Fianna Fáil Seanad Group Leader, Senator Catherine Ardagh has said that a number of disadvantaged schools in Dublin 8 and Dublin 12 have been operating without DEIS status due to distorted details relating to the housing status of children in the area.

The Senator, who is based in the South Inner City, raised the matter in Seanad Éireann earlier this afternoon.

“As we are aware, the DEIS identification process relies on data collated by the Primary Online Database (POD), the Post Primary Online Databases (PPOD) and the Central Statistics Office when measuring the level of disadvantage in an area,” explained Senator Ardagh.

“The lack of transparency in the DEIS programme is something that I have previously highlighted. Despite an anomaly as a result of the ongoing crisis in housing, this data is still used as the yardstick when allocating DEIS status to schools.

“In a recent survey I carried out together with school principals in Dublin 8 and Dublin 12, it was clear that a proportion of pupils are living in what has become known as ‘hidden homelessness.’

“These are children that are essentially living in their grandparents or on aunt’s sofas and not in emergency accommodation for the purpose of attending school. Rather than leave the child in a vulnerable situation their parents will disclose the address of the grandparent or aunt when asked by the school to provide a home address.

“This information is then fed into the POD system and ultimately provides a distorted picture of the level of disadvantage in a particular area.

The Senator added, “I know of three schools in the area I am based in that fall into this category and have been denied DEIS status as a result; Our Lady of Good Counsel GNS, Assumption GNS, and Drimnagh Castle BNS.

“Being included in the DEIS programme would have provided these schools with additional resources to support children as it has been shown to reduce dropout, increase attendance and improve results.

“A review of the DEIS programme will soon be under way and I implore the Minister for Education to re-examine these schools for the purpose of inclusion in the DEIS programme given the anomaly I have identified in D8-D12.”