Written Answers. - Disadvantaged Status.

Enda Kenny

Question:

1089 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Science the way in which he proposes to categorise students as being disadvantaged in the context of top up maintenance grants recently announced; the analysis his Department has carried out that determines that there are 10,000 such students; the reason these grants are not paid at the commencement of the first semester in view of this information being available to him; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20560/00]

On 14 September, 2000, I announced the creation of an action group on access to third level education to advise me on the development of a co-ordinated framework to promote access by students from disadvantaged backgrounds, mature students and students with disabilities to third level education.

The creation of this group is in line with a commitment in the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness.

The Government is providing for a third level access fund totalling £95 million over the period 2000 to 2006, aimed at tackling under-representation by the three target groups.

As an indication of the Government's support in promoting equity in access and as a purely initial step, pending the findings of the action group, I announced the introduction of a special maintenance grant payable to disadvantaged grant holders, targeted at those most in need. The full rate of the special maintenance grant will increase from £1,775 to £2,000 for students residing more than 15 miles from college; and from £710 to £1,000 for students resident within 15 miles of college.

I have indicated that I would expect that some 10,000 students will benefit from this measure. This is, of course, a tentative estimate and the actual number of students to benefit will depend on the outcome to the action group's work. The group's terms of reference require that it advise me,inter alia, on the development of targeted interventions and actions and the identification and tracking of the target groups.
I have asked the group to report to me within three months and it will not be possible to identify the target groups until then. For this reason, the payment of the first instalment of the special rates of maintenance grants, targeted at disadvantaged students most in need, cannot be made before January 2001. For the same reason, there is no provision for such payments in the current year's Estimates.

Enda Kenny

Question:

1090 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Science the name, location and category of each school deemed to be disadvantaged; if applications are still being considered for disadvantaged status; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20561/00]

I am arranging to have the lists of primary and second level schools that are designated as disadvantaged forwarded to the Deputy.

I am currently working on proposals for a major new initiative to address the needs of pupils who are encountering educational disadvantage at primary level. As a first step, all primary schools were invited to participate in a survey designed to obtain information concerning the level of educational disadvantage in each school. The outcome of the survey will facilitate the putting in place of a range of significant and specifically targeted interventions so that disadvantaged children receive the support they require to enable them succeed in school. I will make a further announcement in relation to this matter in the near future.

Enda Kenny

Question:

1091 Mr. Kenny asked the Minister for Education and Science the criteria applicable to schools deemed to be disadvantaged; the extra financial allocation and resources that this status attracts; if the same criteria apply in the case of primary and post primary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20562/00]

A number of socio-economic indicators have been used by my Department over the years to identify primary and post primary schools which are serving communities with significant levels of disadvantage. The key indicators used at both levels are rates of unemployment, medical card possession and residence in local authority housing. These variables have been found to be valid indicators of disadvantage. In addition, my Department has obtained significant additional information from schools in relation to disadvantage and this has been used to target resources to schools where appropriate. This information relates to the level of lone parenthood; levels of educational attainment of parents; numbers of families in receipt of financial assistance from the State because of limited means from farm income; level of pupils with significant literacy and numeracy difficulties; and school drop out rates.

Schools included in the disadvantaged areas scheme at primary level qualify for special supplementary capitation funding. For the 2000-01 school year, the capitation supplement per pupil is £30 broken down as follows, £16 supplementary capitation for general running costs, £9 for classroom materials and equipment and £5 for home-school community liaison activities. There are a total of 293 concessionary disadvantaged posts allocated to these schools and a further 176 posts are allocated to the home school community liaison scheme in disadvantaged areas.

Schools in the disadvantaged areas scheme also receive a full refund of their television licence fee and a 95% building grant for building projects.

Second level schools, which are designated as disadvantaged, qualify for the allocation of a disadvantaged post and-or additional teaching resources in respect of home school liaison activities. An additionalper capita grant of £30 per pupil is payable to these schools.

The breaking the cycle project was introduced in September 1996. Special supports extended to schools included in the urban phase include extra teaching staff to facilitate a pupil teacher ratio of 15:1 in all junior classes and special funding of up to £3,000 for materials-equipment and up to £4,000 for out of school projects. They also have the support of a specially appointed co-ordinator. Special targeted in-career development for school staff is also provided. Schools in the rural phase qualify for special funding of £1,000 for materials-equipment and of £1,000 for suitable local initiatives. They also qualify for supplementary capitation funding of £30 per pupil. The 122 rural schools are grouped into 25 clusters, with one locally based co-ordinator serving each. Special targeted in-career development for school staff is also provided.