Dáil Éireann - Volume 538 - 21 June, 2001

Written Answers. - Community Employment Schemes.

155. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will give a guarantee that no disadvantaged school which has had the benefit of classroom assistants under the FÁS community employment scheme will lose out either in classroom assistance or in grants for materials when funds are transferred to his Department by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment as a result of FÁS no longer being the managing agency for this service in schools. [18344/01]

Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): Responsibility for the operation of com[1224] munity employment schemes in schools lies with FÁS. In line with a PPF commitment to mainstream certain essential services provided under CE, officials from my Department are in discussions with their counterparts in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment regarding this issue. These discussions are aimed at ensuring that as CE schemes in schools are phased out, funding equivalent to the amount spent on such schemes would be made available to my Department.

The transfer of such moneys to my Department will result in significant improvements in assistance towards ancillary services for schools. The discussions are at an advanced stage and I hope to make a further announcement regarding this matter in the near future.

While my Department does not operate a scheme for the provision of classroom assistants to schools generally, schools will have the flexibility to use the funds for ancillary services. My Department already has a scheme in place for providing schools with special needs assistants where schools require assistance in meeting the needs of pupils with various disabilities. Schools can apply to the special education section of my Department where they consider they are in need of such assistance.