Wednesday, 19 May 2021
Department of Education and Skills
Special Educational Needs
135. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if the July Provision programme will be rolled out in 2021; and the way in which it will operate with particular emphasis on the way students whose school is not running the programme will be catered for. [26730/21]
The Government has approved the provision of significantly expanded summer education programmes for pupils with complex special educational needs and those at greatest risk of educational disadvantage, as a Covid-19 pandemic response measure, for summer 2021.
This is an incredibly important Government decision, which ensures that for first time all primary and post primary schools have the opportunity to provide summer programmes for students with complex needs and those at risk of educational disadvantage.
The total funding available to provide the programme is up to €40 million, a one hundred per cent increase on the allocation for summer provision in 2020.
The programmes for mainstream students in primary and post-primary schools are new programmes for 2021, building upon previous summer programmes for pupils with complex special educational needs and those in provided in DEIS schools last year.
Enhanced measures have been put in place to encourage schools to offer the programme, including measures to reduce the administrative burden, provision of funding to schools towards preparation and overseeing of the programmes, earlier payment of school staff and provision to recruit newly qualified teachers graduating this summer to work on the programme.
The programme’s aims are to support students to re-engage with education, to build their confidence and increase their motivation, promote wellbeing and for some who are at key transition stages, help to ensure they can move on to their planned educational placement next September along with their peers.
A home-based summer programme will continue to be available for students with complex needs where their schools are not providing a school based programme.
The programmes were developed following extensive engagement with education and disability stakeholders. My Department is now working to ensure the necessary supports, guidance and information is made available to both schools and families.
I encourage the school communities to take full advantage of this opportunity and offer this valuable programme to their students.
Further details on the schemes and how schools can apply will be available this week at gov.ie/summerprovision.
137. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the justification for the delay in payment of school staff for their work facilitating the supplementary programme earlier in 2021. [26751/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 136 and 137 together.
In recognition of the fact that remote learning is particularly challenging for children with complex special educational needs, my Department put in place the supplementary programme in February to support the education and/or care needs of pupils with complex needs during the period of extended school closures and phased reopening.
My Department’s approach was intended to be flexible so as to maximise the number of students participating. To this end hours could be used by families at any time before 30 April 2021, including during the Easter holidays.
The programme is structured in similar way to my Department’s home based summer programme. Parents engage either a teacher or an SNA in a private arrangement. When the programme is complete Parents return a payment claim form to my Department.
The closing date for receipt of completed claim forms was 14th of May 2021.
The processing of applications for the Supplementary Programme will be broadly similar to that of the home based summer programme. As with the home based summer programme, there will be a very high volume of claims for the supplementary programme and as such the timeline for payment of teachers/SNAs is similar.
Processing of the applications will commence shortly and payment will issue on a common pay date in of 5th August 2021.
This decision was made after consideration of the high volume of claims to be processed and there are no plans to change from this arrangement at the current time.
The supplementary programme was a new programme established in response to school closures in February, and due to the high volume of claims, this was identified as the payment method.