Dáil Éireann - Volume 523 - 11 October, 2000
Written Answers. - Educational Disadvantage.
Mr. S. Ryan Mr. S. Ryan
 94. Mr. S. Ryan asked the Minister for Education and Science if his attention has been drawn to the fact that 30% of principals of primary schools did not respond to the recent questionnaire about disadvantage levels among their students; if any action has been taken to establish the reasons for this lack of response; if he will make further inquiries in relation to the status of pupils in these schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21476/00]
Dr. Woods Dr. Woods
Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): In December 1999 the Government announced a £194 million multi-sectoral allocation over a three-year period to alleviate the effects of educational disadvantage. The allocation for primary education is in excess of £25 million and entailed a survey of all primary schools so that the levels of concentration in them of children with characteristics associated with educational disadvantage and early school leaving could be identified. My Department contracted the Educational Research Centre, Drumcondra, to carry out this survey. Replies to the survey were received from 75% of primary schools and this level of response is considered to be high compared with levels of response to other postal surveys.
In advance of the survey, a circular was issued by my Department to all primary schools. In it, schools were advised of the forthcoming questionnaire. They were informed of the purposes of the survey and advised that resources would be allocated to the schools with the highest concentrations of at risk pupils. They were also exhorted to return the completed questionnaires. The questionnaires were then issued by the ERC and schools were subsequently advised of an extended closing date for receipt of returns. In effect, therefore, the schools received three communications about the survey.
There was a very high incidence of returns of the questionnaire from schools designated by my Department as serving areas of disadvantage and from rural schools in the Breaking the Cycle project. This would seem to suggest that the incidence of non-completion was highest among those schools least likely to qualify for additional resources.
It is my intention that the relevant officers in my Department and the ERC will continue to work in close co-operation on this issue. As soon as current analyses are completed, the programme is launched and resources are allocated to the selected schools, further analysis of aspects of the survey, including the non-completion rate, will be carried out and decisions will be made regarding future actions.
Dáil Éireann 523 Written Answers. Educational Disadvantage.