Written answers

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Department of Children and Youth Affairs

School Completion Programme

Photo of Seán Ó FearghaílSeán Ó Fearghaíl (Kildare South, Fianna Fail)
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22. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the expenditure Tusla is allocating for the school completion programme in 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43979/14]

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (Minister, Department of Health; Dublin North, Fine Gael)
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The School Completion Programme aims to retain young people in the formal education system to completion of senior cycle and to generally improve the school attendance, participation and retention of young people who are risk of educational disadvantage. The Programme is a targeted intervention aimed at those school communities identified through the Department of Education and Skills’ DEIS Action Plan for Educational Inclusion.

It involves 124 locally managed projects and related initiatives which operate across 470 primary and 224 post-primary schools. It provides targeted supports to some 36,000 children and young people. The Programme’s design gives local communities the autonomy to devise innovative approaches to address the needs of young people most at risk of early school leaving. Typically, projects offer homework clubs; breakfast clubs; mentoring programmes; learning support; social and personal development programmes; out of school supports including music, art and sports and a range of activities during holiday periods.

Since 1 January 2014, the Child and Family Agency has operational responsibility for the School Completion Programme, including the allocation of funds to projects within the programme. In 2014, an allocation of €24.756 million has been provided for the School Completion Programme

The estimate for the Agency for 2015 is €635 million, a 4.3% increase on its 2014 allocation. My Department will issue a Performance Statement under Section 45 of the Child and Family Agency Act, 2013 in December. This will include my priorities for consideration in the development of the 2015 Business Plan. The Business Plan will set out the proposed activities, programmes and priorities for the Agency for 2015 in light of the monies available.

A review of the School Completion Programme has commenced. It is an important initiative in relation to identifying the reforms necessary and planning for the future development of this Programme which is a key support to young people’s participation in education. The review is being carried out by the ESRI following a procurement process managed by the Agency. The review will, inter alia, examine the School Completion Programme structures, and their fitness for purpose to support an integrated approach to address early school leaving. It will analyse the interventions provided and make recommendations for evidence informed supports designed to secure the best educational outcomes for young people. The programme has been in operation since 2002 and I believe that it is timely that a review be carried out. It is envisaged that the review will be completed during the 2014/2015 academic year.

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