Tuesday, 13 December 2005
Dáil Eireann Debate
459. Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Education and Science the details of the nine disadvantaged national schools in Dublin’s north inner city; if, regarding each of those schools, the school lost a resource teacher, and the teaching hours in the school years 2004-05 and 2005-06. [39163/05]
Minister for Education and Science (Ms Hanafin): The Deputy will be aware that the general allocation of learning support and resource teachers, LSRTs, is intended to cater for children with learning support and high-incidence special educational needs. The system was constructed so that LSRT allocations would be based on pupil numbers, taking into account the differing needs of the most disadvantaged schools and the evidence that boys have greater difficulties than girls in this regard.
Regarding the matter raised by the Deputy, officials from my Department discussed the concerns of nine north inner city Dublin schools with the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation recently. The school authorities are advised that they may send material that they feel supports a case for the allocation of additional special needs supports in respect of pupils with high and low incidence special educational needs and learning support requirements to my Department. My officials will consider each case individually and convey the outcome of that consideration to the relevant school authority as soon as possible thereafter.
The Deputy will be aware that it has always been the case that schools that were in receipt of resource teacher support in respect of pupils with special educational needs would lose teacher support, either full posts or part-time hours, when the pupils that triggered the extra support left the school.
460. Mr. Kehoe asked the Minister for Education and Science when a decision will be made regarding the granting of disadvantaged status to a school (details supplied) in County Carlow; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [39165/05]
Minister for Education and Science (Ms Hanafin): My Department’s approach to tackling disadvantage has been refined to ensure that individual “at risk” pupils are targeted. Rather than the old method of designating schools as disadvantaged, we now provide supports commensurate with the levels of concentration in schools of pupils with characteristics associated with educational disadvantage.
The school to which the Deputy refers is included in the urban dimension of my Department’s Giving Children an Even Break programme aimed at combating educational disadvantage. The school receives additional financial resources to provide educational supports to be targeted at disadvantaged pupils.
A key element of DEIS, Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools, the new action plan for educational inclusion, is the putting in place of a standardised system for identifying levels of disadvantage in our primary and second level schools for the purposes of qualifying for resources, both human and financial, according to the degree of disadvantage experienced. That standardised system will replace all the existing arrangements for targeting schools for participation in initiatives to address disadvantage.
As a result of the identification process, approximately 600 primary schools, comprising 300 urban or town and 300 rural, and 150 second level schools, will be included in a new school support programme, SSP. The SSP will bring together and build upon several existing interventions for schools and school clusters or communities with a concentrated level of educational disadvantage.
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