Written answers

Thursday, 16 May 2024

Department of Education and Skills

School Transport

Photo of Thomas GouldThomas Gould (Cork North Central, Sinn Fein)
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183. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if she is aware that a person (details supplied) has not received the grant for special school transport this year and if she will instruct officials to make the payment.; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22280/24]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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The School Transport Scheme is a significant operation managed by Bus Éireann on behalf of the Department of Education. In the current school year over 161,600 children, including over 135,000 pupils travelling on primary and post primary services, 19,800 pupils with special educational needs, and 6,800 pupils who have arrived to Ireland from Ukraine are transported on a daily basis to primary and post-primary schools throughout the country.

The total cost of the scheme in 2023 was €382.02m.

The National Council for Special Education acts in an advisory role to the Department of Education on the suitability of placements for children with special educational needs. Under the terms of the School Transport Scheme for Children with Special Educational Needs, the Department will consider the report of the Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO). School transport is provided to children with special educational needs who are attending the nearest school to their place of residence that is or can be resourced to meet their educational needs, as identified by the SENO.

The parent referred to by the Deputy has two children who are eligible for transport under the scheme for children with special educational needs. One child is eligible for transport in the 2024/25 school year and their application is currently being processed by Bus Éireann. A service was sanctioned for the other child during the 2023/24 school year. Bus Éireann has tendered this service in line with procurement guidelines. They have advised that the service is still out for procurement. Once a contractor has been sourced, the service will commence and Bus Éireann will liaise with the family directly.

Both the Department and Bus Éireann are very conscious of the challenges faced by parents awaiting transport for students with special educational needs. Families of children who are eligible for these services may therefore avail of the interim Special Transport Grant. This can be paid out during the school year to assist with the cost of private transport arrangements the family have put in place until services are finalised.

The periods of payment for the interim grant are aligned with the grant payment schedule for the Special Transport Grant. The parent of the child whose service was sanctioned during the 2023/24 school year received payment from School Transport Section for the first period, September to October 2023. The claim was processed following the submission of a completed Statement of Attendance form for that period.

School Transport Section has not received a further statements of attendance to cover the second payment period, November to the end of February inclusive. The family are welcome to contact the section, at school_transport@education.gov.ie, and my officials there will be happy to assist them in the procedure involved in submitting a claim.


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