QUESTION NO: 182
DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton)
by Deputy Mattie McGrath
for WRITTEN ANSWER on 21/02/2017
To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide all of the information used in the assessment of primary schools in County Tipperary under the new DEIS programme; the reason the five primary schools in Tipperary town were excluded from the programme; if these schools can be reexamined for inclusion under the DEIS programme in view of the level of disadvantage in Tipperary town; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
A key element of DEIS Plan 2017 Plan is the availability of a new identification process for the assessment of schools for inclusion in DEIS using centrally held CSO and DES data.
The key data sources are the DES Primary Online Database (POD) and Post-Primary Online (PPOD) Databases, and CSO data from the National Census of Population as represented in the Pobal HP Index for Small Areas which is a method of measuring the relative affluence or disadvantage of a particular geographical area. Variables used in the compilation of the HP Index include those related to demographic growth, social class composition and labour market situation. This data is combined with pupil data, anonymised and aggregated to small area, to provide information on the relative level of concentrated disadvantage present in the pupil cohort of individual schools. Further information on the development of the identification process is available in the DEIS Review report which can be found on my Department’s website at http://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Services/DEIS-Delivering-Equality-of-Opportunity-in-Schools-/
In its initial application, the new identification model has identified that there are schools in disadvantaged areas, not previously included in DEIS, whose level of disadvantage is significantly higher than many schools already in the programme. Accordingly, we are moving as a first step to include these schools within the DEIS School Support Programme.
Schools included in the list published by the Department on 13th February are those whose level of concentrated disadvantage has been identified as being at the same level as the current DEIS category for schools serving the highest concentrations of disadvantage.
Schools which have not been included at this stage, including the schools referred to by the Deputy, are those which have not been identified as having the highest levels of concentrated disadvantage amongst their pupil cohort, under the new model which is fair and objective.
The new DEIS Plan provides for a verification process and any school wishing to seek verification of the information used to assess the level of disadvantage of its pupil cohort may submit an application for same to firstname.lastname@example.org
It is important to note that the school details published on 13th February represent a first step in the application of the assessment process to support pupils in schools with the highest concentrations of disadvantage. I am fully aware that there are further schools whose concentrated level of disadvantage may not be at the highest level, but may nevertheless be at a level which warrants additional supports for pupils under DEIS.
However, as noted in the DEIS Plan, the implementation of a new objective central data-based model of identifying levels of disadvantage within school populations will be followed by a further programme of work to create a more dynamic model where levels of resource more accurately follow the levels of need identified by that model.
Once this work has been completed, consideration will be given to extending DEIS supports to a further group of schools as resources permit.
In delivering on the DEIS Plan 2017 we must be conscious that there are ongoing changes in demographics which may be more marked in some areas than others. Populations in some areas have changed considerably since schools were originally evaluated for inclusion in DEIS in 2006. The new model may reveal that some schools currently included in DEIS have a level of disadvantage within their school population much lower than that in some schools not included within DEIS. If this turns out to be the case, then we must consider whether it is fair that those schools continue receiving these additional resources, using resources that may be more fairly allocated to the schools with greater levels of disadvantage.
It is important to note that the fact that a school has not been included in the DEIS programme on this occasion does not preclude its inclusion at a later date, should its level of disadvantage warrant the allocation of additional resources.