23. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Education and Skills when additional schools will be approved for support under DEIS; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14417/18 asked on 29 Mar 2018)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): Tackling educational disadvantage and helping children to achieve their potential is a key priority of the Action Plan for Education. For the first time since 2009, my Department has brought 79 new schools into DEIS, and upgraded the level of support for another 30 schools.

As I have recently advised the Deputy, a further assessment of all schools is currently underway in the context of the DEIS Programme.  This assessment takes account of school data for the current school year combined with the updated Pobal HP Index of Deprivation, which is based on Small Area Population statistics derived from the 2016 National Census.

It is anticipated that the assessment process will be completed shortly.  This will be followed by the necessary quality assurance after which the data will be available to my Department to inform policy decisions in terms of future provision in the DEIS programme, including decisions with regard to additional schools identified as requiring supports.

We have, for the first time, introduced an objective, statistics based model for deciding which schools merit inclusion in the DEIS Programme and it is applied uniformly across all the schools in the country.  As you are aware, the identification of levels of disadvantage in schools is based on the data provided by schools themselves, combines with publically available Small Area of Population Census data, as represented by the Pobal HP Index.  This approach was informed by the Review of the DEIS Programme and a detailed account of the methodology adopted is available on my Department’s website.