Written Answers. - Secretarial and Caretaking Services.

Question:

90 Mr. Hayes asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason secretarial administrators throughout the primary school sector have not received a pay increase since 1992; the reasons this category of worker remain outside the national pay agreements; the proposals, if any, he has to rectify the pay scale for these workers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19826/98]

My Department provide funding towards the cost of secretarial services in primary schools under two separate schemes. One scheme is the 1978 scheme for the employment of school secretaries under which my Department meets the full cost of salary and employer's PRSI. School secretaries employed under the terms of this scheme have received pay increases as provided for under the various national pay agreements. This scheme is, however, being phased out as posts become vacant.

The second scheme is the provision by my Department of additional capitation grants for primary schools as agreed under the Programme for Economic and Social Progress — PESP — which has been in operation since 1 September 1992. The PESP scheme provided for the introduction of a phased scheme of additional capitation grants with a view to expanding the provision of secretarial services to all primary schools with 100 pupils or more. This scheme did not provide for the linking of those additional capitation grants to any particular payscale. The grants of £15 per pupil are based on school enrolments and are paid as additions to the standard per capita grant. The level and extent of service provided is a matter for local school management who, through the discretion afforded by the scheme, apply diverse arrangements for clerical services.
Since its introduction in 1992, the scheme of additional capitation grants to schools in respect of clerical and caretaking services has been expanded in line with undertakings given in the PESP. The scheme has been extended to include more schools by reducing the qualifying enrolment threshold to its current figure of 195 pupils, with an ultimate target of providing additional capitation grants to all primary schools with 100 pupils or more.
I wish to assure the Deputy that I remain committed to improvements in the provision of additional assistance to schools for clerical services and the position of schools which are currently in receipt of the maximum grant available under the scheme will be examined in the context of any improvements to the scheme which may be implemented in the future.