Five new Laois schools have received DEIS status, meaning they are classed as being in educationally disadvantaged areas, and qualify for extra funding and staff.
Three of the five are in Mountmellick; St Joseph's Girls NS and St Patrick's Boys NS, and Mountmellick community school.
Two more are in Mountrath, Scoil Bhride Girls NS and St Fintan's Boys NS.
Up to now there was only one DEIS category school in Laois, Scoil Bhride NS in Knockmay, which gets free school meals among other supports. It will continue to be a DEIS school.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan announced the funding on Monday February 13.
"It is very good news for pupils, parents and teachers. I have been concerned for some time at the population changes and structure in Mountmellick, I am delighted that the children and young people attending school will now have that extra advantage which can be the difference in going to third level college,” the Minister said.
“This means that students from disadvantaged backgrounds get added help and assistance. National and international studies show that education is the key to employment and job opportunities,” he said.
Fianna Fáil Laois TD Sean Fleming welcomed it as “excellent news”.
“This scheme improves literacy and numeracy, school completion rates and progression to further education,” he said, listing supports like extra funding, teachers, school meals, a psychological service, professional development and book schemes.
The new scheme will be implemented in September.
The schools were identified using information from the Central Statistics Office and Dept of Education data supplied by the schools.