Thursday, 25 May 2006
Mary Hanafin (Minister, Department of Education and Science; Dún Laoghaire, Fianna Fail)
No school has been informed it will lose the resources it has received under existing schemes for tackling disadvantage as a result of the introduction of the new delivering equality of opportunity in schools, DEIS, initiative. The new school support programme is aimed at providing even more resources for the most disadvantaged schools. Schools that did not qualify for the new programme will keep the additional resources they are getting under existing schemes for the 2006-07 school year and, after that, they will continue to get support in line with the level of disadvantage among their pupils.
The new DEIS programme will be of huge benefit to schools in County Mayo. Four urban-town primary schools, 59 rural primary schools and six second level schools in Mayo have been invited to benefit from all the resources available from the new programme. Almost 20% of all the rural schools invited to benefit from the new programme nationally are in Mayo. It is important to ensure that schools serving the most disadvantaged communities get all the additional support possible and will welcome the extra resources DEIS will provide for Mayo schools.
DEIS was designed with this goal in mind. For example, over the years, no fewer than eight separate schemes for disadvantaged primary schools have been put in place. Some schools were benefiting from just one or two of these and others were benefiting from more. The DEIS initiative is designed to ensure the most disadvantaged schools benefit from a comprehensive package of supports, while ensuring others continue to get support in line with the level of disadvantage among their pupils.
I assure the Deputy there is no reason for schools that have not been identified for the new programme to be concerned as they will continue to get support in line with the level of disadvantage among their pupils. No school in Mayo or any other county has been informed it will lose any resources as a result of DEIS. A review mechanism has been put in place to address the concerns of schools that did not qualify for inclusion in the school support programme but regard themselves as having a level of disadvantage to warrant their inclusion in the programme. This mechanism will operate under the direction of an independent person charged with ensuring all relevant identification processes and procedures were properly followed in the case of schools applying for a review. It is intended that the review process will be completed by the end of the current school year.