Written answers

Tuesday, 4 April 2006

Department of Education and Science

Educational Disadvantage

9:00 pm

Photo of David StantonDavid Stanton (Cork East, Fine Gael)
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Question 503: To ask the Minister for Education and Science the way in which the socioeconomic variables as outlined in her response to Parliamentary Question No. 716 of 21 March 2006 were used to identify primary schools for participation in the school support programme; the method used to grade or the way each variable was weighted; the range of points allocated to schools that were invited to participate in the school support programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13202/06]

Photo of Mary HanafinMary Hanafin (Minister, Department of Education and Science; Dún Laoghaire, Fianna Fail)
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DEIS — delivering equality of opportunity in schools — the new action plan for educational inclusion, provides for a standardised system for identifying levels of disadvantage and a new integrated school support programme, SSP. The process of identifying primary and second-level schools for participation in the new school support programme under DEIS has been completed. This process was managed by the Educational Research Centre, ERC, on behalf of my Department and supported by quality assurance work co-ordinated through the Department's regional offices and the inspectorate. In the primary sector, the identification process was based on a survey carried out by the ERC in May 2005, from which a response rate of more than 97% was achieved.

The analysis of the survey returns from primary schools by the ERC identified the socioeconomic variables that collectively best predict achievement, and these variables were then used to identify schools for participation in the school support programme. The variables involved were: percentage unemployment; percentage local authority accommodation; percentage lone parenthood; percentage Travellers; percentage large families — five or more children; and percentage pupils eligible for free books. Each school was assigned a score on a 600 point scale, based on 100 points for each of the six variables set out above, by adding up the relevant percentages of pupils from families in each of the above categories.

Photo of David StantonDavid Stanton (Cork East, Fine Gael)
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Question 504: To ask the Minister for Education and Science the independent person mentioned in her response to Dáil adjournment debate of 28 March 2006; the person who will direct the operation of the review mechanism which 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 which is of a scale sufficient to warrant their inclusion in the programme; when she expects to receive a report from this independent person; when she expects to make decisions on such reports; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13203/06]

Photo of Mary HanafinMary Hanafin (Minister, Department of Education and Science; Dún Laoghaire, Fianna Fail)
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DEIS — delivering equality of opportunity in schools — the new action plan for educational inclusion, provides for a standardised system for identifying levels of disadvantage and a new integrated school support programme, SSP. The school support programme will bring together, and build upon, a number of existing interventions in schools with a concentrated level of disadvantage.

The process of identifying primary and second-level schools for participation in the new school support programme under DEIS has been completed. This process was managed by the Educational Research Centre, ERC, on behalf of my Department and supported by quality assurance work co-ordinated through the Department's regional offices and the Inspectorate.

As a result of the identification process, 840 schools have been invited to participate in the new school support programme. These comprise 640 primary schools — 320 urban-town schools and 320 rural schools — and 200 second level schools. Schools not selected to participate in the school support programme but receiving additional resources under pre-existing schemes and programmes for addressing concentrated disadvantage will retain these supports for 2006-2007. The efficacy of these supports will be kept under review.

As well as the provision being made under the new school support programme for schools with a concentrated level of disadvantage, financial support will be provided for other primary schools where the level of disadvantage is more dispersed. This support will be based on the results of the new identification process and the arrangements which will apply in this regard will be notified to schools early in the autumn.

A review process has been put in place for primary and second-level schools that did not qualify for participation in the school support programme and that regard themselves as having a level of disadvantage which is of a scale sufficient to warrant their inclusion in the programme. The closing date for receipt of review applications was Friday, 31 March, 2006.

The review process will operate under the direction of an independent person, charged with ensuring that all relevant identification processes and procedures were properly followed in the case of schools applying for a review. The process of appointing this person is being finalised at present and I will be making an announcement on the matter shortly.

It is intended that the review process will be completed by the end of the current school year.

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