Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (279)

Alan Kelly


279. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Education and Skills the details of the funding and support package announced in summer 2019 for schools (details supplied); the criteria under which the funding is being given; and the way in which other schools in County Tipperary can avail of such funding and support packages as a matter of urgency. [35076/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

There has been a lengthy period of engagement between the schools in Tipperary town and my Department regarding the socio-economic circumstances of the town and the supports required to best meet the needs of their pupil cohort.

Following a meeting on 31 July this year, correspondence was issued to the schools involved.  This drew their attention to the School Excellence Fund and the fact that it is open to applications until the 27th September.  It also set out the procedures and provided the link for schools to appeal their allocation of supports to help support those pupils that require English as an Additional Language (EAL) assistance. This appeal mechanism requires schools to demonstrate that they have high concentrations of pupils requiring (EAL) support.  This appeal mechanism and the School Excellence Fund application process are open to all schools. 

The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) have developed actions research projects following their development of two web-based resources, A Balanced Approach to Literacy Development in the Early Years and Effective Interventions for Struggling Readers - Revised 2018. Both of these web based resources are available to all teachers and schools and enable them to access information on evidence-based approaches to support literacy development in the early years and intervention programmes for pupils with specific literacy difficulties.  NEPS have already conducted action research projects in clusters of schools to train and engage with these resources in Limerick, Kilkenny and Waterford.  For the coming academic year, NEPS have included the schools in Tipperary town in this initiative.

As the Deputy is aware, my Department is currently undertaking data analysis in the context of resource allocation to match identified need.  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. Until this analysis is complete, it is not intended to extend the DEIS programme to any further schools.

What is apparent from analysis is that Tipperary, relative to other towns of comparable size, has a high level of deprivation at Electoral Division level to the extent that it exceeds the level found in all other towns of a similar size. The level of deprivation is comparable with that seen in some inner city areas, whilst at the same time none of the primary schools in Tipperary town were in the DEIS programme.

I, therefore, considered it appropriate to assign a temporary additional teacher post for the 2019/2020 school year only, in line with existing terms and conditions.  This post will be shared equitably across the 5 schools with the objective of improving educational outcomes for targeted students.