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Written Answers. - Educational Projects.

Thursday, 17 October 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 555 No. 4

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 93. Mr. Kenny Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny  asked the Minister for Education and Science Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey  the distinction between the two initiatives, Breaking the Cycle, and Giving Children an Even Break; if one is senior to the other; the reason for two-tiered funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18677/02]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey The Breaking the Cycle pilot project was launched in 1996 and seeks to discriminate positively in favour of primary schools in selected urban and rural areas which have high concentrations of children who are at risk of not reaching their potential in the education system because of their socio-economic backgrounds. A total of 32 designated disadvantaged schools are included in the urban dimension with a targeted programme of teacher and funding supports [1188] being made available. For 120 small-rural schools, shared teacher-co-ordinator supports and funding supports are also made available. It has been found however that Breaking the Cycle, like the disadvantaged areas scheme, does not take account of different levels of need. On this basis, a comprehensive survey of all primary schools was carried out by the Educational Research Centre in 2000, at the request of my Department. The purpose of the survey was to identify the level of concentration in each primary school of pupils with characteristics that are associated with educational disadvantage and early school leaving. The survey is the most comprehensive ever of the incidence of educational disadvantage in primary schools in Ireland and it provides a valuable basis for directing resources to the areas of greatest need.

The survey outcome forms the basis of the new disadvantage programme, Giving Children an Even Break, a major initiative which was launched in January 2001 to tackle educational disadvantage at primary level over a three year period. Under Giving Children an Even Break, my Department's approach is refined to ensure that the individual at risk pupils are targeted. Giving Children an Even Break subsumes the previous process of designation of schools that serve areas of educational disadvantage. In total, over 2,300 schools are now participating in Giving Children An Even Break, which is a key component of my Department's strategy to discriminate positively in favour of children who are at risk of school failure or who are experiencing educational disadvantage. Schools in the programme are in receipt of a range of additional supports including teacher posts and other non-teaching supports to be targeted at disadvantaged pupils. The additional supports provided reflect the level of concentration of pupils from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds in each school invited to participate in the programme.

All schools included in the Breaking the Cycle pilot project and those that were previously designated as disadvantaged will retain the resources allocated to them under those programmes and may also qualify for additional resources under Giving Children An Even Break, based on the level of concentration of pupils at risk. Both Breaking the Cycle and Giving Children An Even Break are or will be monitored and subject to independent evaluation to ensure they are addressing the needs of the educationally disadvantaged pupils being targeted and, where modifications are required, the necessary changes will be made to incorporate these.

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