Tuesday, 29 February 2000
Dáil Eireann Debate
320. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there can be up to seven schools in a remedial teacher cluster in west Cork; if he accepts that this is an unacceptable arrangement with valuable teaching time being lost in travelling; and if he will set a maximum number of schools for involvement in remedial teacher clusters. [5894/00]
My Department's first priority has been to ensure that all schools have access to a remedial teacher service. This was achieved from September 1999 when the service was extended to every primary school in the country with a pupil teacher ratio of 10:1 or above. Schools with lower pupil teacher ratios may also seek remedial support from my Department where the level of their particular need warrants a service.
The special education review committee recommended that the general criteria for establishing remedial need should relate to pupils identified as being below the tenth percentile on standardised tests in basic literacy and numeracy. The committee also recommended that the caseload of a remedial teacher catering for a single school should be 40 pupils. Where the post serves a cluster of schools, the committee recommended that the caseload be reduced by two for each school which is additional to the base school, subject to a maximum reduction of eight pupils.
In extending the service to all schools, my Department sought to deploy the available resources in a manner which reflected the approach recommended by the special education committee. In some situations, including the case to which the Deputy refers, the small size of the schools involved and their geographical locations required that posts be deployed on a shared basis. In all such instances, every effort was made to  structure the clusters in a manner which minimised travelling times between schools.
321. Mr. Perry asked the Minister for Education and Science if, further to Parliamentary Question No. 650 of 2 November 1999 and correspondence submitted, a decision has been made regarding the permanency of a French teacher position for a person (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5914/00]
Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): Up to 95% of the initial teacher allocation to a community school for a particular school year may be filled by the appointment of teachers in a permanent capacity.
In the event of a permanent vacancy arising in the school referred to by the Deputy within the agreed limit of 95% of the initial teacher allocation, it will be a matter for the board of management of the school in the first instance to decide on the subject area to be catered for and the post in question will have to be filled through open competition.
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