The NCSE has responsibility for planning and coordinating school supports for children with special educational needs including the allocation of SNAs and reviews.

  As part of that responsibility, applications for the exceptional review process for SNA support are made directly to the NCSE.  I will forward the Deputy’s question to the NCSE for its direct reply.

  It is expected that schools will review and reprioritise the deployment of SNAs within mainstream settings and allocate resources to ensure those with the greatest level of need receive the greatest level of support. Providing access to SNA support continues to be based on primary care needs as outlined in DES Circular 0030/2014.

  Schools may apply to the NCSE for additionality where they can demonstrate that the current allocation does not meet additional care needs within the mainstream classes in the school. Applications for additionality arising from significant new or emerging additional care needs, which cannot be catered within existing allocations, will be dealt with by way of an exceptional review process.  

  The exceptional review process for mainstream allocations will be available to schools throughout the 2020/21 school year.

  Detailed information on the NCSE exceptional review process is published on the NCSE website www.ncse.ie.

  A school can appeal the outcome of an exceptional review and details of how to do this are here https://ncse.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/GuidanceSchoolAppealing-Exceptional-Review-outcome.docx.

  The NCSE received applications during the lockdown period.  These applications were received before and after the 22 May 2020.  The NCSE have provided the information below regarding applications received for exceptional review.                   

  The number of applications for exceptional review received by the NCSE at 26 August 2020 was 1080 and over 1060 applications has been processed. The number of schools who had received an increased SNA allocation was over 550.  As part of the exceptional review process, SENOs will be making visits to schools which commenced with schools reopening. 

School Facilities

 74. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley the number of primary and secondary schools in County Carlow without hot water facilities; and the steps taken to rectify such issues in view of the fact children have returned to school. [24255/20]

Minister for Education (Deputy Norma Foley): Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley The specific information requested by the Deputy regarding the number of primary and secondary schools in County Carlow that do not have access to hot water is not readily available within my Department.

Health guidance states that, while warm running water is preferable for handwashing, cold water is sufficient.  In schools which do not have warm running water, a soap that emulsifies easily in cold water will be provided.

It is also recognised that the existing handwashing facilities in schools are not designed for the enhanced level of handwashing envisaged in a post COVID-19 environment without significantly impacting on educational class time including the requirement for a high level of supervision by teachers to ensure pupils wash their hands properly.  

The public health guidance also states that hand sanitiser can be used. Hand-sanitisers in key areas in every school in the country, as well as in every classroom, are being provided.  To enable the supply of sanitiser fluid for each school, a drawdown framework for use by schools to purchase sanitiser, etc., (as well as other potential PPE requirements) is in place and all schools have been advised accordingly.

Minor Works Scheme

 75. Deputy Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Information on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor Zoom on Jennifer Murnane O'Connor asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley the qualifying criteria for schools to be eligible to receive the minor works grant; the schools in receipt of the grant in County Carlow; the reason schools were denied a grant; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24256/20]

Minister for Education (Deputy Norma Foley): Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley Under Project Ireland 2040 the Minor Works Grant (MWG) is paid to primary schools in either December or January of each school year.

  This year, due to the exceptional circumstances arising from COVID-19, €29m was paid under the Minor Works Grant to primary schools in the free scheme in July 2020.  There was also an additional funding of €75m under the July Stimulus programme allocated to cover an enhanced Minor Works Grant at Primary and a once off Minor Works Grant at Post-Primary schools. To date approximately €71m of these grants have issued to schools.

  Schools outside of the free scheme are not automatically covered by the Minor Works Grant or the enhanced MWG. My Department recognises that there might be limited circumstances where fee-charging schools may require some support to implement necessary reconfiguration works envisaged under the ‘Roadmap for the Full Return to Schools’. In all circumstances schools are required to clearly demonstrate their difficulties in implementing necessary control measures and how the provision of additional support will help to overcome those particular difficulties. Schools can contact the Department at reopeningschools@education.gov.ie if they wish to make an application. Each application received by the Department is considered on a case-by-case basis.

  A list of the schools in Carlow that have received the MWG is set out below:

  Carlow schools in receipt of Minor Works Grant (MWG)

Roll number School name
00651R BORRIS MXD NS
00977B BALLYCONNELL
01116A BAILE AN CHUILINN NS
01215C NEWTOWN DUNLECKNEY MXD
01415K RATHOE NS
02124E SCOIL NAIS MOLAISE
04077I ST BRIGID'S N.S.
09320Q DRUMFEIGH NS
11135K ST MARY'S NS
13105L ST BRIDGETS MONASTERY
13507I TULLOW NS
13607M ST COLUMBAS NS
14837L SCOIL PEADAR AGUS PÓL
16080N MONASTERY BOYS SCHOOL
16938E FR CULLEN MEMORIAL NS
17053P BISHOP FOLEY MEMORIAL SCHOOL
17096K S N NMH FHINGIN
17127S ST JOSEPHS NS
17462J SCOIL NAIS MHICIL
17481N ST BRENDANS NATIONAL SCHOOL
17501Q BENNEKERRY NS
17514C S N CLUAIN NA GALL
17617M SCOIL CHOMHGAIN NAOFA
17663T SCOIL PADRAIG NAOFA
17669I S N TREASA NAOMHA
17756D BALLINABRANNA MXD NS
17796P OUR LADYS NATIONAL SCHOOL NURNEY
17994T SN FHOIRTCHEIRN/FHININ
18024N S N NA MAIGHDINE
18183K QUEEN OF UNIVERSE NS
18265M BHRIDE NS
18363M SCOIL MHUIRE GAN SMAL
18424G ST JOSEPH'S BNS
18510W SCOIL NAISIUNTA NAOMH PADRAIG
18609S SN FIONTAIN NAOFA
18615N CARLOW NATIONAL SCHOOL
19315G ST LASERIANS SPECIAL SCHOOL
19477J HOLY FAMILY BNS
19478L HOLY FAMILY GNS
19784S ST LASERIANS MXD NS
19811S GS EOGHAN UI THUAIRISE
19958C ST FIACC'S NS
20295K CARLOW TOWN EDUCATE TOGETHER NS
20370V SAPLINGS CARLOW SPECIAL SCHOOL
61120E ST MARYS ACADEMY, STATION ROAD
61130H COLAISTE MHUIRE CARLOW, KNOCKBEG
61140K ST LEOS COLLEGE
61141M PRESENTATION COLLEGE, ASKEA
61150N PRESENTATION/DE LA SALLE CARLOW, MHUINE BHEAG
70400L BORRIS VS
70410O COLAISTE EOIN HACKETSTOWN
70420R TYNDALL COLLEGE
70430U VOCATIONAL SCHOOL MUINEBEAG
70440A GAELCHOLAISTE CHEATHARLACH
91356F TULLOW COMMUNITY SCHOOL

School Accommodation

 76. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore Information on Jennifer  Whitmore Zoom on Jennifer  Whitmore asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley the cost of installing portacabins for the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 school year by county, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24267/20]

Minister for Education (Deputy Norma Foley): Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley The information requested by the Deputy is contained in the attached spreadsheet.  The costs are VAT inclusive annual rental figures, on a County-by-County basis, of all new rental contracts which commenced in 2019 and 2020.   

  My Department continues to take an integrated approach with the Prefab Replacement Programme through the replacement of prefabricated units as part of large-scale and devolved projects, or as part of new projects approved under the Additional Accommodation scheme.  This integrated approach helps to streamline the delivery of projects for schools.

County VAT inclusive Annual Rental (2019) VAT inclusive Annual Rental (2020)
Carlow 131,428.60 0
Cavan 41,254.20 25,584.00
Clare 36,096.00 0
Cork 639,852.80 151,394.04
Donegal 90,055.78 24,440.00
Dublin 647,019.86 149,199.00
Galway 159,176.70 42,213.70
Kerry 32,363.76 25,583.76
Kildare 386,526.60 39,335.00
Kilkenny 64,536.30 64,413.53
Laois 291,967.56 36,904.92
Leitrim 0 21,106.80
Limerick 150,692.80 0
Longford 34,538.40 26,543.40
Louth 230,906.68 0
Mayo 104,254.60 23,345.40
Meath 184,761.30 0
Monaghan 55,325.00 0
Offaly 50,336.52 31,980.00
Roscommon 22,066.20 0
Sligo 117,248.52 30,310.00
Tipperary 171,920.67 0
Waterford 180,543.92 87,433.32
Westmeath 120,997.88 0
Wexford 0 37,672.44
Wicklow 227,377.80 37,672.44

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

 77. Deputy Steven Matthews Information on Steven  Matthews Zoom on Steven  Matthews asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley if provisions are being made in cases of children in direct provision and the potential interruption to their education if there are further outbreaks of Covid-19 in centres in view of the fact that if there is an outbreak the child must be removed from school. [24287/20]

Minister for Education (Deputy Norma Foley): Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley The Department acknowledges that there will be cases where individual pupils or groups of pupils are requested by Public Health HSE to self-isolate or restrict their movements because of a case or cases of COVID-19.  Schools should, at a minimum, endeavour to support these pupils to catch up with their learning on their return to school. In some instances, where adapted education provision is already being provided to other pupils in the school, it may be possible for pupils who have to restrict their movements to avail of that adapted provision. In the event of pupils being required to not attend school because of a partial or full school closure, it is crucial that all schools make every effort to support pupils’ learning during the closure period.

  The Department of Education has issued guidelines to schools on how to support pupils who are unable to attend school because they are at high risk from Covid-19 . These guidelines on “Continuity of schooling: Supporting primary pupils who are at very high risk to COVID-19” are available at www.gov.ie/en/publication/a0bff-reopening-our-primary-and-special-schools/#additional-guidelines-and-procedures. This guidance also outlines how schools can ensure that pupils who are self-isolating receive appropriate support to engage adequately with learning by means of adapted education provision. In some instances, schools where adapted education provision is already being provided by teachers in the school, it may be possible for pupils who are self-isolating to avail of that adapted provision. This decision should be made at local level by each school in the context of the needs and circumstances of their pupils.

Special Educational Needs

 78. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Education Information on Norma Foley Zoom on Norma Foley if it is now policy for high functioning students with autism not to be integrated into mainstream classes (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter. [24290/20]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Josepha Madigan): Information on Josepha Madigan Zoom on Josepha Madigan Special classes are part of a continuum of educational provision that enables students with more complex special educational needs to be educated, in smaller class groups, within their local mainstream schools. They offer a supportive learning environment to students who are unable to access the curriculum in a mainstream class, even with support, for most or all of their school day.

Students enrolled in special classes should be included in mainstream classes to the greatest extent possible, in line with their abilities.

This should continue, however, the number of mainstream classes with which each special class student integrates should be minimised, in order to maintain pod grouping to the greatest extent possible, and to assist contact and tracing mechanisms, should this become necessary.

At primary school level this may mean each special class pupil integrating with one mainstream class only whereas, at post primary school level, this may mean special class pupils attending only those mainstream classes necessary for their subject participation.


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