Thursday, 12 May 2022
Department of Education and Skills
Special Educational Needs
130. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the schemes that are covered under the €40 million funding for school summer programmes; the incentives to encourage additional schools to apply; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23549/22]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 93, 126 and 130 together.
Earlier this month, the Government announced the Summer Programme to allow all primary and post-primary schools to offer a summer programme for students with complex special educational needs and those at greatest risk of educational disadvantage.
The total funding available to provide summer programmes this year is up to €40 million.
The programme was developed following extensive engagement with education stakeholders, parent and disability advocacy groups.
The programme aims are to support pupils to maintain their connection with education, to build their confidence and increase their motivation, promote well-being and for those who are at key transition stages, helping to ensure they continue their education journey in September either in school or in further/higher education or training.
The programmes on offer this summer include:
- Inclusion Programme (Primary) for all primary schools (2-3 weeks programmes) for mainstream pupils with complex needs and those at greatest risk of educational disadvantage.
- Special Classes and Special School Programme in primary (2-5 weeks programmes)
- DEIS Numeracy and literacy Camps/Campaí Samhraidh in DEIS primary schools (one week per camp)
- Inclusion Programme (Post-Primary) for all post-primary schools (2 weeks) for students with complex needs and those at greatest risk of educational disadvantage
- Home based provision for students with complex needs where no school-based programme is available (4 weeks – 40 hours)
Similar to last year children with complex needs entering primary school next September are also eligible to participate in summer programmes.
The supports to support this range of programmes builds on the success last year and incorporates feedback from education stakeholders as to how to better support the programme for all involved in summer 2022.
The Department has addressed concerns previously raised by stakeholders by introducing measures to support schools to encourage schools to offer the programme; funding for a Programme Overseer, preparation time, faster payments of staff, ease of administrative burden on schools and greater guidance materials on programme content.
The programmes can be run at any time over the summer providing schools with autonomy to split the programme weeks to best meet the needs of pupils and staff participating in the programme.
A home-based summer programme will be available for students with complex special educational needs where schools are not providing a school-based programme.
The school to which the Deputy refers was granted approval under my Department's Additional Accommodation Scheme 2021 for reconfiguration works in existing space to create a 1 Class SEN Base with sensory room and outdoor SEN play area.
The Department notified the school authorities of this approval in December 2021 and, as this is a Devolved project, the first step for the school authorities to undertake was to appoint an Architect as a consultant to lead the project on its behalf. Unfortunately the school authorities this week reported to the Department that the none of the Architects contacted regarding this project actually tendered for the position and so the school has been unable to appoint a Consultant to date.
The Department is currently compiling a list of Dublin-based architects engaged across the ASA Scheme to assist the school in its appointment of a Consultant. Once a Consultant is appointed, the project may proceed as laid out in the original terms of approval.