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Written Answers. - Private Schools.

Wednesday, 18 December 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 559 No. 6

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[1497]

 53. Mr. Howlin Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin  asked the Minister for Education and Science Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey  his plans to review the level of financial support provided by the State to private fee paying schools, especially having regard to spending restrictions in other areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26698/02]

 73. Mr. Howlin Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin  asked the Minister for Education and Science Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey  the proposals he is considering to require fee paying schools to admit a quota of disadvantaged students; the way in which the proposed system would work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26699/02]

 75. Mr. R. Bruton Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton  asked the Minister for Education and Science Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey  his plans regarding allowing people from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter private fee paying schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26591/02]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): Information on Noel Dempsey Zoom on Noel Dempsey I propose to take Questions Nos. 53, 73 and 75 together.

The total annual amount paid in respect of fee-charging secondary schools is some €77.5 million. Of this sum, approximately €68.5 million relates to salaries and allowances of teachers. The balance includes the Protestant block grant, funding towards support services such as secretarial and caretaking services and grants in 2002 towards supervision arrangements. The payment of teachers' salaries is part of a complex scheme of funding for fee-charging schools, which has traditionally sought to balance considerations of equity, pragmatism and State support for minority religions. Teachers in fee-charging schools, irrespective of the denominational ethos of the school, are paid by the State. This may well reflect a long standing pragmatism that the State would be required to provide teachers for the pupils in question were they located within the free education scheme. There are 58 fee-charging second level schools in the country, of which 21 are Protestant. The latter schools receive funding by way of the Protestant block grant, which has its origins in the desire of the State to enable students of the Protestant persuasion to attend schools which reflect their denominational ethos. The block grant includes payments in respect of capitation and these schools also qualify for payment of such grants as the transition year support grant and secretarial and caretaking grants. Fee-charging schools not embraced by the Protestant block grant do not qualify for payment of capitation or related supports.

I have no plans, at this stage, to withdraw State support for the payment of teachers in fee-charging schools. This support has been a long standing feature of our education system and one continued by successive Governments.


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