I propose to take Questions Nos. 636 and 665 together.
I am aware of the request by voluntary secondary schools for increased funding, referred to by the JMB. The funding arrangements for the different school types at second level have evolved in a manner that reflects the different traditions and structures of the voluntary secondary, comprehensive and community and VEC sectors. This evolution has, by its very nature, generated funding anomalies and structures that lack uniformity and cohesion.
At the core of funding arrangements at second level is reliance upon capitation as the principal determinant of funding. In the case of voluntary secondary schools in the free education scheme, which are privately managed institutions, the Department meets the cost of teacher salaries, excluding the first £400 and allowances and makes an annualper capita grant towards recurrent costs, including cleaning, of schools. In addition, these schools may also be eligible for assistance under a range of other grants available under the scheme, including grants for the employment of secretaries and caretakers and curricular support.
I consider that the report of the steering group on the funding of second level schools represents a comprehensive review of the funding arrangements, including the matter of equity of funding between the different sectors at second level. While further work is required to bring greater uniformity and cohesion to this aspect of the funding of schools, my priority is to focus on the issue of adequacy of funding.