Dáil Éireann - Volume 463 - 28 March, 1996

Written Answers. - Disadvantaged Areas Scheme.

19. Mr. Timmins asked the Minister for Education if she will ensure that Portlaw national school, Portlaw, County Waterford is included in the disadvantaged areas scheme in view of the fact that they have been seeking this status since 1987 and that the community has a high level of unemployment, 41.4 per cent, and the school has a significant group of children with disabilities ranging from Down's Syndrome to cerebral palsy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6553/96]

53. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Education if she will include a school (details supplied) in County Waterford in the scheme of assistance for schools in designated areas of disadvantage; if she will provide a full time remedial teacher to this school in view of the fact that they have been seeking one since 1986 and that the school is in an area designated as disadvantaged by the Waterford area action plan; and if she [1395] will make a statement on the matter. [4938/96]

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I propose to take Questions Nos. 19 and 53 together. I am not in a position at present to extend disadvantaged area status to the schools in question.

With regard to the provision of a full-time remedial service for the school mentioned by Deputy Deasy, I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the service in question has recently been put in place in the school.

The House will be aware that in 1995, I commissioned the Combat Poverty Agency to undertake a review of our current approaches to the selection and support of pupils suffering educational disadvantage. The outcome of that study was a comprehensive and complex report which was published in summary form in December 1995.

In making the report publicly available, I invited interested parties to make further submissions by the end of January 1996. I am pleased that my invitation has attracted a significant response.

Also at the time of launching the report, I indicated that I had commissioned the Educational Research Centre to bring forward proposals on the precise criteria which should be used in future for the identification of pupils affected by educational disadvantage. The report of the Educational Research Centre has recently been received.

My Department is currently considering the findings of these reports as part of the process of developing a revised approach to the selection and support of pupils with educational disadvantage. I hope to be in a position to make a further announcement in relation to this matter in the near future.

I have noted Deputy Timmins's comments in relation to a significant number of children with special educational needs attending Portlaw national [1396] school. I am arranging to have this matter investigated by my Department's inspectorate.