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Written Answers. - Educational Disadvantage.

Tuesday, 3 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 558 No. 4

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 259. 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  the status of the application for the new deal programme for disadvantage under the educational disadvantage in primary schools programme; and if his attention has been drawn to the case of St. Colman's boys national school, Macroom, County Cork. [24551/02]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey The new disadvantage programme entitled Giving Children an Even Break was launched last year to tackle educational disadvantage at primary level. It 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 individual pupils at risk 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.

Schools participating in the new 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. These levels of disadvantage were established as a result of a com[1077] prehensive survey of all primary schools carried out by the Educational Research Centre 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 the new programme. 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 to second class, and 27:1 in senior classes, third class through to 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 ERC survey carried out in 2000.

It has been brought to my Department's attention by the ERC that some schools, including the school in question misinterpreted a question on the survey form. The ERC re-examined the data supplied in the survey form submitted by the school in 2000 and awarded revised points based on the correct information. The original level of staffing and funding allocations granted to the school in question under the new scheme are deemed to be in excess of the revised entitlement. Based on the revised points awarded the school does not fall into the category of schools considered for additional teaching staff and the original level of funding allocated to the school is no longer warranted.

On this basis the new post allocated to the school will be suppressed at the end of the 2002-03 school year. The teacher in question will be placed on the diocesan teaching panel. The amended funding entitlement under the new programme, 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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