My Department has not received a proposal from the co-ordinator of the Dominican Campus school completion programme. Following receipt of the Deputy’s question, my officials have established that the programme is seeking funding of €35,044.88 to create a new post of Traveller Education Support Worker to serve the primary schools in the project. I am also aware that this proposal was submitted to my colleague, the Minister for Education and Skills, for his consideration. The National Educational Welfare Board, which operates under the remit of my Department, is responsible for the operational management of the School Completion Programme and the Home School Community Liaison Scheme. In delivering on this role, the board works closely with management committees, schools and local Home School Community Liaison Scheme and School Completion Programme co-ordinators to ensure student supports and interventions are tailored to meet local needs. As the services of the National Educational Welfare Board are central to this proposal, I will ask it to engage directly with the schools and the Department of Education and Skills to facilitate consideration of the proposal in the appropriate context.
It should be recognised that the Dominican Campus School Completion Programme operates under the direction of a Local Management Committee. This Committee assesses local needs to devise a programme of student supports and interventions, known as the Retention Plan, to support identified young people at risk of educational disadvantage in their school, home and community life. Funding is provided by my Department following approval of annual plans by the National Educational Welfare Board. The Deputy may wish to note that the Dominican Campus School Completion Programme received funding of €193,754 in the current academic year. The project model approach enables creative and innovative local strategies to be developed. Therefore, it is open to the Dominican Campus School Completion Programme to consider its priority requirements, including the present proposal, within the existing planning and funding cycle. Furthermore, within its targeting process, the schools involved should identify and prioritise at-risk children, including those from within the Traveller community, for available supports.
In planning its programme of supports, the Local Management Committee must have regard to the full extent of DEIS resources provided to its schools. Given the need to achieve saving in the School Completion Programme in 2013 and 2014, a coherent approach in the use of all school resources will ensure available funds are committed to those services which provide the greatest contribution to children's educational outcomes. Projects are finalising proposals for the next academic year. The National Educational Welfare Board will work with the Local Management Committee to examine this proposal in the context of its suite of supports and interventions.