Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Ceisteanna (223, 224)

Robert Dowds

Ceist:

223. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Education and Skills the criteria that are considered when deciding whether to award a school DEIS status, either band 1 or band 2. [5112/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Robert Dowds

Ceist:

224. Deputy Robert Dowds asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will consider reviewing the schools that are granted DEIS status and potentially granting it to additional schools. [5113/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 223 and 224 together.

The underlying criteria for participation in DEIS is a school's relative level of disadvantage against all other schools therefore those schools with the highest concentration of disadvantage were selected for participation in the DEIS programme. In the primary sector the identification of primary schools, for participation in DEIS, was based on analysis of a survey, carried out by the Educational Research Centre (ERC), of all primary schools. In the case of second-level schools, analysis of centrally-held data from the Post-Primary Pupils Database and the State Examinations Commission databases determined the identification of post-primary schools for participation in DEIS.

The identification process for DEIS was in line with international best practice and had regard to, and employed, the existing and most appropriate data sources available. It was managed by the ERC on behalf of the Department and supported by quality assurance work co-ordinated through the Department's Regional Offices and the Inspectorate. The choice of variables included in the assessment of disadvantage was guided by the definition of disadvantage in the Education Act, (1998) which refers both to learning outcomes and to social and economic factors.

Arising from the identification process schools were rank ordered according to their assessed levels of disadvantage into the following categories:

- Urban Band 1 - Urban/town primary schools with the highest relative level of disadvantage

- Urban Band 2 - remaining urban/town primary schools with the next highest levels of disadvantage

- Rural Strand of DEIS - Primary schools serving rural communities, including towns with populations below 1,500

- Post-Primary DEIS – Post-Primary Schools with the highest levels of disadvantage.

A key priority for my Department is to prioritise and target resources in schools with the most concentrated levels of educational disadvantage. That challenge is significant, given the current economic climate and the target to reduce public expenditure which limits the capacity for any additionality to the DEIS programme. The current focus of my Department in relation to the DEIS programme is on its ongoing evaluation and on distilling the learning from this research in order to inform future policy on educational disadvantage.