Written answers

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Department of Education and Skills

Ukraine War

Photo of Marc Ó CathasaighMarc Ó Cathasaigh (Waterford, Green Party)
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100. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the steps that she is taking to ensure that her Department’s plans with regard to support for children fleeing from Ukraine are integrated with plans from other Departments in order to achieve a whole of Government approach; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23815/22]

Photo of John LahartJohn Lahart (Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
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140. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the strategies in place to support students from Ukraine coming to Ireland; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23645/22]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 100 and 140.

I would like to thank the Deputies for their questions. My Department is currently working collaboratively with a number of Departments and organisations to ensure a whole of Government approach to support education provision for arriving children with immediate education needs. 

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I and my Government colleagues have also received regular updates at Cabinet on supports for people arriving from Ukraine in order to ensure appropriate coordination and integration of each Department’s response. It was agreed that a co-ordinated, whole-of-Government response will be essential. Particular emphasis was placed on the need for co-ordination across Government of policy, the implementation of actions and communications.

In this regard, my Department is engaging closely with colleagues in the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. My Department is also working with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government in respect of the relationship between the location of the accommodation provided for people arriving from Ukraine and the identification of appropriate school capacity.

Regional Education and Language Teams (REALT) have been established to help ensure good coordination and alignment of supports for Ukrainian children arriving in Ireland.  These Education and Language Teams are hosted by the 16 regional education and training boards (ETBs) and are staffed by existing regionally-based education support personnel working closely together to ensure good coordination and alignment of supports for Ukrainian children. My Department is liaising with the teams to ensure all necessary supports for the Ukrainian children are provided as quickly as possible.

The primary role of the REALT is to build on existing regional education support structures and the initial focus will be on assisting families in securing school places. REALT will also support schools in the area to meet the needs of these children as they emerge, to advise and support my Department in developing new capacity where required, and to co-ordinate the provision of education services to schools and families across their defined area.

These teams will ensure that clear, accessible information flows are in place between schools, local education support services and national support structures in relation to people arriving from Ukraine.

The regional teams will be hosted and administratively supported within the ETBs and will lead a network of other key agencies, including Tusla Education Support Service (TESS), NEPS regional personnel, NCSE regional personnel and Management body local nominees working together with local schools.

Many resources for teaching, learning and inclusion of Ukrainian pupils have been published to date, including a central repository of information and CPD resources for school leaders and teachers to support cultural and linguistic diversity, which is available on the Scoilnet.ie website.

These resources include those designed by the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) to help children suffering from trauma. NEPS psychologists are available on the ground to consult with schools and provide support as needed.

Resources also include EAL, intercultural and relevant curriculum supports developed by the teacher education supports services including PDST, the NCCA and the ETB sector. A helpline for school principals is also in place. Schools that have enrolled students from Ukraine can apply for additional EAL support and hundreds of schools are already receiving this support.

My Department is working to ensure that the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) will be available to support schools that have children from Ukraine with additional or special educational needs. Local Special Education Needs Organisers (SENOs) will be available to support individual families in accessing education and related supports for their children with special education needs. In this regard the SENOs will link with other relevant state agencies including Education Welfare Services and the HSE.

I recently announced that a summer 2022 education programme for pupils with complex special educational needs and those at greatest risk of educational disadvantage. All schools (primary and post-primary) will be encouraged to provide summer programmes including post-primary children with complex needs and children at risk of educational disadvantage. 

The Inclusion element of this programme also offers an opportunity for schools to address the needs of migrant students such as addressing English language skills and integration, including students who have recently arrived in Ireland from Ukraine.

Further information in relation to my Department’s approach and the supports in place is available on the Department’s website and is updated as appropriate.  www.gov.ie/en/organisation/department-of-education/


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