Oral Questions – Education – DEIS Schools

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Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Education and Skills if the updated action plan for educational inclusion will examine the possibility of increasing the designation status of delivering equality of opportunity in schools school to incorporate more schools into the scheme. [10710/16]

Deputy Richard Bruton:     The action plan for educational inclusion, known as DEIS, was published in 2005 and now provides support to 836 schools serving a total of 169,500 pupils. There are 103,233 pupils in 646 schools at primary level and 66,237 students in 190 schools at secondary level.

The DEIS programme has been implemented in partnership with schools and other Government Departments and agencies such as Tusla, which manages the home school community liaison and school completion programmes, and the Department of Social Protection, which is responsible for the school meals programme.

After ten years in operation, the programme is being reviewed by my Department in consultation with key stakeholders and includes an education partners forum next Monday.

The review is looking at all aspects of DEIS, including the identification process for the inclusion of schools in the programme, the range and impact of different elements of the school support programme and the scope for increased integration of services provided by other Departments and agencies in order to improve effectiveness.

The programme for a partnership Government has committed to publish a new updated action plan for educational inclusion within 12 months. Subject to Government approval, it is intended to start to implement actions arising from an updated plan in the 2017 to 2018 school year.

The number of additional schools to be included in the programme will be determined by a new identification process for this purpose, which is currently in development.

In the meantime, I do not propose to make any changes to the current programme, including the addition of further schools.

Deputy Clare Daly:     I welcome the fact the programme for Government includes a particular focus on DEIS schools, with a commitment to deliver some proposals within 12 months, but my concern is that a year is a long time in the lifetime of a child. This time last year the Minister’s predecessor was telling me much the same thing, that she had commissioned a review into the whole area of DEIS. It has been widely commented on that this programme was actually beginning to deliver success and that the range of disadvantage was diminishing. I have a quote here from a teacher who attended the INTO national conference this year, who talks about the cuts in this area:

The saddest part…is that the areas targeted were beginning to work: children from DEIS schools showed improvement in [testing], participation in third-level was increasing, and children from marginalised Traveller communities were beginning to see education as a realistic pathway [to a better future]. Then we [decided to divert] resources and the good work started to unravel.
There is a huge urgency in this. Many schools are losing out because they are not getting this status which they should get.

Deputy Richard Bruton:     This is a valuable programme. Just before I came into the Chamber, I was reading some of the evaluation work that has been done on the programme regarding the impact on literacy and so on and clearly it is an area in which I have a very strong personal interest in trying to improve. When I was education spokesman previously, I focused particularly on early school leaving and disadvantage and there is a scope to develop new approaches in this area. The review is timely and I hope we can learn some valuable lessons from it and apply them in the next school year – not the one starting this year – which has already been provided for in resourcing terms.

Deputy Clare Daly:     It is a very valuable programme. Part of the problem that has been identified is that only half of disadvantaged children attending DEIS schools receive the targeted resources and that some DEIS schools are not receiving extra funding. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul has been very clear on this in highlighting the narrowing gap between DEIS and non-DEIS schools. However, we need to do more and consider broader areas where children from areas that are not considered disadvantaged are attending schools in those areas and are not getting the supports that they need. The criteria have not been reviewed since 2005 but Ireland is an incredibly different place from then and schools that are maybe in areas that are not seen as disadvantaged are, such as the one in Swords I mentioned earlier, 68% of whose population were not born in Ireland. We need to be more flexible in dealing with the criteria to take account of different schools in different areas.

Deputy Richard Bruton:     I accept what the Deputy said. There is a particular problem regarding children who are disadvantaged but who are not in DEIS schools and that is clearly one of the topics that has been signalled for specific review. That will be examined. Equally, as the Deputy said, there is scope to consider how effective the intervention measures are. It is important not only that we designate schools as disadvantaged but that we also make sure that the interventions actually help the learners to achieve, as she said, standards achieved in other schools or by other children. We must, therefore, make sure that the programme interventions are tailored to the needs of the child because at the end of the day, we are trying to make sure that the child has better prospects through these interventions. The review is worthwhile in this regard.

The Minister’s written responses to this questions is below:

Uimhir:11

Ceist Pharlaiminte

Chun an Aire Oideachais agus Eolaíoctha
To the Minister for Education and Science

To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if the updated Action Plan for Educational Inclusion will examine the possibility of increasing the designation status of Delivering Equality of Opportunity In Schools school to
incorporate more schools into the scheme..
– Clare Daly.

For ORAL answer on Thursday, 19th May, 2016.
Reference Number: 10710/16
Freagra

Minister Richard Bruton

The Action Plan for Educational Inclusion, known as DEIS, was published in 2005 and now provides support to 836 schools serving a total of 169,500 pupils.  There are 103,233 pupils in 646 schools at primary level and 66,237 students in
190 schools at second level.

The DEIS programme has been implemented in partnership with schools and other Government Departments and agencies such as Tusla who manage the Home School Community Liaison and School Completion Programmes, and the Department of
Social Protection which is responsible for the School Meals Programme.

After 10 years of operation the programme is currently being reviewed by my Department in consultation with key stakeholders and includes an Education Partners Forum on Monday next.

The review is looking at all aspects of DEIS, including the identification process for the inclusion of schools in the programme, the range and impact of different elements of the School Support Programme, and the scope for increased integration of services provided by other Departments and agencies, in order to improve effectiveness.

The programme for a Partnership Government has committed to publish a new updated Action Plan for Educational Inclusion within 12 months.  Subject to Government approval, it is intended to start to implement actions arising from an updated plan in the 2017/18 school year.

The number of additional schools to be included in the programme will be determined by a new identification process for this purpose, which is currently in development.

In the meantime, I do not propose to make any changes to the current programme, including the addition of further schools.

Overall SCHOOL LEVEL DEIS Expenditure 2015

Service Description Expenditure 2015
€m
Primary Level
Primary
Staffing
DEIS Posts (534 posts inc former disadvantage schmes-Breaking the Cycle & Giving Children an Even Break – 390 teaching posts and 144 legacy posts) 33.10
HSCL Co-ordinators & 3 Senior Managers 13.7
Behaviour Support Teachers (41 posts) 2.6
Primary Grants Additional School Book Grants 1.01
DEIS Grants (includes HSCL Unclusterable Grant* & Support Teacher Grant) 10.9
Primary Total 61.31
Post Primary Level
Post Primary
Staffing
Post Primary HSCL teachers (172) 11.3
Reduced PTR 17.95:1 9.1
PP Grants Additional School Book Grants 1.6
DEIS Grants (Post Primary) incl. HSCL Unclusterable Grant* 3.6
Post Primary Total 25.6
Primary and Post Primary Supports
Literacy &
Numeracy
DEIS Literacy & Numeracy Initiatives (including Reading Recovery, JCSP Literacy strategy, Library Project) 4.4
Teacher Education Additional Continuous Professional Development (CPD) for DEIS 4.2
NEPS Additional psychological time (20 posts) 1.66
Evaluation Educational Research Centre 0.08
Primary and Post Primary Supports Total 10.34
Total DES Expenditure 97.25
External Supports
External DEIS supports School Completion Programme
(Dept. Children & Youth Affairs)
24.76
DEIS School Meals (Dept. of Social Protection) 24.5
External Supports Total 49.26
Total Expenditure 146.51