Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Questions (70)

John Curran


70. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the adequacy of the school capitation grant will be reviewed in order to meet the running costs of schools, especially small, medium and DEIS schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29232/18]

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Oral answers (3 contributions) (Question to Education)

My question is to ask the Minister to review the adequacy of the capitation grant, in particular for small and medium-sized schools in respect of the running costs they incur.

I thank Deputy Curran. I recognise the need to improve capitation funding for schools, including DEIS schools, having regard to the reductions that were necessary over recent years.

Restoring of capitation funding as resources permit is one of the actions included in the Action Plan for Education and I remain committed to achieving this. However, I must be prudent in the context of ongoing budgetary pressures and prioritise where it is not possible to do everything that I would like to do.

As Deputy Curran is aware, I have made provision for 6,000 additional teachers, 3,000 extra special needs assistants and 3,000 new middle-management posts. These resources were allocated to improve the learning experience throughout the sector with a particular focus on children with special needs.

The Deputy will be aware that budget 2018 saw the allocation of significant new resources. We have seen the budget grow to €10 billion, its highest ever. Improvements have been made in the restoration of grant funding used by schools to cover the salaries of ancillary staff. That has involved the provision of additional grants of €6 million. However, the other element of the capitation grant has not increased in recent years. It will, however, be one of the issues we will assess in line with other competing demands on the education budget as we approach budget 2019.

Will the Minister review the capitation grant as it pertains to small and medium-sized schools? I recently had an opportunity to look at the figures for two DEIS schools with a little over 200 pupils. The capitation grant is €35,000 or so. Lighting and heating in the two schools cost €17,000 or €18,000, while the cost of insurance came to €10,000 or €11,000. If the size of a school doubles, the capitation grant is not doubled. Such schools are struggling and do not have the opportunity, as occurs in other areas, to seek contributions from parents. I specifically ask that, in particular, the capitation grant for small and medium-sized DEIS schools, with perhaps 200 to 250 pupils, be addressed.