CREED WELCOMES APPROVAL FOR NEW CLASSROOMS IN CORK NORTH WEST SCHOOLS

DONOUGHMORE, BALLINGEARY & CHARLEVILLE TO BENEFIT FROM IMPROVED FACILITIES

Cork North West TD Michael Creed, has welcomed the provision of funding to three schools in Cork North West to develop new classrooms. Commenting on the allocations Deputy Creed said;

“I am pleased that funding is to be provided to Scoil Naomh Laichtín Donoughmore, CBS Secondary School, Charleville, and Scoil Mhuire, Beal Athan Ghaorthaidh for the development of additional classroom accommodation”.

“This Government have endeavoured to continue investment in our educational infrastructure despite the difficult economic climate. I am confident that this funding will greatly benefit pupils and the staff of these three schools”

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CREED WELCOMES SUPPORT FOR CORK NORTH WEST SCHOOLS UNDER THE SUMMER WORKS SCHEME

Cork North West T.D. Michael Creed has today (Thursday) welcomed the inclusion of ten schools from the Cork North West Constituency in the Summer Works scheme for 2014. S.N. Cnoc An Bhile, Castlealack N.S, S.N. Baile An Mhuirne, Boherbue N.S, Scoil Mhuire Kanturk, St Mary’s Secondary School Macroom, Scoil Mhuire Béal Atha An Ghaorthaidh, McEgan College Macroom and Millstreet Community School will all receive money to improve and upgrade existing school buildings. This first round of funding will allow schools to carry out small and medium scale building works across three categories of projects – Gas, Electrical & Mechanical. Commenting on the announcement Deputy Creed said:

“The recommencement of the Department of Education’s Summer Works Scheme is significant in that it marks a return to normal funding of our Educational infrastructure following the economic crisis. The Summer Works scheme was one of the first schemes to be cut during the recent economic crisis and I am encouraged to see it restored under this Government”.

“The Scheme provides support for schools to undertake important upgrading and maintenance work during the summer months. While the sums of money involved are modest, this support is hugely beneficial to each and every individual school. Furthermore this scheme empowers school management to engage local contractors to carry out the works and therefore is a boost to the local economy”.

“A second round of the scheme is expected to be announced in coming weeks. This round will cover other types of improvement works, with applications still being assessed”.

CREED RAISES LACK OF ACCESS TO PRE-SCHOOL SERVICES FOR CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS DURING TOPICAL ISSUES DEBATE

Cork North West TD has raised the matter of the lack of supports for children with special needs/disability to access pre-school services during a special Topical issues debate on the matter, requested by the Deputy. Speaking during the debate Deputy Creed said:

“I thank the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, for taking this debate. The issue of appropriate supports for children with disability in the preschool year appears to fall between the remit of a number of Departments. The Department of Education and Skills is responsible for children with a disability attending mainstream schools. I refer to a very welcome initiative in recent years which is the provision of special needs assistants. I have been pursuing this issue as have other Deputies, including my constituency colleagues, on foot of representations made to us about individual cases. I refer to last week’s debate on a Private Members’ motion tabled by Deputy Troy. While there is some momentum to address the issue, it still seems that no particular Department is willing to take ownership of it”.

“To put the problem in context I refer to a letter I received from the HSE on foot of representations I made about an individual case. The HSE letter in reply reads: “There is no obligation for a service under the ECCE grant to take a child with special needs if they cannot provide supports.” In other words, they can simply refuse to take a child and that child will sit at home instead. The Minister of State, Deputy Lynch, will be aware that this issue is a long time on the agenda. In the 1996 report to the Government by the Commission on the Status of People with Disabilities, it was stated on the issue of preschools that it should be the responsibility of the Department of Education to provide high quality appropriate preschool services to the children with disabilities. The Minister of State might well reply that she was not in office on that occasion and she may wash her hands of that report but the National Disability Strategy Implementation Plan 2013-2015 states as an aspiration to improve supports for children with disabilities in the preschool year. It stated that the outcome desired is to improve school readiness and learning for children with disabilities and that one of the key indicators will be to have more than 50% of children in preschool year in receipt of appropriate supports. The flip side is that almost 50% of children with disabilities are not receiving the appropriate supports and I suspect that a substantial minority of those children who are not getting the appropriate supports are unable to avail of the preschool year and consequently start at a disadvantage in their formal education in the primary school system, behind their peers by virtue of a learning or a physical disability”.

“I take my hat off to many of the community providers of early childhood education who through their own resources are providing funds for special needs assistants or other supports needed for these children. The system is too ad hoc. One child who cannot avail of the preschool year is one too many, but regrettably there are many children. I cannot quantify the number but perhaps the Minister of State can do so”.

“I welcome the cross-departmental endeavour under way but I remain to be convinced that somebody is taking ownership of the issue, even if not to the extent outlined in the National Disability Strategy Implementation Plan 2013-2015, which has a timeline to have this issue addressed by September 2016. It is feasible to have this issue addressed if there is a willingness to so do, by September 2014, in order that children with disabilities would be on the same footing as any other child and available to take up a place in early childhood education”.

I acknowledge that this issue is cross-departmental in nature, coming also under the remit of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. The Minister of State referred to additional funding of €4 million that has been allocated in 2014 specifically to drive implementation of the programme on progressing disability services for children and young people. This allocation amounts to the provision of 80 additional therapist posts. My understanding, however, is that this will not facilitate a single child in accessing the early childhood care and education programme.

“The issue I am raising here is not about assessment of needs. I am referring to a situation where a child who has a specific disability, be it a physical disability or a learning disability, is refused a place by a local child care provider on the basis of that disability. My understanding is that these service providers are paid on a per capita basis. Perhaps the cross-departmental group might consider an arrangement whereby a portion of funding would be held in reserve to accommodate whatever additional resources are required by individual service providers to provide, for example, a special needs assistant for one child or a wheelchair for another. In each individual case, the funding held in reserve could be used to facilitate that child’s access. The provision of funding for 80 therapist posts is not the issue. It is about ensuring that when parents approach a local service provider, the latter cannot turn their child away because he or she has a disability. That position would not be countenanced at primary school and it should not be countenanced at preschool. If we are serious about addressing these types of issues, there must be a much faster implementation of the objectives outlined in the national disability strategy for 2016. This particular issue should be resolved by next September”.

CREED CRITICAL OF ACCESS FOR CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS TO PRESCHOOL SERVICES

Cork North West TD, Michael Creed has called for the Minister for Children & Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald T.D. to take responsibility for children with special needs who are currently being excluded from mainstream pre-schools. Speaking during a Dáil debate on Childcare, Deputy Creed said “it is an indictment of us all that we could table a motion and an amendment and discuss universality while locking the door on these children. It is also an indictment of the HSE to claim that there is no obligation”. During his speech Deputy Creed continued

“I refer to a response I received from the HSE in reply to representations I made about access for a child with autism to the ECCE year. The relevant section of the letter stated that on querying supports for children with special needs attending mainstream preschools under the scheme, the HSE was advised that there is no obligation for a service under the ECCE grant to take a child with special needs if it cannot provide supports. The letter stated that the preschool should have a meeting with the parent and child before enrolment to identify whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of the individual child. I regret to say that I have tried to pursue this issue with the Department which says that it is not its responsibility”.

“I have tried to pursue it with the HSE to be told that it is not its responsibility and that it is the responsibility of the contract holder to provide the service. I have tried to pursue it with the Department of Education and Skills which tells me it deals with children with disabilities, universal access for children to primary school and providing special needs assistant supports but that this is not its baby, to pardon the pun. In response to a parliamentary question on this issue, the Minister for Health said that “while the Health Service Executive has no statutory obligation to provide supports for children with special needs wishing to avail of the free pre-school year, it works at local level”, blah, blah, blah, ad hocery”.

“If we are to achieve anything in this debate, I implore the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to take a hold of the issue. Thousands of children and parents throughout the country are locked out of the early childhood care and education, ECCE, year. If we want a universal system, it must take account of such children and their needs. Like the Department of Education and Skills, the Minister should hold a little in reserve. We may not necessarily have the additional resources necessary, but she should hold a little in reserve and pay a higher capitation level to the individual contract holders under the ECCE scheme who will take on these children. They deserve the early childhood year as much as any other child. It is an indictment of us all that we could table a motion and an amendment and discuss universality while locking the door on these children. It is also an indictment of the HSE to claim that there is no obligation”.

“I congratulate the Minister. This is my first opportunity to discuss these issues since she became Minister. She has achieved much in a short time. I also acknowledge what has been achieved by others, but this is a glaring deficit. There is no universality if we lock the door on children with disabilities. I implore the Minister to take this issue on board”.

CREED WELCOMES NEW EXTENSION FOR CLOGHDUV N.S.

Cork North West TD. Michael Creed has this morning (29/11/2013) welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn that Cloghduv National Schools is to receive funding for a new extension to the school. Commenting on the announcement Deputy Creed said;

“I am delighted that Cloghduv National School has been included in the 2014 School Building programme. Funding will be provided for the construction of a new extension to the school under the Government capital investment scheme in education”.

“I am aware of the hard work and dedication to this project on behalf of the staff, board of management and parents of Cloghduv National school, and am pleased that their efforts are now being rewarded”.

CREED WELCOMES FUNDING FOR THREE NEW CLASSROOMS FOR BALLINORA N.S.

Cork North West TD, Michael Creed, has welcomed the announcement that funding will be made available to Ballinora National School, for the construction of three new classrooms to replace existing pre-fabricated accommodation currently being used by the school.  Commenting on the announcement Deputy Creed said:

 

“I am delighted Ballinora have received the go ahead to construct three new classrooms to replace existing pre-fabs in the school.  I would like to pay tribute to the efforts of the principal his staff, the board of management and the parents association who have worked hard in putting together an application for funding under the pre-fab replacement scheme”.

 

“The Department’s School Building Unit will be writing to the 46 schools covered under the 2013 programme in the coming days offering grant aid for replacement of rented prefabs.  This initiative will replace 37 resource rooms and 119 mainstream classrooms with permanent accommodation which will cater for over 3,300 pupils”.

 

“A total of €15 million has been allocated for this initiative in 2013/2014.  It is anticipated that further rental savings of €2m per annum will be achieved as a result of this most recent prefab replacement scheme.  This is in addition to the estimated €5m per year savings which will be achieved as a result of the 2012 prefab replacement scheme”. 

 

 “The annual rental bill for prefabs was almost €30m each year when this Government took office.  Between the 2012 and 2013 prefab replacement schemes, this amount will be reduced by almost 25%.  The Programme for Government contains a commitment to reduce the reliance on rented prefabs in schools and this second initiative builds on the success of the previous scheme.  The new initiative will result in the creation of an estimated 300 direct and 60 indirect jobs in the coming years”.

CREED WELCOMES FUNDING FOR NEW CLASSROOMS IN KILMURRAY & CUIL AODHA NATIONAL SCHOOLS

Fine Gael TD for Cork North West, Michael Creed  has today welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Education, Ruairí Quinn, that two schools in Cork North West will receive grant aids to replace their existing prefab classrooms with permanent structures.

 

“I am delighted that Cuil Aodha & Kilmurray National Schools will finally be able to build permanent, state-of-the-art classrooms, after so many years of wasting a huge amount of money renting prefab classrooms, which could have been put towards other vital education services.

 

“For many years during the height of the boom, Fine Gael consistently called for this serious waste of money which was spent on renting prefabs to be addressed. Despite the massive amount of spending that went on during the boom, the previous Government did nothing to address this. Instead they continued renting prefabs; in 2007 alone, 715 new rental contracts were signed.

 

“I am delighted that this Government is now addressing this problem and 200 permanent structures across the country will be built this year, which covers over a third of all schools who currently rent prefabs. A total of €35 million has been allocated and it is estimated the 6,000 pupils will benefit.

 

“Since this Government was formed, the Minister for Education has been focused on reforming our education system, despite constrained resources. Today’s announcement is an example of identifying where money is being wasted. Building sustainable classrooms will save approximately €5 million per year and create an estimated 700 direct and 140 indirect jobs.

 

“This announcement is not part of the five-year building programme which will be announced in the coming weeks. Today’s initiative forms part of the Government’s €430 million education infrastructure plan for 2012. The investment in the School Building Programme this year, including the replacement of prefabs, will create an estimated 3,250 direct and 650 indirect jobs.”