Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Questions (228)

John Curran


228. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Education and Skills the steps he is taking to address issues raised in a new report by an organisation (details supplied) which shows schools need far greater capacity to meet the learning, language and socio-emotional needs of young refugees and to support them in their transition to school; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39869/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

With regard to the report referred to by the Deputy, a number of recommendations have already been implemented by my Department, prior to the publication of the report.

 In 2018, my Department’s National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) and Inspectorate conducted an appraisal of the education settings in the  Emergency Reception Orientation Centres (EROCs) and made a number of recommendations. These recommendations were followed up by my Department at the time and arrangements have been put in place to support the education of pupils residing in EROCs, including arranging for supports and transition to mainstream schools.  

The current situation is that, in general, primary school age children are provided with on-site education in EROC schools for an initial period and transition to mainstream schools when school ready. Post-primary students are enrolled in local mainstream as soon as possible.

Access to supports from NEPS and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and access to continuing professional development (CPD) through the Professional Development Support Services is available for teaching staff in the EROCs. My Department has also provided additional resources to the EROCs to support the transition of children to local schools.

 With regard to the needs of pupils at the time of resettlement, my Department provides a range of supports in schools to meet the identified additional educational needs of the children and young people in the primary and post-primary systems.  At both primary and post-primary levels, additional language supports are provided for students who do not speak English as their first language to allow individual students to participate in mainstream education on a par with their peers. Schools should consider how best to support any additional needs in the context of the Continuum of Support if appropriate. If the principal of a receiving school has specific concerns, or requires some advice in relation to observed needs they may consult their assigned NEPS psychologist.