Wednesday, 17 December 2008
Dáil Eireann Debate
642. Deputy Damien English asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will confirm that the commitment given by him to a school (details supplied) in County Meath that has dispersed disadvantaged status, will continue to receive supports in line with the level of disadvantage among its pupils, despite its unsuccessful DEIS application and appeal in 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47174/08]
Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science (Deputy Seán Haughey): The school to which the Deputy refers is among the schools that were judged by an independent identification process in 2005 not to have a sufficient level of disadvantage among their pupils to warrant their inclusion in DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunities in Schools), the Action Plan for educational inclusion. The next identification process is scheduled to be held at the end of the current DEIS programme which runs from 2005-2010. There will not be an opportunity before this to be included in the current DEIS programme of supports.
This school together with 26 other urban primary and 73 post primary schools retained resources, both human and financial, including Home School Community Liaison services under pre-existing schemes and programmes for addressing educational disadvantage. When DEIS was introduced, a commitment was given as a concessionary measure to these schools that they would retain a level of support for the duration of the DEIS Initiative.
While it is appreciated that the discontinuation of these resources will impact on these schools, given the current volatile and challenging economic climate, difficult decisions had to be made in order to contain public sector spending. One of these decisions was to advance the withdrawal of such supports from non DEIS schools to the beginning of the next school year.
The main focus of Social Inclusion measures will be to retain resources in DEIS schools. There is a need to focus targeted resources on the schools in most need and this approach is in line with the broad thrust of the recommendations of the Comptroller and Auditor General which are set out in his report on Primary Disadvantage of 2006, which recommended that my Department should focus its educational disadvantage measures on those schools serving the most disadvantaged communities.
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