Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Thomas Byrne TD has called for an overhaul of the selection process for DEIS schools.
The Delivering Equality in Schools (DEIS) scheme provides additional supports to schools to help tackle educational disadvantage.
Deputy Byrne made the comments after it was revealed that up to 257 schools which were identified earlier this year as meeting the criteria for DEIS status were not included in the scheme.
“I have consistently raised serious concerns in the Dáil in recent months regarding the process used to select DEIS schools. Minister Bruton, I felt, was not very transparent about the selection process for schools. There is a lack of consistency in the selection process,” said Deputy Byrne.
“The selection criteria were only ever explained in the vaguest of terms. Now we know that many schools which meet the selection criteria have been excluded from the scheme with no explanation having been provided by the Department.
“I previously alleged that the Scheme was rushed out to be a good news story for the Minister and that it wasn’t ready. I am now confirmed in this view by today’s revelations.
“Minister Bruton needs to come clean on this matter and ensure that all schools which meet the criteria for DEIS status are given access to the scheme. We can’t have a situation whereby some schools are included in the scheme and others excluded based on the favour of the Minister and officials in his Department.
“Two other issues arise. Schools were invited to submit further information for a review of the original process. What was the outcome of this review?
“Secondly, the one thing we do know is that the data used to select schools for the DEIS Scheme this year was based on Census 2011 figures, strangely used only a few months before the 2016 figures became available. This lends further proof to my belief that this whole Scheme was rushed out to be a good news story. When will 2016 figures be examined as they are now available?”