School at odds over Deis access

by Gazette Reporter

The Department of Education has hit back at a local councillor who accused it of ignoring the needs of the students of Powerstown Educate Together National School in Tyrrelstown.
Cllr Jack Chambers (FF) accused the Department of refusing to give Deis status to Powerstown ETNS.
Deis, set up in 2005, is a scheme in which schools located in disadvantaged areas receive extra funding and supports from the Government.
It is categorised in bands based on the level of support required.
Powerstown principal Helena Trench told The Gazette: “Powerstown ETNS have been in touch with the Department of Education seeking extra funding as the board of management believes the school meets criteria for Deis status as do many schools in Tyrrelstown, D15 and nationwide.
“The Department has not granted any school access to the Deis programme since 2009.”
Cllr Chambers said that according to new information he had received through a parliamentary question submitted by Fianna Fail, the Government “clearly has no intention of giving Powerstown Educate Together School Deis status. The Minister has given no reasonable explanation for this”.
He said it was inexcusable that Powerstown had not been given Deis status, describing the school as “one of the most disadvantaged in the country with 76% of students from homes where the main earner is unemployed.”
He went on to say that it had the second highest number of migrant pupils of any school in the country at 91%.
Over a quarter of students are from one-parent family homes and 16% have been diagnosed with special needs or are on waiting lists for diagnoses.
“It is abundantly clear that the school exceeds the criteria for DEIS and that the vast majority of its students need additional supports in the school setting,” he said.
However Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan hit back saying that for the first time since Deis was established in 2005 she had initiated a process which would allow schools currently outside the Deis programme to apply.
The work is ongoing and when completed it will allow schools such as Powerstown Educate Together to apply for Deis status.
“Deis was established in 2005 and the original scheme drawn up by a Fianna Fail Minister didn’t allow for individual schools not originally in the scheme to apply, even if they were established after 2005.
“This is a failing of the Deis scheme and I am now taking action to set that right,” she said.
The Minister has invited submissions on the subject and following this, an inter-departmental committee will carry out their work over the next school year, and the technical group will then work on establishing new identification criteria.
She went on to say that either Cllr Chambers did not know how his Fianna Fail colleagues designed the Deis scheme or he was deliberately trying to ignore that reality for his own political purposes.

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