Dáil Éireann - Volume 661 - 24 September, 2008

Written Answers. - Literacy Levels.

Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Education and Science the amount of money that has been allocated under the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion to achieve high level goal number two to reduce the proportion of pupils with serious literacy difficulties, in primary schools serving disadvantaged communities, from 30% to 15% by 2016; the progress [855] that has been made on achieving this goal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30894/08]

  Deputy Seán Haughey: The Department of Education and Science has as one of its primary goals the achievement of high literacy standards. Both the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion (2007-2016) and the National Development Plan (2007-2013) have a high level goal of reducing the proportion of pupils with serious literacy difficulties in primary schools serving disadvantage communities from 30% to 15% by 2016.

The National Action Plan for Social Inclusion complemented by the social inclusion elements of the National Development Plan 2007-2013, sets out Ireland’s social inclusion strategy over the period 2007-2016. No specific monies are allocated under the National Action Plan for Social Inclusion. However, since 2007 some €3.1 million has been allocated to literacy and numeracy programmes at primary level.

My Department will spend some €800 million this year on tackling educational disadvantage at all levels — from pre-school to further and higher education. This represents an increase of some €70 million since 2007 and is testament to the Government’s determination to prioritise social inclusion and ensure that all our children and young people get the supports they need to do well at school.

Significant resources to address literacy and numeracy difficulties in schools serving disadvantaged communities are being provided through DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools), the action plan for educational inclusion. These measures include:

a maximum class size of 20:1 in junior classes and 24:1 in senior classes in the 190 urban/town schools serving the most disadvantaged communities.

increased access to literacy and numeracy support services for all primary schools and to specific literacy and numeracy measures for all urban/town primary schools in DEIS.

access to a range of supports for young people based on best practice identified through the School Completion Programme (include homework clubs).

Reading Recovery is now in place in 197 schools and a newly trained teaching leader will increase capacity in Dublin from autumn 2008 with another two teachers to undergo training in the 2008/2009 school year. There are currently 260 schools taking part in the First Steps Programme, 334 schools in Ready Set Go Maths and 252 schools in Maths Recovery.

Resources are also being made available for intensive professional development programmes for principals and teachers in DEIS schools. A Family Literacy Project is also being implemented, the aim of which is to develop a family-literacy approach based on parents and children enjoying learning together. The Schools Development Planning service will continue to support schools in developing their plans and policies for teaching literacy and numeracy and in setting measurable targets for the reduction of serious literacy and numeracy difficulties.