Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (314)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire


314. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Education and Skills the estimated cost to restore rural co-ordinator service under the home school liaison service. [35237/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

The DEIS Rural Coordination Service was discontinued with effect from 31 August 2011.  At that time there were 46 Rural Coordinator Posts at a cost of €2,714,000.

Currently, all DEIS Urban Primary and DEIS Post Primary schools are included in the Home School Community Liaison (HSCL) Scheme, which serves 533 schools. The scheme is delivered by 415 full-time HSCL Coordinators who are teachers in these schools and assigned to HSCL duties either in individual schools or clusters of schools, catering for approximately 156,000 pupils. 

 In addition, and responding to specific actions in the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion

Strategy  (NTRIS) and DEIS Plan 2017,  my Department has committed to the assignment of 4 HSCLs,  as part of a 2 Year Pilot Programme commencing in the 2019/20 school year in 4 areas to target attendance, participation and retention/school completion for Traveller and Roma pupils.

 The impact of socioeconomic factors on educational outcomes can be different between urban and rural settings and the HSCL scheme takes account of that. While urban and rural disadvantage share many characteristics, such as poverty, unemployment and poor housing conditions, the evidence suggests that disadvantage in a rural context does not have the same impact on educational performance compared to urban schools.

My Department's objective in implementing DEIS Plan 2017 is to have the maximum possible impact on providing opportunities for students most at risk of disadvantage.  To achieve this, additional resources must be targeted as closely as possible at those students with the greatest need in terms of concentrated levels of disadvantage.  

The Deputy may wish to note that Rural DEIS primary schools continue to be supported through the DEIS programme with a range of additional supports, including grant aid in the form of a DEIS grant, enhanced book grant, access to the DEASP School Meals Programme and priority access for teachers to a range of professional development programmes as well as the Incredible Years and Friends programmes.