Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools, DEIS, is the main policy initiative of my Department to address educational disadvantage at school level.
The DEIS programme provides for smaller class sizes and other supports, including additional teaching posts, home school community liaison co-ordinators, DEIS grants, enhanced book grants, curriculum supports, priority access to continuing professional development and the school excellence fund for DEIS. Evidence from the evaluation of the DEIS programme to date demonstrates that it is having a positive effect on tackling educational disadvantage.
The rationale for allocating resources and supports based on a school's level of concentrated disadvantage is based on the existence of a multiplier effect whereby students attending a school with a high concentration of students from disadvantaged backgrounds have poorer academic outcomes, even taking account of individual social background. This approach is supported by national and international research.
In the 2019 to 2020 school year there are 891 schools in the DEIS programme serving in excess of 185,000 pupils. This represents approximately 20% of the overall school population. My Department will spend in the region of €125 million in 2019 on the DEIS programme. That does not include school meals from a different Department.
My Department is now in the final stages of further data analysis on the new identification model to allow for the development of a resource allocation model to match resources to identified need.
In addition, there is a broad range of courses, programmes and supports available to increase transition to both further education and training and higher education for under-represented groups, including those from lower socioeconomic groups. These include initiatives under the programme for access to higher education, PATH, the student assistance fund and student grant schemes.