Header Item Written Answers Nos. 269-288
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item School Accommodation Provision
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Staff
 Header Item Teachers' Remuneration
 Header Item School Costs
 Header Item European Court of Human Rights Judgments
 Header Item School Textbooks
 Header Item Student Grant Scheme
 Header Item School Transport Data
 Header Item School Transport Eligibility
 Header Item State Examinations Data
 Header Item Apprenticeship Data
 Header Item Student Accommodation
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Staff
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Expenditure
 Header Item Consultancy Contracts Expenditure
 Header Item Services for People with Disabilities
 Header Item Cyber Security Policy

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 958 No. 2
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 145 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 269-288

Schools Building Projects Status

 269. Deputy Louise O'Reilly Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the timeframe and commencement date for the replacement school building for a school (details supplied); if the funding is in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33644/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The major school building project to which the Deputy refers is at an advanced stage of architectural planning - Stage 2(b). All statutory approvals have been secured.

  However, following the necessary appointment of a replacement Mechanical & Electrical Engineer the Design Team in association with the newly appointed Engineer are working on a revised M&E report which will be submitted to the Department when it is completed. My Department will revert to the school with regard to the further progression of the project following consideration of that report.

  Upon receipt and review of this report the Department will revert to the Board of Management with regard to the further progression of the project at that time.

Schools Building Projects Status

 270. Deputy Paul Kehoe Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the status of a new school building (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33652/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The major building project referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of architectural planning - Stage 2(b), which includes the applications for Planning Permission, Fire Certificate and Disability Access Certificate and the preparation of Tender Documents.  All statutory approvals have been secured. 

The Stage 2b submission has been reviewed by the Department. Following this review the Design Team have been authorised to commence the process to carry out a prequalification of contractors for this project. Once the prequalification process is complete the Department will be in contact with the Design Team and Board of Management regarding the further progress of the project to tender and construction stage.

School Accommodation Provision

 271. Deputy Tony McLoughlin Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton when the expected new ASD unit for a school (details supplied) will commence construction on site in Sligo; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33691/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The school to which the Deputy refers was approved funding to provide a two classroom ASD unit under my Department’s Additional School Accommodation Scheme.

The school authority have submitted an alternative proposal to my Department which includes additional accommodation to that approved, together with improvement works to the school, with significant cost implications.  The proposal is currently under consideration and my Department will be in direct contact with the school on the matter.

Special Educational Needs Staff

 272. Deputy Mary Butler Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the status of an appeal for a school (details supplied) in respect of the provision for an SNA for September 2017. [33694/17]

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 have 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.

  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. The closing date for receipt of appeals is 29 August 2017.

  As the question to which the Deputy refers relates to a particular school, the matter has been referred to the NCSE for direct reply.

Teachers' Remuneration

 273. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton further to Parliamentary Question No. 94 of 14 December 2016, the position regarding some ETB teachers that are being paid their holiday payment in arrears; if there have been developments on matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33741/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department published Circular Letter 0015/2015 in February 2015 to advise schools of revised pay arrangements for casual and non-casual teachers which took effect from the commencement of the 2015/16 school year, following agreement at the Teachers Conciliation Council.

Prior to September 2015, the daily/hourly rates paid to casual and non-casual teachers per/day hour worked included an element in respect of annual leave. This practice is known as “rolled-up holiday pay” and derives from a collective agreement on the appropriate rate of pay for part-time teachers reached at the Teachers Conciliation Council in 2003. Circular 0015/2015 ceased the practice of paying “rolled-up holiday pay” to casual and non-casual teachers and introduced a separate payment in respect of holiday pay. This change was necessary to bring the method of remunerating such teachers into line with the European Union Working Time Directive, following a decision of the European Commission.  It is important to note that the overall remuneration of such teachers was not changed as a result of the Circular.

School Costs

 274. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton further to circular 0032/17, the number of schools that have indicated to his Department that they intend to implement the measures outlined for September 2018; the way in which his Department plans to ensure implementation of the circular; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33742/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My ambition is to make the Irish education and training service the best in Europe within a decade.

  To deliver on my ambition to be the best we have to improve information and complaint procedures for parents and students, particularly in relation to costs.

  I want to give parents a strong voice in ensuring costs are always kept to a minimum.

  Schools have to do everything possible to keep costs down for parents, including the use of generic items, sew on or iron on crests, and making sure that various elements of the uniform can be purchased in multiple stores.

  In the Action Plan for Education I have committed to the restoration of capitation payments. In restoring capitation payments, where schools have introduced these cost effective principles, they will receive a premium capitation payment.

  I believe that full transparency in relation to the use of any voluntary contributions is important information for parents to have. The Parent and Student Charter will require every school to set out a financial statement, which will include information on how any voluntary contributions are used.

  This is part of a suite of measures I am introducing, including the School Admissions Bill which will reform information and procedures around the process of school enrolment, and the commencement of Fitness to Teach, which allow a complaint to be made about a registered teacher to the Teaching to Council for the first time.

  Circular letter 32/2017 ‘Measures to be adopted by schools to reduce the cost of school uniforms and other costs’ was published at the end of April and is available on my Departments website.

  Following the implementation of the circular, school authorities will be required to adopt the following principles of cost-effective practice which will put a greater emphasis on reducing the cost of school uniforms and other costs:

  - All elements of a school uniform should be purchasable from various stores;

  - Only iron on or sew on crests should be used;

  - Wherever possible, generic rather than branded items should be specified (e.g. uniform, clothing, IT tablets, sports equipment etc.);

  - Provide parents with a list of all required items and indicate the likely costs of these required items at best value stores;

  - Provide a book rental scheme;

  - Phase out, between now and September 2018, the use of workbooks which cannot be reused;

  - Where an exclusive supply arrangement applies, it should be tendered for regularly and

  - The Board of Management in each school will have to review the cost of items which they require parents to purchase and to make this information available to the school community.

  Schools will consult with parents on their views and ask for suggestions on cost reduction initiatives. Parents will be asked for their views about school uniform costs, and other costs, through a questionnaire.

  As resources permit, it is my intention to reward schools that can provide evidence of having adopted the principles of cost-effective practice. It is intended that this could be done through some premium in capitation grants for schools.

  The Action Plan for Education 2016-2019 outlines hundreds of actions to be implemented over the 3 year period 2016 to 2019. One of these actions aim to restore capitation funding over a three-year period as resources permit. It was not possible to provide additional funding in Budget 2017 in relation to capitation funding due to the many competing demands for the available funding. However, this commitment remains a priority for me to address as soon as possible during the lifetime of the Action Plan.

  Circular 32/2017 recognises that schools may already have arrangements made for school uniforms and other school costs for September 2017. Therefore it is envisaged that it will be the school year 2018/2019 school year before schools can provide evidence of having adopted the principles of cost-effective practice.

  When budgetary resources are available to provide an increase in capitation for schools, my Department will then consider the most appropriate mechanism to gather evidence on whether or not schools have adopted the principles of cost-effective practice.

European Court of Human Rights Judgments

 275. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the date of the submission of the updated action plan under the judgement by a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33743/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton In terms of implementing the ECtHR judgement in the O'Keeffe case, Ireland is obliged to file bi-annual action plans with the Council of Europe outlining the steps being taken to implement the ECtHR judgment- these action plans are in the public domain and can be accessed on the Council of Europe's website. The next (the 7th) Action Plan is due to be submitted on 28 July 2017.

School Textbooks

 276. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the details of capital and current expenditure on the school book grant schemes over each of the past ten years, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33744/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton My Department provides funding of €16 million annually to schools to support the operation of school book rental schemes for students in all recognised primary and post-primary schools within the Free Education Scheme.

  The arrangements in relation to this scheme are set out in Circular 0046/2013 which is published on my Department's website.

  In addition, Budget 2014 provided funding of €5 million per annum for three years to support the establishment of book rental schemes in primary schools that did not operate such schemes. 449 schools committed to establishing such a book rental scheme. DEIS schools received €150 per pupil and non-DEIS schools received €100 per pupil in seed capital to establish book rental schemes. 

  Primary schools that were operating book rental schemes prior to 2014 also benefitted from funding. These arrangements are set out in Circular 0030/2015 which is published on my Department’s website.

  Every primary school has now been given the opportunity to benefit from the funding secured for the establishment of School Book Rental Schemes. The most recent figures available at primary level indicate that 95% of primary schools operate a book rental scheme.

  The most recent figures available at post-primary level indicate that 65% of schools operate book rental schemes.

  The attached document gives a breakdown of funding provided by my Department for the operation of school book rental schemes to primary schools for the period from 2008 to 2017 and for post-primary schools for the period from 2009 to 2017. The breakdown for book grant funding at post-primary level is not readily available for 2008.

  Funding for Primary and Post Primary School Book Grant

  Post Primary Schools Book Grant

YearBook Grant Paid
2009€3,195,671
2010€7,801,046
2011€7,968,084
2012€8,085,243
2013€8,273,229
2014€8,410,203
2015€8,610,096
2016€8,747,325
2017€8,990,202


  Primary Schools Book Grant
YearBook Grant PaidSeed Capital for Book RentalTotal 
2008€6,466,426 €6,466,426
2009€3,810,000 €3,810,000
2010€6,870,617 €6,870,617
2011€6,906,112 €6,906,112
2012€6,980,684 €6,980,684
2013€7,090,319 €7,090,319
2014€7,198,663€4,996,160€12,194,823
2015€7,295,476€5,489,790€12,785,266
2016€7,394,194€5,281,730€12,675,924
2017€7,445,089 €7,445,089

Student Grant Scheme

 277. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he has requested a technical study on the operation of a student loan scheme; if this study has been commissioned; the person by whom the study is being carried out; the date of completion of the study; the terms of reference of the study; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33745/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Cassells report considers a number of potential funding options including the deferred payment of student fees.

  The report was referred to the Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills by my colleague Minister Bruton in order to build political consensus on the most appropriate sustainable future funding model for higher education.

  No policy decisions are being taken in this area pending the outcome of examination of the Cassells report by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills.

  I look forward to receiving the recommendations from the Joint Committee once they have concluded their consultation and engagement with relevant stakeholders.

  Arising from the future funding options presented in the Expert Group report, technical work in relation to income contingent student loans is being undertaken by an inter-departmental group chaired by my Department.

  This work of the inter-departmental group is intended to address some of the practical issues that will have to be considered if there is a policy decision in the future to introduce an income contingent loan scheme.

School Transport Data

 278. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of concessionary applications for school transport for the 2017-18 school year by county; the number of which are new applications in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33746/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.

  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.

  I have asked Bus Éireann to issue the figures directly to the Deputy. 

School Transport Eligibility

 279. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the date upon which parents will be informed of the decision on school transport for the 2017-18 academic year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33747/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan School transport is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department.

  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.

  In general, children who are eligible for school transport for the 2017/18 school year will be issued with tickets when they submit their payment details to Bus Éireann.

  Children who are not eligible for school transport and who have applied for transport on a concessionary basis will only be issued with tickets where there are spare seats available after all eligible children have been accommodated.

State Examinations Data

 280. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the number of applications that were made under the reasonable accommodation scheme for certificate examinations for the 2017 sittings; the number that were decided by the school; the number of applications that were determined by the State Examinations Commission; the number that were successful and unsuccessful, by junior certificate and leaving certificate figures; the number of instances whereby additional information in the form of professional reports or assessments were required in support of the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33748/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The State Examinations Commission has statutory responsibility for operational matters relating to the certificate examinations. The Commission in this regard operates a scheme of Reasonable Accommodations in the Certificate Examinations.

  In view of this I have forwarded your query to the State Examinations Commission for direct reply to you.

Apprenticeship Data

 281. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if the 2017 target of 800 new apprenticeship registrations and 15 new apprenticeships will be met in September 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33749/17]

 282. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the progress in the development of the 15 new apprenticeship schemes for intake in September 2017; the details of the new apprenticeships; the number of places available on each; the date on which each will be open for application; if applications have been made to date in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33750/17]

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan The recently published Action Plan to Expand Apprenticeship and Traineeship in Ireland 2016-2020, sets out a series of detailed actions and annual targets on how the commitments set out in the Action Plan for Education in the area will be met. This year, in the case of new apprenticeships, the plan targets 800 registrations across 15 cumulative programmes. To date five programmes have been developed by the Apprenticeship Council and are currently operational, in Insurance Practice, Industrial Electrical Engineering, Polymer Processing Technology, Manufacturing Technology and Manufacturing Engineer. Subject to successful validation, a further 10 programmes are expected to get underway later this year in various sectors including hospitality, financial services and accountancy. I am confident that we will meet our target registrations for 2017 as these additional programmes get underway over the coming months.

  The information requested by the Deputy in relation to number of places available in 2017 and current registrations on new programmes that are operational is set out on the attached tabular statement. As further programmes are validated the process of approving employers and registering apprentices on these programmes will get under way.

-ApprenticeshipExpected intake (2017)Registration opened
1Insurance Practice  
 Level 8 3 years150Now
2Industrial Electrical Engineer  
 Level 7 2 years30Now
3Polymer Processing Technology  
 Level 7 3 years20Now
4Manufacturing Technology  
 Level 6 2 years30Now
5Manufacturing Engineering  
 Level 7 3 years30Now


  Registrations on consortia led new apprenticeships for 2016/2017
-Total
Electrical12
Engineering32
Financial services70
Total114


  The additional 10 new apprenticeships in the pipeline are set to make up the remaining registrations.

Student Accommodation

 283. Deputy Carol Nolan Information on Carol Nolan Zoom on Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if his Department has put in place a student accommodation strategy as outlined in Rebuilding Ireland; the date on which this strategy will be published; the actions that will be undertaken to alleviate the student accommodation crisis in Autumn 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33751/17]

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 A Student Accommodation Strategy is currently being finalised by my Department and will be submitted for approval to Government prior to publication. 

Special Educational Needs Staff

 284. Deputy Robert Troy Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton when the allocations of SNA will be made. [33792/17]

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, following a Government decision on the matter.

  This represents an increase of 7.5% to meet the demand 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 National Council for Special Education has advised all schools of their allocations for SNA support for the coming 2017/18 school year. Details of the allocations which have been made to schools have now been published on their website - www.ncse.ie.

Schools Building Projects Expenditure

 285. 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 status of the application for capital funding for a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33894/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I can confirm to the Deputy that my Department received an application from the school referred to for additional accommodation to provide a link corridor and ancillary accommodation.

  The process of assessing the application is currently being progressed and my Department will be in contact with the school authorities in the matter as soon as possible.

Consultancy Contracts Expenditure

 286. 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 amount spent by his Department in 2016 on external consultants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33901/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton For the deputy's information, details of all consultancy payments made by my Department for the year 2016 are available on the Department's website

  http://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Corporate-Reports/Financial-Reports/Expenditure-on-Consultancy/Expenditure-on-Consultancy-by-Department-of-Education-and-Skills-in-2016.pdf

Services for People with Disabilities

 287. Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony Information on Margaret Murphy O'Mahony Zoom on Margaret Murphy O'Mahony asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the way his Department is improving services and increasing supports for persons with disabilities during 2017.  [34030/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Funding for special education provision in 2017 will amount to some €1.68 billion, which is equivalent to approximately 19% of the gross overall current allocation for education and training and represents an increase in spending in this area of 12% over the last two years.

  Funding in 2017 includes:

  - Over 13,400 Special Education Teaching posts in mainstream primary and post primary schools for the 2017/2018 school year, to provide additional teaching support to pupils with special educational needs.

  - 13,990 Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) which will be available for allocation to primary, post primary and special schools for the new school year, this is 975 more posts, or a 7% increase, in the number of posts over which were available last year.

  - Over 1,400 teachers in 125 special schools.

  - Almost 1,300 special classes which includes 160 new Special Classes sanctioned for the 2017/18 school year; this compares to 548 special classes in 2011.

  - Enhanced capitation grants for special schools and special classes attached to mainstream primary and post primary schools.

  - Teacher training and continuing professional development in the area of special education through the Special Education Support Service (SESS).

  - Special school transport arrangements.

  - Assistive technology/Specialised equipment.

  - Home Tuition and July Provision Schemes.

  - Special Arrangements for State Examinations.

- ESF Aided Fund for Students with Disabilities at 3rd level.

  - Vocational Training for people with disabilities.

  - Adult Education – once off projects for disability in education.

  The Deputy will be aware that, I announced recently 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.

  From September 2017, a new Special Education Teaching allocation process will be introduced, replacing the generalised allocation process at primary and post primary school level for learning support and high incidence special educational needs, and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) allocation process which provided additional resource teaching supports to schools, to support pupils assessed as having Low Incidence disabilities.  The aim of this new model is to deliver better outcomes for children with special educational needs. An additional 900 teaching posts have been provided for this purpose.

  The development of a new Regional Support Service within the NCSE, established in March 2017, will mean that schools will receive better and more integrated support in the future. It will build on the existing good work and supports which the National Behaviour Support Service, the Special Education Support Service and Visiting Teacher Service currently provide to children and their families as well as to teachers and schools.

  In addition, over 150 new Special Classes were sanctioned by the NCSE for the 2016/17 school year, while a further 160 special classes have now been approved for the coming school year, 2017/18, giving a total of 1,292 special classes, which is in comparison to 548 special classes in 2011.  125 special schools with over 1,400 teachers also provide specialist education for those pupils who need it.

  In recent years, the NCSE has provided my Department with a number of policy advice papers on the provision of supports for children with special needs, all of which are available on the NCSE’s website.  It is intended to bring into effect many improvements to the provision of special educational needs support, through policy developments across a range of areas, in conjunction with NCSE policy advice.

  As committed to in the Programme for a Partnership Government, the adequacy of the present policies and provision and their scope for improvement is being examined.

   In response to a progress report from the NCSE on the comprehensive assessment it is undertaking of the SNA Scheme, I have requested the NCSE to establish a working group, comprising relevant stakeholders, to assist in proposing a better model for providing care supports so as to provide better outcomes for students with special educational needs who have additional care needs.

  This Working Group will commence its work upon its appointment and the work will run in tandem with the completion of the Comprehensive Review of the SNA Scheme. It is intended that the reports of the Working group and of the Review will be completed in Spring 2018.

  The Programme for a Partnership Government also states that a new model of In-School Speech and Language Therapy will be established.  As Speech and Language Therapists are currently employed by the Health Service Executive (HSE), officials at my Department are engaging with colleagues in the Department of Health and the HSE to review the existing level of Speech and language therapy provision and to conduct an audit of services nationally.

  The HSE has reviewed the provision of Speech and Language Therapy services and the report is currently being considered by the National Directors for Primary Care and for Social Care.  The review of existing services will guide the implementation of the Programme for Government commitment.

  My Department has convened an Implementation Group, following the launch of the NCSE's Policy Advice on Autism in 2016, with representatives of the NCSE, NEPS, the Inspectorate and external representatives to ensure that the Report’s recommendations are fully and appropriately considered and that a timetable for implementation is prepared. 

  I can confirm that this Government will continue to ensure that the supports required, to ensure that all children with special educational needs can continue to participate in education, will be provided.

Cyber Security Policy

 288. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will address an issue relating to cyber safety (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34042/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I am aware of Cybersmarties, and the service currently offered by that company. I understand that Cybersmarties are an independent commercial entity, operating a fully monitored social network for children between the ages of 7 and 12, which also operates outside of school hours.  Accordingly, no public expenditure can be allocated to this programme without compliance with public procurement requirements.

My Department supports schools in educating children on issues around their online behaviour. For example, the SPHE curriculum at primary level contains a strand on Media Education, and as with all curriculum content, teachers are enabled to mediate this to children. Through the PDST Technology in Education and Webwise programme, schools  are advised on the following matters: the development and implementation of an Internet Safety Acceptable Usage Policy; the promotion of student awareness regarding safety online; and the implementation of a content filtering/monitoring system.

The Department of Justice and Equality has the lead role in co-ordinating Government policy concerning internet safety, through the Office for Internet Safety. The Departments of Communications, Climate Action and Environment  (DCCAE) Children and Youth Affairs and the Department of Education & Skills all have Key roles.  

The Safer Internet Ireland Project (which is under the remit of the Office for Internet Safety) is a consortium of industry, education, child welfare and government partners (including the PDST-TiE/Webwise) that provide Safer Internet awareness, hotline and helpline functions and activities for the Republic of Ireland.

Webwise is part of that project and it develops materials and programmes of awareness to ensure that children, teachers and parents understand the benefits and risks of the internet and ICT in general. The Webwise team work in collaboration with a range of relevant stakeholders including the Webwise Youth Advisory Council and is guided by local and international best practice.


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