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Written Answers. - Home-School Liaison Scheme.

Tuesday, 26 November 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 1

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 268. Mr. Wall Information on Jack Wall Zoom on Jack Wall  asked the Minister for Education and Science Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey  when he will appoint a home liaison teacher for a school, Scoil Micial Naofa, Athy, County Kildare, in view of the fact that Athy has the RAPID programme and the school has been seeking this position for ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23385/02]

[239]Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey At present there are 309 primary schools and 211 second level schools included in the home-school-community liaison scheme. The scheme was last expanded in September 1999. This expansion included any remaining schools designated as disadvantaged that did not have a home-school-community liaison service. There are no immediate plans to expand the home-school-community liaison scheme. However, in the event of any future expansion of the home-school-community liaison scheme, the needs of the school in question will be fully considered.

The Deputy is aware of the new programme – Giving Children An Even Break which was launched last year to deal with educational disadvantage in primary schools. The schools targeted under the programme were identified through a comprehensive and objective survey of all primary schools carried out in March-April 2000 by the Educational Research Centre, Drumcondra, on my Department's behalf.

Giving Children an Even Break subsumes the previous process of 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 schools of pupils with characteristics that are associated with educational disadvantage and early school leaving.

There are separate urban and rural dimensions to the programme. Schools participating in Giving Children An Even Break are eligible to receive a range of additional supports including teacher posts and financial supports to be targeted at disadvantaged pupils. The additional supports to be provided reflect the level of concentration of pupils from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds in each school invited to participate in the programme. Under the programme, the school is benefiting from supplementary funding to provide additional educational supports for the children concerned.

Schools categorised as urban with the highest concentrations of at risk pupils are being supported, where necessary, over the three-year period through staff allocations to implement a pupil teacher ratio of 20:1 in the junior classes – infants through second class – and a pupil teacher ratio of 27:1 in senior classes, third through sixth classes. The school in question is benefiting from the allocation of four additional teaching posts under Giving Children an Even Break to adhere to the maximum class size guidelines for the current school year.

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