11. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the immense work carried out by resource teachers with special needs children at a school (details supplied) under very difficult conditions; if following his sanctioning of a grant to build two new resource rooms, consideration will be given to covering the shortfall in actual costs in order that the staff and students can secure the learning environment that they need and deserve; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14260/18 asked on 29 Mar 2018 - Special Educational Needs Staff)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The school to which the Deputy refers was approved a devolved grant under my Department’s Additional Accommodation Scheme 2016 to provide 2 Resource Rooms.   This project was devolved to the School Authority for delivery.  
The School Authority recently submitted a request for additional funding based on the tender report and supporting documentation which was assessed by my Department.
I am pleased to inform the Deputy that a decision t...

27. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills the timeframe to end pay inequality in all teaching grades and to deal with the crisis in the shortage of teachers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 4843/18 asked on 01 Feb 2018 - Teachers’ Remuneration)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The public service agreements have allowed a programme of pay restoration for public servants to start. I negotiated together with my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, a 15-22% pay increase for new teachers. The agreements to date have restored an estimated 75% of the difference in pay for more recently recruited teachers and deliver full equality at later points in the scale.
As a result of the changes I negotiat...

63. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to deal with the crisis facing persons at a school (details supplied) in Dublin 8 in view of the fact that in September 2018 there will be no classroom facilities for special education teaching and just one junior infant class enrolled; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 4842/18 asked on 01 Feb 2018 - School Accommodation)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I wish to advise the Deputy that the school concerned is located in a former primary school building that was secured as part of Government policy on school divesting. 
The property is subject to a 10 year lease between the Edmund Rice Schools Trust (ERST) and the Minister for Education and Skills.  
As the Deputy is aware, the school has submitted an application to my Department for additional accommodation to facilitate expansion. 
How...

296. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills if consideration has been given to making occupational first aid training compulsory for all physically able teachers and SNAs (details supplied); if it will be fully funded by the Government; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54326/17 asked on 16 Jan 2018 - First-Aid Training)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Under the provisions of the Education Act 1998, the Board of Management is the body charged with the direct governance of a school. 
The Board of Management of each school is responsible for the care and safety of all of the students in their school and care and safety should be at the centre of all policy and practices.
The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) advise that, by law, employers and those who control workplaces to any extent, m...

49. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to review his Department’s policy on the provision of Irish language classes to children with an autism diagnosis in their main learning environment, specifically the non-provision of the subject to children in a school (details supplied) who attend a class for those with an autism diagnosis; his views on whether this is discriminatory, exclusionary and not equality based education when a child with ASD cannot access the primary school curriculum to the same degree as their mainstream peers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52017/17 asked on 06 Dec 2017 - Education Policy)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Special classes are part of a continuum of educational provision that enables students with more complex special educational needs to be educated, in smaller class groups, within their local mainstream schools. 
Students enrolled in special classes should be included, where possible, in mainstream classes and afforded the opportunity to access the full range of curricular areas, in line with their abilities, through differentiated teachi...

56. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to reconsider the recent cuts in learning support and resource allocation to a school (details supplied) which has meant that the school has effectively lost the services of a full-time teacher in this area; his views on he impact that this has had on the school, the staff and the pupils; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52008/17 asked on 06 Dec 2017 - Special Educational Needs Service Provision)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I wish to advise the Deputy that DES Circular 0013/2017 for primary schools and 0014/2017 for post primary schools were published on 7th March 2017. 
These Circulars set out the details of the new model for allocating special education teachers to schools. 
The revised allocation process replaces the generalised allocation process at primary and post primary school level for learning support and high incidence special educational needs, ...

111. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills the guidelines or Department policy regarding the voluntary contributions that many schools now request from parents of students as a matter of course; his views on the pressure that this puts on many families that are struggling to make ends meet; his further views on the fact that schools need to do this due to the fact that State funding falls short of school needs in many areas; his plans to address this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52105/17 asked on 06 Dec 2017 - School Costs)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Voluntary contributions may be sought from parents of pupils in recognised schools provided it is made absolutely clear to parents that there is no question of compulsion to pay and that, in making a contribution, they are doing so of their own volition and that a child’s place in the school or continued enrolment is not dependant on a willingness to make a contribution.  
The manner in which voluntary contributions are sought and collec...

220. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will clarify if there are outstanding issues or if further information is required regarding the progress and upgrade of a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 52055/17 asked on 05 Dec 2017 - Schools Building Projects Status)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): As the Deputy is aware, a building project for the school in question is included in my Department’s 6 Year Capital Programme. 
In that regard, my Department is awaiting clarification from the patron in relation to the current status of its plans to advance a development for a therapy building on the site. My Department sent further correspondence to the patron in this regard recently.
The matter will be considered further following rece...

50. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the lack of primary school teachers available to fill both long-term and short-term posts (details supplied); his plans to rectify this through setting up supply panels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44858/17 asked on 25 Oct 2017 - Teacher Recruitment)

Deputy Richard Bruton: The question is similar to that asked by Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan. I am pleased to have been in a position to significantly expand the recruitment of primary teachers, with 1,093 new primary teachers recruited in 2016-17 and 1,160 in 2017-18. The 2016-17 posts have been successfully filled and the process for filling the additional posts in the current year is almost complete. With regard to the 637 primary posts announced in budget 2018, my Department estimates there ...

62. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the financial hardship, immense stress and poor morale that is caused to teachers who continue to experience pay inequality; the steps he will take to address same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 44859/17 asked on 25 Oct 2017 - Teachers’ Remuneration)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): 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 agreement reached in September 2016 will see pay rises of between 15-22% (between €4600 and €6700) for new entrant teachers.  The agreements also provide for earlier permanency for younger teachers, new promotion opportunities and new flexibilities in w...

92. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the fact that, on average, primary school classes here have four to five more pupils than those throughout the EU; if provision will be made in budget 2018 to resume work on reducing class sizes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42472/17 asked on 10 Oct 2017 - Pupil-Teacher Ratio)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 92 and 147 together.
Budget 2016 provided for an improvement in the staffing schedule in primary schools by 1 point, from 1 teacher for every 28 pupils to 1 teacher for every 27 pupils for the 2016/17 school year and it should be noted that the current staffing schedule of 27:1 for primary schools has restored it to the position it was at prior to the fiscal crisis.
Budget 2017 set out the resources avail...

93. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the loss of 5,000 middle management posts in primary education; his plans to expedite the restoration of these posts by ensuring that provision is made in budget 2018 to do so; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42473/17 asked on 10 Oct 2017 - School Staff)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): 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...

94. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the fact that school grants were cut by 15% in the recession and that fundraising initiatives have to be taken on by schools to cover basic needs; if funding will be increased in budget 2018 to address this; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42474/17 asked on 10 Oct 2017 - School Funding)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I recognise the need to improve capitation funding for primary and post-primary schools having regard to the reductions that were necessary over recent years.
The Action Plan for Education aimed at making the Irish education and training service the best in Europe by 2026 outlines hundreds of actions to be implemented over the 3 year period 2016 to 2019 which include restoring capitation funding as resources permit.
The process is under ...

95. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to maintain the resourcing of DEIS schools, restore support services and attain a 15:1 maximum class size in DEIS band 1 junior classes by making suitable provision in budget 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42475/17 asked on 10 Oct 2017 - DEIS Expenditure)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): DEIS, Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools is the main policy initiative of my Department to address educational disadvantage which was updated earlier this year with the publication of DEIS Plan 2017. 
I wish to point out that the resourcing of DEIS schools has and will continue to be maintained. In fact, for the first time in ten years I extended the DEIS programme of supports to 79 new schools as well as providing additiona...

96. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to restore the supply panels of primary school teachers by making suitable provision in budget 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42476/17 asked on 10 Oct 2017 - School Staff)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): A value for money review of the Supply Teacher Scheme was published in July 2006. The review found that only approx. 60% of supply teachers’ time was used to cover sick leave absences. This reflects the unpredictable nature of sick leave absences. 
While there are benefits for schools in having these teachers it is considered more cost effective to use the normal substitution arrangements that apply to all other schools to cover sick lea...

97. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the impact that FEMPI has had on the livelihood and morale of school teachers; his plans to restore pay equality as a matter of urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42477/17 asked on 10 Oct 2017 - Public Sector Pay)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy 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 sca...

98. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on the hardship that the withdrawal of Government subsidies towards mandatory Gaeltacht courses for student primary teachers has caused; if these subsidies will be reinstated in budget 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 42483/17 asked on 10 Oct 2017 - Education Grants)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 91, 98, 102, 108, 109, 111 and 130 together.
The decision to stop the Gaeltacht placement grants was taken during the economic crisis when, unfortunately, very difficult decisions had to be made to stabilise the nation’s finances. Priority was given to protecting resources for front line education services as far as possible, which remains particularly challenging with rising numbers of school-going chil...

353. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount it would cost to remove fees for those engaged in part-time third-level education and to allow part-time third-level students access to SUSI grants; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 36393/17 asked on 26 Jul 2017 - Third Level Costs)

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor): Fees for part-time courses are a matter for the relevant institutions. However, based on enrolment data for part-time students provided by the HEA the estimated cost of extending the maintenance grant to Higher Education students would be €32m per year. 
The Deputy will be aware that tax relief is available for certain fees paid in respect of part time courses. Full details of this relief are available...

24. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to invest in third level mental health counselling; his further plans to ring-fence €3 million for student counselling and supports per annum; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 31574/17 asked on 06 Jul 2017 - Student Support Schemes)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): My Department allocates recurrent funding to the Higher Education Authority (HEA) for direct disbursement to the HEA designated higher education institutions. The HEA allocates this funding as a block grant to the institutions. As autonomous bodies, the internal disbursement of this funding, along with any funding it receives from private sources, is a matter for the individual institution.
Student services and associated activities are ...

121. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to begin a phased restoration to 2012 rates of student assistance fund, SAF, to reflect the real costs attached to participation in higher level education here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 30344/17 asked on 28 Jun 2017 - Student Assistance Fund)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 121 and 132 together.
In December 2012 An additional €3 million was approved to supplement the Student Assistance Fund (SAF) following a survey conducted by the HEA in relation to the demand for the Fund. 
This supplementary funding was a once-off exceptional measure which was taken in the context of long grant delays/issues encountered by Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) in its initial year of o...

85. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a school (details supplied) wishes to retain an extra school teacher it acquired in 2016; if the school can retain the extra teacher it acquired; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16498/17 asked on 05 Apr 2017 - School Staff)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The criteria used for the allocation of teachers to primary schools is published annually on the website of the Department of Education and Skills. The key factor for determining the level of staffing resources provided at individual school level is the staffing schedule for the relevant school year and pupil enrolments on the previous 30 September. The staffing arrangements for the 2017/18 school year (Circular 0017/2017) were published...

86. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will reverse the decision to make cutbacks in the provision of all learning support in English and mathematics and in the provision of resource hours at a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16499/17 asked on 05 Apr 2017 - Special Educational Needs Service Provision)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I wish to advise the Deputy that DES Circular 0013/2017 for primary schools and 0014/2017 for post primary schools were published on 7th March 2017.
These Circulars set out the details of the new model for allocating special education teachers to schools.
The revised allocation process replaces the generalised allocation process at primary and post primary school level for learning support and high incidence special educational needs, an...

276. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will grant a speech and language teacher to a school (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 16647/17 asked on 04 Apr 2017 - Speech and Language Therapy Provision)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The Programme for a Partnership Government includes a commitment to introduce a new in-school Speech and Language Therapy service, creating stronger linkages between parents, teachers and SLTs. The programme also commits to bring the number of SLTs up to 1,102 (a 25% increase).
The Programme for a Partnership Government also contains a commitment to examine the adequacy of the present policies and provision, and their scope for improveme...

29. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the delay in the proposed extension and refurbishment of a school (details supplied) is seriously impeding the school’s ability to increase its enrolment numbers to meet the growing educational demands in the Lucan area; if he will expedite stage 2A that has been with his Department’s technical staff for review since 6 January 2017 in order that the school can quickly proceed to stage 2B of the process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 10329/17 asked on 01 Mar 2017 - Schools Building Projects Status)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The Deputy will be aware from my earlier answer to Deputy Curran of the background to this project.  
The stage 2(a) report is currently under review in my Department. Stage 2(a) is a critical stage in the progress of any project. It effectively sets the final design of the building to ensure a high quality of accommodation and to facilitate a smooth progression through the applications for planning permission, fire cert and disability ...

72. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason for the delay in expediting stage 2A of the architectural planning process for the extension and refurbishment of a school (details supplied); the action that will be taken to move the process onto stage 2B as quickly as possible; if he will ensure that the revised opening date of September 2019 is met; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 10328/17 asked on 01 Mar 2017 - Schools Building Projects Status)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The Deputy will be aware of the background to this project from my answer to his earlier question today.  
The stage 2(a) report is currently under review in my Department. Stage 2(a) is a critical stage in the progress of any project. It effectively sets the final design of the building to ensure a high quality of accommodation and to facilitate a smooth progression through the applications for planning permission, fire cert and disab...