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Island Communities

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 22 January 2019

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Questions (191)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

191. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to bring forward legislation on island proofing at all levels of policy making; and the status of the report on challenges facing island schools. [2811/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department recognises the very important role played by the island schools in maintaining the communities and culture of the islands, and is therefore strongly committed to the maintenance of the schools on the islands. For this reason and in recognition of the unique challenges faced by island schools my Department has provided additional supports to such schools.

Following the submission of correspondence to the Department, including the Oireachtas report identifying the unique challenges facing island schools, an intradepartmental working group was established in the Department of Education and Skills to explore the options for addressing these challenges and to set out recommendations to support post-primary schools located on islands in the Gaeltacht.

 The working group recommended the provision of a ring-fenced package of supports to be provided to island post-primary schools from September 2018 as part of the implementation of the Policy on Gaeltacht Education 2017-2022, as follows:

Increased teacher allocation

The teacher allocation for each of the island post-primary schools has increased from 1 whole-time equivalent (WTE) post to 1.5 WTE posts from September 2018.

Ring-fenced non-pay budgetary allocation for island post-primary schools

An additional ring-fenced non-pay budget of €15,000 per annum has been allocated to each post-primary island school to cover the additional operational costs of these schools.   

Establishment of Coláiste Eoin as an independent stand-alone school

Coláiste Naomh Eoin, Inis Meáin, Co Galway, previously designated as a Language Unit (Aonad) attached to Coláiste Colmcille, Indreabhán, has been recognised as an independent stand-alone school under the aegis of Galway and Roscommon Education and Training Board, from September 2018.  

The above package of supports was implemented in full from September 2018. This package of supports was provided to the relevant schools in addition to supports that have already been provided under the Gaeltacht School Recognition Scheme, as outlined in Circulars 0034/2017 and 0022/2018, and any other scheme which a post-primary school may be eligible to access.

Officials of my Department will continue to monitor educational provision in island schools including the impact of relevant legislation and policies, and will liaise with officials of other Government Departments and agencies, as appropriate.

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