169. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of participating schools implementing a healthy schools action plan. (Question 53797/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Schools Healthy Living Strategies)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): My Department is supportive of the promotion of healthy lifestyles in schools and has issued circulars to support and strengthen schools’ efforts in developing in young people the skills and attitudes needed to make informed decisions about their health.
Schools and the wider education sector in conjunction with parents and families have a crucial role to play in supporting students to make healthy choices. Through their primary and pos...

170. Deputy Brian Stanley asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding an application for new accommodation by a school (details supplied). (Question 53510/17 asked on 14 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 to which he refers is included in my Department’s 6 Year Construction Programme.  
The acquisition of a suitable site for the school’s permanent accommodation has recently been completed.  Arrangements are now being made to finalise the project brief for the school concerned with the aim of progressing the project into the architectural planning process.
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171. Deputy Imelda Munster asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of departmental staff, by departmental premises, and within statutory bodies within his remit, and their grades, employed in Drogheda. (Question 53531/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Departmental Staff Data)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): My Department has a regional office of the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) based at Drogheda. Presently the staffing cohort at the office consists of 1 Senior Educational Psychologist, 7 Educational Psychologists and 1 Clerical Officer.
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172. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the procedures set out in Circular 0059/2009 are underpinned by legislation; and if so, the relevant Act. (Question 53540/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Teacher Discipline)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 172 and 173 together.
Circular 0059/2009 set out the disciplinary procedures for teachers employed by Vocational Education Committees (VEC). A separate Circular (Circular 60/2009) sets out the disciplinary procedures for non-VEC teachers. The procedures were negotiated and agreed with the education partners in accordance with Section 24(3) of the Education Act, 1998. 
Circular 0059/2009 was superseded by...

173. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Education and Skills if there are exceptional circumstances in which the formal procedures set out in circular 0059/2009, as issued by his Department, do not have to be adhered to once the initiation of the formal process has begun; and if he will provide a list of these applicable circumstances. (Question 53547/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Teacher Discipline)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 172 and 173 together.
Circular 0059/2009 set out the disciplinary procedures for teachers employed by Vocational Education Committees (VEC). A separate Circular (Circular 60/2009) sets out the disciplinary procedures for non-VEC teachers. The procedures were negotiated and agreed with the education partners in accordance with Section 24(3) of the Education Act, 1998. 
Circular 0059/2009 was superseded by...

174. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of teachers that availed of the fee refund scheme in each of the years from 2011 to 2016; the average amount paid to teachers in fee refunds in each of the years from 2011 to 2016; if these payments differ between primary and post-primary teachers; the number of applications to avail of funding in each of the years from 2011 to 2016; the funding provided for the scheme in each of the years from 2011 to 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53548/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Teacher Fee Refund Scheme)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The purpose of the Teacher Fee Refund Scheme is to provide funding towards the cost of course participation and examination fees on successful completion of professional development courses that are directly relevant and of benefit to schools and that are subject to certification/award by an appropriate accreditation authority recognised by my Department. 
Applications for funding under the Scheme are made retrospectively for a course un...

175. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the funding his Department is providing for the creative youth programme in 2017; the allocation it will receive in 2018; and, if his Department is allocating funding, the amount being provided for media promotion of the programme. (Question 53551/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Creative Ireland Programme)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): My Department has supported the Creative Ireland programme throughout 2017 with funding for two elements of the Creative Youth programme. 
Two teachers were seconded to the Arts Council in September of this year to begin work on Scoileanna Ildánacha/Creative Schools. This initiative will begin a pilot cohort of 150 schools across primary and post-primary levels in 2018. 
Additionally, the primary school CPD initiative, ‘Teacher-Artist Pa...

176. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the Acts, or parts of Acts, awaiting commencement within his area of statutory responsibility; the reason for the delay in the commencement of each; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53566/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Commencement of Legislation)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The information that the Deputy has requested is set out in tabular form. 
 Act Sections yet to be commenced Details Teaching Council Act 2001 Sections 39 This section relates to the continuing education, training and professional development of teachers. In relation to commencement, regard will be had to the development by the Teaching Council of Cosán, the national framework for teachers’ learning which has entered a develop...

177. Deputy Tom Neville asked the Minister for Education and Skills his views on a matter (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53595/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Public Sector Pay)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The Public Service Pay and Pensions Bill 2017, which gives effect to the pay measures contained in the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 (PSSA), is currently being considered by the Oireachtas. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has overall responsibility for the Bill. The PSSA provides a framework for further negotiation on a number of issues, including new entrant pay. 
Public service agreements have already del...

178. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the amount that was spent on the provision of counselling services at third level in each of the years from 2013 to 2017; and the amount that has been allocated for the year 2017-2018. (Question 53613/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Third Level Expenditure)

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 institutions. The HEA allocates this as a block grant to institutions to cover teaching, research and supporting activities. The internal allocation of this grant is a matter for each institution.
However, details of expenditure incurred in respect of counselling services in the third level sector are outlined below as req...

179. Deputy Thomas Byrne asked the Minister for Education and Skills the ratio of students to teaching staff in each of the years from 2013 to 2017 at third level. (Question 53614/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Pupil-Teacher Ratio)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The current staff:student ratio in the higher education sector is 21:1. This is calculated based on the 2016/17 enrolment figures.  This is based on the ratio of full time students to core teaching staff. A breakdown of the ratio for the years 2013 - 2017 is detailed for information.
Higher education is a priority for this Government. Budget 2017 provided the first increase in higher education funding since 2009. This process of reinvest...

180. Deputy Brendan Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason a housing estate (details supplied) is geographically split in two for the purposes of deprivation indices used for qualification for the higher education access route, HEAR, scheme; his plans to address this in order that all residents of the estate are treated equally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53708/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Higher Education Schemes)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): HEAR is a college and university admissions scheme offering places on reduced points and extra college support to school leavers from socio-economically disadvantages backgrounds. 
The HEAR scheme is operated by the Irish Universities Association (IUA) and regulated by the higher education institutions themselves and not by my Department. The operational management of HEAR has transferred from the Shared Services Unit in the IUA to the C...

181. Deputy Charlie McConalogue asked the Minister for Education and Skills when an extension for a school (details supplied) will go to construction; if every effort will be made to expedite this project in view of current accommodations in the school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53709/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Schools Building Projects Status)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The major building project referred to by the Deputy is at an advanced stage of architectural planning Stage 2b (Detailed Design), which includes the application for statutory approvals and the preparation of tender documents. All statutory approvals have been secured.
The Stage 2b submission has been reviewed by the Department and in August 2017 my Department issued comments on the stage 2b submission to the school and its Design Team. ...

182. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he has received correspondence from a school (details supplied); if the financial assistance to the school will be increased in order to deliver high quality education as Gaeilge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 53711/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Departmental Schemes)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): I can confirm that I have received the correspondence referred to and a response has issued.  
The school in question has opted to participate in the Gaeltacht School Recognition Scheme which provides schools with the opportunity to access extra supports and resources on the basis of the implementation of specified language-based criteria. To date, these resources have included additional continuing professional development and informati...

183. Deputy Kevin O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the evaluation of new design options in respect of a school (details supplied). (Question 53731/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Schools Building Projects Status)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The school referred to by the Deputy were requested to submit architectural size site drawings recently for each of the proposed options and these have now been received. It is now proposed to arrange for a site visit by a member of the Department’s Professional and Technical staff to review the options presented. When this is completed my Department will be in contact with the school authority.
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184. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Education and Skills if his Department will select and approve a suitable long-term site within a local community for a school (details supplied) in time for it to move to a more appropriate location for the 2018-2019 school year; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54057/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - School Accommodation)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): As the Deputy may be aware, a project to provide permanent accommodation for the school in question is included on my Department’s Capital Programme.
Officials in my Department are liaising with officials in the relevant local authority in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding in relation to the identification and acquisition of a suitable site to facilitate this project. 
All parties are working to advance this progress as exp...

185. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills if provision is made in his Department’s Estimate for 2018 for a minor works grant scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54062/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Minor Works Scheme)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): There are significant demands placed on the 2018 education capital budget due to demographic pressures, and the imperative of ensuring a school place for every child.
I indicated to the House last week that it is unlikely the Minor Works Grant 2018/2019 will issue during the 2018 calendar year and that it will probably have to be paid early in 2019. 
I should point out that the payment of the Minor Works Grant is not confined to any part...

186. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills when the details of the 2018-2019 higher education grant scheme will be made available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54119/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Student Universal Support Ireland)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The 2017 scheme was published on the 31st of March 2017. Details of this scheme can be accessed via the SUSI website at https://susi.ie/resources/. 
It is anticipated that the 2018 Scheme & Regulations will be published in late March or early April 2018.
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187. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to exclude students’ part-time earnings in the assessment of means for the higher education grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54120/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Student Grant Scheme Eligibility)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The assessment of means under my Department’s student grant scheme is based on gross income from all sources, with certain social welfare and health service executive payments excluded.
In the assessment of means, a deduction of up to €4,500 may be applied to student earnings outside of term time but within the reference period. 
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188. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the approximate time it takes to make new consortia-led apprenticeships operational to apprentices from call for proposals stage to validation by Quality and Qualifications Ireland, to being available for new enrolments; the detail of each stage in the approval and qualification process; and the approximate time it takes for each stage in the process. (Question 54126/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Apprenticeship Programmes)

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills (Deputy John Halligan): There are 10 main steps involved in developing a national apprenticeship, from research and formulating the outline proposal (step 1) to rolling out the programme with employers and apprentices (step 10).  These steps are not necessarily linear and a number can be taken in parallel.  Further detail on these steps is set out in the guidance material published in conjunction with the second call and is available at...

189. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Education and Skills the photography costs for his Department in each year since March 2011, inclusive of costs incurred from use of the ministerial allowance; the list of occasions for which photographers were booked; the photographers used; the costs associated with each occasion that a photographer was used, in tabular form; if there is a policy regarding the booking of photographers within his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54226/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Departmental Expenditure)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The table contains details of expenditure by my Department in relation to photography as requested by the Deputy.
Cost Breakdown
 Year Event Photographer Net VAT Gross 25/08/2017 Minister Bruton Portraits Maxwell Photography  € 182.00  €  41.86  €223.86 28/08/2017 Minister Mitchell O’Connor Portraits Maxwell Photography  € 154.00  €  35.42  €189.42 15/09/2017 Minister Halligan Portraits Maxwell Photography  € 1...

190. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Education and Skills the use of external public relations firms employed by his Department in each year since March 2011; the list of uses of the external public relations firm; the internal Department policy with regard to employing external groups; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54242/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Public Relations Contracts Expenditure)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): The engagement of external expertise is considered where the matters involved require expert skills or capabilities that are not readily available within my Department. Such engagement is procured in accordance with the provisions of the Department of Finance “Guidelines for the Engagement of Consultants and other External Support by the Civil Service”. 
The information sought by the Deputy in respect of the period from 2014 to 2016 is s...

191. Deputy Shane Cassells asked the Minister for Education and Skills the external consultant reports commissioned by his Department since March 2011; the costs per report; the company involved; the title of the report; and the publication date, in tabular form. (Question 54258/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Consultancy Contracts Expenditure)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Details of consultancy payments made by my Department for the years 2011 to 2016 inclusive are available on the Department’s website http://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Corporate-Reports/Financial-Reports/Expenditure-on-Consultancy/. Information in relation to consultancy expenditure is compiled annually in respect of the previous year. Details in respect of consultants engaged in 2017 will be compiled in Q1 2018 and will be publishe...

192. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the level of expenditure by his Department from 1 January 2017 to date in 2017 on advertising of Government information campaigns published specifically in national and regional newspapers in addition to all online advertising for all such Government information campaigns; the name for each such information campaign to which this expenditure related; the cost of each, in tabular form. (Question 54274/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Departmental Advertising Expenditure)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Details in relation to advertising for information campaigns in 2017 in my Department will be collated in early 2018. I will arrange to have the information forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it has been compiled.
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193. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Education and Skills the level of expenditure by his Department or organisations under the aegis of his Department from 1 January 2017 to date in 2017 on photography, advertising, communications advice, public relations, website development, media interview training and preparation; the events, campaigns or policies to which this expenditure related; the company or person to which such payments were made, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 54290/17 asked on 14 Dec 2017 - Departmental Expenditure)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Details in relation to expenditure on photography, advertising, communications advice, public relations, website development and media interview training and preparation in 2017 in my Department is not collated until early 2018. I will arrange to have the information forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it has been compiled.
The information requested by the Deputy in respect of agencies is not held centrally by the Department. If the Deput...