Dáil Éireann - Volume 470 - 15 October, 1996

Written Answers. - Disadvantaged Schools Selection.

211. Miss Coughlan asked the Minister for Education the basis on which Gortnacart National School, Ardara, County Donegal, was omitted from the rural disadvantaged scheme entitled breaking the cycle in view of the fact that all other schools in the parish were included in the scheme; and if she will include Gortnacart [112] national school in the cluster of schools selected. [18372/96]

221. Mr. E. Ryan asked the Minister for Education the basis on which St. Patrick's boys school, Ringsend, Dublin 4, was omitted from the breaking the cycle scheme. [18481/96]

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): I propose to take Questions Nos. 211 and 221 together.

The procedure applied in the selection of schools for inclusion in the Breaking the Cycle of Disadvantage initiative were devised by the European research centre following detailed studies of educational disadvantage by the centre and the Combat Poverty Agency.

The first phase of the initiative was targeted on selected schools in the urban areas of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford.

The second phase was targeted on smaller schools, particularly those in rural areas, which had fewer than five teachers. All eligible schools were invited by the education research centre to provide data relating to the pupils in their intake classes under a range of objective criteria. The criteria in question had been devised by the education research centre in consultation with the Combat Poverty Agency and after detailed consideration of a wide range of possible indicators.

The education research centre reviewed all applicants and selected schools for inclusion in the scheme on the basis of the data submitted.

Unfortunately, the schools mentioned by the Deputies did not rate high enough on the priority list to justify their selection by the education research centre.

I would like to make it absolutely clear that the criteria under which schools were selected and the selected process were devised and carried out entirely by the education research centre. I am satisfied that my decision to give the centre this responsibility was fully justified. This is particularly so, given the complexity of the issues involved and the recognised expertise of the centre and the Combat Poverty Agency in this area. In these circumstances, it would not be appropriate for me to seek the inclusion of schools which failed to qualify on the basis of the objective criteria applied to all applicants.