Minister Bruton announces reassessment of disadvantaged schools

By Andrew Byrne

Schools will find out next year if they still meet the criteria for disadvantaged supports funding due to major changes in the way schools are assessed.

Minister for Education Richard Bruton launched a new programme last Monday which will result in supports for almost 80 additional disadvantaged schools.

The new schools have been chosen using an affluence and deprivation model which identifies areas of deprivation more accurately.

This new model is likely to reveal that some schools, who currently avail of disadvantaged supports funding, no longer meet the criteria for disadvantaged school status due to population changes and better outcomes for students.

Mr Bruton told reporters last Monday that special transition arrangements will apply to those schools leaving the programme. The identification process will begin next year for these schools.

At present, more than 800 schools which are included in the DEIS 2005 scheme, benefit from reduced class sizes, extra teachers and other supports to help manage the effects of deprivation.

The scheme has helped boost student performance academically and curb early dropout rates.

The DEIS scheme has shown improvements in educational outcomes for these areas in recent years although there have been no new schools added to the scheme since 2009.

The number of schools added to the DEIS scheme will expand by 80 in September along with a further 30 schools, who are already part of the scheme but in a worse situation now than when they originally joined the scheme. These schools are to receive a higher level of support than previously.

The budget assigned an extra €15m annually to the DEIS programme in order to allow these changes to occur.

Mr Bruton said there will also be a book rental scheme for all members of the new DEIS scheme as well as the introduction of projects aimed at innovation and creativity in schools.

The plan will see supports targeted for school teachers and leaders through leadership training, preparation courses and coaching courses.

“We have to support our teachers and schools leaders, through up-skilling, mentoring and coaching, so they can plan, deploy and to support,” Mr. Bruton told the media.

Andrew Byrne