Dáil Éireann - Volume 465 - 23 May, 1996
Written Answers. - Schools in Disadvantaged Areas.
Mr. Bree Mr. Bree
79. Mr. Bree asked the Minister for Education the reason urban primary schools in disadvantaged areas in hundreds of towns nationwide, outside of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Galway are being refused an opportunity to participate in 1996 in the new programme entitled Breaking the Education Disadvantage Cycle which she announced on Wednesday, 8 May 1996; if the Combat Poverty Agency recommended that primary schools in disadvantaged areas in towns, other than Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Galway, should be disqualified from participating in this scheme; her views on whether the scheme is fair and equitable; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [10714/96]
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach) Niamh Bhreathnach
Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): In 1995 I commissioned the Combat Poverty Agency and the Education Research Centre to conduct a detailed study on current approaches to the identification of schools which are serving pupils from disadvantaged areas. The report presented was one of the most comprehensive studies of educational disadvantage ever undertaken in the State. It examined the concept of educational disadvantage as it impacted on pupils in the education system. It reviewed the procedures in place to identify and address educational disadvantage. The report also evaluated the effectiveness of current approaches, using a wide range of national and international research data.
While the report recognised the very considerable advances which have been made in alleviating the effects of educational disadvantage, it also made a series of comments and recommendations aimed at improving on current arrangements.
In response to this report, I launched  Breaking The Cycle, a new targeted initiative which aims to break the cycle of disadvantage in selected urban and rural areas.
In the case of urban areas, the report recommended that a more targeted approach be adopted whereby resources would be used to discriminate positively in favour of large schools in urban areas with high concentrations of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. Since the report identified Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Galway as the urban areas with the highest concentration of disadvantaged pupils it was decided to concentrate the initial pilot phase of this initiative on schools in these urban areas.
A further recommendation was for the targeting of a number of clusters of small schools i.e. schools with fewer than five teachers and particularly those schools in rural areas with higher than average numbers of disadvantaged pupils. In the case of this initiative, schools from all parts of the country with fewer than five teachers are eligible to apply.
The Education Research Centre has been commissioned to contact the target schools and invite applications for consideration for support under the new initiative. It is expected that this exercise will commence in the very near future.
Dáil Éireann 465 Written Answers. Schools in Disadvantaged Areas.