Tuesday, 27 January 2004

Questions (429)

Willie Penrose

Question:

544 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Education and Science the steps he will take to provide funding for vocational education committees to help fund after-school homework clubs for children under 18 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2098/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Education and Science)

My Department does not operate a specific national scheme for the provision of homework clubs. However, a range of schemes aimed at tackling educational disadvantage, under which resources are allocated for the provision of a range of holistic supports, enable pupils from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds to participate fully in school.

Some 82 projects, 109 post-primary schools and 296 primary schools, participate in the school completion programme, which aims to develop local strategies to ensure maximum participation levels in the education process. It entails targeting individual young people of school going age, both in and out of school, and arranging supports to address inequalities in education access, participation and outcomes. Each project site must devise a collaborative programme of in-school and out-of-school actions, which provide after-school, holiday time, home, family and community supports to enhance the young person's readiness to benefit from education.

A total of 2,344 primary schools are participating in Giving Children an Even Break and are in receipt of additional supports to be targeted at disadvantaged pupils. After-school support services, which include literacy and numeracy, personal development, leisure and sporting activities are among the supports provided under this initiative.

My Department has also provided funding for homework clubs in disadvantaged areas under the fund for the development of targeted responses to certain children at risk. This fund is the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Brian Lenihan. Its purpose is to develop preventative and supportive programmes that are targeted at children and young people who are at risk of educational disadvantage and social exclusion. In addition, many of the area partnership companies have provided homework support under their education measures.