Dáil Éireann - Volume 499 - 02 February, 1999

Written Answers - Disadvantaged Status.

333. Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Education and Science if his Department has received an application from Edenderry boys' national school, County Offaly, with regard to disadvantage area status; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the level of education attainment in Edenderry is considerably less than the national average; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2414/99]

[1144] 340. Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for Education and Science if his Department has received an application from Scoil Mhuire Bainríon, Edenderry, County Offaly, for disadvantaged status; his views on the case made by the school in respect of the severe level of educational disadvantage in the area it serves; if he will grant the application; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2524/99]

Minister for Education and Science (Mr. Martin): I propose to take Questions Nos. 333 and 340 together.

I am aware of the case made by the school in question in support of its application for disadvantaged area status. However, I am not aware of any reliable data which would support the suggestion that the level of educational attainment in Edenderry is considerably below the national average.

A study of educational disadvantage conducted by the Combat Poverty Agency and the Education Research Centre in 1996 concluded that disadvantaged status should be confined to 16 per cent of the school-going population. The study noted that such status had already been granted to 17 per cent of pupils. As an alternative to extending the disadvantaged areas scheme to additional schools, the study recommended that available resources should be targeted on the most disadvantaged schools already in the scheme.

The Breaking the Cycle of disadvantage scheme was subsequently introduced to deliver the sort of targeted support recommended in the study.

I am currently reviewing my Department's overall response to the problem of educational disadvantage. My objective is to ensure that all available resources are properly targeted so that children who are educationally disadvantaged receive the support they need to maximise their potential in the educational system.

I can assure the Deputies that the needs of the school to which they refer will be considered in the context of any additional resource allocations which may be undertaken to address educational disadvantage.