Cabinet to consider €50m fund for lost learning during school closures

Cabinet to consider €50m fund for lost learning during school closures

Norma Foley is expected to brief her Cabinet colleagues tomorrow on the Department of Education's proposed CLASS scheme. File picture: Ben Birchall

A €50m fund to target learning lost due to school closures during the pandemic is expected to be brought to Cabinet this week.

Norma Foley, the Minister for Education, is expected to brief her Cabinet colleagues tomorrow on her department’s Covid-19 learning and support scheme (CLASS).

Schools will receive an allocation of additional teaching hours to use in line with their students’ needs. They will be asked to identify the students most at risk of learning loss due to the disruptions during the pandemic and put in place specifically targeted teaching supports for them.

Allocation of additional teaching hours

It is anticipated that additional teaching allocations will be based on the number of students enrolled in each school, with further allocations provided to special schools and DEIS schools.

The Department of Education is also looking to undertake into both the impacts of the disruption to learning and the student experience of Covid-19, as well as the impact of mitigation measures undertaken by this programme. The CLASS fund is part of the €102.6m additional supports in place in 2021 to mitigate learning loss and support student wellbeing.

Caretakers to join secretaries on strike

Meanwhile, school caretakers are to take part in the one-day school secretaries’ strike planned for Wednesday week, after they overwhelmingly backed industrial action. 

It will be the first time that school caretakers in Ireland have taken industrial action. Caretakers and school secretaries plan to place pickets at the Department of Finance and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, which their union Fórsa accuses of blocking implementation of a Government commitment to standardise pay and conditions of school secretaries. 

Andy Pike, head of education with Fórsa, said the Department of Education's failure to make the expected proposals to fully standardise pay and conditions for school secretaries and caretakers has left them "bitterly disappointed".

"Almost a year ago, the Government made an explicit commitment to resolve this issue. But the offer that followed falls far short of that and lacks all credibility. It’s totally disheartening for caretakers and school secretaries who have worked above and beyond during the Covid crisis." 

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From florist to fraudster, leaving a trail of destruction from North Cork, to Waterford, to Clare, to Wexford and through the midlands ... learn how mistress of re-invention, Catherine O'Brien, scammed her way around rural Ireland.

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