Written answers

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Department of Education and Skills

Covid-19 Pandemic

Paul Donnelly (Dublin West, Sinn Fein)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

164. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for a return to school in September 2020; and if such a strategy will be published to allow school boards of management, principals and teachers to prepare. [10486/20]

Photo of Joe McHughJoe McHugh (Donegal, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

On Friday my Department published the report to Government “Planning for reopening schools in line with the Roadmap for reopening society and business”

https://www.education.ie/en/The-Department/Announcements/framework-for-reopening-and-operating-schools.html. 

The report sets out the clear ambition to develop a sustainable plan to fully reopen schools at the start of the next school year in late August/September in line with normal timeframes.

The report also sets out in brief the contingencies that must be considered during the coming period in the context of Covid-19. These contingencies will be worked through in detail in the coming weeks with education partners and stakeholders to ensure that the return to school is safe for children and staff.

Photo of Aindrias MoynihanAindrias Moynihan (Cork North West, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

165. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for the re-opening of learning and disability services for adults and children that are closed due to Covid-19 restrictions; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10504/20]

Photo of Joe McHughJoe McHugh (Donegal, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

On 1May 2020, the Government published a roadmap to ease Covid-19 restrictions and reopen Ireland’s economy and society.  

To assist with the development of contingency plans for the re-opening and operation of schools, including special schools, in an environment that may require social distancing and other public health requirements, my Department will be engaging with relevant stakeholders and experts from within the education sector.  This work will be based on the National Return to Work Safely Protocol that was published by Government and will also be informed by guidance and experience from other jurisdictions.

A core objective of the contingency plans will be to ensure that schools and other education settings can re-open and operate in a safe manner that is consistent with public health advice.

Following consultation with the education partners, guidance will issue to schools on the logistical and curricular arrangements to be put in place to facilitate the phased re-opening of schools. This guidance will provide a framework for individual schools, including special schools, to develop plans for the re-opening of school in accordance with their own circumstances and context and the needs of their staff and students.

A range of support and guidance has been provided for schools on how to provide for the continuing education for pupils over the current school closure period.

I am aware of concerns that the closure of schools has impacted hardest upon families who have children with complex needs whose well-being 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 well-being 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.

My Department has published details of a summer programme for children with special educational needs enrolled in special schools, special classes and mainstream classes.  The programme incorporates some aspects of the July Provision of previous years. 

All special schools and primary schools with special classes are invited to provide the school based summer provision for their students.  This programme will run for a minimum of two weeks and can extend up to four weeks where the schools, teachers and Special Needs Assistants are willing to participate. 

Home-based provision will be available where a child’s local school is not providing a programme or does not have the capacity to accommodate a child in a planned programme this year. In this situation my Department will provide grant funding towards the engagement by Parents of a registered teacher / SNA to provide home based support for 10 hours a week for 4 weeks.

The programme will be reliant on schools, teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) choosing to participate on a voluntary basis. 

Full information on the scheme and its various strands, including guidance information for parents, is available at Gov.ie/summerprovision

My Department is working with key stakeholders, and on the basis of public health advice, to develop a framework for the reopening of tertiary education. Tertiary education includes further education and training, and higher education, and is made up of a diverse range of learners, including learners with a disability. The framework will set out high level guidance in relation to how tertiary education

can reopen for the new academic year for all learners. This framework is due to be published shortly.

Photo of Dara CallearyDara Calleary (Mayo, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

166. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the assessments that have been prepared to measure the impact of the 2 m social distancing recommendation on capacity at primary level; if a school by school analysis has been prepared; if not, his plans to for same; and if there will be a need for additional teaching appointments as a consequence [10528/20]

Photo of Joe McHughJoe McHugh (Donegal, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

On Friday my Department published the report to Government “Planning for reopening schools in line with the Roadmap for reopening society and business”

The report sets out the clear ambition to develop a sustainable plan to fully reopen schools at the start of the next school year in late August/September in line with normal timeframes.  

The report also sets out in brief the contingencies, including the matter raised by the deputy that must be considered during the coming period in the context of Covid-19. These contingencies will be worked through in detail in the coming weeks with education partners and stakeholders to ensure that the return to school is safe for children and staff.

Comments

No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.