Tuesday, 25 May 2021
Department of Education and Skills
Special Educational Needs
337. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if the plans will be released for July programme 2021; and if a commitment will be given that children attending special schools and classes for whom the programme was originally devised will receive compulsory in-school provision that is not dependent on the buy in of staff. [27575/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 337, 356 and 362 together.
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. The existing Special Class and Special School Programme has been expanded from 4 to 5 weeks.
While participation in the programmes is voluntary, 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 well-being 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. Information issued to all schools last week regarding the school-based programme, including the link to an online portal where schools can register their interest in participating. All the documentation has also been published on www.gov.ie/summerprovision. Information on the home-based programme, including application forms, will be provided to schools in the coming days.
I encourage the school communities to take full advantage of this opportunity and offer this valuable programme to their students.