Thursday, 23 November 2000
Dáil Eireann Debate
130. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Education and Science the way in which an anomaly exists on one school campus at Scoil an Spioraid Naoimh, Bishopstown, County Cork, where the boys' school has disadvantaged status and the girls' school has ordinary status which discriminates against the girls' school and where the boys' school has better funding and access to more teachers. [27187/00]
Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): In 1997 my Department proposed an amalgamation plan to the boards of management of Scoil Cholumbáin – Buachaillí – Scoil Therese – Cailíní – both of which were designated by the Department of Education and Science as serving pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, and Scoileanna an Spioraid Naomh – Buachaillí agus Cailíní – which did not have any such designation. The preferred option at local level was for one amalgamated boys' school and one amalgamated girls' school.
Ultimately, Scoil Cholumbáin amalgamated with Scoil an Spioraid Naomh (Buachaillí) and the girls' schools did not amalgamate. As a consequence of the amalgamation of the boys' schools, the designated status of Scoil Columbáin was extended as an exceptional matter to all of the pupils of the amalgamated Scoil an Spioraid Naoimh (Buachaillí). Consequently, that school attracted the enhanced capitation grant in respect of its entire enrolment. Also the amalgamated boys' school was allocated the staffing concessions that are part of amalgamation arrangements.
At present, I am finalising proposals for a major new three year programme at primary level. This programme will involve the allocation of 200 new teaching posts and financial assistance to schools with the greatest concentrations of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. A key feature of the new programme is that participating schools must agree, in advance, to target the additional resources being provided at those pupils identified as being at risk of educational disadvantage. Schools will also be given appropriate support for the development of holistic and integrated in-school and out-of-school supports for the pupils concerned, in collaboration with other statutory and voluntary services. The programme will cost in excess of £25 million over three years.
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