Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Education and Skills Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn his future plans for Traveller education; the reason for recent cuts in this area of education; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49494/13]
Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Current and future policy in relation to Traveller education is underpinned by the Report and Recommendations for a Traveller Education Strategy which was launched in 2006, following wide ranging consultation with relevant stakeholders including Traveller representative groups.
The principle of inclusion is at the core of the Strategy and, accordingly, the focus of both current and future provision is on the development of a more inclusive school environment through the whole school planning process, teaching practice, admissions policies, codes of behaviour and whole school evaluation. In keeping with this principle, additional resources provided in the education system are allocated on the basis of identified individual educational need rather than that of ethnic or cultural background.
The Traveller Education Advisory and Consultative Forum, which has responsibility for overseeing the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Strategy is currently working to a thematic approach to address the core issues of attendance, attainment, and retention of young Travellers in education. Membership of the Forum includes Traveller representative groups and representatives of the education partners and of relevant policy areas of the Department of Education and Skills.
Following the phasing out of segregated Traveller provision, Travellers now avail of the following mainstream resources, similar to all other children:
– Free Pre-school Year
– School transport
– Classroom Teacher Allocation at Primary and Post-Primary level
– Learning Resource Teachers at Primary and Post-Primary Level in the case of identified special educational need
– Further and adult Education
The cuts to which the Deputy refers relate to the reduction in funding for segregated Traveller-specific programmes such as Resource Teachers for Travellers, Visiting Teacher Service and the phasing out of Senior Traveller Training Centres. A portion of the funding previously allocated to segregated education provision for Travellers has been redeployed to mainstream programmes in line with the principle of inclusion.