Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Questions (194)

Robert Dowds


194. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if he will reconsider the recent cuts in funding to the school completion programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28645/14]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

The School Completion Programme (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 targeted intervention aimed at those school communities identified through the Department of Education and Skills’ DEIS Action Plan for Educational Inclusion. It involves 124 locally managed projects and related initiatives operating across 470 primary and 224 post-primary schools to provide targeted supports to approximately 36,000 children and young people. The programme's project model approach gives local communities the autonomy to devise innovative approaches to address the needs of young people most at risk of early school leaving.

As with all major spending programmes, the School Completion Programme budget was subject to examination under the terms of the 2011 Comprehensive Review of Expenditure (CRE). This process identified a requirement for savings of 6.5% per annum across the programme over the period 2012 to 2014.

Since its establishment the Child and Family Agency has operational responsibility for the School Completion Programme, including the allocation of funds to projects within the programme. I am advised that proposals have yet to be formulated by the Agency in relation to the funding for School Completion Programme projects in the coming 2014/2015 academic year. As an initial step the Agency invited all School Completion Programme Projects to commence planning for the next cycle of the programme within the available funding parameters. The Agency has commenced the detailed process of evaluating and approving the 2014/2015 school retention plans for individual projects. It is anticipated that the Agency will advise projects of the outcome of the process and of their allocations in time for the start of the new school year. The Agency will continue to work closely with Local Management Committees, schools and local School Completion Programme co-ordinators to assist projects through the process.

The potential for any changes in the funding allocated to this programme in future years is a matter to be considered in the estimates and budgetary process having regard to the resources available to Government.