Header Item Written Answers Nos. 60-66
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item School Textbooks
 Header Item State Examinations
 Header Item Departmental Bodies
 Header Item School Textbooks
 Header Item Schools Establishment
 Header Item Schools Amalgamation

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 838 No. 2

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Written Answers Nos. 60-66

Schools Building Projects Status

 60. Deputy John Browne Information on John Browne Zoom on John Browne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn when the go-ahead to appoint a contractor for the building of school extension (details supplied) in County Wexford will be approved by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18169/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The project to which the Deputy refers is currently at tender stage. Subject to no issues arising, it is anticipated that Waterford & Wexford ETB will commence the appointment process with the preferred bidder in the coming weeks.

School Textbooks

 61. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn further to Parliamentary Question No. 231 of 8 April 2014, in view of the fact that he has accepted that there is no need for workbooks in schools, if he has told teachers to discontinue the use of these workbooks which are a significant expense and burden on parents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18173/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn As stated in a previous reply to the Deputy, it is a matter for the Board of Management of each individual school to decide on its own school policy regarding whether or not workbooks should be used in schools. Therefore, I have not told teachers to discontinue the use of these workbooks but I have ensured that a number of strategies to avoid the need for workbooks or to allow workbooks to be re-used from year to year are included in the Guidelines for Developing Textbook Rental Schemes in Schools.

State Examinations

 62. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn his views on the effectiveness of the HPAT examination as part of the examination qualification for entry to medicine courses; his views on recent reports that grind courses are being given to prepare students to perform better in this HPAT examination; if the HPAT examination is serving its purpose of broadening entry to medicine and ensuing a fair entrance system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18175/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Entry requirements for courses in medicine are determined by the medical schools of the relevant Universities. A group of representatives from these medical schools and the Higher Education Authority was established to examine the implementation of revised entry criteria for undergraduate medical programmes. Following recommendations from the group, the four universities with undergraduate medical schools, NUI Galway, TCD, UCC and UCD together with the RCSI decided to introduce the new selection mechanism in 2009.

The HPAT selection mechanism for entry to medicine is aimed at easing the pressure on students wishing to study medicine to achieve near perfect Leaving Cert results. The weighting given to HPAT is such as to ensure that the test has a meaningful influence on the selection process while at the same time incentivising and rewarding a strong performance in the Leaving Certificate without requiring the achievement of extraordinarily high points levels. The objective behind the HPAT system is to alleviate pressure on students wishing to pursue a career in medicine. It provides for a greater diversity of intake into medicine while maintaining the highest academic and professional standards in the field of medicine.

Departmental Bodies

 63. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien Information on Jonathan O'Brien Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn if he will address the concerns regarding the day-to-day operational services of Caranua and ensure the service will conduct its operations in writing as well as telephone and that application guidelines are sent out to survivors when they apply. [18176/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Caranua is an independent statutory body under the aegis of my Department. While the Deputy has not set out his concerns regarding the day-to-day operational services of Caranua I can advise the Deputy that Caranua has confirmed that all applicants to it are given written decisions on their applications. The first part of the application process is to verify that an applicant is eligible to apply. Where an applicant is not eligible a written decision is issued to the applicant. Where the applicant is eligible, Caranua writes to the applicant seeking proof of identity. When an applicant's identity is confirmed, the applicant is informed that they are eligible in writing and sent a copy of the Guidelines. An application advisor subsequently contacts the applicant by telephone to discuss what the applicant wishes to apply for.

School Textbooks

 64. Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn further to Parliamentary Question No. 230 of 8 April 2014, in view of the fact that all boards of management that have been encountered are unaware that the decision on whether to use workbooks is for them to make, if he will ensure that all boards of management are notified that this is a decision for them to make and that it is not a matter for teaching staff; when communicating this responsibility to boards of management, if he will ensure that they are reminded, in such communication, of the significant costs of these workbooks and the burden on parents and to keep these considerations in mind when addressing this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18181/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I am satisfied that all of the issues raised by the Deputy have been adequately covered in the Guidelines for Developing Textbook Rental Schemes which I have published and which have been widely publicised.

Schools Establishment

 65. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the position regarding the development of a new Educate Together school at Shellybanks in the Sandymount-Ringsend area; if planning permission has been obtained for a temporary site; if a permanent site has been identified; the number of pupils the school will cater for in September 2014; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [18193/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn The intention is that Shellybanks Educate Together National School will open in temporary accommodation in September 2014 in a building on the Simmonscourt Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. An application for planning permission has been lodged to enable this.

  The school will be starting up with an enrolment of 3 junior infant classes or some 84 pupils.

  With regard to permanent accommodation, a number of site options are currently being examined by my Department. Due to the commercially sensitive nature of site acquisitions generally it is not possible to give further information on this issue at this time.

Schools Amalgamation

 66. Deputy Charlie McConalogue Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn the position regarding the amalgamation of schools (details supplied) at a new site on Haddington Road; the number of pupils the new school is expected to cater for; the increase this will represent on combined numbers attending both schools currently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18194/14]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn I wish to advise the Deputy that a building project to facilitate the amalgamation of the two schools referred to, is at an advanced stage of architectural planning. Planning permission has been obtained for the project. This is currently under appeal to An Bord Pleanála and a decision on that appeal is awaited.

Both schools currently operate two streams catering for 16 mainstream teachers and it is intended that the amalgamated school will operate as a three stream entity, catering for 24 mainstream class teachers. Based on the current staffing schedule, a 24 classroom school can support up to 682 pupils. The combined enrolment of the two schools on 30 September 2013 was 472 pupils.


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