Tuesday, 14 December 1999
Dáil Éireann Debate
402. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Science the funds available from his Department to provide secretarial and caretaking services at a typical two teacher primary school with 38 pupils; his views on whether these funds are adequate to provide these services; and the way in which the additional funds needed for these services will be acquired. [27090/99]
409. Mr. Stanton asked the Minister for Education and Science the plans, if any, he has to provide caretaker and secretarial support to all primary schools; the number of schools without this support; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27097/99]
My Department provides funding towards the cost of secretarial and caretaking services in primary schools under two separate schemes. One scheme is the 1978-79 scheme for the employment of school secretaries and caretakers under which my Department meets the full cost of salary and employer's PRSI. This scheme is, however, being phased out as posts become vacant.
Arising from the Programme for Economic and Social Progress, a second scheme was introduced in 1992 whereby my Department provides additional capitation grants for primary schools towards the cost of secretarial and caretaking services. Under the PESP scheme, schools receive grants of £30 per pupil, based on their enrolments, which are paid as additions to the standard per capita grant.
Since its introduction in 1992, the scheme has been expanded in line with undertakings given in the PESP. The scheme has been extended to include more schools by reducing the qualifying enrolment threshold to its current figure of 195 pupils, with an ultimate target of providing additional capitation grants to all primary schools with 100 pupils or more.
In recognition of the need to improve the funding of secretaries and caretakers I have recently announced that an additional £2.7 million has been made available to extend support to another  650 schools with a total enrolment of 90,000 children in the coming year. The Deputy will also be aware that I have secured an additional £9 million in the recent budget which will enable me to extend and improve the supports available to all primary schools. Details of the implementation of this will be worked out in the near future following consultations and will, when taken together with the earlier move, make a major contribution to assisting all primary schools with regard to caretaking and secretarial services.
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