Future DEIS school allocations should be informed by need based on the upcoming census data, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Fine Gael Seanad Education Spokesperson, Aisling Dolan, said, “I strongly welcome the €32 million expansion of the DEIS scheme with the addition of 310 new schools. This will really benefit children and families in need, particularly in the context of the rising cost of living. I am particularly pleased that primary schools in rural areas have been included in the new list.
“As part of the new model of DEIS school identification, I strongly believe the upcoming census must guide the next allocation of DEIS schools. It’s so important that everyone completes the census on Sunday 3rd April so that policy makers can see where the population needs are and identify the concentrated levels of disadvantage.
“Taking the time to fill in the census will ensure supports for people in need around Ireland and ensure the required extra teaching and Special Needs Assistant supports.
“For families around the country this means more supports in place for children especially as we deal with the rising cost of living. Children in DEIS schools will have access to breakfast clubs, school lunches, homework clubs, Home School Community Liaison (HSCL) and School Completion Programme (SCP) support, affordable book rental schemes, parenting courses, one to one pupil/parent support by SCP project worker, and targeted work on attendance including regular home visits with HSCL.
“However, it is often the case that children benefit from being in a DEIS school at primary level and then find they do not have a local DEIS option when it comes to their post primary education. Disadvantage does not magically disappear at age 12. These children and young people need to be supported.
“I’m delighted to see post-primary schools in Ballinasloe Co. Galway and in Ballaghaderreen and Castlerea in Co. Roscommon will now have access to DEIS supports. Students will now have a helping hand through secondary school to Leaving Cert and which will improve their career choices.
“In addition to the welcome increase in DEIS funding, my colleague Minister Heather Humphreys also recently expanded the roll-out of the Hot School Meals programme to a further 55,000 students in existing DEIS schools.
“So many more schools and communities are in real need, especially with the impact of the rising cost of living. I look forward to the remodelled DEIS system helping to deal with those challenges and now is the time for us to model the DEIS allocations to best respond to need.”
Minister for Special Education and Inclusion, Josepha Madigan TD, welcomed the updated model, saying, “Today’s announcement reflects Fine Gael’s commitment to inclusive education and supporting students facing disadvantage. As a Minister in the Department of Education, I am pleased that we can provide additional supports to those schools and communities that need it most. Our education system rightly places a strong emphasis on equal opportunity for everyone, no matter their background, and this is something I very strongly support. I want to commend all those who have worked on finalising the new model as well as those who continue to work every day to support and empower young people through education. I want to recognise the work of Senator Aisling Dolan also who has campaigned on this from the beginning of her time in the Seanad.”