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DES INITIATIVES
Over the years various developments and initiatives were introduced by DES to bring equality to schools in disadvantaged areas throughout the country. They are as follows:

1) Home School Community Liaison Scheme 
In 1990 the Minister for Education, Gemma Hussey, introduced the Home School Community Liaison Scheme in recognition of the difficulties for schools in areas of economic and social disadvantage, This facilitated a fully qualified, experienced member of the teaching staff to work with Parents in the Community thereby bridging the gap between Home and School. This was a bold initiative at the time and it has proved very successful and of great benefit to the Whole School Community.

2) Early Start 

Early Start was introduced to the school in 1995 as a DES pre-school initiative. This was set up to support the pre school children at risk of not reaching their full potential in the education system. Two teachers and two child care workers are employed in Early Start and they work with 60 children aged three to four. The 60 children are divided into four groups i.e. 2 morning groups of 15 each and 2 similar afternoon groups. Due to great demand for places in Early Start it has become necessary in recent years to create a waiting list.
3) Breaking the Cycle 

In 1996 this school was included in the Breaking the Cycle of Educational Disadvantage Initiative that started out as a five year project to counteract educational disadvantage. The most significant factor in this initiative was the reduction of the pupil teacher ratio to 15:1 in all classes. This resulted in 11 new teachers being appointed to the staff of this school. In November 1996 our school staff increased from 27 to 38 over a three week period. Though not desirable at the time, it was necessary to divide some of our classrooms to accommodate the extra teachers in order to benefit from this wonderful opportunity for children. There was increased funding with Breaking the Cycle Initiative and this facilitated the purchase of badly needed equipment and materials to differentiate the curriculum. Funding was also provided to take the pupils out of school on trips to the Theatre, Museums and Concert Hall.
4) School Support Programme 

The chool support programme facilitates children to complete their education. It gives support in various areas e.g. Breakfast Club, After School Clubs, in school activities. It also organises holiday activities and out of school provision. It provides funding for Psychological Assessments, Speech & language Assessments and follow up therapy, Music in the classroom etc.


5) DEIS 

The Department of Education and Science most recent initiative to combat educational disadvantage is DEIS - Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools. St. Thomas Junior School is in Band One of DEIS. Teachers, Board of Management and the school community are enthusiastic to implement the many suggested initiatives to improve literacy and numeracy and the attendance of our pupils.
 
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