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Written Answers. - Disadvantaged Status.

Tuesday, 26 November 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 1

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 264. Mr. Murphy Information on Gerard Murphy Zoom on Gerard Murphy  asked the Minister for Education and Science Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey  when moneys owed to St. Colman's boys national school, Macroom, County Cork, under the scheme, new programme educational disadvantage in primary schools, will be awarded. [23345/02]

 291. Ms O'Sullivan Information on Jan O'Sullivan Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  asked the Minister for Education and Science Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey  when the second portion of the grant for the 2001-2002 school year under the new deal programme for disadvantage will be paid to St. Colman's boys school, Macroom, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23734/02]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey I propose to take Questions Nos. 264 and 291 together.

The new disadvantage programme, Giving Children an Even Break, which was launched last year to tackle educational disadvantage at primary level, replaced the previous process of the designation of schools that serve areas of educational disadvantage. My Department's approach is now refined to ensure that the individual ‘at risk' pupils are targeted. Rather than the old method of designating additional schools, my Department now provides support that is commensurate with the levels of concentration in [237] schools of pupils with characteristics that are associated with educational disadvantage and early school leaving.

Schools participating in Giving Children an Even Break 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. These levels of disadvantage were established as a result of a comprehensive survey of all primary schools carried out by the Educational Research Centre, ERC, in March-April 2000 at the request of my Department.

All of the schools identified as having pupils enrolled with characteristics of disadvantage have been invited to participate in Giving Children an Even Break. In the urban dimension, schools identified as having the highest concentration of pupils with characteristics that are associated with educational disadvantage, have been considered for additional staffing to implement a maximum class size of 20:1 in junior classes – infants through second class – and 27:1 in senior classes, third through sixth class. The school in question was selected in 2001 for inclusion in this category. In addition, the school was allocated additional funding based on the level of disadvantaged pupils enrolled as identified by the Educational Research Centre survey carried out in 2000.

However, it has been brought to my Department's attention by the ERC that a small number of schools, including the school in question, had completed a question on the survey form inaccurately. The ERC re-examined the data supplied in the survey form submitted by the school in 2000 and awarded correct points. The level of staffing and funding allocations granted to the school in question under Giving Children an Even Break are deemed to be in excess of the revised entitlement. The school does not fall into the category of schools considered for additional teaching staff and the level of funding allocated to the school is no longer warranted based on the revised points awarded under Giving Children an Even Break.

On this basis, the Giving Children an Even Break post allocated to the school will be suppressed at the end of the 2002-03 school year and the teacher in question will be placed on the diocesan teaching panel. The amended funding entitlement under Giving Children an Even Break in respect of the 2002-03 school year will be offset against the amount overpaid for the 2000-01 and 2001-02 school years. Arrangements are being made to issue the revised grant allocation due to the school shortly.


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