Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Questions (292)

Mary Butler


292. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Education and Skills the criteria that determines whether a school can receive DEIS band status; if location is one of the main criteria; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28187/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The location of a schools does not determine whether a school receives DEIS status. However, given educational disadvantage can manifest differently in urban and rural settings, urban DEIS schools receive more supports than rural DEIS schools. The list of supports is available at www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/DEIS-Plan-2017.pdf.

In relation to the criteria for determining whether a school should be included in the DEIS programme, when DEIS was first introduced in 2006, the identification of schools for inclusion was based on two different processes at primary and post primary. At primary level, there was a survey of school principals using the following socio-economic variables: %unemployment; %local authority accommodation; %lone parenthood; %travellers; %large families (more than 5 children); %pupils eligible for free books. At post primary level a combination of data from the Departments pupil database including school level retention rates together with exam achievement data and exam fee waiver data, which indicated that students had medical cards, was used.

Following a review of DEIS in 2016 and an extensive consultation process, a new identification process was developed for assessing schools levels of concentrated disadvantage. The key data sources used in the new DEIS identification process are the DES Primary Online Database (POD) and Post-Primary Online (PPOD) Databases, and CSO data from the National Census of Population as represented in the Haase Pratschke Deprivation Index (HP Index). The HP Index combines three underlying dimensions of affluence/disadvantage, identified as Demographic Profile, Social Class Composition and Labour Market Situation, to achieve a balanced measure of relative affluence and deprivation, which evenly applies across the urban-rural continuum. Variables used in the compilation of the HP Index include those related to demographic growth, dependency ratios, single parent rates, education levels, overcrowding, social class, occupation and unemployment rates. This data is combined with pupil data, anonymised and aggregated to small area, to provide information on the relative level of concentrated disadvantage present in the pupil cohort of individual schools. The calculation of the level of disadvantage in each school using the HP index is therefore based on the socio-economic background of their pupil cohort using centrally held data and is not based on the location of the school but on the geographical CSO Small Areas where the pupil cohort resides.

A detailed document explaining the methodology used in the Identification process under DEIS plan 2017 is available on my Department’s website at www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/DEIS-Delivering-Equality-of-Opportunity-in-Schools-/DEIS-Identification-Process.pdf.

Following an initial application of this new methodology, 79 new schools were brought into the DEIS programme in 2017 with a further 30 being upgraded from Band 2 to Band 1 status. These schools were assessed as having the highest levels of concentrated disadvantage.

My Department is currently undertaking data analysis in the context of resource allocation to match identified need, including the examination of variables known to be strong predictors of educational disadvantage. All schools at both Primary and Post Primary are being assessed using the new identification model.

This analysis is being carried out by members of the DEIS Technical Group which contains representatives of the Department’s Statistics and Social Inclusion Units, the Inspectorate and the Educational Research Centre. Work is ongoing by this group, including consultation with relevant experts. I am confident that the culmination of this analysis will facilitate the ultimate aim of matching resources to identified need and will allow us to target extra resources at those schools most in need.

Until this analysis is complete, it is not intended to extend the DEIS programme to any further schools.