Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) is the main policy initiative of the Department to address educational disadvantage at school level. The DEIS Plan 2017 sets out the vision for future interventions in the critical area of educational disadvantage policy and builds on what has already been achieved by schools who have benefitted from the additional supports available under the initial DEIS programme introduced in 2005.
The DEIS Plan 2017 is based on the findings of an extensive review of the DEIS programme, which involved extensive consultations with all relevant stakeholders.
A critical aspect of DEIS, from the outset, was the evaluation of the programme. The Educational Research Centre (ERC) and the DES Inspectorate have conducted a series of evaluations on aspects of the DEIS programme and findings of this work are contained in a series of published reports. Evidence from this research demonstrates that the DEIS programme is having a positive effect on tackling educational disadvantage.
DES Retention Rates of Pupils in Second Level Schools 2011 Entry Cohort shows that improvement in DEIS schools’ retention rates in recent years has been significantly higher than the overall improvement nationally.
The vision of the National Access Plan is to ensure that the student body entering into, participating in and completing higher education at all levels reflects the diversity and social mix of Ireland's population. The Plan identifies the target groups that are currently being under-represented in higher education, which includes entrants from socio-economic groups that have low participation in higher education.
A Progress Review of the National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education and the Priorities to 2021 was published in December 2018. The Progress Review acknowledges a number of significant positive developments and characterises the first phase of implementation of the third National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2015-2019 as a period of achievement and investment. For example, it highlighted the significant progress in higher education participation rates among some of the target groups such as the socio-economically disadvantaged groups and students with disabilities.