Deputy Pearse Doherty has raised the issue of DEIS schools in Donegal with the Minister for Education in the Dáil.
The Sinn Fein TD sought clarity from the Minister in relation to the timeframe in which schools in Donegal would be made aware whether they would be allocated DEIS status under the newly expanded DEIS scheme.
The Minister was unable to provide the timeframe for the announcements of the newly added schools and could only say that the scheme would be operational by September.
Deputy Doherty also said that schools such as Pobalscoil Ghaoth Dobhair, primary schools in Rann na Feirste, Gort a Choirce and Mín Tineadh Dé should never have lost their DEIS status in 2017 and that these schools should be included in the newly widened scheme.
Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Doherty said “In my own constituency and especially in west Donegal, I regularly engage with principals and boards of management of schools in the DEIS scheme. Despite being an area of deprivation by all accounts and statistics, the 2017 DEIS review excluded some primary and post-primary schools in my area that should not have been excluded.
“As part of the budget, the Minister announced a 20% increase in the allocation of funding to extend the DEIS programme to further schools with the highest levels of disadvantage, and that is badly needed.
“Principals in secondary schools are saying they need to do workforce planning and look at what we are offering schools. They cannot be told in July or August whether they are in a DEIS category or not.
“We know that the new scheme it is going to be operational in September 2022. We have known that since last year when the budget was allocated for this year. But the question remains – when are the schools going to be notified? Is the Minister saying they will be notified on the eve of it becoming operational or are they going to be notified in August or perhaps July, June or April? Does she know when schools are going to be notified?
“Schools have to plan and they need to know now whether they fall under a DEIS category, which changes the workforce they will be able to look at next year. Schools are planning at this stage, particularly secondary schools for the options that will be available for students.
“I have also been raising the issues of Pobalscoil Ghaoth Dobhair, Scoil Rann Na Feirste, Scoil Naisiúnta Gort An Choirce and Scoil Naisiúnta Mhín Teineadh Dé since 2017 because they should never have been left out of the DEIS programme. They are in areas where the deprivation scores are level 10. The schools are rural and isolated in nature. We need to undo the wrong that was done at that time. These must be included in the expanded scheme now.