Written answers

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Department of Education and Skills

School Staff

Photo of Gary GannonGary Gannon (Dublin Central, Social Democrats)
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230. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills further to Parliamentary Question No. 109 of 25 March 2021, the number of substitutable days that have gone uncovered in this school year; the number of such days that have been subsequently claimed against via the new mechanism for banking such days according to the online claims system; the number of days a supply panel teacher was left unbooked separating days school buildings were open to days they were closed; the number of days that have been covered using the five-day rule for unqualified personnel; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18053/21]

Norma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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Based on the reports received from schools for the first term of the 2020/21 school year, the Substitute Teacher Supply Panels were running at an average of 94% efficiency. The relevant schools are currently forwarding the reports in respect of the second term, therefore the information requested by the Deputy is not currently available.

A separate report shall issue to the Deputy directly providing the other information. This information has to be extracted from the payroll databases, checked and validated before issuing.

Photo of Gary GannonGary Gannon (Dublin Central, Social Democrats)
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231. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the way in which the supply panel will be expanded for the 2021-2022 school year to meet demand; and the way in which SET provision will be expanded to make up for the loss of learning during the academic year 2020-2021. [18054/21]

Norma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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Among the COVID-19 supports provided for the 2020/21 school year was the extension of the Substitute Teacher Supply Panel. Currently, there are 115 Substitute Teacher Supply Panels nationwide, with almost 330 newly appointed Supply Panel teachers employed, providing substitute cover to almost 2,300 schools across the country. The proficiencies of the Substitute Teacher Supply Panels is being monitored throughout the school year and will be reviewed by my Department at the end of the current academic year.

There are currently over 13,600 Special Education Teachers allocated to mainstream primary and post primary schools. This represents an increase of 40% in the total number of special education teachers allocated to schools since 2011, at which time 9740 teachers were allocated. The allocations are based on the profiled needs of schools and are designed to be updated, based on new school profile data, every 2-3 years. In the interim, additional allocations are made for new schools, or schools which have significantly developing enrolments.

In order to minimise disruption for schools, and to provide for continuity of allocations, the existing Special Education Teacher Allocations for schools will be maintained for the 2021/22 school year, with re profiled allocations now due to be made from September 2022. The Covid-19 pandemic and associated schools closures has hugely adverse consequences for many children and their families. The effect on children with complex special educational needs can be even greater.

Accordingly, my Department has taken a number of measures to support children with special educational needs during the school closure period. These measures include

- Providing additional guidance and supports aimed to improve remote learning for children with Special Education Needs in 2020/21 school year

- Prioritising the return of pupils with special education to school, during the phased reopening of schools

- Making provision for a supplementary education programme for pupils with special educational needs. The supplementary programme is intended to supplement the teaching and learning provided by the student’s school and alleviate the impact of this period of school closure through the provision of one to one in-person teaching or care support to be delivered in homes.

- My Department is also planning to provide for an enhanced summer programmes this year for children with complex special educational needs and those at risk of educational disadvantage.

A number of measures have therefore been taken to support children with special educational during the school closure period, and to support their return to school. There are no plans at this time to increase the number of Special Education Teachers which are allocated to schools. However, as schools reopen, and the effect of school closures on pupils can be assessed, further measures may be introduced, if necessary.

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