Dáil Éireann - Volume 521 - 13 June, 2000
Written Answers. - Secretarial and Caretaking Services.
Mr. Deenihan Mr. Deenihan
303. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of secretarial and caretaker places that will be created in both primary and post primary schools following the withdrawal of FÁS schemes that were providing these services; the cost involved to his Department for the additional staff; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16704/00]
Dr. Woods Dr. Woods
Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): While the responsibility for the operation of the community employment schemes in schools rests with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, I can assure the Deputy that I remain committed to the provision of additional assistance to schools for secretarial and caretaking services.
At primary level my Department provides funding towards the cost of caretaking and secretarial services under two separate schemes. One scheme is the 1978-79 scheme for the employment of caretakers and clerical officers under which my Department meets the full cost of salary and employer's PRSI. However, this scheme has been superseded in the PESP agreement of 1992 by a more extensive grant scheme.
The PESP scheme provides additional per capita grants for primary schools towards secretarial and caretaking services. As the Deputy is aware, I recently announced that with effect from September of this year, I will be extending the scheme to all primary schools. In addition I will be setting a minimum grant of £2,400 which will be payable to all schools with 60 pupils or less.
These improvements mean that with effect from September 2000 all primary schools will be receiving an annual grant to assist them with the provision of secretarial and caretaking services. The Government's commitment in this regard can also be measured by the fact that the funding allocated for this purpose, which was approximately £5.6 million in 1999 has increased this year to approximately £12.2 million and will further increase in 2001 to approximately £16.8 million.
At second level, the assistance provided by my Department towards the provision of caretaking and secretarial services reflects the different  school management and ownership arrangements at second level.
In the case of voluntary secondary schools in the free education scheme, all schools with 200 or more pupils receive financial assistance towards the cost of both caretaking and secretarial services under the PESP scheme. There are also a number of secondary schools in the 1978 scheme for the employment of clerical officers under which my Department meets the full cost of salary.
In the case of vocational schools and colleges, caretaking and clerical staff are allocated to vocational education committees on a scheme wide basis. It is a matter for the vocational education committee to deploy staff in the best manner possible to meet the needs of the committee and its schools.
All schools in the community and comprehensive school sector have been provided with clerical and caretaking services.
In addition, I am satisfied that my recent announcement of the introduction of a school services support fund at second level from next September is a significant initiative in the funding of our schools. Schools will now receive additional annual funding of £20 per pupil with a minimum payment of £4,000 per school. This fund will channel an additional £7 million to second level schools each year. The flexibility given to schools under this initiative will be supported by the putting in place of guidelines, which will strike the right balance between allowing a reasonable level of discretion and achieving the implementation of national policy priorities.
Dáil Éireann 521 Written Answers. Secretarial and Caretaking Services.