Disadvantaged schools brace themselves for budget cuts

By Kate Ni Chleirigh

With the 2010 budget looming every group is out defending their corner and pleading with the Government to not cut their funds. One area that will be hit once again is education.  “Society will suffer if DEIS schools are hit,” said Principal William O’ Brien of CBS James’s street.

DEIS (Delivering Opportunity of Equality in Schools) consists of 150 secondary schools around the country who rely on programs in this scheme to educate disadvantaged pupils. The plan was created in 2005 by the Department of Education. It set out to address the educational needs of children from the age of 3-18 from disadvantaged areas.

Mr William O’Brien says, “There are talks that they will cut school completion or home school liaison. While that (home school liaison) isn’t in the class room, it is important work. People don’t realise how important the home school liaison or school completion facilities are to inner city schools so if they are to cut these vital programs it will hit the schools hard. Breakfast clubs and homework clubs will disappear and there will be a lot more problems in schools as a result. We are very dependent upon these programs.”

According to the Government: ‘Every child and young person deserves an equal chance to access, participate in and benefit from education’

 The Home School Liaison scheme, which comes under DEIS, was initially set up in 1990 with the appointment of 30 teachers in 55 primary schools in urban disadvantaged areas. The main aim of the program is to keep links open between parents and the schools to promote education and also to maximise the child’s participation in school especially those who are at risk of failure. The scheme also sets up classes for parents on how to help their children with their education and also improve their own education.

The School Completion Programme (SCP) is an initiative set up by the Department of Education. It aims to identify young people who are at risk of leaving school early and attempts provide a range of supports for them in-school, after school and during holiday time, through links with relevant community, youth and statutory agencies.

Homework, breakfast and lunchtime clubs are all set up under this act to help the children stay in school. There are a 124 SCP projects with a local co-ordinator employed full time. This helps keep track of each child under this initiative.

These programmes play a vital role in CBS James’s street as Mr O’Brien states, “Every one of our pupils will suffer if these programmes are cut.”

When asked what Principal O’Brien hopes will come out of this year’s budget, he said, “I hope that in this year’s budget they leave DEIS schools alone. It’s society that will suffer in the long term if they do hit the DEIS schools.”

Time will tell if once again the disadvantaged will be hit hard in the upcoming budget.

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