Dáil Éireann - Volume 685 - 18 June, 2009

Written Answers. - Departmental Expenditure.

Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Education and Science his plans to address the discrepancy in the level of funding provided to voluntary second level schools and those in the community and comprehensive sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24254/09]

  Deputy Batt O’Keeffe: The funding arrangements made by my Department for second-level schools reflect the sectoral division of our second-level system. At the core of all arrangements is reliance upon capitation as the principal determinant of funding.

My Department provides funding to secondary schools by way of per capita grants, which affords schools considerable flexibility in the use of these resources to cater for the needs of their pupils.

There have been significant improvements in recent years in the level of funding for voluntary secondary schools. With effect from January 2009, the standard per capita grant was increased by €14 per pupil and now amounts to €345 per pupil. In addition, voluntary secondary schools have benefited by the increase of €8 per pupil in 2009 in the support services grant bringing that grant to €212 per pupil.

The cumulative increase of €22 per pupil in a voluntary secondary school brings the aggregate grant to €557 per pupil. These grants are in addition to the per capita funding of up to €40,000 per school that is also provided by my Department to secondary schools towards secretarial and caretaking services. For example, in the case of a secondary school with 500 pupils, this brings annual grants towards general expenses and support service to over €318,500. The corresponding figure in 2000 was approximately €147,300.

Budget allocations for schools in the Community and Comprehensive school sector, along with those in the VEC sector, are increased on a pro rata basis in line with increases in the per capita grant paid to voluntary secondary schools. All schools are eligible for recurrent per capita grants towards special classes and curricular support grants.

My Department has provided an estimated €18.4 million per annum to voluntary secondary schools in equalisation funding to date.

These significant increases in the funding of post-primary schools are a clear demonstration of my commitment to prioritise available resources to address the needs of schools. I will [404] consider how best to complete the process of equalisation of funding at second level, as envisaged in the Programme for Government 2007-2012, having regard to available resources.