Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Education and Skills

Education Policy

Photo of Donnchadh Ó LaoghaireDonnchadh Ó Laoghaire (Cork South Central, Sinn Fein)
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296. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to support children that are finishing primary school during transition to secondary school at this time. [6413/20]

Photo of Joe McHughJoe McHugh (Donegal, Fine Gael)
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My Department is working on supporting schools to help learners as they transition from primary to post primary education.

Guidance has already issued to schools to help ensure the continuity of teaching and learning, to support those with Special Educational Needs, those in areas of educational disadvantage, and to help support the wellbeing of all learners. Guidance will issue shortly which will include information to support learners at each of the key stages of transition.  The aim of the distant learning approaches set out in this guidance is to ensure that children stay connected with learning to facilitate progression to the next level of their education.

School communities have been learning to adjust and adapt to the challenges they face at this time and have taken up the challenge of staying connected with their students for teaching, learning and maintaining the social connections and supports that are so important for young people’s wellbeing.

I am aware that transitions across all areas of schooling are a key concern for educators, parents and pupils, and that the end of school reporting is more important than ever for the transition between primary and post primary school. 

Circular 26/2011 requires at the end of the school year that schools report on four areas:

- the child as a learner

- the child’s personal and social development

- the child’s progress with learning in curriculum areas or subjects

- next steps in the child’s learning, including ways for parents to help

The NCCA Education Passport was developed to ensure a smoother transition for learners between primary and post primary schools. Since 2014/15, schools are required to use the NCCA Education Passport materials (available at www.ncca.ie/transfer) to support the reporting and transfer of pupil information at the end of sixth class. Primary schools should ensure that an Education Passport for each pupil is completed and sent to the relevant post primary school following confirmation of enrolment and, ideally, by the end of June.

In addition, the National Educational Psychological Services (NEPS) in my Department has recently issued guidance for Primary Schools in relation to 6th class pupils who are due to transition this year. We know that for these for pupils the typical ceremonies, rites of passage, milestones, and social interactions have all been affected. The guidance for schools, outlines what can be done to support pupils at this time of transition. The guidance recognises that some pupils may need more preparation in advance of the transition, for example, pupils with Special Educational Needs; pupils whose families have been recently bereaved and pupils from vulnerable families. Schools are encouraged to ensure an effective two- way communication system is in place for parent/guardians so that they can clarify any queries they may have. Schools are advised that it is essential to communicate with the receiving post primary school.

In addition to the guidance, NEPS psychologists continue to be available to provide advice and support to school principals, teachers and school communities.  NEPS is proactively exploring a number of innovative ways to continue to provide educational psychological services to school communities at this time. 

My department is continuing to review and monitor the situation in accordance with the advice from public health authorities and will continue to issue advice and guidance to schools as appropriate.


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