Therapeutic supports should be available in schools for Ukraine pupils and a “digital support fund” should be set up to provide laptops and iPads for Senior Cycle students to complete their exams, a new report has recommended.
The 10 recommendations are contained in a report from the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education on supports that should be given to help Ukrainian children and their families integrate into the education system in Ireland.
Earlier this week, the Department of Education confirmed that 7,285 Ukrainian pupils had been enrolled in schools across the country before the summer holidays. Of these, some 2,629 are in schools in Munster, with 799 in Cork and 668 in Kerry as the largest cohorts.
Translation forms part of the recommendations from the education committee, as it said the department “must ensure that translators and interpreters are available to schools”.
“These professionals should receive targeted training in advance, to include translating challenging and sensitive conversations,” it said.
The committee said that an English language assessment must be carried out on all students at the earliest possible stage in their enrolment to assess what language supports they may require.
Furthermore, each school should have at least one member of staff acting as a family liaison officer while a circular should be issued to all school principals mandating them to provide a “sanctuary room” and/or a designated calm space in all schools for the displaced students.
- Ringfenced funding should be provided by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science for Trauma Counselling and other mental health supports in all Further and Higher Education Institutions.
- The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) must be expanded to include therapeutic (including trauma) supports for schools on-site to enable them to support displaced Ukrainian students as well as for existing students
- The existing funding structures under the free education scheme should be extended to all displaced Ukrainian students.
In his foreword, committee chair Paul Kehoe said that the influx of large numbers of children and young people into the education system will result in “a range of urgent and pressing challenges”.
"It will require significant teaching resources, not just in terms of additional numbers within the system, but also the additional needs, from English language supports to emotional and psychological assistance," he said.