Funding to schools to cover their day-to-day running costs has increased substantially in recent years. Indeed, this year schools benefited from the largest ever increase in the capitation grant.
With increases in capitation and ancillary services funding, primary schools are now getting €95 more per pupil per year than they were in 2002. The capitation grant has been increased to €163.58 per child, and the ancillary services grant has risen to €145.50 per child, bringing the total value of both grants to nearly €310 per pupil. This amounts to €93,000 a year for a 300-pupil school.
At second level, the capitation grant has increased by €50 per student since 2002 from €266 to €316. The school support services grant which we introduced in 2000, has been increased significantly to €189 per student for voluntary secondary schools with effect from January 2007. Voluntary secondary schools are now getting €505 per student in capitation and support services grants.
This amounts to €293,000 a year for a 500-student voluntary school. Schools have, therefore, benefited from major increases in funding in recent years. A small number of schools have, however, sought assistance from my Department as an exceptional matter to deal with serious financial difficulties.
Between 2002 to 2006, my Department provided additional financial assistance for this purpose to a total of 97 schools, mainly serving disadvantaged areas.
In 2002, 26 schools received approximately €341,000;
In 2003, 25 schools were allocated a total of €519,000;
In 2004, €108,000 was given to 10 schools;
In 2005, 32 schools shared a total of €784,000; and
Last year, just over €112,000 was paid to 4 schools.
During the same period, the following numbers of schools have sought assistance:
2002 — 27 schools
2003 — 27 schools
2004 — 33 schools
2005 — 43 schools
2006 — 52 schools
It should be noted that the responsibility for sound financial management of schools' affairs rests with school authorities and these were exceptional payments.
The majority of these were schools serving disadvantaged areas. The Deputy will be aware that as well as general increases in capitation funding, extra financial supports are being provided to schools under the DEIS action plan for educational inclusion. In the last school year, DEIS related grants totalling more than €17 million were paid to schools to meet the needs of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. This represented a substantial increase on the 05/06 level of almost €12 million.
The Government will continue to prioritise the needs of schools serving disadvantaged communities going forward. The emphasis on tackling educational disadvantage in recent years is absolutely unprecedented. In 2007, we are investing nearly €730 million in measures aimed at tackling disadvantage at all levels. This represents an increase of nearly €95 million on the 2006 figure and an almost 60% increase on the €460 million provided in 2003.
As well as continuing to prioritise disadvantaged schools, we are also determined to ensure that both primary and post-primary schools benefit from increased funding over the next five years. The Programme for Government contains a specific commitment to double the standard capitation grant for primary schools. Grants to schools for the employment of secretaries and caretakers will also be increased significantly.
In summary, therefore, we have substantially increased funding for schools and will prioritise further improvements in the years head.