Dáil Éireann - Volume 616 - 07 March, 2006
Written Answers. - School Staffing.
Ms O’Sullivan Ms O’Sullivan
547. Ms O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will provide the resources to employ laboratory assistants in schools to facilitate the teaching of science; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9324/06]
Ms Hanafin Ms Hanafin
 Ms Hanafin:It is my understanding that the availability of laboratory technicians has not been a universal feature of support for science teaching in second level schools and that in some countries that provide this type of resource it is confined to certain types of schools. I am aware that the provision of technical assistants was one of some 39 recommendations in the report of the task force on the physical sciences. However, the cost of the task force proposals is a total of some €244 million, of which €66.3 million would be a recurring annual cost. The proposal for the provision of technical assistants is close to 30% of this recurring annual cost. Progress has been made on implementing 25 of the task force recommendations and my Department continues to progress the recommendations as resources permit in collaboration and consultation with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, FORFAS and industry.
I am very much aware of the important role played by the sciences in a modern educational system and my Department has been very active in implementing initiatives to develop and support the teaching of the science subjects. Significant progress is being made in regard to curricular reform and in-service support for science at both primary and post-primary levels. Science was introduced as a key component in the revised primary school curriculum in 1999 and a revised syllabus has been implemented in all schools since September 2003. A revised syllabus for the junior certificate was introduced in September 2003, for first examination in June 2006.
For the leaving certificate, revised syllabi have already been fully implemented in biology, physics and chemistry. To complete the cycle of revision, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment has almost completed work on the development of a new leaving certificate chemical and physical sciences syllabus to replace the current physics and chemistry combined syllabus and a revision of the agricultural science syllabus is also very well advanced.
The introduction of curricular change in the sciences has been supported by comprehensive in-career development programmes for teachers. Significant funding has also been allocated to provide additional grants for equipment and resources.
Mr. Connolly Mr. Connolly
548. Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Education and Science the rates of pay available to special needs assistants in primary schools; if it is intended to revise this pay rate; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9332/06]
Ms Hanafin Ms Hanafin
Ms Hanafin:Following is a copy of the current special need assistant pay scales for the Deputy’s information. These details are also available on my Department’s website. The current rates of  salary have been introduced as a result of the implementation of section 14.2 of the mid-term review of part two of Sustaining Progress. In accordance with section 14.2 of the mid-term review of part two of Sustaining Progress an increase of 1.5% was paid with effect from 1 December 2005.
Future payments under Sustaining Progress are dependent, in the case of each organisation and grade, on verification of continued co-operation with flexibility and ongoing change, maintenance of stable industrial relations and absence of industrial action in respect of any matters covered by Sustaining Progress.
Dáil Éireann 616 Written Answers. School Staffing.