Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (305)

Neale Richmond


305. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Education the additional supports that have been provided to children of junior and senior infant level to ensure they are supported through remote learning and their social development is protected; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [2480/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

I recognise that the needs of pupils in the infant and junior classes require particular consideration. Schools have been advised that Parents/guardians will require specific guidance on how best to support their children at home, when in a position to do so. It is important that parents are provided with clear information about how the tasks and activities will help their child make progress in their learning.

In particular, these young children will benefit from home learning packs that contain a range of materials to support engaging and fun early literacy and numeracy skill development, specific opportunities for hands-on, active development of early literacy and numeracy skills, opportunities to learn from home using the home environment in an experiential way in subjects such as Social Environmental and Scientific Education (SESE) and the Visual Arts, and opportunities to share samples of learning activities with the class teacher and/or their peers.

Guidance on Remote Learning in a COVID-19 Context for primary schools(DE, October, 2020) outlines how schools should implement remote teaching and learning approaches, when necessary. It advises teachers of infant classes to provide materials to support engaging and fun early literacy and numeracy skill development at home, opportunities for hands-on, active learning and opportunities to share learning with the class teacher and/or their peers. Teachers are required to connect with pupils on a daily basis and provide feedback on pupil progress.

The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) has provided advice on wellbeing and resources to support schools, pupils and parents. This includes resources and supports for primary schools in supporting pupil’s wellbeing in a remote learning context. Advice is also provided to learners of all ages on staying active and connected.

Schools have been provided with €100m funding during 2020 to ensure that all pupils have sufficient access to technology to support remote teaching and learning, when needed.

Teachers of infant classes are best placed to make decisions about teaching and learning for their own pupils. They have the curriculum knowledge, the contextual knowledge of the pupils’ families and a deep understanding of their pupils’ needs. The Professional Development Service for Teachers has provided of resources to support teachers in this regard during periods of remote teaching and learning.