Dáil debates

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh – Priority Questions

Special Educational Needs

9:10 am

Photo of Josepha MadiganJosepha Madigan (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Deputy for raising this question around summer provision, which is on the minds of many schools, parents and families. It is very much looked forward to by children with additional needs and their families. We are encouraging as many schools as we can to participate this year in the summer provision programme. As the Deputy will know, all 4,000 schools are eligible to participate.

Last year, we established a review of the summer provision programme, which fed into the consultative forum. This dictated some of the new measures we have introduced this year to try to make participation in the programme more streamlined for schools. We have provided funding for a programme overseer, which should assist, and have helped with preparation time and faster payments for staff. We want to ease the administrative burden on schools and give them greater guidance materials on the programme content. We have also allowed the schools flexibility regarding when they can run the programme. It is at their discretion to decide whether it will run in July - it used to be known as July provision - or in August. That gives the schools some autonomy over their calendar.

Schools can also recruit staff final-year students who are graduating this summer, undergraduates or newly-qualified teachers. There is a centralised application process to reduce the administrative burden, which was a key concern raised last year. I am satisfied this will go a long way towards making the programme more attractive for schools to participate in. The Teaching Council and the Irish Primary Principals Network will promote the summer programmes as well.

Last year, we provided €40 million for the summer provision programme, which was double the funding from the previous year. We have matched that sum again this year. Approximately 48,000 young persons participated in the scheme last year and we are hopeful that a significantly higher number will participate this year.


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