Local TD Denis Naughten has said he is “deeply disappointed” with the response he has received from the Minister for Education who has decided not to provide the July provision that would normally have been made available to some children with a disability.
“While the Minister is planning to put some supports in place, this will fall short of what parents and children would have received in the past,” stated Denis Naughten.
“I had asked the Minister not only to provide the usual July provision but to also extend it to the month of June and to make it available to all children with a disability who wish to avail of it, due to the fact that children will be out of school for close to six months.
“I believe the Minister for Education should directly engage with parents’ representatives and school representatives at this stage to design a new innovative scheme to support all children with a disability who have been out of school since March.
“Should these children return to school next September without having received support during the previous six months, then they will be at a significant disadvantage which will impact on all school children.
“Furthermore, the development of innovative teaching methods to support children with a disability over the summer month could be used to help address some of the challenges which all students will face next September,” concluded Denis Naughten.
For Written Answer on : 27/05/2020
Question Number(s): 254 Question Reference(s): 7905/20
Department: Education and Skills
Asked by: Denis Naughten T.D.
To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if the July provision will be extended to cover the month of June; if the provision will be extended as a once-off measure to all other children with a disability in view of the significant period of time they have been out of school due to Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
My Department is aware of concerns that the closure of schools has impacted hardest upon families who have children with complex needs whose wellbeing and engagement with learning depend very much on the routine of school and their relationships with other students, teachers and Special Needs Assistants.
They have also lost out on specialist supports during this closure period.
My Department has taken a number of initiatives to support children and young people who are at risk of educational disadvantage during the period of school closures.
These include –
- Guidance issued to all schools to support the ongoing learning of children with special educational needs and children who are at risk of disadvantage;
- Guidance and resources developed by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) on supporting children with special educational needs
- €10m in ICT grant funding to schools towards the purchase of technology and devices to support students at risk of educational disadvantage.
- Continued funding of Home Tuition or, where this is not possible, flexibility to bank hours for use at a later time in the year
- Resources to support good mental health and wellbeing amongst students produced by the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS)
- To help schools plan for the new academic year, schools have been informed that their SNA allocation is being frozen at this year’s level and there is provision for additionality where this might be required. No school will therefore have a lower allocation for the next school year.
- The Middletown Centre for Autism has developed a range of online resources for children and young people with Autism and their parents on education provision in the Home.
Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 health crisis, it is not possible to deliver the normal July Provision programme in the same way and at the same time as in other years.
However my Department is planning for a summer provision type programme for children with complex needs this year as soon as it is safe to do so and in accordance with public health advice.
The primary aim of the proposed programme would be to limit potential regression in learning thereby ensuring in so far as possible that these children can reintegrate and transition into their planned education setting for next year with their peers.
This may be done through a targeted level of supports to address regression of social skills and re-establish tolerance of routines paving the way for reintegrating full time into education when schools reopen in the autumn.
Planning is underway and consultations with stakeholders have commenced. The willingness of schools, teachers and SNAs to participate are key to the provision of a summer education programme.
An announcement will be made as soon as possible.