Qualifying schools must be allowed to enter DEIS scheme – Crowe
Speaking in advance of attending the INTO’s annual conference in Kerry, Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on education, Sean Crowe, TD, has urged Minister Ruairí Quinn to implement a further review of qualifying criteria for schools to be considered for inclusion in the DEIS scheme.
Deputy Crowe said:
“Since the introduction of the DEIS school initiative in 2005, significant progress has been made in helping children from disadvantaged backgrounds reach their potential.
“This is why the inexplicable decision by the government to target DEIS schools in December’s Budget caused such justifiable outrage.
“The Minister’s subsequent decision not to cut the 235 pre DEIS legacy posts was a victory for fairness and equality but we still have a long way to go. While DEIS schools have had some of their supports ring-fenced, schools not designated as disadvantaged have had to bear the brunt of the wide range of cutbacks including loss of resource teachers, language support teachers and special needs assistants.
“It is estimated that 56 per cent of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds attend non-DEIS institutions. There is a danger that the recommendations contained in the review will pitch one child against another and create an urban/rural divide at a time of extreme economic hardship.
“Throughout the State there are what I would describe as many “virtual” DEIS schools that meet all of the qualifying criteria which should justify their inclusion in the scheme, yet are denied access to the initiative because of cuts to the education budget. And despite the reversal of some of the cuts to DEIS that were announced in Budget, 2012, the facts are a significant number of schools will lose one or more teaching posts.
“Many have been forced to appeal the cuts and it is simply wrong that schools are being doubly penalized by budget cuts that target some of the most vulnerable children who need additional support to reach their academic potential.
“Sinn Féin is calling on Minister Quinn to ensure adequate provision is put in place so that the DEIS school system can be expanded to meet the challenges of communities that are suffering in this very difficult economic climate. One of the Government’s priorities must be to ensure adequate resources are in place so that additional support is given to schools that are servicing areas of social and economic disadvantage.”