Dáil Éireann - Volume 473 - 23 January, 1997

Written Answers. - School Intervention Programmes.

58. Mr. O'Malley asked the Minister for Education the plans, if any, she has to expand inschool and post-school intervention programmes for the educationally disadvantaged; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [1763/97]

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): Since my appointment as Minister, I have given priority to addressing the issue of disadvantage in education and a range of strategies are in place. These include the development of Early Start centres; the allocation of additional resources to schools in disadvantaged areas; the expansion of the home school community liaision scheme; curricular reforms to allow students to make choices relevant to their abilities and aptitudes — the junior certificate, the junior certificate elementary programme, the transition year programme, the leaving certificate applied and the expansion of the leaving certificate vocational programme — improvements in the quality of teaching and certification systems; the expansion of psychological and guidance services; support for junior and senior centres for travellers; the free book scheme, and alleviation of examination fees, for necessitious pupils; the development of links between second level disadvantaged schools and third level institutions; the development of second chance education and training options through Youthreach and the vocational training opportunity scheme and a range of adult and community education programmes. In particular, a new targeted initiative aimed at Breaking the Cycle of educational disadvantage was launched in 1996. Under this initiative, a number of selected primary schools in urban and rural areas have been targeted for an intensive package of additional supports, including additional staffing and reduced class sizes in large urban schools, special additional funding for materials and equipment and a special programme of in-career development.

I will continue to give priority to the area of disadvantage in the context of available resources.