I propose to take Questions Nos. 417, 420, 421, 427, 430, 431, 436, 440, 473, 494, 503, 516 and 524 together.
The Deputy will be aware that, on the 1st March 2021, I announced a package of measures to tackle educational disadvantage. This announcement includes a one point reduction in class size from 22:1 to 21:1 in Urban Band 1 vertical schools and 20:1 to 19:1 in Urban Band 1 junior schools. This is in addition to previously announced one-point reduction for Senior Urban Band 1 schools from 24:1 to 23:1. It is estimated that the reduction of class size in Urban Band 1 schools will require an additional 50 teaching posts and have a full year cost in the region of €2.45 million.
Having considered options on how best to support those learners with the highest levels of need, I have also decided to allocate a 5% increase in the budget of the School Completion Programme and approve the extension of the programme to 28 Urban Band 1 and post-primary schools newly included in DEIS in 2017. I have also reduced the enrolment threshold for the allocation of an additional deputy principal in DEIS post-primary schools, from 700 to 600 students.
DEIS remains this Department’s main policy to tackle educational disadvantage. My Department will spend over €150 million on the programme this year. In light of the need to support students who have missed out on learning opportunities as a result of Covid-19 school closures, it is vital that DEIS schools catering for those students from poorer socio-economic backgrounds receive continued support. Hence I have targeted the funding available where it can best support.