Currently, all DEIS Urban Primary and DEIS Post Primary schools are included in the HSCL Scheme, which serves 539 schools. The scheme is delivered by 416 full-time HSCL Coordinators who are teachers in these schools and assigned to HSCL duties either in individual schools or clusters of schools, catering for approximately 156,000 pupils.
The impact of socio-economic factors on educational outcomes can be different between urban and rural settings and the HSCL scheme takes account of that. While urban and rural disadvantage share many characteristics, such as poverty, unemployment and poor housing conditions, the evidence suggests that disadvantage in a rural context does not have the same impact on educational performance.
My Department's objective in implementing DEIS Plan 2017 is to have the maximum possible impact on providing opportunities for students most at risk of disadvantage. To achieve this, additional resources must be targeted as closely as possible at those students with the greatest need in terms of concentrated levels of disadvantage.
The Deputy may wish to note that Rural DEIS primary schools continue to be supported through the DEIS programme with a range of additional supports, including grant aid in the form of a DEIS grant, enhanced book grant, access to the DEASP School Meals Programme and priority access for teachers to a range of professional development programmes as well as the Incredible Years and Friends programmes.
My Department has no plans at present to extend the HSCL scheme to Rural DEIS schools as part of the DEIS programme. It is not possible to give a definitive cost to extend to 75 additional posts, since it is dependent upon a primary or post primary teachers' particular point on the salary scale upon appointment to the role.