Written answers

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Department of Education and Skills

Special Educational Needs

Photo of Joan CollinsJoan Collins (Dublin South Central, Independents 4 Change)
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152. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if she will introduce a long-term plan for the provision of the July provision in each school. [23588/22]

Photo of Josepha MadiganJosepha Madigan (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael)
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Earlier this month, the Government announced this year's 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 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.

Building on the 2021 programme, all primary and post primary schools can offer a summer programme and in line with last year’s funding, there is up to €40 million available to provide for this year’s programme. In 2021 nearly 38,000 children availed of the summer programme, an increase of 60% from the previous year.

A key objective of this year’s scheme is to increase the number of schools offering the summer programme to their students. Steps have been taken to afford schools as much flexibility as possible, and to ease administrative requirements. This year there is provision to recruit newly qualified teachers graduating this summer as well as undergraduate student teachers who have registered with the Teaching Council under Route 5.

To support and facilitate schools and principals with organising and running the programme, the 2022 Summer Programme allows principals to delegate these functions to other members of staff through the Overseer role and preparation hours. The Overseer and preparation roles provide an exciting personal opportunity for teachers to develop their leadership skills and experience with recognition at a whole-school level.

Enhanced measures have been put in place to encourage participation of schools. These include:

- A Centralised Application Process to reduce the administrative burden on schools.

- Provision of funding to schools towards preparation and overseeing of the programmes.

- Provision to recruit final year student teachers graduating this summer and Route 5 undergraduate student teachers.

- Guidance, information and support provided to schools to help design and deliver the programmes.

- Capitation Grant Funding provided to cover the running costs of the scheme, including enhanced capitation for special schools and classes.

This year, for the first time, there will be an online claims system for schools to submit payments details for those staff taking part in the school based summer programme. This will provide for faster and more streamlined payments to staff.

In addition, with the assistance of the National Association of Management Boards in Special Schools (NAMBSE), the Department and Inspectorate recently hosted a webinar for Special Schools and provided a presentation on the supports and benefits of running a school based summer programme. The presentation focused on the positive outcomes for students that participated in the 2021 programme.

While the number of special schools and classes taking part has risen over the last 2 years, we want to continue this growth in participation further. The Department will continue to work with all stakeholders to support parents in accessing summer provision and with schools to ensure that they have the resources and supports necessary to successfully run these programmes. Planning for the 2023 Summer Programme is due to commence shortly and with a view to addressing future plans for the programme.

It is acknowledged that not all schools will be in a position to provide a school-based programme, so a home-based programme continues to be available for students with complex needs where the school-based programme is unavailable.

Photo of Alan FarrellAlan Farrell (Dublin Fingal, Fine Gael)
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153. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the number of additional schools accessed the summer provision during 2021; the anticipated demand for 2022; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23827/22]

Photo of Josepha MadiganJosepha Madigan (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael)
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My Department ran an expanded summer education programme for pupils with complex special educational needs and those at greatest risk of educational disadvantage for Summer 2021, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under this expansion, students with complex special educational needs and those at greatest risk of educational disadvantage had access to an enhanced summer programme of education. The total funding available to provide the programme was €40 million, which was a one hundred per cent increase on the allocation for summer provision in 2020.

The programme’s aims were to support pupils 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 could move on to their planned educational placement for the start of the next school year along with their peers.

For the first time ever, all schools (primary and-post primary) were encouraged to provide summer programmes and the eligibility criteria was extended to include post-primary children with complex needs and children at risk of educational disadvantage. Prior to this expansion, summer programmes were only available to special schools and pupils in special classes in primary schools and in DEIS schools. This resulted in 945 schools participating in the overall programme, a rise of 72% over 2020. 24,656 pupils participated in the 2021 school-based programme, an increase of 85% over 2020.

The 2022 summer programme was launched last week, with schools invited to register to participate in the different strands of the programme along the same lines as that offered in 2021. While the number of schools taking part has risen over the last 2 years we want to continue this growth in participation further.

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