Children with special needs are struggling during the coronavirus lockdown and need the return of school support writes Victoria White
Ten weeks into lockdown and she can’t see her way out.
In reply to Dáil questions posed by Social Democrat TD Jennifer Whitmore, Joe McHugh, the minister for education and skills, stated on May 11 that the department “had intended” to run the scheme, but was now “reviewing” its position: “The department is considering contingency measures, including changes to the format of the scheme,” the reply continued. “Any changes will be communicated widely.”
It has been known for years that the scheme is a mess. The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) recommended changes back in 2016 and an “implementation group” was set up. It was meant to complete its work this year.
Chief among its issues are the fact that the list of disabilities is too narrow and excludes many children, such as two with Down syndrome and serious learning disabilities who were last year granted the equivalent of July provision by the High Court.
And while an extension of school is optimal, one-to-one teaching by a primary teacher is rarely what these children want, or need, during the summer and is never evaluated.
The NCSE recommended a nationwide social and educational day programme to include all children with complex special educational needs.