Fianna Fáil Seanad group leader, Catherine Ardagh has called for reform of the selection process for schools to enter the DEIS programme.

Speaking in the Seanad this afternoon, Senator Ardagh Said, “Designated DEIS schools were introduced as part of Fianna Fáil policy in 2005 to address socioeconomic based educational inequality. Since then, the application process for schools to apply to designated as a DEIS school has become simply unfit for purpose.

“Much of the criteria for eligibility are performance based and just one of the indicators is a socioeconomic measure. Therefore the selection process is essentially penalising some schools for performing well.

“A review of DEIS was promised in 2005 and this has still not been carried out. This review must be undertaken to prioritise the educational needs of children and young people from disadvantaged circumstances. The traps within the current system of eligibility must be acknowledged.

“In my own constituency, the challenges associated with the social and economic conditions in the Dublin 12 area have risen significantly over recent years and expanding this scheme in schools could benefit the lives of south inner city children.

“Policies for early intervention and smaller class sizes are critical to improving the life outcomes for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The educational needs of these children are currently being jeopardised by an inadequate Department selection process.”