The school completion programme, SCP, which is a new and expanded programme to deal with early school leaving, was introduced earlier this year. The school completion programme incorporates the elements of best practice established by the eight to 15 year old early school leaver initiative, ESLI, and the stay in school retention initiative at second level, SSRI, the pilot phases of which came to an end in August and July 2002, respectively.
The objective of the school completion programme is to provide a range of interventions in areas of disadvantage that support the retention of young people in education. It is based on an integrated approach involving primary and post-primary schools, parents, communities and relevant statutory and voluntary agencies.
A total of 82 project sites in 22 counties involving approximately 105 post-primary schools and 273 primary schools have been selected to participate in the project strand of the school completion programme over the next three years. Selection of project sites for the expansion of the programme is based on detailed analysis of pupil retention rates at second level using the Department's post-primary pupils database. This analysis also identified their main feeder primary schools. A total of 53 SSRI schools, which were not selected for inclusion in the project strand, will continue to be funded under the stay in school retention strand of the programme over the next three years up to 31 August 2005.
Currently, the projects are in the process of submitting three year retention plans to my Department for approval and allocation of funding. In 2001 expenditure on the SSRI and the ESLI schemes was €11.5 million. Significant additional funding was made available under the National Development Plan 2000-2006 with assistance from the ESF fund for an expansion of these initiatives. In 2002 it is expected that spending outturn will be approximately €16.5 million.
Figures in relation to the number of young people targeted by this programme are not readily available at present. The figures will be compiled on receipt of all retention plans and I will arrange to have them forwarded to the Deputy in due course.