Tuesday, 18 May 1999
Dáil Éireann Debate
356. Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Education and Science the proposals, if any, he has to redress the imbalance in capitation funding between vocational schools, comprehensive and community schools, and voluntary secondary schools; if his attention has been drawn to the disadvantageous position of voluntary secondary schools arising from these anomalous funding allocations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12707/99]
Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin): The way in which resources are provided to second-level schools reflects the different management and ownership arrangements for vocational schools and community colleges, community and comprehensive schools and voluntary secondary schools. Consequently, direct comparison between the different sectors is difficult.
The financial allocations for vocational schools and community colleges are made to the vocational education committees as part of a block grant to cover VEC head office overheads and other activities apart from the second-level programme. Voluntary secondary schools are funded on a per capita basis based upon enrolments while the annual budget for community and comprehensive schools takes into account factors which vary from school to school.
I am aware of the demands for increased funding by voluntary secondary schools. There are also demands for increased funding in the other sectors of education as well as demands for increased spending on other public expenditure programmes. Notwithstanding the many competing demands on budgetary resources, the level of support for voluntary secondary schools has been increased since 1997. The standard per capita grant payable to voluntary secondary schools has been increased to £184 from £177 and assistance towards the provision of secretarial services in schools has been increased from £25 per pupil to £30 per pupil thereby increasing the maximum  annual grant from £8,750 to £10,500 per eligible school. In addition, these schools have benefited under the IT 2000 initiative. Schools have welcomed these improvements. It is my intention to improve further the financial position of second-level schools to the extent that the availability of resources permits.
A steering group on funding is currently examining the matter of equity of funding between the various sectors at second level. Under its terms of reference, the group will draw up a recommended funding framework designed to ensure equal treatment for different schools within the second-level sector while taking account of the needs of these different schools.
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