Written Answers. - Secretarial and Caretaking Services.

Tuesday, 17 October 2000

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 524 No. 2

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  410.  Mr. McCormack  Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods   his views on whether a grant of £2,400 to Scoil Náisiúnta Bhríde, Ballyconneely, Clifden, County Galway, is an adequate grant to enable the school to provide a caretaker and a secretary; the plans he has to substantially increase this grant; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21978/00]

  415.  Mr. McCormack  Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack   asked the Minister for Education and Science  Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods   if he will consider a review of circular 3/00 relating to secretarial and caretaking grants for primary schools; the plans he has to increase substantially the combined grant of £2,400 for caretaker and secretary, particularly for rural three teacher schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21983/00]

Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  I propose to take Questions Nos. 410 and 415 together.

At primary level, my Department provides funding towards the cost of secretarial and caretaking services 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. However, this scheme has been superseded in the PESP agreement of 1992 by a more extensive grant scheme.

The PESP scheme provides additional per capita grants for primary schools towards secretarial and caretaking services. Under this scheme qualifying schools receive grants of £40 per pupil – £20 per pupil in respect of each service – subject to a maximum of £20,000 and a maximum of £10,000 in respect of each service.

These grants are paid as additions to the standard per capita grants. This scheme does not provide for the linking of the additional per capita grants to any particular pay scale. The scheme, by its nature, is flexible and gives boards of management discretion as to the manner in which secretarial and caretaking services are to be provided. Secretaries and caretakers employed by schools are employees of the individual schools and my Department does not have any role in determining the pay and conditions under which they are employed.

[488] I have increased the rates of grant by 33% from £30 per pupil to £40 per pupil with effect from January this year. Furthermore, I also recently announced that, with effect from September of this year, I am extending the scheme to all primary schools. In addition, I have set a minimum grant of £2,400 per annum which is payable to all schools with 60 pupils or less. Scoil Náisiúnta Bhríde, Ballyconneely is one of the schools which will benefit under this phase of the scheme.

These improvements mean that, for the first time, all primary schools now qualify for an annual grant to assist them with the provision of secretarial and caretaking services. The Government's commitment in this regard can also be measured by the fact that the funding allocated for this purpose, which was approximately £5.6 million in 1999 has increased this year to approximately £12.2 million and will further increase in 2001 to approximately £16.8 million.

I can assure the Deputy that I remain committed to further improvements in the scheme.


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