07 January, 2019 - Minster McHugh welcomes publication of Educational Research Centre Report on Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools Programme

Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D has today welcomed the publication of the latest in the Educational Research Centre’s reports on the evaluation of the DEIS programme. 

The report entitled “The Evaluation of DEIS at post-primary level: Closing the achievement and attainment gaps” involves the examination of trends in student attainment in terms of Junior and Senior cycle retention rates and student achievement in terms of performance in the Junior Certification Examination.

Minister McHugh said:  “I welcome the findings in this latest evaluation of the DEIS programme which shows a narrowing of the gap between DEIS and non-DEIS schools both in terms of performance at Junior Certificate level and retention rates.  It is also very encouraging to see a rise in the percentage of students in DEIS schools taking English and Mathematics at Higher Level.

“This research provides further valuable evidence that the DEIS programme is working.  It is giving young people in disadvantaged areas strong support, better prospects and successful results.  These improvements would not be possible without the commitment and dedication shown by the principals and teachers in these schools.

“It is also worth noting that the study also supports the rationale for providing additional supports to those schools with the highest concentrations of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Minister McHugh added:  “I am extremely pleased to see the narrowing of the gap between DEIS and non-DEIS schools but it is still very apparent that a gap still remains.  “The ERC research shows that much of the inequality in educational outcomes has its basis in income inequality and the impact of this is evident in our schools.  Therefore it is vital that we continue our commitment to support those schools with the highest concentrations of disadvantage under the DEIS programme.  Inclusive education is and will continue to be a fundamental principle of our education and training system.  It is vital that all young people have the opportunity to reach their potential.  Those that need extra assistance in order to do so must be offered appropriate supports.  Education and training are key to breaking the cycle of disadvantage.”


Notes to Editors


Evaluation of DEIS


At the request of the Department of Education and Skills, the ERC began work in 2007 on an independent evaluation of the School Support Programme component of DEIS in urban and rural primary schools and post-primary schools.  Like the programme itself, the evaluation is multi-faceted and attempts to monitor the implementation of the programme and assess its impact on students, families and schools.  As well as monitoring the operation of the programme on participating post-primary schools (the subject of the current report), the evaluation has involved data collection from participating primary schools in rural areas and urban areas.  Evaluation reports on these are also available (http://www.erc.ie/studies/deis/).

A copy of this report can be found at http://www.erc.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Weir-Kavanagh-2018-DEIS-post-primary.pdf


DEIS Plan 2017


Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools is the main policy initiative of the Government to address educational disadvantage at school level.  DEIS Plan 2017 sets out the vision for future interventions in the critical area of educational disadvantage policy and builds on what has already been achieved by schools who have benefitted from the additional supports available under the initial DEIS programme introduced in 2005.  DEIS Plan 2017 is based on the findings of an extensive review of the DEIS programme, which involved extensive consultations with all relevant stakeholders.


The two key elements of the 2017 Plan are:


  • The development of a new identification process for the assessment of schools in terms of the socio-economic background of their pupil cohort using centrally held data including the Departments Primary and Post-Primary Online Databases and the CSO Small Area of Population statistics from the National Census of Population 2011 as represented by the Pobal HP Deprivation Index


  • The updating of the DEIS School Support Programme which represents the overall package of supports available to schools participating in the programme in order to improve educational outcomes for pupils at greatest risk of not reaching their full potential by virtue of their socio-economic circumstances.

In the 2018/19 school year there are 896 schools in the DEIS Programme serving over 183,000 pupils.  Of these 700 are primary (232 Urban Band 1; 107 Urban Band 2; 359 Rural) and 198 are post-primary.  Some 79 schools were added to the DEIS Programme for the first time from September 2017.

Under DEIS Plan 2017, key targets have been set in specific areas such as literacy and numeracy, retention rates and progression.  All DEIS schools receive a suite of supports with those with the highest levels of disadvantage benefiting from lower class size.  DEIS schools receive financial resources in the form of a grant as well as an enhanced book grant.  They also have access to literacy and numeracy supports, priority access to professional development and the Centre for School Leadership, access to Incredible Years and Friends Programme, access to School Meals Programme and Home School Community Liaison Scheme and School Completion Programme.

The themes under DEIS are: Attendance; Retention; Progression; Literacy and Numeracy; Examination attainment; Leadership; Wellbeing; CPD; Partnership with Parents and others; Transitions.  All DEIS schools must have a DEIS Action Plan for Improvement addressing these key themes and it is vital that Smart targets are set and the plan is implemented effectively.