Written Answers. - Schools Funding.

Tony Gregory

Question:

636 Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on the issues raised in the submission from the joint managerial body of secondary schools with regard to the disparity in funding of secondary schools vis-à-vis com munity and comprehensive schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7785/01]

Willie Penrose

Question:

665 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Science if he has received a submission from the joint managerial body of secondary schools outlining the depth of the funding crisis for these secondary schools; if so, if he will ensure that the three basic demands set out therein, are considered favourably in the context of the forthcoming Estimates and budget; the steps he is taking to implement the Blackstock report in relation to funding for secondary schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8050/01]

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.

In this connection I have already shown my commitment by the establishment of the school services support fund, which is a significant initiative in the funding of our schools. This funding initiative represents a new approach by the Department that supports the school development planning process. This process can only be enhanced if each school is given some flexibility in the deployment of its resources. While provision for support services, including secretarial and caretaking services, is a particular focus of this fund, schools are being given discretion as to how this additional funding is best utilised in the interest of their pupils and for the operation of their schools. A school with 500 pupils will now receive additional annual funding of £20 per pupil or £10,000, with a minimum payment for smaller schools of £4,000 per school. This fund will channel an additional £4 million to voluntary secondary schools each year.
In addition, the standardper capita grant was increased to £184 from £177 in 1999. It was further increased by £8 from September last to £192 and will be significantly increased by £10 for the next school year. For a school with 500 pupils, this amounts to an extra £12,500 per annum, and a total capitation grant of £101,000 towards general expenses. An additional per capita grant of £30 per pupil is paid to disadvantaged schools, thereby bringing the total grant in the case of such a school with 500 pupils to £116,000. My approach has clearly shown my commitment and determination to improve funding at second level and I intend to build further on progress to date.