Header Item Written Answers Nos. 235-250
 Header Item School Transport Eligibility
 Header Item Institutes of Technology
 Header Item Institutes of Technology
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Staff Data
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme Eligibility
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Service Provision
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Site Acquisitions
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Data
 Header Item School Enrolments Data

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 957 No. 3
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 116 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 235-250

  Question No. 235 answered with Question No. 219.

School Transport Eligibility

 236. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton his views on whether the ethos condition in the post-primary school transport scheme that refers only to minority religious faiths, constitutes discrimination against other minorities such as those with no religious faith wishing to attend Educate Together secondary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32834/17]

 237. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if a record is kept of the religion of the students qualifying for the post-primary school transport scheme to attend minority religious faith schools; if so, the number concerned. [32835/17]

 238. Deputy Ruth Coppinger Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will ensure that Educate Together secondary schools qualify for the post-primary school transport scheme on the same basis as minority religious faith schools in view of the fact these schools are mostly chosen by those not wishing to avail of a school that is of the main religious ethos in the State. [32836/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan I propose to take Questions Nos. 236 to 238, inclusive, together.

  School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.

  Currently almost 116,000 children, including some 12,000 children with special educational needs, are being transported in over 4,000 vehicles on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country covering over 100 million kilometres annually.

  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.

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

  In relation to school transport provision, ethos relates to religious ethos and is in the context of provision for minority religions.

  While it is the prerogative of parents to choose the school that they wish their children to attend, eligibility for school transport is determined by the distance that children reside from their nearest school. 

  The detailed information requested by the Deputy is not captured by Bus Éireann during the application process.

  The terms of the School Transport Scheme are applied equitably on a national basis.

Institutes of Technology

 239. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the terms of the agreement made between the Dublin Institute of Technology or DIT Foundation and the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Dublin regarding the use of St. Laurence's church in Grangegorman; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32953/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Higher education institutions such as Dublin Institute of Technology are autonomous bodies and are responsible for the day to day operations of the Institute including the use of buildings, procurement of goods and services, and provision of services for students.

Institutes of Technology

 240. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the person or organisation that has legal ownership of St. Laurence’s church in Grangegorman; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32954/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The ownership of St Laurence’s currently rests with the Grangegorman Development Agency (GDA) until such time as the campus is fully developed at which point it will revert to DIT.  However, in line with the arrangements in place between the GDA and DIT, DIT is fully responsible for the operation of that building.

Question No. 241 answered with Question No. 219.

Special Educational Needs Staff Data

 242. Deputy Niamh Smyth Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton further to the announcement on 5 July 2017 of an additional more than 690 SNAs, the number allocated to counties Cavan and Monaghan; the schools that will receive an SNA; if they are full-time or part-time, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32964/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I recently announced that 975 additional SNAs will be available for allocation to schools from September 2017 which is a 7.5% increase to meet the demands for the new school year.

  A total of 13,990 SNA posts will now be available at a gross annual cost of €458 million. This is more SNAs than we have ever had previously and will ensure that all children who qualify for SNA support can continue to receive access to such support.

  In total, the number of SNAs available has increased by over 32% since 2011, when 10,575 posts were available.

  The NCSE has advised all schools of their allocations for SNA support for the coming 2017/18 school year. Details of SNA allocations which have been made to schools, including schools in Cavan and Monaghan have now been published on by the NCSE on their website at http://ncse.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/NCSE-17_18-SNA-Allocation-Primary.pdf. Information as to the status of the SNA posts in schools is not yet available for the coming school year.   

  Where a school wishes to make an application for SNA support in respect of a child who was not considered as part of this allocation process they may continue to make such applications to the NCSE.

  In circumstances where a school, or parent, is unhappy with the allocation of SNA support which has been made, or considers the level of support allocated is not sufficient to meet the care needs of the pupils concerned, the school or parent, may appeal that decision via the NCSE appeals process.  Details of the NCSE appeals process is available at www.ncse.ie.

Student Grant Scheme Eligibility

 243. Deputy Martin Ferris Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the reason SUSI will not accept documentation from the Department of Social Protection proving independence for a person (details supplied) who has applied as an independent mature student; if a sworn affidavit will suffice as evidence of independent living; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33001/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor): Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor As part of a comprehensive customer service and communications strategy provided by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI), to ensure that all necessary avenues are open to applicants to receive the information they need, a dedicated email and phone line service is provided by SUSI for Oireachtas members. This was established to meet an identified need for applicants who choose to engage the assistance of their public representatives in making enquiries about their grant applications.

This service complements the established channels provided by SUSI which include online application tracking, a dedicated website, a telephone helpdesk, email and social media, including Facebook and Twitter.

Enquiries may be emailed direct to SUSI at oireachtas@susi.ie. Staff in SUSI are responding to email queries within a matter of days.

If an individual applicant considers that she/he has been unjustly refused a student grant or that the rate of grant awarded is not the correct one, she/he may appeal, in the first instance, to SUSI.

Where an individual applicant has had an appeal turned down in writing by SUSI and remains of the view that the scheme has not been interpreted correctly in his/her case, an appeal may be submitted by the applicant via www.studentgrantappeals.ie outlining the position to the independent Student Grants Appeals Board within the required timeframe.

Special Educational Needs Service Provision

 244. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the actions being taken by his Department to increase the number of ASD places available in primary and secondary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33035/17]

 245. Deputy Michael Moynihan Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of ASD places available in primary schools and secondary schools in County Cork in the school years 2014 to 2016 and to date in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33036/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Questions Nos. 244 and 245 together.

  It is the policy of my Department that all children with Special Educational Needs, including those with Autistic Spectrum Disorders, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network.

  Such placements facilitate access to individualised education programmes which may draw from a range of appropriate educational interventions, delivered by fully qualified professional teachers, with the support of Special Needs Assistants and the appropriate school curriculum.

  Approx. 18,000 students in schools have been diagnosed with autism. My Department invests over €300m annually in providing additional resources specifically to support students with autism in schools enabling:

  - 63% of students to attend mainstream schools

  - 26% to attend special classes in mainstream primary and post-primary schools, and

  - 11% to attend special schools.

  Some students, although academically able to access the curriculum in mainstream, may find it too difficult to manage full-time placement there. This can be due to significant difficulties in areas such as behaviour or sensory needs which have not been ameliorated, even with appropriate intervention, in mainstream.

  Enrolment in an ASD special class should only be considered where it has been demonstrated that a student requires the support of a special class because he/she is unable to learn effectively in a mainstream class for most or all of the school day even with appropriate supports.

  Students enrolling in ASD Special Classes must have a report from a relevant professional or team of professionals (for example, psychologist, speech and language therapist, psychiatrist) stating that:

  - S/he has ASD

  - S/he has significant learning needs that require the support of a special class setting and the reasons why this is the case.

  The NCSE, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), in consultation with the relevant education partners, is responsible for the establishment of special classes in various geographical areas where there is an identified need.

  The NCSE, in looking to open special classes, must take into account the present and future potential need for such classes, taking particular account of the educational needs of the children concerned. The NCSE will also take account of location and sustainability in looking to establish special classes in certain areas. 

  While it is not always possible to ensure that a special class placement will be available in the child’s local school, the NCSE has informed my Department that, in general, they are satisfied that there are sufficient ASD special class placements to meet existing demand.

  Since 2011 the NCSE has increased the number of special classes by over 100% from 548 in 2011 to 1,152 across the country now, of which 887 are Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) special classes.

  The NCSE intends to establish an additional 145 ASD Special Classes for the 2017/18 school year increasing the number of ASD Special Classes to 1,032.

  With regard to County Cork the following is the position regarding the number of ASD classes attached to mainstream schools.

YearsEarly Intervention ASD classesPrimary ASD classesPost Primary ASD classes
2014/2015225324
2015/2016246734
2016/2017248041
(Proposed No. of classes) 2017/2018249852


  While it is not always possible to ensure that a special class placement will be available in the child’s local school, the NCSE has informed my Department that, in general, they are satisfied that there are sufficient ASD special class placements to meet existing demand.

  My Department continues to work with the NCSE to ensure that there is appropriate planning in place to ensure that all children who require special class placements can access such placements in schools within their communities. 

  During the passage of the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill in the Select Committee last week I indicated that I intend, at Report Stage, to include in this Bill a provision that will provide, based on reports and advice from the NCSE, the Minister will have the power to require a school to open a special class or increase the number of special classes in schools identified by the NCSE. Because this power will require a school to provide land or alter existing property I am of the view that the power should be with the Minister who can engage the patron or trustees and that there should be adequate safeguards to ensure people’s rights are protected.

  Parents/guardians of children with special needs who may need advice or are experiencing difficulties in locating a school placement should contact their local Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) as soon as possible for information on available places. The local SENO contact details are available on www.ncse.ie.

Schools Building Projects Status

 246. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the plans for a new school (details supplied); when construction is expected to commence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33037/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton As the Deputy is aware, a building project for the school to which he refers is included in my Department's 6 Year Construction Programme (2016-2021). 

  The purchase of a suitable site for the school's permanent accommodation has recently been completed.  Arrangements are now being made to finalise the project brief for the school concerned with the aim of progressing the project into architectural planning.

Schools Building Projects Status

 247. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the timeframe for the commencement of construction for a new school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33038/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The school building project to which the Deputy refers is currently at advanced architectural planning stage. The application for planning permission for this new school was lodged in May 2017. When planning is secured, the project will progress to tender. The project will thereafter proceed to construction which is expected to be in Quarter 1 of 2018.

Site Acquisitions

 248. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick Information on Peter Fitzpatrick Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the position regarding a school (details supplied); and if a site has been acquired for the school. [33043/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Officials in my Department have been working with officials from the relevant Local Authority towards the acquisition of a permanent site to meet the needs of the school to which the Deputy refers.

A number of potentially suitable sites were identified and assessed and a preferred site option has been identified. Engagement with the relevant landowners with respect to the proposed acquisition is underway and Department officials are working to progress the acquisition as expeditiously as possible.

Special Educational Needs Data

 249. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the location and numbers in each autism spectrum disorder units in a location (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33050/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton It is the policy of my Department that all children with Special Educational Needs, including those with Autistic Spectrum Disorders, can have access to an education appropriate to their needs, preferably in school settings through the primary and post primary school network.

Such placements facilitate access to individualised education programmes which may draw from a range of appropriate educational interventions, delivered by fully qualified professional teachers, with the support of Special Needs Assistants and the appropriate school curriculum.

Approx. 18,000 students in schools have been diagnosed with autism. My Department invests over €300m annually in providing additional resources specifically to support students with autism in schools enabling:

- 63% of students to attend mainstream schools

- 26% to attend special classes in mainstream primary and post-primary schools, and

- 11% to attend special schools.

Some students, although academically able to access the curriculum in mainstream, may find it too difficult to manage full-time placement there. This can be due to significant difficulties in areas such as behaviour or sensory needs which have not been ameliorated, even with appropriate intervention, in mainstream.

Enrolment in an ASD special class should only be considered where it has been demonstrated that a student requires the support of a special class because he/she is unable to learn effectively in a mainstream class for most or all of the school day even with appropriate supports.

Students enrolling in ASD Special Classes must have a report from a relevant professional or team of professionals (for example, psychologist, speech and language therapist, psychiatrist) stating that:

- S/he has ASD

- S/he has significant learning needs that require the support of a special class setting and the reasons why this is the case.

The NCSE, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), in consultation with the relevant education partners, is responsible for the establishment of special classes in various geographical areas where there is an identified need.

The NCSE, in looking to open special classes, must take into account the present and future potential need for such classes, taking particular account of the educational needs of the children concerned. The NCSE will also take account of location and sustainability in looking to establish special classes in certain areas. 

While it is not always possible to ensure that a special class placement will be available in the child’s local school, the NCSE has informed my Department that, in general, they are satisfied that there are sufficient ASD special class placements to meet existing demand.

Since 2011 the NCSE has increased the number of special classes by over 100% from 548 in 2011 to 1,152 across the country now, of which 887 are Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) special classes.

The NCSE intends to establish an additional 145 ASD Special Classes for the 2017/18 school year increasing the number of ASD Special Classes to 1,032.

With regard to Co. Laois, the NCSE will establish 2 additional ASD Special Classes for the 2017/18 school year bringing the number of classes available in Co. Laois to 19, of which, 16 are Primary ASD Special classes and 3 are Post Primary ASD Special classes. Of these, 5 Primary ASD Special classes and 1 Post Primary ASD Special class are in schools in the Portlaoise area.

The NCSE has informed my Department that they are satisfied that there will be sufficient special class placements available to meet demand in the Portlaoise area for the forthcoming school year.

My Department continues to work with the NCSE to ensure that there is appropriate planning in place to ensure that all children who require special class placements can access such placements in schools within their communities. 

During the passage of the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill in the Select Committee last week I indicated that I intend, at Report Stage, to include in this Bill a provision that will provide, based on reports and advice from the NCSE, the Minister will have the power to require a school to open a special class or increase the number of special classes in schools identified by the NCSE. Because this power will require a school to provide land or alter existing property I am of the view that the power should be with the Minister who can engage the patron or trustees and that there should be adequate safeguards to ensure people’s rights are protected.

Parents/guardians of children with special needs who may need advice or are experiencing difficulties in locating a school placement should contact their local Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO) as soon as possible for information on available places. The local SENO contact details are available on www.ncse.ie.

School Enrolments Data

 250. Deputy Sean Fleming Information on Seán Fleming Zoom on Seán Fleming asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of applications under section 29 of the Education Acts to allow for pupils to be enrolled in a school that have been made in respect of a location (details supplied) in 2016 and to date in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33057/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The position is that my Department does not hold statistics for individual schools for section 29 appeals. This protects the privacy of individuals taking appeals on behalf of their children.


Last Updated: 31/08/2017 12:10:05 First Page Previous Page Page of 116 Next Page Last Page