Thursday, 8 November 2012
Dáil Éireann Debate
141. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills when a payment in respect of a Labour Court recommendation will be paid to a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49138/12]
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): I wish to inform the Deputy that, following the conclusion of the consultation process with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, my Department has given sanction to Co. Laois VEC to offer this person the terms of the recently announced Collective Agreement on enhanced redundancy payments to public servants.
142. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills if special needs assistants are permitted under the terms of their employment to perform general secretarial work for the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49152/12]
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): I wish to advise the Deputy that Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) are allocated to schools by the National Council for Special Education in order to provide for the care needs of children with special educational needs attending such schools. The policy of my Department in relation to the SNA scheme is set out in Circular 07/02, which also provides details regarding the role and duties of an SNA.
My Department's Circular 0071/2011 provides further details in relation to the terms and conditions of employment for SNAs, including clarification in relation to SNA duties and work which may be performed during non instructive days, or delivered by an SNA outside of normal school opening hours and/or the normal school year. Once an SNA allocation has been made to a school, the recruitment and deployment of SNAs within schools are matters for the individual Principal/Board of Management of a school. SNAs should be deployed by the school in a manner which best meets the care support requirements of the children enrolled in the school for whom SNA support has been allocated, and in accordance with the terms of the scheme as set out in my Departments Circular. In circumstances where a parent may have a concern about the manner in which an SNA is being deployed in a school, they should raise this matter with the school Principal/Board of Management of the school in the first instance.
143. Deputy Joe Carey asked the Minister for Education and Skills the progress that has been made to date in relation to a school (details supplied) in County Clare; when he will move to the next step; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49155/12]
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Provisional recognition was initially awarded in 2008 to the school referred to by the Deputy and has been extended each year since. The school is seeking to have permanent recognition granted and a process is in place under which the issue of recognition is being assessed. This process is based on ten undertakings committed to by the school's Patron in 2007 in accordance with the requirements of the Education Act 1998 and the Rules for National Schools.
My Department recently met with the school authorities to discuss the school's current position in relation to the undertakings concerned. I understand that while issues remain to be resolved, substantial progress has been made by the school in relation to most of the undertakings and that my officials and the school are working together with a view to enabling the school to meet the permanent recognition criteria as soon as possible. It is very important to note that the decision regarding full recognition depends upon the satisfactory implementation by the Patron of all the undertakings.
144. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to introduce a system whereby teachers may transfer closer to where they are living; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49167/12]
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Schools with vacancies are required to fill them from the list of surplus permanent teachers on the redeployment panels.
At primary level, there are a number of redeployment panels - most of which are organised on a Diocesan basis. The redeployment arrangements include provision for flexibility of movement between panels in order to facilitate the redeployment of all surplus permanent teachers. Otherwise, any transfers between panels are dealt with by agreement between the relevant patrons. Redeployment arrangements for surplus post-primary teachers were introduced as part of the implementation of particular aspects of the Croke Park Agreement. The parties identified that voluntary movement, if provided for, could assist the operation of the main redeployment arrangements. It is agreed that further discussions would take place with a view to putting a pilot scheme in place and these discussions are ongoing under the auspices of the Teachers Conciliation Council.
145. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of appeals broken down on a county basis received to date by Student Universal Support Ireland for student grants; the length of time it is taking to assess and make a decision on an appeal in each county; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49196/12]
146. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the current waiting time for an application to the higher education grant Student Universal Support Ireland system to be processed; the current waiting time for the processing of appeals to same broken down on a county basis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49197/12]
147. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of student grants broken down on a county basis approved to date by the higher education grant Student Universal Support Ireland system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49198/12]
148. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of students grants broken down on a county basis that have yet to be approved by the higher education grant Student Universal Support Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49199/12]
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): I propose to take Questions Nos. 145 to 148, inclusive, together.
Appeals received by SUSI are dealt with in date order and the waiting time for decisions on appeals can vary depending on the complexity of the grant applicants circumstances which are under appeal. SUSI aims to issue determinations on appeals as promptly as possible and within the specified timeframes defined in the Student Support Act, 2011.
149. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the necessary funding for a project (details supplied) in Dublin 16 will be made available now that planning permission has been granted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49205/12]
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): The major building project referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of architectural planning.
Following an appeal to An Bord Pleanala, planning permission was granted in August 2012. The design team are currently working on the completion of Stage 2(b) which includes all statutory approvals and tender documents. Due to competing demands on my Department's capital budget, imposed by the need to prioritise the limited funding available for the provision of additional school accommodation to meet increasing demographic requirements, it was not possible to include this project in the five year construction programme announced earlier this year.
School building projects, such as the one referred to by the Deputy, which have not been included in the five year construction programme, but which were announced for initial inclusion in the building programme will continue to be progressed to final planning stages in anticipation of the possibility of further funds being available to my Department in future years.
150. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills the gross and net additional expenditure savings that his Department is seeking to achieve in 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49240/12]
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Under the ceilings set as part of last year's Comprehensive Expenditure Review, my Department is required to secure savings on current expenditure of €77 million in 2013.
In addition, there are likely to be upward pressures in some areas of pay and non-pay expenditure and in relation to reduced Appropriations-in-Aid receipts. The full extent and management of these pressures is currently being assessed by my Department in the context of the projected expenditure outturn for 2012.
151. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the free anti-bullying resource for teachers at www.antibullyingcampaign.ie; if this or other similarly appropriate resources are made available to teachers; the level of supports, funding and training available for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49294/12]
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Under the Education (Welfare) Act 2000, all schools are required to have in place a Code of Behaviour and this code must be drawn up in accordance with the guidelines of the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB). The NEWB guidelines were issued to schools in 2008 and make it clear that each school must have policies to prevent or address bullying and harassment and schools must make clear in their code of behaviour that bullying is unacceptable. The guidelines further state that as well as making explicit that bullying is prohibited in the school, and having an anti-bullying policy, the code of behaviour should indicate what action the school will take in relation to alleged breaches of the school's bullying policy.
Every school therefore must have in place a policy, within the framework of the school's overall school code of behaviour, which includes specific measures to deal with bullying behaviour. Such a code, developed through consultation with the whole school community and properly implemented, can be the most influential measure in countering bullying behaviour in schools.
In terms of other training I am very aware of the importance of appropriate teacher training and support in this and other aspects of teachers' day to day work with children. In this regard, initial teacher education plays a huge role in training our teachers and ensuring that they are aware of the developmental and emotional needs of their students. As part of their lifelong journey, teachers engage in ongoing professional development (CPD) and this will become a statutory requirement in the near future. CPD helps to ensure that teachers are aware of current research and best practice in working with young people. In the area of anti-bullying, the Deputy will be aware that my Department currently funds the Social Personal & Health Education (SPHE) Support Service which provides support for post primary schools including training courses on positive strategies for managing bullying issues. Schools are also supported in the review of their anti-bullying policies and practices.
At primary level, my Department's support services provide ongoing training and support to teachers and principals in the implementation of SPHE and the Stay Safe Programme, which includes a specific module on bullying.
In addition to these support services, individual schools have autonomy to determine whether they wish to supplement or support the school's work in the area of anti-bullying with other external resources/materials as appropriate.
As a follow on to that Forum, I invited the stakeholders and any other interested parties to submit their views on this important topic to my Department by 29th June 2012. I understand that the Anti-Bullying Campaign has made a submission as have many other interested parties.
I have also established a working group to address the issue of tackling bullying in schools, including cyber-bullying. During the course of its work, the working group will be considering the outcomes from the Anti-Bullying Forum together with the submissions received. Over the last few months, the working group has been consulting with a range of stakeholders and with counterparts in Scotland and the UK. The Group is working on an action plan recommending further measures that can be taken to effectively tackle bullying in schools. The Group expects to complete its work by the end of the year.
152. Deputy Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the date on which a teacher would have had to have graduated from a Masters degree course and have commenced a Masters degree programme to be eligible for the qualification allowance which has been discontinued. [49304/12]
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): People who were first employed in a teaching post (qualified or unqualified) in the public sector on or before 4 December 2011 and who have completed a course of study which commenced on or prior to 4 December 2011 only will be eligible to apply for allowances for that course of study. Additional allowances are not payable for qualifications acquired following a course of study which commenced on or after 5 December 2011.
People first employed in a teaching post (qualified or unqualified) in the public sector between 5 December 2011 and 31 January 2012 (inclusive) will be assessed for allowances on the basis of their qualifications at entry to the profession to a combined maximum allowance equivalent to that of an honours primary degree. No additional allowances are payable for qualifications obtained following entry to the profession.
Teachers who are first employed in a public sector teaching post on a qualified or unqualified basis on or after 1 February 2012 will commence on the February 2012 salary scales. No allowances are payable for qualifications.
Where applicable, qualification allowances will become payable where the teacher is eligible to be in receipt of the qualified rate of pay; i.e. where a teacher is appropriately qualified and registered for the sector in which they are employed.
153. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide in a tabular form the total list of quasi-Governmental organisations and agencies under his remit; if he will provide a list of quasi-Governmental organisations and agencies under his remit that have been abolished since March 2011 or are scheduled to be abolished and the date on which they are due to be abolished; the date on which the body was created; the name of the body; the 2012 Budget for the body; the number of employees of the body in 2012; the names of any outside consultants hired by the organisation since March 2011 and what future plans he has for the body. [49310/12]
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Details of agencies under the remit of my Department can be downloaded from the Department's website, this information is updated when any relevant changes occur. www.education.ie
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