Summer education programmes look set to expand for children with special needs

Summer tuition looks set to be offered to more children this year in recognition of the impact the extended school closure has had on the families of children with special needs.
Summer education programmes look set to expand for children with special needs
The summer programmes are expected to operate like July Provision, which is usually offered to children with severe or profound general learning disabilities, or autistic children.

Summer tuition looks set to be offered to more children this year in recognition of the impact the extended school closure has had on the families of children with special needs.

The Cabinet is set to hear proposals today on summer programmes for thousands of children with special educational needs and students most at risk of disadvantage.

Initial guidance on how classrooms and schools will operate when they reopen for the new school year is also expected to be published today.

The summer programmes are expected to operate like July Provision, which is usually offered to children with severe or profound general learning disabilities, or autistic children.

According to Government sources, the scheme looks set to be significantly expanded to include children with moderate learning disabilities, children with Down Syndrome, and children with emotional behavioural disorders.

It is understood that children with hearing and visual disabilities will also be able to avail of the scheme.

The significant expansion of the programme is being put in place in acknowledgement of the negative impact school closures have had on children with special educational needs, according to Government sources.

It is understood that if a school isn’t offering the summer programme this year, families will be able to ask a Special Needs Assistant (SNA) to provide the support. The programme can also be home-based, like with July Provision.

Separately, DEIS schools will also be given the option to run summer camps for students they feel are most in need. It is understood that primary schools will be given the opportunity to run numeracy and literacy camps, with a module dedicated to wellbeing.

DEIS secondary schools will also have the same option, with a focus on students’ wellbeing and skills to re-engage with school. The guidance is set to be published after Joe McHugh, the Minister for Education, briefs the Cabinet this afternoon.

Both schemes will be dependent on the number of schools, teachers and SNAs that sign-up to take part.

The roadmap on reopening schools will also give some form of clarity to schools, which closed their doors more than 13 weeks ago now. June is usually used as the time to prepare for the incoming school year.

Questions around insurance, sanitisation and funding have all been raised during the course of talks between officials in the Department of Education and principals, teachers, and school management bodies.

Concerns around maintaining physical distancing guidelines in classrooms have also been raised. Even if the two-metre physical distancing rule is reduced to one, this is still expected to cause issues within classrooms. Ireland is among the largest class sizes in the OECD.

Some of the ideas mooted are understood to include potential changes to the curriculum, dividing younger students into ‘pods’ as also suggested for creches; keeping classes well distanced from others within a school; and mixing remote learning with learning in the classroom.

It is understood that the guidelines to be issued today are based on the most current public health advice, and can be tweaked should the advice change.

Sources who took part in the discussions say they are confident that their submissions made to the department have been carefully considered.

The department has also looked at how schools in other countries have managed to reopen their buildings safely, with Mr McHugh previously citing Germany, France, Denmark, and Greece as some of the examples considered.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day. PS ... We would love to hear your feedback on the section right HERE.