The School Completion Programme (SCP) is one of three service strands, which also includes the Home School Community Liaison and the Education Welfare Service, being integrated under the remit of the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB). The SCP aims to retain young people in the formal education system to completion of senior cycle and to generally improve the school attendance, participation and retention of its target cohort. The SCP is a key programme under the Department of Education and Skills' DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) action plan.
I wish to inform the Deputy that €26.456m is being allocated to the programme in 2013. This compares with an allocation of €28.256m in 2012. The allocation is in line with the proposals in the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure for savings of 6.5% per annum in the SCP in each of the years 2012-2014.
In September 2012, the Local Management Committee responsible for each individual project was notified that a reduction on last year’s allocation would apply for the coming academic cycle. The full year budget for the SCP was confirmed earlier than in previous years to assist local committees to effectively refine programmes and deliver targeted interventions within budget.
Each Committee was requested to review its Retention Plan to support young people who are at risk of educational disadvantage in their school, home and community life, to remain in education and to finalise a programme of supports to effectively target available resources to meet local needs. Projects were advised to scrutinise all elements of expenditure and to seek to reduce costs and achieve efficiencies while prioritising evidence based services to support children’s educational outcomes.
The NEWB, which is responsible for the operational management and direction of the SCP, has made assistance available to each local project to review its planned programme. The NEWB continues to work closely with management committees, schools and local SCP co-ordinators to ensure student supports are tailored to meet local needs.
The adjustment identified in CRE for 2013 and 2014 will be further considered in the context of a review of the programme to be undertaken in 2013. This review will address the potential to achieve greater consistency in programme delivery, administration and other costs amongst the 124 local projects and related initiatives.
A core objective of the review will be to ensure that available funds are appropriately targeted to support those most at risk of educational disadvantage and early school leaving.