I propose to take Questions Nos. 433 to 437, inclusive, together.
The Government allocated €1m in March 2008 from the Dormant Accounts Educational Disadvantage Programme for a scheme to assist 100 disadvantaged schools to progress towards achieving Digital Schools Status, this was subsequently increased to €1.6m in December 2008 in the expectation that the scheme would be heavily subscribed.
The process of identifying the 100 primary schools for participation in the scheme involved selecting those schools participating in the Primary Urban Band 1 strand of my Department's DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) Programme. The selection of schools for inclusion in DEIS was based on an extensive identification process conducted by the Educational Research Centre on behalf of the Department in 2005 which identified the socio-economic variables that collectively best predict achievement. At present some 200 schools are included in the Primary Urban Band 1 strand of DEIS and within that band there are varying levels of disadvantage ranging from extreme to just severe. The 100 schools identified with the highest concentration of disadvantage within that band have been targeted to benefit from this particular scheme and applications were invited from these schools.
The school referred to by the Deputy is outside of the first 100 DEIS Urban Band 1 schools and therefore was not included in the scheme. The possibility of extending the scheme in the future to other DEIS schools will be considered in the light of future available resources.
The decision to limit the grant to the top 100 DEIS band 1 schools was taken on the basis that the available funds were limited and that dividing the limited overall fund between all DEIS band 1 schools (of which there are presently 200) would so dilute the individual grants as to render them insufficient to achieve their objectives.
In 2006 the Comptroller and Auditor General reported on educational disadvantage initiatives in the Primary Sector and central to the findings was the importance of not spreading limited resources too thinly. The rationale for this decision was in line with these recommendations whereby limited resources are targeted on the schools in most need. My Department is committed to focussing its educational disadvantage measures on those schools serving the most disadvantaged communities.
The Deputy will also be aware that €22 million in grants for ICT infrastructure was issued to primary schools at the end of November, with the priority on ensuring that there is a teaching computer and digital projector in every classroom. The school referred to by the Deputy has been awarded funding under this scheme.