Uimhir: 164, * For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 27th February, 2008.

To ask the Minister for Education and Science her plans to initiate a financial support package aimed at introducing primary school children to swimming as outlined in the Agreed Programme for Government; the amount she plans to make available through such a package in 2008; and if she will make a statement on the matter. – David Stanton.


Minister for Education and Science (Mary Hanafin, T.D.)

The commitment referred to by the Deputy is in the sports chapter of the Programme for Government and the Government is committed to implementing it by 2012.

The curriculum in Physical Education at Primary level provides for activity across six strands, athletics, dance, gymastics, games, outdoor and adventure activities and aquatics. Five of the strands are outlined for implementation at all levels from junior infants to sixth class, while the aquatic strand is outlined for implementation at any one of the class group levels or over a number of levels.

The Physical Education curricula at both primary and second level have been developed on the understanding that facilities available to schools vary.

Consequently, they offer a level of flexibility that allows each individual school to design a programme that can be delivered using the resources and supports available to it.

Schools can use their capitation funding to pay for swimming lessons. The primary school capitation grant has been increased substantially in recent years. Since 1997 the standard rate of capitation grant has been increased from €57.14 per pupil to €178.58 with effect from 1st January, 2008. This represents an increase of over 212.5% in the standard rate of capitation grant since 1997.

This year, schools are getting €15 more per child than they got in 2007.

Enhanced rates of capitation funding are paid in respect of children with special educational needs who attend special schools or special classes attached to mainstream schools. The current rates range from €457 to €880 per pupil.

Under the Programme for Government, we are committed to doubling the standard capitation grant for primary schools over the next five years.