13 November, 2017 - €1.8m funding for Innovative Programmes in DEIS schools as Minister Bruton launches School Excellence Fund

Over 35 schools all over the country given funding to pilot innovative approaches to tackling educational disadvantage

The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD, today launched the pilot phase of the School Excellence Fund (SEF) in St Vincent’s Girls’ National School, North William Street, Dublin 1.

Ten clusters comprising over 35 urban and rural, pre-school, primary and post-primary schools have been invited to participate in a pilot phase of the new School Excellence Fund. Participating schools will explore new, innovative solutions to tackle educational disadvantage and improve learning outcomes for their students.

The Fund will allow schools to trial creative interventions, for a period of 3 years, the intention being that the learning from successful approaches will be shared across the school sector. Examples of the likely themes of projects include:

  • Improving outcomes for EAL students
  • Improving oral language in pre-school and infant classes
  • Improving students’ well-being through Arts
  • Cross-sectoral approach to the development of mathematical skills
  • Cross-sectoral approach to Science teaching
  • Development of students’ computational thinking skills
  • Ensuring the attainment of higher ability students
  • Improving pupil transitions and parental involvement

The Minister has set the ambition to make Ireland’s education and training system the best in Europe by 2026. Breaking down cycles of disadvantage and ensuring every child has the opportunity to reach their full potential within our education and training system are key to delivering on this ambition.

The School Excellence Fund is one of a number of initiatives being taken by the Minister to ensure every child has access to opportunities to fulfil their aspirations in life. The Minister launched an updated DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) plan earlier this year, expanding supports to new schools for the first time since 2009. 79 new schools have been included and 30 are getting a higher level of support since September.

The DEIS plan is working. In June the Educational Research Centre published their latest evaluation of DEIS which showed improvements in reading and maths amongst students in DEIS schools.  For example, the percentage of sixth class students scoring at or below the 10th percentile in reading fell from 28% in 2007 to less than 18% in 2016, and from over 31% to less than 15% over the same period in Mathematics.  In the same timeframe, the percentage of high achievers in English and Maths increased.  In addition, DEIS schools have a markedly improved retention rate with just a 3% gap existing between DEIS and non-DEIS schools at Junior Certificate level and a 14.5% increase in retention to Leaving Certificate level since the introduction of DEIS (ie 68.2% for the 2001 entry cohort to 82.7% for the 2009 entry cohort).

Making the announcement Minister Bruton said: “The School Excellence Fund, is designed to ensure that innovative approaches and proposals developed by schools will be supported and rewarded. It is one of a number of steps we are taking to be the best at tackling educational disadvantage, and helping people to fulfil their potential, in Europe. We want to give schools the opportunity to find out not just what works, but what works best. Pilots such as the one being run by the North East Inner City cluster has the potential to be truly ground-breaking, as we work with children from pre-school age to improve their language skills, with wider implications for schools around the country.’ 

 Notes for Editors

Clusters

Ten cross-sectoral clusters of schools have been invited to participate in the first phase of the school Excellence Fund (SEF). These clusters comprise pre-school, primary and post-primary settings.

Individual clusters are involved in a wide range of activities, all of which are focused on improving learning outcomes for pupils/students.

For example:

  • A cluster of primary and post-primary schools in Enniscorthy, Co Wexford plans to work on the development of oral literacy in a cross-sectoral way that will build confidence and confidence in pupils and students as they transition from primary to post-primary school.
  • A cluster of primary and post-primary schools in Rathangan, Co. Kildare is planning to develop a consistent approach to the teaching of Mathematics to facilitate a smooth transition as pupils/students transfer to second-level. This will involve teachers adding to their subject-specific knowledge and their subject-specific teaching skills in the area of Mathematics.
  • In Cork city, primary and post-primary schools are working on the development of students’ computational thinking skills with a particular focus on Mathematics.

 

 

Location of cluster

Number of schools in cluster

Theme proposed by cluster

Cluster one

 

Balbriggan

One   post-primary, two primary

Improving   outcomes for EAL students

Cluster

Two

 

Dublin   North Inner City

Four   primary, four pre-schools

Improving   oral language in pre-school and infant classes

Cluster three

 

Inchicore

One   post-primary, two primary

Improving   students’ well-being through Arts

Cluster Four

 

Enniscorthy

One   post-primary, two primary

Improving   problem-solving an oral language skills

Cluster Five

 

Rathangan

One   post-primary, two primary

Cross-sectoral   approach to the development of mathematical skills

Cluster

Six

 

Athlone

One   post-primary, three primary

Cross-sectoral   approach to Science teaching

Cluster

Seven

 

Cork   City

One   post-primary, one primary

Development   of students’  computational thinking skills

Cluster

Eight

 

Clonmel

One   post-primary, two primary

Development   of students’ computational thinking skills

Cluster

Nine

 

Limerick   City

One   post-primary, two primary

Ensuring   the attainment of higher ability students

Cluster

Ten

 

West  Sligo

One   post-primary, three primary schools

Communication

DEIS Plan 2017

DEIS Plan 2017 sets out a vision for future intervention in the area of social inclusion in education policy and was launched in February of this year.  It is available at https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/DEIS-Plan-2017.pdf.

The focus of the Plan is about being the best at using the potential of the education system to break down those cycles of disadvantage through improved education outcomes.

The Plan is the outcome of a comprehensive review of the original DEIS programme, best international practice and extensive input and consultation with other Government Departments and Agencies, education partners and other stakeholders including students.

There are 108 Actions set out in DEIS Plan 2017 across 5 key goals:

  1. To implement more robust and responsive assessment framework for identification of schools and effective resource allocation.
  2. To improve the learning experience and outcomes of pupils in DEIS schools
  3. To improve the capacity of school leaders and teachers to engage, plan and deploy resources to their best advantage
  4. To support and foster best practice in schools through inter-agency collaboration
  5. To support the work of schools by providing the research, information, evaluation and feedback to achieve the goals of the plan

Key elements of the plan include-

The development and application of a more responsive and flexible method of identifying schools for inclusion in the School Support Programme which relies on centrally held DES and CSO data. 

  • The creation of the School Excellence Fund
  • A set of targets in areas such as literacy, numeracy, retention and wellbeing
  • Targeted supports for School leaders and teachers to equip them to support children to achieve their full potential (e.g professional leadership training, preparation courses for newly appointed principals, mentoring and coaching courses)
  • Improving the transition for children from pre-schools to primary schools in communities, building on the strength of programmes like ABC
  • Appointment of an additional 10 NEPS psychologists to improve supports to DEIS schools
  • Expansion of the Schools Business Partnership will be expanded to cater for new schools included in the School Support Programme
  • A monitoring and evaluation framework

Following an initial application of the new identification model, 79 new schools were identified as warranting inclusion in DEIS and a further 30 schools were upgraded from Urban Band 2 to Band 1 status.  DEIS supports have been extended to these schools from this September.

The School Excellence Fund initiative will include a research and evaluation element that will involve schools documenting and learning from their efforts and the outcomes of their work and involvement with the Departments Inspectorate. This will facilitate the dissemination of good practice to other schools.  The Monitoring and Evaluation Framework being developed under DEIS will have a particular focus on the implementation and outcome of programmes piloted by schools supported by the School Excellence Funds.

Supports Provided under the DEIS School Support Programme 2017 *

Resources for DEIS Band 1 Primary schools

  • Reduced class sizes – application of a staffing schedule to DEIS Band 1 schools to accommodate class size of 20:1 at junior classes and 24:1 at senior classes.
  • Allocation of Administrative Principal on lower enrolment and staffing figures than apply in primary schools generally (116 in Band 1).
  • Additional grant aid based on level of disadvantage.
  • Enhanced rate of funding under the School Books Grant Scheme.
  • Access to Home School Community Liaison (HSCL) services.
  • Priority access to Schools Meals Programme.
  • Access to range of supports under School Completion Programme.
  • Access to literacy/numeracy support service to specific literacy/numeracy measures.
  • Priority access to Centre for School Leadership.
  • Expansion of NEPS provision in DEIS schools.
  • Roll out of Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management Programme and Friends Programme to all DEIS schools.
  • Priority access to a range of professional development supports

Resources for DEIS Band 2 Primary schools:

  • Allocation of Administrative Principal on lower enrolment and staffing figures than apply in primary schools generally (144 in Band 2).
  • Additional grant aid based on level of disadvantage.
  • Enhanced rate of funding under the School Books Grant Scheme.
  • Access to Home School Community Liaison (HSCL) services.
  • Priority access to Schools Meals Programme.
  • Access to range of supports under School Completion Programme.
  • Access to literacy/numeracy support service to specific literacy/numeracy measures.
  • Priority access to Centre for School Leadership.
  • Expansion of NEPS provision in DEIS schools.
  • Roll out of Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management Programme and Friends Programme to all DEIS schools.
  • Priority access to a range of professional development supports

Resources for DEIS Rural schools

  • Additional grant aid based on level of disadvantage.
  • Enhanced rate of funding under the School Books Grant Scheme.
  • Priority access to Schools Meals Programme.
  • Access to range of supports under School Completion Programme.
  • Access to literacy/numeracy support service to specific literacy/numeracy measures.
  • Priority access to Centre for School Leadership.
  • Expansion of NEPS provision in DEIS schools.
  • Roll out of Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management Programme and Friends Programme to all DEIS schools.
  • Priority access to a range of professional development supports

Resources for DEIS Post Primary schools

  • Additional grant aid based on level of disadvantage.
  • Enhanced guidance allocation of 1.15 of the Pupil Teacher Ratio (non-DEIS allocation is 0.4).
  • Enhanced rate of funding under the School Books Grant Scheme.
  • Access to Home School Community Liaison (HSCL) services.
  • Priority access to Schools Meals Programme.
  • Access to range of supports under School Completion Programme.
  • Access to Junior Certificate Schools Programme.
  • Access to Leaving Certificate Applied Programme.
  • Priority access to Centre for School Leadership.
  • Priority access to a range of professional development supports.
  • Expansion of NEPS provision in DEIS schools.
  • Roll out of Friends Programme to all DEIS schools.

From September 2017, supports under the School Support Programme will be extended on a phased basis to those schools not already in receipt of these supports and who are identified as having the highest concentrations of pupils at greatest risk of educational disadvantage.

Progress under DEIS

This is the most recent in a series of reports arising from their ongoing evaluation of the DEIS programme and involves the examination of literacy and numeracy outcomes along with parent and pupil questionnaires of a sample 118 DEIS urban primary schools

In reading, the percentage of pupils in 2nd class scoring at or below the 10th percentile almost halved in the sample schools between 2007 and 2016 (it went from 22% at that reading level to 11.9%)

At 6th class, the reduction in low reading level was from 28% to 17.6%

Over the same period, the percentage of high achievers in reading went from 2.2% to 4.2% in 2nd class and 2.3% to 3.9% in 6th class

Similarly, in maths, the percentage of low achievers was reduced from 21.8% to 14.3% in 2nd class and from 31.1% to 14.7% in 6th class

High achiever in maths went from 2.8% to 7.4% in 2nd class and from 4.1% to 9.6% in 6th class

Related Links: