Header Item Written Answers Nos. 138-161
 Header Item Mental Health Services
 Header Item Educational Supports
 Header Item Special Educational Needs
 Header Item Teacher Recruitment
 Header Item Mental Health Services
 Header Item Special Educational Needs
 Header Item Special Educational Needs
 Header Item Teachers' Remuneration
 Header Item Schools Administration
 Header Item School Funding
 Header Item Teacher Training Provision
 Header Item Primary Online Database
 Header Item Schools Administration
 Header Item School Accommodation
 Header Item Special Educational Needs
 Header Item English Language Training Organisations
 Header Item Special Educational Needs Staff
 Header Item Special Educational Needs
 Header Item Schools Building Projects Status
 Header Item Teaching Qualifications

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 960 No. 1
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 95 Next Page Last Page

Written Answers Nos. 138-161

Mental Health Services

 138. 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 if he will carry out a review of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, CAMHS, in order to ensure that there is support in place if a child's needs cannot be met in school.  [42898/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) which is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive (HSE), is a service that provides assessment and treatment for young people who are experiencing mental health difficulties.

Inpatient psychiatric treatment is usually provided in CAMHS for children and adolescents up to the age of 18 with severe psychiatric disorders. Admittance to CAMHS is a short term intervention for a number of weeks or months.  CAMHS units also treat day patients, who may attend CAMHS units on a daily basis for a period of time.

The aim of admission of a child/young adult to a CAMHS adolescent inpatient unit is to provide accurate assessment of those with the most severe disorders, implement specific and audited treatment programmes, and to achieve the earliest possible discharge of the young person back to their family and ongoing care of the Community team.

Educational support is provided by my Department to young people while in-patient in a number of CAMHS units, who then return to the school in which they are already enrolled following discharge from CAMHS.

Educational provision at a hospital or medical facility, including CAMHS Units, is a short term intervention designed to provide for some continuity of education during the young person's stay. CAMHs units do not have fulltime enrolments, but have a transient student population who avail of education, subject to their medical fitness to participate in education, during their stay and for periods of time during the day.

Not all young people attending CAMHS are medically fit to avail of education during all of their stay. For a significant period of their day, or for a time of their stay, will also be spent receiving medical and therapeutic treatments. The situation is therefore not anomalous to that of a special school which has full time enrolments for educational purposes for the entire school day.

Educational provision in CAMHS units was reviewed in 2014 and my Department's policy is to provide teaching provision on the basis of a pupil teacher ratio of 6:1, which is currently provided in special schools and special classes for severe emotional disturbance. In medical facilities which do not have educational provision or where young people attend CAMHS Units as day patients, my Department's Home Tuition Scheme provides for compensatory teaching support to account for time missed from school.

My Department has no plans to further review the education provision provided to CAMHS Units at this time.

Educational Supports

 139. 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 if he will liaise with Tusla to rectify a situation whereby a child with behavioural issues must be expelled from school in order to access more suitable services.  [42899/17]

 144. 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 the measures in place to support principals dealing with pupils who are misbehaving in the extreme, in some cases putting themselves or other students in danger through their behaviour.  [42904/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Questions Nos. 139 and 144 together.

  My Department's policy is that the well-being and safety of children should be at the centre of all policy and practices in all schools. Responsibility for the management of behaviour in schools is a matter for individual schools.

  The Board of Management of each school is responsible for the care and safety of all of the pupils in their school and is required to prepare a code of behaviour in accordance with Section 23 of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000.

  This code of behaviour shall specify the procedure to be followed before a student may be suspended or expelled from the school. This code of behaviour should be available to all parents of students registered in the school.

  Any proposal to exclude a student, through permanent exclusion, or suspension, is a serious measure and warranted only by very serious misbehaviour by any student. The Educational Welfare Officer (EWO) must be notified in writing of the Board of Management's intention to expel any student and must also provide their reasons for such action.  In accordance with the Education (Welfare) Act, 2000 no student shall be expelled from a school before the passing of 20 school days following the receipt of a written notification by an EWO.  The EWO shall make reasonable efforts to meet with the principal , the student and his/her parents  during this 20 day period.

  Following from any permanent exclusion, it is open to a parent/guardian, or in the case of a student who has reached the age of 18 years, the student to take an appeal under section 29 of the Education Act, 1998.  Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 provides for an appeal by a parent or guardian to the Secretary General of my Department or, in the case of an Education and Training Board (ETB) school, to the ETB in the first instance, where a Board of Management of a school, or a person acting on behalf of the Board, refuses to enrol a student in a school, expels a student, or suspends a student for 20 or more days in any school year.

  My Department has no authority to compel a school to admit a student, except in the case of an appeal under section 29 of the Education Act, 1998 being upheld.

  Application forms for taking a section 29 appeal are available on my Department's website at the following link :

  http://www.education.ie/en/Parents/Services/Appeal-against-Permanent-Exclusion-Suspension-or-Refusal-to-Enrol/Section-29-Appeals-Application-Form.doc,

 or by contacting Section 29 Administration Unit, Friars Mill Road, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, phone 0761 108588.

  The policy of my Department is to ensure that all children with special educational needs can be provided with an education appropriate to their needs.

  Where possible, provision is made for the inclusive education of children with special educational needs. My Department's policy is that students with special educational needs should be included where possible and appropriate in mainstream placements with additional supports provided.

  In circumstances where children with special educational need require more specialised interventions, special school or special class places are provided for.

  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.

  This year, 13,990 Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) are available for allocation to primary and post primary schools to the end of December, which is an increase of 32% in the number of posts available since 2011.

  SNA Circular 0030/2014 details the circumstances in which SNA support will be provided for behaviour related care needs. SNA support will only be provided for behaviour related care needs where there is a clear diagnosis of Emotional Behavioural Disturbance/Severe Emotional Behavioural Disturbance, or a behavioural disorder in conjunction with another disability, and also where it is clear that behavioural management strategies have not been successful to date, and where it is demonstrated how access to SNA support can assist the student.

  There are currently over 13,000 special educational needs teacher posts in mainstream primary and post primary schools which includes an additional 900 teaching posts provided to support the introduction of the new model for allocating Special Education Teaching Resources to mainstream primary and post primary schools from September 2017.  

  In addition, 169 new Special Classes have been opened for the 2016/17 school year, which means there are now over 1,300 special classes in place, compared to 548 special classes in 2011. 1,042 special classes cater for students diagnosed with ASD (including 103 Early Intervention ASD special classes) and 11 cater specifically for students diagnosed with severe emotional behavioural disorders.

  125 special schools also provide specialist education for those students with complex special educational needs, including students diagnosed with severe behavioural disorders.

  Schools may seek advice from their local National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) psychologist, from the NCSE’s Support Service through the Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO), or the National Behavioural Support Service, as to how children with behavioural needs can best be supported in school.

  The Special Education Support Service (SESS) now also part of NCSE’s Support Service, provides continuing professional development (CPD) for teachers working with students with special educational needs, including training for teachers in the area of challenging behaviour and Autism.

  Many schools withdraw students occasionally from the main classroom for short periods of time in order to provide support to them, or to manage student behaviour, if a student is exhibiting behaviours which may be a danger to themselves or others.

  In some circumstances, a student who is exhibiting extreme behaviours may be brought to another room to ensure the safety of other students and until they are calm again. Schools should supervise and support students who leave the classroom until they have recovered and are able to re-engage in the classroom.

  Where used, it will normally form part of a school’s response to behaviour and part of student support structures, procedures and practices.

  The withdrawal of a student from the classroom in order to deal individually with the student does not require the authorisation of my Department. It is a matter for the school authorities, the student and the parents or guardians of the student concerned.

  Some schools also have multi-sensory rooms that provide a variety of sensory stimuli and which are designed to provide sensory stimulation for students with special educational needs, in spaces which are designed to encourage positive actions and responses for students with sensory impairment. They can also be used for students to use interactive equipment towards specific educational aims.

  Published guidelines which are available to schools include:

  - Supporting Students with Behavioural, Emotional, and Social difficulties, which is available on the Department's website www.education.ie,

  - the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) guidelines for schools on Developing a Code of Behaviour and the National Educational Psychological Services document Behavioural Emotional and Social Difficulties - a Continuum of Support: Guidelines for Teachers.

  The NCSE has published updated policy advice on the Educational Provision for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. In developing this policy advice, the NCSE consulted widely with parents, professionals and other stakeholders and interested parties while also conducting research.

  The report includes 11 key Recommendations which focus on improvements which might be considered to the range of provisions which are currently available for children with Autism in schools. The report includes recommendations in relation to Crisis Situations. The report is available on the NCSE website www.ncse.ie.

  My Department has convened an Implementation Group 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. The work of the Implementation Group is ongoing.

  The NCSE are currently undertaking a Comprehensive Assessment of the SNA Scheme, which will examine the circumstances in which SNA support will be provided for behaviour related care needs.

  In response to a progress report from the NCSE on the comprehensive assessment, I 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 has commenced its work and it will run in tandem with the completion of the overall 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.

Special Educational Needs

 140. 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 if he will address concerns from schools regarding changes to student profiling (details supplied). [42900/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton DES Circular 0013/2017 for primary schools and 0014/2017 for post primary schools which were published on 7th March 2017, set out the details of the new model for allocating special education teachers to schools, introduced in all mainstream primary and post primary school in September 2017.

The revised allocation model replaces 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 new model provides a single allocation to schools based on the profile. Schools are frontloaded with resources to provide additional teaching support to all pupils who need such support. 

The Circulars note that for the introduction of the new allocation model, from September 2017, the NCSE ‘Low Incidence’ allocations which had been made for each school during the preceding 2016/17 school year, have been used to establish the complex needs component of the new model for each school.

This means that on the introduction of the new allocation model and until allocations are reviewed, no school will receive an allocation, for the support of pupils with complex needs, which is less than the allocation they had received to support pupils with Low Incidence special educational needs during the 2016/17 school year.

This also means that no allocation for pupils made by the NCSE will be removed from schools as long as that pupil remains in the school.

Whereas schools will have greater discretion as to how they can distribute resources under the new model, based on the individual needs of pupils, no reduction in allocations have been made to schools in respect of any pupils who were previously in receipt of a Low Incidence special needs allocation in that school.

A model for the identification of pupils with complex needs in future is being finalised by the NCSE, in consultation with the Health Service Executive and National Educational Psychological Services (NEPS)

This model will take account of the decision making process and qualification criteria for the selection of children for access to HSE Children Disability Network Teams.

For the next re profiling of the model, the Complex Needs category will be the existing low incidence allocations for schools, less any leavers included in this category, plus additional allocations for any new complex needs category pupils, over the period of time since the first school profiles were developed, to the point of the next re-profiling of the model.

Under the new allocation model schools are frontloaded with resources, based on each school’s profile, to provide supports immediately to those pupils who need it without delay. This will reduce the administrative burden on schools as schools will no longer have to complete an application process annually and apply for newly enrolled pupils who require resource hours. Children who need support can have that support provided immediately rather than having to wait for a diagnosis.

My Department has issued guidelines for schools to support them in the management of their SEN teaching resources. These guidelines are available on my Departments website.

Schools are encouraged to take guidelines on board in the planning process for the 2017/18 school year. In order to determine the levels of need within each school, it will be important for schools to have properly identified students with additional learning needs and have developed plans for each student indicating how the supports available will be used.

Responsibility for the management of behaviour in schools is a matter for individual schools. The Board of Management of each school is responsible for the care and safety of all of the pupils in their school and is required to prepare a code of behaviour in accordance with Section 23 of the Education (Welfare) Act 2000.

This code of behaviour shall specify the procedure to be followed before a student may be suspended or expelled from the school.  This code of behaviour should be available to all parents of pupils registered in the school.

The policy of my Department is to ensure that all children with special educational needs can be provided with an education appropriate to their needs.

Where possible, provision is made for the inclusive education of children with special educational needs. Department policy is that students with special educational needs should be included where possible and appropriate in mainstream placements with additional supports provided.

In circumstances where children with special educational need require more specialised interventions, special school or special class places are provided for.

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.

There are currently over 13,000 special educational Needs teacher posts in mainstream primary and post primary schools with an additional 900 teaching posts provided to support the introduction of the new model for allocating Special Education Teaching Resources to mainstream primary and post primary schools from September 2017.  

This year, 13,990 Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) are available for allocation to primary and post primary schools to the end of the 2016/17 school year, which is an increase of 32% in the number of posts available since 2011. SNA Circular 0030/2014 details the circumstances in which SNA support will be provided for behaviour related care needs. SNA support will only be provided for behaviour related care needs where there is a clear diagnosis of Emotional Behavioural Disturbance/Severe Emotional Behavioural Disturbance, or a behavioural disorder in conjunction with another disability, and also where it is clear that behavioural management strategies have not been successful to date, and where it is demonstrated how access to SNA support can assist the child.

As the Deputy may be aware, the NCSE are currently undertaking a Comprehensive Assessment of the SNA Scheme. In response to a progress report from the NCSE on the comprehensive assessment, I 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 has commenced its work and it will run in tandem with the completion of the overall 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.

Schools may seek advice from their local National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) psychologist, from the NCSE’s Support Service through the Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO), or from the National Behavioural Support Services, as to how children with behavioural needs can best be supported in school.

The Special Education Support Service (SESS) now also part of NCSE’s Support Service, provides continuing professional development (CPD) for teachers working with students with special educational needs, including training for teachers in the area of challenging behaviour and Autism. My Department is also currently examining the issue of developing guidelines for schools on the specific issue of restraint or intervention.

Published guidelines which are available to schools include:

- Supporting Students with Behavioural, Emotional, and Social difficulties, which is available on the Department's website www.education.ie;

- the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB) guidelines for schools on Developing a Code of Behaviour and the National Educational Psychological Services document Behavioural Emotional and Social Difficulties - a Continuum of Support: Guidelines for Teachers.

Teacher Recruitment

 141. 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 his plans in place to deal with the critical shortage of substitute teachers; and his further plans to tackle the shortage of Irish language teachers in secondary schools. [42901/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton In overall terms, my Department has no evidence of a recent or current shortage of primary teachers.  However, I am aware that some schools have experienced difficulty in recruiting adequately qualified substitute teachers, and I am committed to examining all possible means of addressing this issue.

The final report of the Technical Working Group on teacher supply, ‘Striking the Balance’ was published on 9th June 2017.  The report focusses on the development of a model of primary teacher supply, while outlining the work which will be required to establish a sustainable long term model of post primary teacher supply. In considering the model of teacher supply at primary level the report took account of many variables, including the number of additional teachers required to cover for teacher absences, such as illness, maternity leave, career break or secondment.

The report sets out an approach to planning the work necessary to develop a model for achieving a better balance between teacher supply and demand in the medium to long term. 

Officials of my Department are now considering how the development of a model can be progressed, from within available resources. The necessary actions will include engagement with the HEA in order to ensure that the supply of teachers meets demand and there is the correct balance of teachers in each of the various subject areas at post primary level, as well as measures to address data requirements, particularly at post primary level.

The Deputy will be aware that, in conjunction with the publication of the report, I announced a number of measures to increase the pool of teachers available to schools, in particular to fill short term vacancies. With regard to these measures, my Department informed all teachers retiring in 2017 that in order to remain eligible for employment in a state funded teaching post for a period of more than five consecutive days or to supervise the State examinations, a teacher must maintain his/her registration with the Teaching Council. In that regard, the Teaching Council also reminds teachers, through the renewal of registration process and where a teacher indicates that he or she is considering leaving the register, that if they wish to continue to work as a teacher following retirement in substitute and other positions they should maintain registration. 

The Deputy should note also that my Department has increased the limits for employment while on career break at post primary level to a maximum of 300 hours in a school year and at primary level to a maximum of 90 days in a school year. The matter of the employment of B Ed and PME students in limited circumstances on a short term basis is still under consideration in my Department.

It should also be noted that one of the main aims of the Policy on Gaeltacht Education 2017-2022 is to improve the quality of teaching through Irish. The identified actions in the Policy to achieve this aim includes increasing the number of places available on the existing Irish medium post primary Initial Teacher Education programme and the granting of two additional post to the Post-graduate Masters in Education in NUI Galway to increase teacher supply at post-primary level and strengthen Irish-language proficiency of newly qualified teachers across a range of subjects. It is anticipated that these action should also increase the supply of Irish language teachers.

Mental Health Services

 142. 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 his plans to tackle the shortage of behavioural therapists in some regions and the two year waiting list experienced by students to access the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, CAMHS.  [42902/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I can inform the Deputy that the provision of behavioural therapies falls under the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Health and the service is provided through the Health Service Executive (HSE). Any queries in this regard should be directed to my colleague, the Minister for Health.

Special Educational Needs

 143. 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 his views on whether it is appropriate for a child who has had the benefit of a special needs assistant, SNA, in national school to then go onto secondary school with no form of assistance.  [42903/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) are provided to assist recognised schools to cater for pupils with disabilities, who have additional and significant care needs, in an educational context and where the nature of these care needs have been outlined in medical and other professional reports as being so significant that a pupil will require additional adult assistance in order to be able to attend school and to participate in education. 

  The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), which is an independent statutory agency, is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating a quantum of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support for each school annually taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support enrolled in the school. 

  The NCSE allocates SNA support to schools in accordance with the criteria set out in my Department's Circular 0030/2014, which is available on my Department's website at www.education.ie, in order that students who have care needs can access SNA support as and when it is needed.  My Department’s policy is to ensure that every child who is assessed as needing SNA support will receive access to such support. 

  The Circular sets out that a key goal of SNA support is to help children to develop independent living skills, and that continued and ongoing access to SNA support is generally not desirable for post-primary students, unless essential, as it can impede their independence and socialisation needs at an important developmental stage of their life. Accordingly, whereas SNA support will be provided to post primary schools when required, only pupils with chronic and serious care needs will normally be allocated SNA support in post primary schools.

  In considering applications for SNA support from post primary schools, the NCSE will take into account the importance of the requirement to allocate necessary care supports with the right of a child to acquire personal independence skills.

  The level of SNA support allocated to all schools can change from year to year, as students with care needs leave the school, as new students with care needs enrol, or as students develop more independent living skills as they get older and their care needs diminish over time.

  All schools have been advised of their allocations for SNA support for the 2017/18 school year. Details of SNA allocations which have been made to schools have been published by the NCSE on their website at  http://ncse.ie/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/NCSE-17_18-SNA-Teaching-Allocation-to-Special-Schools2.pdf.

  Where a school has received its allocation of SNA support for 2017/18, but wishes new enrolments or assessments to be considered, which were not taken into account when the initial allocation was made, they may continue to make applications to the NCSE.

  The NCSE Appeals Process may be invoked by a parent or a school where it is considered that a child was not granted access to SNA support on the grounds that my Department's policy was not met in accordance with Circular 0030/2014. Schools may also appeal a decision, where the school considers that the NCSE, in applying DES policy, has not allocated the appropriate level of SNA supports to the school to meet the special educational and/or care needs of the children concerned

  All schools have the contact details of their local SENO and parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available on www.ncse.ie.

Question No. 144 answered with Question No. 139.

Special Educational Needs

 145. 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 his plans to address the two and a half year waiting list for access to a behavioural support unit at primary school level. [42905/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton This Government is committed to ensuring that all children with Special Educational Needs, including those with severe emotional behavioural disturbance, 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.

  Some students, although academically able to access the curriculum in mainstream, may find it too difficult to manage full-time placement there. Enrolment in a special class can be considered for these students where it has been demonstrated that he/she is unable to learn effectively in a mainstream class for most or all of the school day even with appropriate supports.

  Others students may have such complex needs that they are best placed in a special school.

  Since 2011, the NCSE has increased the number of special classes by over 130% from 548 to 1,300 across the country now, of which 1,042 are Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) special classes and 11 special classes cater specifically for Severe Emotional Behavioural Disturbance.

  The NCSE, which is an independent statutory agency, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), in consultation with the relevant education partners, is responsible for the establishment of special school and class placements 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. 

  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.

  In the case of all new schools, it is general practice to include a Special Needs Unit (SNU) in the accommodation brief for new school buildings, unless local circumstances indicate that it will not be required. Typically, a two classroom SNU is provided in new primary schools and a two or four classroom unit is provided in new post primary schools.

  In the case of existing schools, where a school is not in a position to accommodate a special class within its existing accommodation, it is open to the school to submit an application to the Department for capital funding to (i) re-configure existing spaces within the school building to accommodate the class or (ii) to construct additional accommodation.

  My Department continues to work with the NCSE to ensure that any required additional special class placements will be available for the forthcoming school years.

Teachers' Remuneration

 146. 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 his plans to address the imbalance in the teachers' pay scale which is seeing young graduates leave Ireland to take up more profitable positions abroad; and the timeframe for rectifying this imbalance.  [42906/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton As a consequence of the financial crisis, there was a need to enact a number of measures to reduce public expenditure so as to stabilise the country’s public finances. A previous Government reduced the salaries and allowances payable to all new entrants to public service recruitment grades by 10% with effect from 1 January 2011. This decision also required that such new entrants would start on the first point of the applicable salary scale, which in the case of teachers had the effect of reducing their starting pay by a further 4-5%. Later in 2011, the government placed a cap on the overall level of qualification allowances that could be earned by teachers.  

Subsequently in 2012, following the public service-wide review of allowances, the Government withdrew qualification allowances for new teachers altogether. However, the Government partially compensated for this by deciding that new entrant teachers would henceforth commence on a new salary scale which had a starting point higher than the starting point of the old scale.

The public service agreements have allowed a programme of pay restoration for public servants to start. I have used this to negotiate substantial improvements in pay for new teachers. The agreements have, to date, restored an estimated 75% of the difference in pay for more recently recruited teachers and deliver full equality at later points in the sale. This is substantial progress and strikes an equitable balance with other claims for funding on my Department, particularly needs such as enhanced service for children with special educational needs, for disadvantaged schools, for growing schools, for Higher Education and apprenticeships.

As a result of these changes and taking into account the proposed pay measures under the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020, the starting salary of a new teacher from 1 January 2018 will be €35,958 and from 1 October 2020 onwards will be €37,692. If full equalisation was achieved the starting salary for a post-primary teacher from 1 October 2020 would be €43,879 and for a primary teacher would be €41,511.

Further to this, newly recruited teachers benefit from the terms of the Ward Circular which reduced the qualifying period from a CID and the removal of the career break and secondment categories of objective grounds which had previously prevented some teachers from gaining CIDs. In addition to earlier permanency, other measures of benefit to newly recruited teachers included a revised sequence for the filling of posts to enable fixed-term and part time teachers to gain permanent, full-time jobs more quickly and easier than before.

It must be borne in mind that the pay reduction for post-2011 entrants to the public service applied to all public servants and not just teachers, and that any restoration of these measures in respect of teachers would be expected to be applied elsewhere across the public service. While I am not in a position to provide an estimate of the total cost of restoring all post-1 January 2011 entrants in all of the public service to the pre-2011 pay scale arrangements, I can say that in the case of education and training sector employees, including teachers, the estimated current full year cost (including new entrants recruited this September) would be in the order of €130 million. Clearly, the cost across the entire public service would be substantially higher.

However there are other types of equality that we must also bear in mind, for example equality between public servant and people who work elsewhere or don’t work at all. It would not be equal or fair for us to do unaffordable deals with particular groups of public servants that mean we do not have the money left in the public purse to provide increases in social welfare payments for vulnerable groups, tax reductions for people at work, or investments in improvements in public services that people rely on.

Any further negotiation on new entrant pay is a cross sectoral issue, not just an issue for the education sector. The Government also supports the gradual, negotiated repeal of the FEMPI legislation, having due regard to the priority to improve public services and in recognition of the essential role played by public servants.

Accordingly, the recently concluded draft Public Service Agreement 2018-2020 includes a provision in relation to new entrants which states that an examination of the remaining salary scale issues in respect of post January 2011 recruits at entry grades covered by parties to the Agreement will be undertaken within 12 months of the commencement of the Agreement.

Question No. 147 answered with Question No. 92.

Schools Administration

 148. 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 his plans to provide greater access to administration services for smaller schools that have a teaching principal (details supplied). [42908/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Circular 12/2016, which is available on the Department website, outlines the number of days that teaching principals may take as release time in a school year in order to assist them fulfilling their principal duties. Under these arrangements my Department pays for a substitute teacher to be employed by a school to facilitate administrative functions to be undertaken by the teaching principal. Under the current arrangements the number of days that principal teachers may take as release time in each school year ranges between 15 and 25 days depending on the size of the school.

Any further enhancements to the Principal Release Time Scheme, will have to be considered in the context of the budgetary process.

School Funding

 149. 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 if he has given consideration to providing funding and grants to schools in one payment either in January or at the start of the school term (details supplied). [42909/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton As the Deputy is aware my Department issues grants to schools in instalments throughout the school year. Good budgeting by Boards of Management should ensure that funding and grants received during the year are managed to cater for costs arising throughout the school year.

  A change in these arrangements would not result in an overall increase in funding to schools.   

  However, given that my Department’s funding from the Exchequer operates on a calendar year basis, there would be an additional cost associated with a change in the instalment arrangements. There is no capacity within current budgets to manage such a change.

   

Teacher Training Provision

 150. 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 if he will liaise with universities to ensure that teaching qualifications which are required are prioritised by third level institutions. [42910/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Deputy will be aware that the final report of the Technical Working Group on teacher supply, ‘Striking the Balance’ was published on 9th June 2017.  The report focusses on the development of a model of primary teacher supply, while outlining the work which will be required to establish a sustainable long term model of post primary teacher supply.  The report sets out an approach to planning the work necessary to develop a model for achieving a better balance between teacher supply and demand in the medium to long term. 

Officials of my Department are now considering how the development of a model can be progressed, from within available resources. The necessary actions will include engagement with the Higher Education Authority in order to ensure that the supply of teachers meets demand and there is the correct balance of teachers in each of the various subject areas at post primary level, as well as measures to address data requirements, particularly at post primary level.

Primary Online Database

 151. 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 if he will examine the issue whereby the pupils of a special needs school are automatically listed on the primary online database (details supplied).  [42911/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The purpose of the Primary On-line Database (POD) and the Post Primary On-line Database (PPOD) is to monitor the progress of children through the education system in order to ensure that every student can meet their educational potential, and to ensure that every child of compulsory school age is in receipt of an education. POD data underpins the provision of education in primary schools, including special schools while PPOD underpins the provision of education in post primary schools.   When the data from schools is verified, it is used as the basis for the provision of capitation grants, teacher and other resource allocation to schools, and provision of examination numbers from the State Examination Commission.

All Special Schools funded by my Department are currently established as primary schools which cater for children and young people with complex special educational needs from the age of 4 years until the end of the school year in which they reach their 18th year.

In the majority of special schools, the primary curriculum, modified as appropriate, is offered, to cater for the abilities and complexity of special educational needs of students attending special schools. Within this framework / provision, a special school may opt to provide certificate type programmes, FETAC, Junior Cycle, LCA, ASDAN, etc.

While it is a matter for school authorities to determine the school’s staffing requirements in accordance with the curricular requirements of the cohort of students attending the school, special schools employ primary qualified teachers who have general training around child development, with an emphasis on developing communication and literacy and numeracy as well as the initial teacher education experience in music, physical education, and the arts and drama. Primary teachers are qualified to teach a wide range of curriculum areas in special schools. In some special schools, post-primary qualified teachers who are specialists in a limited number of subject areas can be employed to cater for specialised subjects such as woodwork and home economics and leaving certificate level subjects.

Schools Administration

 152. 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 his plans to address the shortage of middle management positions across the school system. [42912/17]

 153. 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 his plans to address the level of policy change and scheme roll out which is having a severe effect on time management across schools.  [42913/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Questions Nos. 152 and 153 together.

  Budget 2017 provided for a new package of support for school leadership, including middle management posts for primary and post primary schools. 

  My department recently issued circular 0063/2017 Leadership and Management in Primary schools which sets out a framework for posts in recognised primary schools.

  The commencement of restoration of middle management posts as part of an agreed distributed leadership model means that the rigidity of the longstanding moratorium on these posts has been lifted and all primary schools can now fill middle management posts in line with circular 0063/2017. This recognises the key role school leadership has in promoting a school environment which is welcoming, inclusive and accountable.

  Discussions are ongoing with the post primary education partners with the view to agreement and publication of a circular as soon as possible.

School Accommodation

 154. 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 his plans to address the design criteria for special needs facilities in schools in view of the fact in some instances classrooms are designed on a large scale and certain students may require much smaller surroundings.  [42914/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I wish to advise the Deputy that the suite of accommodation provided in the design of special needs facilities typically includes a range of room sizes, including smaller ancillary spaces that allows for flexibility of both current and future use.

Special Educational Needs

 155. 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 his plans to examine the treatment of pupils diagnosed with behavioural or learning difficulties in view of the fact that in many instances a diagnosis is given after a long period of time, with no follow-on treatment.  [42915/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The policy of my Department is to ensure that all children with special educational needs, including children with behavioural or learning difficulties can be provided with an education appropriate to their needs.

Where possible, provision is made for the inclusive education of children with special educational needs. My Department's policy is that students with special educational needs should be included where possible and appropriate in mainstream placements with additional supports provided.

In circumstances where children with special educational need require more specialised interventions, special school or special class places are provided for.

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.

There are currently over 13,000 special educational needs teacher posts in mainstream primary and post primary schools which includes an additional 900 teaching posts provided to support the introduction of the new model for allocating Special Education Teaching Resources to mainstream primary and post primary schools from September 2017.

This year, 13,990 Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) are available for allocation to primary and post primary schools to the end of December, which is an increase of 32% in the number of posts available since 2011.

In addition, 169 new Special Classes have been opened for the 2016/17 school year, which means there are now over 1,300 special classes in place, compared to 548 special classes in 2011. 1,042 special classes cater for students diagnosed with ASD (including 103 Early Intervention ASD special classes) and 11 cater specifically for students diagnosed with severe emotional behavioural disorders.

125 special schools also provide specialist education for those students with complex special educational needs. 

Schools may seek advice from their local National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) psychologist, from the NCSE’s Support Service through the Special Educational Needs Organiser (SENO), or the National Behavioural Support Service, as to how children with behavioural needs can best be supported in school.

The Special Education Support Service (SESS) now also part of NCSE’s Support Service, provides continuing professional development (CPD) for teachers working with students with special educational needs, including training for teachers in the area of challenging behaviour, educational needs, including students diagnosed with severe behavioural disorders.

My Department’s National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) provides service to primary and post-primary schools countrywide.  In general schools may prioritise the service they receive from NEPS to support children with learning and/or behavioural difficulties. NEPS assists schools to identify needs, and appropriate interventions, to review the efficacy of these interventions and to adjust approaches used for these children, through the use of a student support planning process. 

The provision of direct treatment or therapies to children does not lie within the remit of my Department, to teachers or NEPS psychologist, per se, but in fact to the range of therapeutic services provided by the H.S.E..  It is to my colleague, the Minister for Health, therefore that I would advise that the Deputy’s question be directed in this regard.

English Language Training Organisations

 156. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the process for English language schools to become accredited by the Accreditation and Coordination of English Language Services, ACELS; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42931/17]

 157. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if the Accreditation and Coordination of English Language Services, ACELS, is currently taking new applications for accreditation from English language schools; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a number of providers are anxious to secure ACELS accreditation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [42932/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I propose to take Questions Nos. 156 and 157 together.

  ACELS (the Accreditation and Coordination of English Language Services) is a voluntary national scheme responsible for the recognition and inspection of English language schools. It is administered by Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). ACELS has been closed for new applications since January 2014 and it continues to operate on a voluntary, contractual basis for existing members.

The Deputy may be aware that a series of reforms to the student immigration system for international education have been implemented by the Department of Justice and Equality in association with my Department, in line with the Government decision of 19th   May 2015. The key reforms include the restriction of the list of education programmes considered to justify the granting of permission to students to live and work in Ireland (known as the Interim List of Eligible Programmes – the ILEP).

  As part of this process all providers of English language training wishing to recruit non-EEA students are now required to apply to the Department of Justice and Equality for inclusion on the ILEP. Further details on the ILEP criteria and application process are available on the website of the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) at: http://www.inis.gov.ie/en/INIS/Pages/Interim%20List%20of%20Eligible%20Programmes%20-%20ILEP.

  It is important to note that the holding of ACELS recognition is not a pre-requisite for inclusion on the ILEP. English language schools without ACELS recognition are eligible to apply for inclusion on the ILEP. The first full iteration of the ILEP was published by the Department of Justice and Equality on 20th January 2016 and the ILEP is updated at regular intervals by that Department.

  The ILEP is an interim measure until the introduction of the International Education Mark (IEM) for the provision of education to international learners, which is a core component of Government policy for the international education sector. The legislative amendments necessary to facilitate the introduction of the IEM are being progressed by my Department.

Special Educational Needs Staff

 158. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton when an additional SNA will be approved for a school (details supplied). [42949/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), which is an independent statutory agency, is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs) for allocating a quantum of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) support for each school annually taking into account the assessed care needs of children qualifying for SNA support enrolled in the school.

  The NCSE operates within my Department's criteria in allocating such support.  The criteria by which SNA support is allocated to pupils is set out in my Department's Circular 0030/2014.

  In considering applications for SNA supports for individual pupils, the SENOs take account of the pupils' needs and consider the resources available to the school to identify whether additionality is needed or whether the school might reasonably be expected to meet the needs of the pupils from its current level of resources. SNAs are not allocated to individual children but to schools as a school based resource.

  All schools have been advised of their allocations for SNA support for the 2017/18 school year. Details of SNA allocations which have been made to schools have been published 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 has received its allocation of SNA support for 2017/18, but wishes new enrolments or assessments to be considered, which were not taken into account when the initial allocation was made, they may continue to make applications to the NCSE.

  The NCSE Appeals Process may be invoked by a parent or a school where it is considered that a child was not granted access to SNA support on the grounds that my Department's policy was not met in accordance with Circular 0030/2014. Schools may also appeal a decision, where the school considers that the NCSE, in applying DES policy, has not allocated the appropriate level of SNA supports to the school to meet the special educational and/or care needs of the children concerned

  All schools have the contact details of their local SENO and parents may also contact their local SENO directly to discuss their child's special educational needs, using the contact details available at http://ncse.ie/seno-contact-list.

  As the matter raised in this question refers to an individual school, I have arranged for the NCSE to reply directly to the Deputy.

Special Educational Needs

 159. Deputy Michael McGrath Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton if he will address a matter raised in correspondence by a secondary school (details supplied) in County Cork in relation to special needs supports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42959/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I wish to advise the Deputy that under the new model for allocating special education teachers to schools, schools have been provided with a total allocation for special education needs support which includes a baseline allocation for the school and an allocation based on the school’s profile.

Details of the manner in which the allocations have been provided to schools are set out in my Departments Circulars 0013 and 0014 2017.

The provision of a profiled allocation is designed to give a fairer allocation for each school which recognises that all schools need an allocation for special needs support, but which provides a graduated allocation which takes into account the actual level of need in each school.

The school referred to in this question received an allocation of 49.55 hours special education teaching support, based on its school profile, and an enrolment of 45 pupils at the time the school profile was developed.

This is a substantial allocation of hours for a school of this size, which equates to over two special education teachers, to support a pupil enrolment of 45.

Whereas the profiled allocation had indicated a need of 35 hours for this school, based on its school profile and size, and relative to the profiled needs of all other schools, the school was allocated 49.55 hours, which was equivalent to the allocation the school received in the 2016/17 school year.

The school therefore has a retained element of 14.55 special education teachers hours within its allocation.

It is acknowledged and accepted that schools will have some additional pupils with special educational needs enrolling to their school subsequent to the profiles having been developed.

However, for the most part these will be balanced by the fact that some students who had additional teaching needs in the previous year will have left the school. The baseline is also designed to ensure that schools have some capacity to provide additional support to pupils. This school also has some additional capacity in the retained element of its allocation to absorb additional pupil movement.

Schools will therefore no longer have to make applications, for newly enrolled pupils for whom resource teaching hours may have been provided under the old model, or for pupils who have received a new diagnosis, as schools will now receive a single allocation for all of their special education teaching needs, based on their school size and profile.   

It should be noted that this is a brand new model of allocation and is not comparable to the previous model which had been in place.

By using a broad range of attainment and socio-economic criteria, it is expected that generally, a school’s profile will remain relatively constant from year to year.  Each year, some students with additional teaching needs will leave and others will enrol, broadly balancing the school profile. Resources allocated under this model will not normally be adjusted between allocations.

A process has also been put in place to address circumstances where the school profile significantly changed following the allocation process due to the fact that the school had rapidly developing status where the net enrolment numbers significantly increased.

This process also takes into account the position for new schools who may be rapidly expanding.

The criteria for qualification for mainstream school developing school posts are set out in DES Circular 17/2017 (Primary School Staffing Schedule) and DES 10,11,12/2017 (Post Primary School Staffing Schedule).

Schools who have qualified for additional mainstream developing school posts on the basis of developing growth in accordance with these criteria will also qualify for additional Special Education Teaching Allocations to take account of this developing status.

My Department has also issued guidelines for schools to support them in the management of their resources. These guidelines are available on my Departments website.

Schools are encouraged to take guidelines on board in the planning process for the 2017/18 school year. In order to determine the levels of need within each school, it will be important for schools to have properly identified students with additional learning needs and have developed plans for each student indicating how the supports available will be used.

In this context, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) will be available to support schools where these plans have been developed and implemented but the school considers that further support may be required. This support may involve Continuing Professional Development or further training for school staff, advice in relation to the support plan that is in place, and possibly a review process once schools can clearly demonstrate that exceptional circumstances have arisen in the school.

The NCSE will shortly be advising how schools can seek a review of the utilisation of their allocations in circumstances where a school considers that very exceptional circumstances have arisen subsequent to the development of the profile.  

The exceptional circumstances cited by this school can be considered as part of this review process.

Finally, in relation to the provision of a special class in the school, I wish to advise that the National Council for Special Education (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 continues to establish additional special classes to support children with Special Educational Needs, including Autism as required. 

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. 

The NCSE will liaise with the school referred to by the Deputy to establish whether there is a need to open a special class for pupils with Autism in this school, prior to the moving of the school to its new temporary location, and taking account of current special class placement availability in the local area.

Schools Building Projects Status

 160. 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 the status of an application (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43020/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The Deputy will be aware that a building project for the school in question is included in my Department's 6 Year Construction Programme.

  The preparatory work required to initiate the architectural planning process for this building project is currently underway and as part of this process, my Department recently met with the Local Authority.

  My Department will be in further contact with the school authority during the architectural planning process. 

Teaching Qualifications

 161. Deputy Thomas Byrne Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton the reason secondary teachers are required to complete a two year masters degree to qualify rather than a higher diploma; and his views on whether this is leading to cost pressures on young graduates.  [42202/17]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Recommendations for changes to initial teacher education were included in the National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Numeracy among Children and Young People 2011-2020 and were incorporated into the Teaching Council's “Policy Paper on the Continuum of Teacher Education” and “Criteria and Guidelines for Programme Providers”.

At post-primary level the content of courses has been reconfigured and their duration increased to two years. The decision to designate the reconfigured and extended programmes at Masters level was taken by the higher education institutions involved; my Department was not involved in this decision. However, I support the changes which, as I have already stated, are in line with the recommendations of the Literacy and Numeracy Strategy and aim to ensure that newly qualified teachers are better equipped for the needs of the modern day classroom.

The Deputy may wish to note that students entering post graduate programmes who meet the qualifying conditions for the special rate of grant under the Student Grant Scheme are eligible to have their post-graduate tuition fees paid up to the maximum fee limit of €6,270.  Alternatively, a postgraduate student may qualify to have a €2,000 contribution made towards the cost of their fees. The income threshold for this payment is €31,500 for the 2017/18 academic year, increasing relative to the number of family dependents.

In addition, students in third-level institutions experiencing exceptional financial need can apply for support under the Student Assistance Fund. This Fund assists students, in a sensitive and compassionate manner, who might otherwise be unable to continue their third level studies due to their financial circumstances. Details of this fund are available from the Access Office in the third level institution attended. 

Tax relief also is available on postgraduate tuition fees. Details in relation to this relief are available from the Revenue Commissioners.


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