All schools to be included in summer education

All schools to be included in summer education

 Minister for Education Norma Foley announced the extension of the summer education programme which aims to support pupils re-engage with education after the pandemic. Picture: Sasko Lazarov/Rollingnews.ie

Summer education programmes are to be expanded to include post-primary students this year in response to the pandemic.

The Department of Education has also announced that funding for the scheme, which in previous years has been referred to as July Provision, is set to double this year to €40m.

For the first time ever, all schools, including post-primary, are encouraged to provide summer programmes, with the eligibility criteria now extended to include post-primary children with complex needs and children at risk of educational disadvantage.

The Department said the programme’s aims are to support pupils to re-engage with education, to build their confidence and increase their motivation, and to promote wellbeing and for some who are at key transition stages.

The programme is also aiming to help to ensure they can move on to their planned educational placement next September along with their peers.

A home-based summer programme will continue to be available for children with complex needs where their schools are not providing a school-based one.

Norma Foley, the Minister for Education, said: “We are all acutely conscious that children and young people did not have access to in-school learning for a long period of time.”

“Despite the best efforts of everyone to support and engage with remote learning, not being in school has many adverse consequences.” “Evidence indicates that it particularly impacts children with complex special educational needs and those at greatest risk of educational disadvantage.” 

“I encourage school communities to take full advantage of this opportunity and to provide this valuable programme to their students. We have also listened to concerns of school stakeholders as to the challenges in running summer programmes and have taken significant steps to enhance those supports for schools.” 

Josepha Madigan, the Minister for Special Education, said: “We know it has been a very difficult year for students with additional needs who might not have been able to engage with remote learning. Parents and families have been worried about regression and loss of key skills.”

“This is the first time that all schools will be eligible to host a summer programme and I urge all schools to do so. It is a very worthwhile opportunity for young people.

The five key strands of the programme will run under are:

· Numeracy and literacy camps in DEIS primary schools 

· School-based summer programme in primary schools with special classes and special schools.

· Home-based provision for children with complex needs where no school-based programme is available;

· All primary schools (DEIS and non-DEIS) have the opportunity to provide a two-week summer programme for mainstream pupils with complex needs and those at greatest risk of educational disadvantage.

· All post-primary schools (DEIS and non-DEIS) have the opportunity to provide a two-week summer programme for mainstream students with complex needs and those at greatest risk of educational disadvantage.

Enhanced measures

Enhanced measures have been put in place to encourage the participation of schools, including reducing the administrative process, funding to schools towards preparation and overseeing of the programmes, earlier payment of school staff and provision to recruit final year student teachers graduating this summer.

Further details on the schemes and how schools can apply will be made available over the coming period at gov.ie/summerprovision.

Following a Government decision today, the Department of Education will also confirm to schools that for the 2021/22 school year there will be no change to the model of allocation of special needs assistants.

The introduction of the frontloaded model for the allocation of special needs assistants will be deferred to the commencement of the 2022/23 school year.

SNA allocations for 2021/22 school year will be based on the actual number of SNAs employed by a school on 30 April 2021 and the allocation on that date will be rolled over into 2021/22. 

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