Tuesday, 25 April 2006

Ceisteanna (714, 715, 716, 717, 718, 719, 720, 721, 722, 723, 724, 725, 726, 727, 728, 729, 730, 731, 732, 733, 734)

Michael Ring

Ceist:

754 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science the effect the loss of disadvantaged status will have on school development planning in view of the fact that the planning was based on the premise that such schools would retain this status; if the policies and procedures developed in consideration of the resource allocation entitlements under disadvantaged status will be rendered null and void; and if so, the way in which schools which have been informed that they will lose disadvantaged status can plan forward. [14215/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Ring

Ceist:

755 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason some primary and secondary schools within the same catchment or feeder area will gain or lose disadvantaged status under the new integrated schools support programme under the DEIS scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14216/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Ring

Ceist:

758 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of schools in County Mayo which will lose their disadvantaged status post 2007 as a result of the new indicators in the integrated schools support programme envisaged under the Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14219/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Ring

Ceist:

814 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will review the decision to exclude a primary school (details supplied) in County Mayo from the new school support programme under DEIS; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14489/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Beverley Flynn

Ceist:

821 Ms Cooper-Flynn asked the Minister for Education and Science the status of development plans for schools which were based on their having disadvantaged status, but who are to lose it under DEIS; and the way in which they can plan going forward. [14619/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Beverley Flynn

Ceist:

822 Ms Cooper-Flynn asked the Minister for Education and Science the way in which some schools in County Mayo within the same catchment area will gain or lose disadvantaged status when the same students are transferring from one school to another; and the criteria involved in this decision. [14620/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Ring

Ceist:

830 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will review the loss of disadvantaged status to a cluster of schools (details supplied) in County Mayo in view of the negative effect this decision will have on the schools and the future educational development of their pupils; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14696/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jerry Cowley

Ceist:

840 Dr. Cowley asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason a school (details supplied) in County Mayo is to lose the equivalent of two teachers and many other essential school activities due to the withdrawal of funding; her views on whether this is a severe blow to this school, which is in a deprived area; the reason this is happening; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14742/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Ring

Ceist:

846 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science the name, location and roll number of each school in County Mayo, both primary and post-primary, which have disadvantaged status; and the schools which will retain that status under the new school support programme under DEIS. [14791/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Ring

Ceist:

847 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of schools, both primary and secondary, which will lose disadvantaged status under the school support programme under DEIS. [14793/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Ring

Ceist:

854 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will review the loss of disadvantage status post 2007 for a primary school (details supplied) in County Mayo, based on revised figures submitted by the school. [14858/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Ring

Ceist:

865 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science the schools in County Mayo which are losing disadvantaged status under the new DEIS. [14959/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Ring

Ceist:

866 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science the way in which schools within the same catchment area have disadvantaged status while others do not. [14962/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Ring

Ceist:

867 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science the implications for those schools which have not been invited to participate in the new school support programme; if they will lose teachers; if they will lose their home school community liaison co-ordinators; if they will receive less financial resources; and if so, if parents in County Mayo are expected to match this investment deficit; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14963/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Ring

Ceist:

869 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science if schools in County Mayo are victims of their own success in view of their exclusion under the new DEIS. [14965/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Ring

Ceist:

871 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason, in the context of a booming economy and a healthy exchequer cashflow, schools in County Mayo are fighting to retain or gain disadvantaged status. [14967/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Education and Science)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 754, 755, 758, 814, 821, 822, 830, 840, 846, 847, 854, 865 to 867, inclusive, 869 and 871 together.

The new DEIS programme will be of huge benefit to schools in Mayo. I am sure the Deputies would agree that it is important to make sure that schools serving the most disadvantaged communities get all the extra support possible and will welcome the extra resources that DEIS will provide for Mayo schools. I can assure the Deputies that there is no reason for schools that have not been identified for the new programme to worry as they will continue to get support in line with the level of disadvantage among their pupils. Not one of these schools has been told they will lose any resources as a result of DEIS.

DEIS is designed to ensure that schools serving the most disadvantaged communities benefit from the maximum level of support available. Over the years, no less than eight separate schemes for disadvantaged primary schools have been put in place. Some schools were benefiting from just one or two of these and others were benefiting from more. The DEIS initiative is designed to ensure that the most disadvantaged schools benefit from a comprehensive package of supports, while ensuring that others continue to get support in line with the level of disadvantage among their pupils.

The additionality in DEIS for second level schools is evident from the fact that approximately 40% of the 200 second level schools that will benefit from the school support programme were not getting any support under the three existing schemes. Now they will get a wide range of extra supports. No school has been told that they are going to lose resources. On the contrary, four urban-town primary schools, 59 rural primary schools and six second level schools in Mayo have been invited to benefit from all the resources available from the new programme. Indeed, almost 20% of all the rural schools invited to benefit from the new programme nationally are in Mayo.

I am sure the Deputies will agree that the extra supports being made available will be of great value to those schools in Mayo which, based on the information submitted by their principals, have been selected to benefit from the new programme.

While the whole rationale behind the new programme is to ensure that the most disadvantaged schools benefit from all of the available supports, schools that are benefiting from existing schemes will keep the extra resources — financial and human — that they are getting under these initiatives for the 2006-07 school year. After that they will continue to get support in line with the level of socio-economic disadvantage among their pupils.

A review process has been put in place for primary and second level schools that did not qualify for participation in the new school support programme, SSP, and that regard themselves as having a level of disadvantage which is of a scale sufficient to warrant their inclusion in the programme. The review process will operate under the direction of an independent person, charged with ensuring that all relevant identification processes and procedures were properly followed in the case of schools applying for a review. The closing date for receipt of review applications was Friday, 31 March 2006.

In regard to how schools were identified to benefit from the new programme, this process was managed by the educational research centre, ERC, on behalf of my Department and supported by quality assurance work co-ordinated through the Department's regional offices and the inspectorate. In the primary sector, the identification process was based on a survey carried out by the ERC in May 2005, from which a response rate of more than 97% was achieved.

The analysis of the survey returns from primary schools by the ERC identified the socio-economic variables that collectively best predict achievement, and these variables were then used to identify schools for participation in the school support programme. The variables involved were as follows: % unemployment; % local authority accommodation; % lone parenthood; % Travellers; % large families (five or more children); % pupils eligible for free books. In the case of second-level schools, the Department supplied the ERC with centrally held data from the post-primary pupils and State Examinations Commission databases. Based on an analysis of these data, the variables used to determine eligibility for inclusion in the school support programme were as follows: medical card data for junior certificate candidates, including junior certificate school programme candidates; junior certificate retention rates by school; junior certificate examination results aggregated to school level, expressed as an OPS; "Overall Performance Scale"— score, and this was based on each student's performance in the seven subjects in which she or he performed best; leaving certificate retention rates by school.

Michael Ring

Ceist:

756 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science if she will review the criteria used to determine disadvantage in order that it is based on a more holistic set of indicators such as those used in a report (details supplied). [14217/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Ring

Ceist:

757 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science the reason pupil achievement and retention is being used as a primary indicator for disadvantage in the new integrated schools support programme under the DEIS scheme; the way in which academic achievement can be used as a prime indicator while failing to take cognisance of the more basic social and economic indicators; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14218/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Ring

Ceist:

864 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science her views on whether the indicators used to determine educational disadvantage adequately capture educational disadvantage in schools in County Mayo. [14958/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Michael Ring

Ceist:

868 Mr. Ring asked the Minister for Education and Science her views on taking a more localised approach to determining disadvantage, which would allow for a more holistic evaluation of the factors which are contributing to educational disadvantage in communities across County Mayo. [14964/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

I propose to take Questions Nos. 756, 757, 864 and 868 together.

The process of identifying primary and second-level schools for participation in the new school support programme under DEIS has now been completed. As a result of the identification process, 840 schools have been invited to participate in the new programme. These comprise 640 primary schools — 320 urban-town schools and 320 rural schools — and 200 second-level schools. Letters of invitation were issued to all 840 schools in late February with a request to complete and return an acceptance form by 10 March 2006.

Four urban-town primary schools, 59 rural primary schools and six second level schools in County Mayo have been invited to participate in the new school support programme.

The identification process was managed by the educational research centre, ERC, on behalf of my Department and supported by quality assurance work co-ordinated through the Department's regional offices and the Inspectorate. The ERC's overall approach was guided by the definition of educational disadvantage in section 32(9) of the Education Act 1998 as "the impediments to education arising from social or economic disadvantage which prevent students from deriving appropriate benefit from education in schools". In the primary sector, the identification process was based on a survey of all primary schools in May 2005, from which a response rate of more than 97% was achieved.

The analysis of the survey returns by the ERC identified the socio-economic variables that collectively best predict achievement, and these variables were then used to identify schoolsfor participation in the school support programme. The variables involved are as follows: % unemployment; % local authority accommodation; % lone parenthood; % Travellers; % large families (five or more children); % pupils eligible for free books.

In the case of second-level schools, my Department supplied the ERC with centrally held data from the post-primary pupils and State Examinations Commission databases. Based on an analysis of these data, the variables used to determine eligibility for inclusion in the school support programme were as follows: medical card data for junior certificate candidates, including junior certificate school programme candidates; junior certificate retention rates by school; junior certificate examination results aggregated to school level, expressed as an OPS —"Overall Performance Scale"— score, and this was based on each student's performance in the seven subjects in which he or she performed best;leaving certificate retention rates by school.

A review mechanism has been put in place to address the concerns of schools that did not qualify for inclusion in the school support programme but regard themselves as having a level of disadvantage which is of a scale sufficient to warrant their inclusion in the programme. This mechanism will operate under the direction of an independent person, charged with ensuring that all relevant identification processes and procedures were properly followed in the case of schools applying for a review. The closing date for receipt of review applications was 31 March 2006. It is anticipated that the review process will be completed by the end of the current school year.

I am satisfied that the method adopted by the ERC in identifying levels of disadvantage in primary and second level schools is the most appropriate and effective approach currently available. The future development of pupil-student databases at primary and further education level and the continuing development of the existing post-primary pupils database and student databases in higher education institutions, all using the personal public service number, will further enhance the identification process for future planning cycles. These developments will also facilitate co-operation with other Departments and agencies in identifying levels of disadvantage in schools.

Question No. 758 answered with QuestionNo. 754.

Breeda Moynihan-Cronin

Ceist:

759 Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the fact that there are no Traveller representatives on the educational disadvantage committee; and if she will agree to appoint a Traveller representative immediately. [14221/06]

Amharc ar fhreagra

The role of the educational disadvantage committee is to advise on policies and strategies to be adopted to identify and correct educational disadvantage. The term of office of the previous committee has expired and my Department has written to the education and social partners seeking their views on the composition and future work of the next committee. These have been received and are under consideration.

Members of the committee are appointed in accordance with section 32 of the Education Act 1998. Under section 32(3) of the Act, up to half of the membership of the committee will be appointed from nominees of such voluntary and other bodies which have objects that are considered relevant to the work of the committee.