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.