Dáil Éireann - Volume 595 - 16 December, 2004

Written Answers. - School Insurance.

  221. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science if her attention has been drawn to the escalation in the cost of insurance for schools in Dublin in recent years; if she has developed an index of the costs of care and maintenance of second level schools; and her estimate of the increase in such costs in recent years and of the current cost per pupil. [34022/04]

  Ms Hanafin: I am not aware of the costs of insurance in individual secondary schools as it is a matter for the managerial authorities of the individual schools to arrange insurance cover on school property and against public liability. However, I am aware of the concerns expressed by school authorities, including those in Dublin, in relation to increased insurance costs.

Grant aid to voluntary secondary schools is provided by my Department by way of per capita grants and may be used towards insurance as well as care and maintenance costs.

The benefit of developing an index of the costs of care and maintenance and the associated cost per pupil is not clear. The amount expended by schools on such items is a matter for school managements and will vary depending on the priority accorded by each school in accordance with its own needs.

There have been significant improvements in the level of funding for voluntary secondary schools. I was particularly pleased to announce an aggregate increase of €26 per pupil from January next in the standard per capita grant and support services grant for voluntary secondary schools.

For a secondary school with 500 pupils, this amounts to additional funding since 1997 of up to €119,000 per annum and annual grants of €255,761, €275,000 in the case of disadvantaged schools, towards general expenses and support services. Schools are afforded considerable flexibility in the use of resources to cater for the needs of their pupils. This is, in general, a preferable [1142] approach to putting in place grants for specific cost items.

Schools have welcomed this announcement. These significant increases in the funding of secondary schools are a clear demonstration of my commitment to prioritise available resources to address the needs of schools.