Written Answers. - Disadvantaged Status.

Richard Bruton

Question:

96 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the criteria applied for withdrawing teaching support under even break; the reason he has waited until late May 2003 to notify schools of the restriction of their teaching staff when parents had already been informed of their children's class; and the reason he has withdrawn a teacher from a school (details supplied) in Dublin 5 which is designated disadvantaged, that is, not benefiting from Breaking the Cycle or the school completion programme. [17341/03]

The enrolment in the school in question on 30 September 2002 warrants a mainstream staffing of a principal and 11 mainstream class teachers for the 2003-04 school year. Therefore the school is entitled to one extra mainstream class teacher. With the introduction of Giving Children an Even Break, schools already in receipt of additional teaching resources under the disadvantaged areas scheme, including the school referred to by the Deputy, retained their entitlements under that scheme. Under the disadvantaged areas scheme, the school is benefiting from the services of a disadvantaged concessionary teacher and a shared home-school-community liaison teacher.

Under Giving Children An Even Break, schools categorised as urban with the highest concentrations of at risk pupils, including the school referred to by the Deputy, are supported, where necessary, through staff allocations to implement a pupil teacher ratio of 20:1 in the junior classes – infants through second class – and a pupil teacher ratio of 27:1 in senior classes – third through sixth classes. In line with normal staffing arrangements for national schools, teacher post allocations for the purpose of Giving Children An Even Break in respect of the 2003-04 school year are determined by reference to enrolments in junior and senior classes at 30 September 2002.

On the basis of this approach the school in question would exceed the maximum class size guidelines for all junior and senior classes in the 2003-04 school year, and consequently one teaching post under Giving Children An Even Break is due to be suppressed with effect from 31 August 2003. This post will now be retained as the eleventh mainstream post.

The school authorities have been reminded that my Department allocates adequate staffing to schools to ensure that the Giving Children An Even Break maximum class size guidelines are implemented in both the junior and senior classes. If schools are unable to operate within the maximum class size guidelines for the 2003-04 school year they may make a submission on the matter to my Department for consideration.

Schools for participation in the school completion programme were selected on the basis of a detailed analysis of pupil retention rates at second level using my Department's post-primary pupils database. This analysis also identified the main feeder primary schools. The school to which the Deputy refers was not identified as a main feeder primary school for the second level schools selected to participate in this programme in the Dublin 5 area.