Wednesday, 4 February 2004

Ceisteanna (165)

Denis Naughten

Ceist:

256 Mr. Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science the action he is taking to address the spiralling cost of insurance in both primary and second level schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3401/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Education and Science)

Responsibility for arranging insurance cover on school property and against public liability is a matter for the managerial authorities of primary and secondary schools, which are privately owned. Funding is provided to primary and secondary schools by way ofper capita grants which afford schools considerable flexibility in the use of these resources to cater for the needs of their pupils. This is a preferable approach to putting in place grants for specific cost items such as insurance. I also hold the view that moving to a position where the Government covers the insurance costs of primary and secondary schools may encourage the insurance sector to keep increasing premia on the basis that the State would meet the cost and reduce the incentive for school management to reduce risks. It also would reduce the incentive for school managements to actively review and tender for insurance cover on an ongoing basis.

I am committed to improving the funding position of primary and secondary schools in light of available resources. At a time of increased financial constraints, the recent announcement of further significant increases in the funding of primary and secondary schools is a clear demonstration of my commitment to prioritise available resources to address the needs of schools. In the case of primary schools, the standard rate of capitation grant has been increased from €57 in 1997 to €121.58 per pupil from 1 January last, an increase of almost 113%. A measure of the increase in overall funding for secondary schools is that by comparison with 1997 a secondary school with 500 pupils now receives extra annual funding of up to €108,000 per annum.