Written Answers. - Early Childhood Education.

Eamon Gilmore

Question:

884 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will include Archbishop McQuaid national school, Loughlinstown, County Dublin, in the Breaking the Cycle scheme, the Early Start programme and the teacher counselling programme for schools in disadvantaged areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28434/98]

The operation of the current phase of the Breaking the Cycle project is being monitored by my Department's inspectorate and is being evaluated by the Education Research Centre. A key objective of the review process is to establish the appropriateness and effectiveness of the distinct approaches to urban and rural disadvantage which are being tested under the pilot project. The question of extending the project to additional schools will be considered in the light of experience gained in the pilot phase.

My Department is currently preparing a White Paper on early childhood education which will set out my proposals for the future development of services in this area. The question of future resource allocations to the pre-school area will be addressed in the White Paper.

The teaching counsellor scheme is currently operating on a limited pilot basis in 41 schools. A total of 37 teaching counsellors have been allocated to the schools in question. My Department's inspectorate is closely monitoring the operation of the pilot phase of the scheme. A detailed evaluation of the scheme is currently under way. The question of any further expansion of the scheme will be considered following completion of the evaluation.

I can assure the Deputy that the needs of Archbishop McQuaid junior and senior national schools will be fully considered in the context of any expansion of the above schemes which may be undertaken.