Mick Wallace And now we have #EU High Representative @JosepBorrellF telling us that it's great news that #NorthMacedonia have si… https://t.co/l5x81Ay11M
Mick Wallace #COVID19 - Sadly, many #Israeli Defence Forces treat people of #Palestine worse than they treat animals - #Israel d… https://t.co/ozuTijM3wm
Mick Wallace RT @DerbyChrisW: My friend @wallacemick is absolutely right to point out that while Cuba and China have demonstrated solidarity with Italy…
Mick Wallace When will the rest of the 15 Billion that Ireland needs arrive? It's time for the @EU_Commission to show Solidarity… https://t.co/BGCM6cc0EV

To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if 170 of the 390 new special needs assistant posts announced on 3 December 2013, were allocated before the end of 2013; when the remaining 220 posts will be allocated; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

- Mick Wallace.

For PRIORITY answer on Tuesday, 21st January, 2014.

REPLY

The previous Government capped the number of SNA posts at 10,575 in December 2010. That cap remained in place until December 2013. The number of pupils in our schools has continued to increase since then. In December 2013, this Government agreed to increase the cap on SNAs by 390, increasing by 170 posts to 10,745 at the end of 2013, and by a further 220 posts to 10,965 at the end of 2014. The total number of posts currently allocated by the NCSE is 10,588 posts. The NCSE will decide, based on the number of valid applications received, on how many of the remaining posts need to be allocated to schools to meet pupils care needs. The additional posts provided will enable the NCSE to continue to allocate support to children who need it in order that they may fully participate in and benefit from their education.

To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will review his decision to exclude primary schools with existing book rental schemes from the new €15 million investment in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

-Mick Wallace. For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 21st January, 2014.

REPLY

I propose to take questions 131, 133, 137 and 154 together. First let me clarify that the Department will continue to provide a book grant as usual to all primary schools. This grant, can be utilised for the purposes of updating or expanding a school's existing book rental scheme. I want to commend all schools that have used it to help build up book rental schemes over the years. Their efforts mean that the high costs of school books is being significantly reduced for parents. At my request, the National Parents' Council surveyed the views of their members in relation to currently operating book rental schemes. Parents have reported that where book rental schemes operate, they are open to all parents in 95% of cases, and that the cost per child is under €40 per year in a considerable majority of schools.

Perhaps most tellingly, the survey has found that 93% of parents believe that book rental schemes help with the costs of educating a child. Ensuring that book rental schemes are available to all parents must therefore clearly be our aim.

I understand that it feels unfair to those schools who have invested time and money to establish such schemes, that they now cannot benefit from the additional funding which was secured as part of the Budget.

Of course it is unfair, but equally, the status quo was deeply unfair on many parents. The parents who had no access whatsoever to book rental schemes needed more support. With the limited funding available, I believe that targeting this funding - to make sure that every parent in Ireland has access to some level of a book rental scheme - was the greatest good that could be achieved.

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