Thursday, 19 May 2022
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
I acknowledge the contribution that has been made. I certainly will go through it and feed that back to the schools with which we are engaging and are in discussions. I appreciate the time and effort the Minister is putting in into this. It cannot be understated how much of a challenge this is for the Civil Service. We face considerable criticism but this a very unique and new challenge we have to deal with. I emphasise the need for urgent and rapid progress to be made on planning for the new academic year to give the schools that degree of certainty about what new departmental measures will be taken and to perhaps look at what is happening at present and try to refine and improve on it for the new academic year. It is very important and will give schools certainty about what they will need to do around staffing provision and additional accommodation. Getting those processes under way is a matter of urgency.
I am pleased to hear the Minister reference REALT. The decisions around placement and enrolment of children have been brought to my attention.
Some schools tell me that it is difficult since REALT is in communication with them, but the placement of children is left up to schools and individual communities. They would prefer more fine-tuned engagement in that area to some extent. I would appreciate it if the Minister could take that up.
One other matter of great importance is the provision of home school liaison, which is funded through DEIS. It would be nice to see this looked at, especially in Youghal. I know there has been much engagement on that topic. I hope the Government might consider providing further funding over the next months for what was a very successful further enhancement of the DEIS scheme. I commend the Minister on the work she did. We would love to see that being implemented in Youghal. That is important to me.
The issue of translation is arising. We need to see translators recruited, hopefully permanently, to work directly with schools and children, and also to have counselling services for children who have gone through extraordinary trauma because of what has happened in Ukraine. That process of moving to a new country, to surroundings they are not familiar with, and obviously what happened prior to their departure is all deeply concerning and has been raised with me. Perhaps the Department of Education could work with other Departments to look at that and raise those points. I thank the Minister for being here.