Written answers

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Department of Children and Youth Affairs

School Completion Programme

Photo of Finian McGrathFinian McGrath (Dublin North Central, Independent)
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138. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs his views on the school completion programme (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46716/14]

Photo of James ReillyJames Reilly (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 school communities identified through the Department of Education and Skills’ DEIS Action Plan for Educational Inclusion. It provides targeted supports annually to approximately 36,000 children.

Since 1st January 2014, the Child and Family Agency has operational responsibility for the School Completion Programme, including the allocation of funds to local projects. In 2014, an allocation of €24.756 million has been provided for the School Completion Programme. The Agency has approved local projects' school retention plans for the 2014/2015 academic year. The first instalment of 2014/15 funding issued to local projects last September. Further payments totalling approximately €9.5m will issue this month, with a third instalment in May 2015.

The School Completion Programme was subject to a Comprehensive Review of Expenditure in 2011, requiring an annual reduction in budget of 6.5% in the period 2012-2014 to the current (2014) allocation of €24.756m. In the case of the project to which the Deputy refers, and in line with Comprehensive Review of Expenditure requirements, funding of €214,183.93 was notified for the school year 2014-2015 and awarded on foot of a retention plan approved by the Agency in summer 2014. The allocation of this funding across the range of interventions planned and between the member schools in the project is a matter for the Local Management Committee.

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 this month. This will include my priorities for consideration in the development of the 2015 Business Plan. The Business Plan will set out the Agency's proposed activities, programmes and priorities for 2015, including provision for School Completion Programme funding, in light of the monies available.

A review of the School Completion Programme has commenced. It is being carried out by the Economic and Social Research Institute following a procurement process managed by the Agency. The programme has been in operation since 2002 and I believe that it is timely that a review be carried out. The Review is an important initiative to plan for the future development of this Programme. It is envisaged that the review will be completed during the 2014/2015 academic year.


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