Press Release 1 March, 2021

 Minister for Education Norma Foley TD today announced further supports to those schools catering for children and young people who are experiencing the highest levels of educational disadvantage. As part of the Budget 2021 measures to tackle educational disadvantage, the Minister announced:

A one-point reduction in the staffing schedule to reduce class-size in all DEIS Urban Band 1 primary schools.

  • An extension of the School Completion Programme to include 14 urban primary and 14 post-primary schools newly included in DEIS in 2017.
  • A 5% increase in funding for the School Completion Programme to support the attendance and participation of vulnerable learners and those at risk of education disadvantage.
  • A reduction of the enrolment threshold for the allocation of an additional deputy principal in DEIS post-primary schools, from 700 to 600 pupils.

Minister Foley said:

I am delighted to be able to announce this range of supports, aimed at tackling educational disadvantage and assisting those students with the highest levels of need to help them reach their potential. My Department will spend over €150m on tackling educational disadvantage this year.

It is vital that DEIS schools catering for those students from lower socio-economic backgrounds receive continued support, particularly in light of the need to provide assistance to students who have missed out on learning opportunities as a result of Covid-19 school closures.

While there has been a reduction in mainstream class size in recent years, there has not been a corresponding reduction for those Urban Band 1 DEIS schools.

As an initial step in addressing this, I announced a one-point reduction for Senior Urban Band 1 schools from 24:1 to 23:1.

Following further consideration, it is clear to me that a lower class size, particularly in junior classes, in those schools with the highest concentrations of educational disadvantage can improve overall learning outcomes. Therefore, I am pleased to announce a one-point reduction to the staffing schedule as it applies to all Urban Band 1 DEIS primary schools.

The Minister continued:

In recognition of the additional pressures faced by principals in DEIS post-primary schools, I am also happy to announce a reduction in the threshold for the allocation of a second deputy principal posts for these schools. This will provide additional leadership and management support for those DEIS schools with more than 600 students.

The School Completion Programme, as one of the three support strands of the Tusla Education Support Service, is one of the key supports in terms of supporting retention and attendance of learners. It is particularly important given the need to support students who have missed out on learning opportunities as a result of Covid-19 school closures and of that increased risk leading to student disengagement and early school leaving.

Those schools new to DEIS in 2017 which would ordinarily have been eligible for SCP, were not offered access to the programme at that time and I am now in a position to address this. I will be providing additional annual funding of almost €2.3 million to the School Completion Programme, to fund the extension of the programme to these schools and provide a 5% increase in the overall budget.

The Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop an inclusive vision for education. These additional supports will assist students most at risk of educational disadvantage by enhancing opportunities for participation and retention in education thus allowing our young people to fulfil their potential.

Minister of State Anne Rabbitte welcomed the announcement saying:

Any and all supports for children and young people who experience educational disadvantage must be welcomed with open arms.