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Written Answers - Disadvantaged Status

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 760 No. 3

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 226.  Deputy John McGuinness Information on John McGuinness Zoom on John McGuinness  asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  the length of time it will take to consider a submission from a school (details supplied) in County Kilkenny with regard to the proposed cuts in teaching posts in DEIS schools; if he will protect the existing levels of service available to the students/parents of this school and enhance the service where possible as this is the only DEIS school in Kilkenny of junior cycle pupils; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16725/12]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn My Department has considered a submission received from the school to which the Deputy refers in January 2012 in relation to proposed Budget measures.

The staffing arrangements for the 2012/13 school year are set out in Primary Circular 0007/2012 which is available on my Department’s website. This includes details of the reform of the allocation process which is designed to bring a more equitable distribution of existing posts between schools.

The overall objective with the reforms is to enable the teacher allocation and redeployment process to operate more smoothly and efficiently within the new climate of fixed ceilings on teaching posts. The changes are designed to give a more equitable distribution of existing posts between schools, give earlier certainty to schools about their staffing allocations and, where possible, simplify and streamline existing processes and give greater autonomy to schools.

The new arrangements incorporate a long overdue updating of the General Allocation Model (GAM) combining learning support for high incidence special needs and language support for all schools. It also includes changes to NCSE approved (low incidence) resource hours in the base schools or in neighbouring schools. This approach builds on the interim arrangements that operated in 2011 but in a more structured and transparent manner.

The school to which the Deputy refers was among the 140 DEIS Band 1 and Band 2 schools included in the recent report on the impact, in terms of posts, that certain Budget measures would have on these schools.

The main focus of this report concerned additional posts allocated under disadvantage schemes predating DEIS. The outcome of this report was published last month and schools were notified of the Government’s decision to retain these posts in DEIS Band 1 and Band 2 Schools.

As I have already indicated, I requested my Department to examine these schools due to conflicting number of posts being reported as potentially lost to these schools. It was necessary to obtain clarity with regard to the net effect of a range of factors on teacher allocations in these schools; for example, increasing and decreasing enrolments, the reforms to the existing teacher allocations process and up to date enrolments, all of which contribute to determining the staffing requirement for these schools for 2012/13 school year.

Applying the new staffing schedule for Band 1 schools and the Government’s decision in relation to schools retaining posts from previous disadvantage schemes ensures that these schools can continue to implement the appropriate favourable pupil teacher ratios from previous disadvantage schemes while not exceeding this entitlement for 2012/13 school year. Notifi[790]cation issued to the school outlining the teaching staff allocation for 2012/13. There is no change to the number of teaching staff allocated to this school for 2012/13 over their current teaching staff compliment.

The allocation processes also include an appeals mechanism under which schools can appeal against the allocation due to them under the staffing schedules. The appeal procedures are set out in the circular referred to above.

For the coming school year the existing staffing appeals criteria have been extended to enable some limited phasing arrangements for schools where the combination of budget and reform measures impact on a particularly adverse manner on a school’s overall allocation. The closing date for submission of appeal is 23 March, 2012.

The Appeal Boards operate independently of the Department and their decisions are final.

The final staffing position for all schools at primary level will ultimately not be known until the Autumn. At that stage the allocation process will be fully completed and any appeals to the Staffing Appeal Boards will have been considered.

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