Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Questions (328)

Gary Gannon

Question:

328. Deputy Gary Gannon asked the Minister for Education the provision in place to provide the necessary additional assistive technologies to enable students with disabilities to access the curriculum remotely. [2937/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

As a contingency measure for the possibility of partial or full school closures, my Department provided to schools in October a suite of guidance materials, agreed with the education partners, to enable schools to mediate the curriculum safely for all learners in a Covid-19 context. These documents have been complemented by Circular 0074/2020 which required all schools to put in place appropriate contingency measures to ensure that they are prepared to continue to support teaching and learning in the event of a partial or full closure of schools arising from Public Health advice.

My Department has provided significant additional resources to schools to help support the provision of ICT equipment and to prioritise the needs of students that do not otherwise have access to ICT. My Department issued €50m in April 2020 in Digital Strategy ICT grant funding in respect of the 2019-2020 school year, including €10m brought forward. A further €50m issued in December 2020 in respect of the 2020-2021 school year. Schools were advised to use this funding to support the continuity of teaching and learning should a period of partial or full school closure owing to Covid-19 restrictions be required

My Department has also provided updated specific guidance to advise on how schools and teachers can support continuity in the learning for pupils with Special Educational Needs during school closures due to Covid-19.

The guidance outlines that where possible, adaptive technologies which have been provided for the pupils for use in schools should be made available for use in the home environment.

This guidance has now been provided for schools and is available at:

https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Information/National-Emergencies-Public-Health-Issues/guidance-continuity-of-schooling-supporting-pupils-with-sen-primary.pdf

https://www.education.ie/en/Schools-Colleges/Information/National-Emergencies-Public-Health-Issues/guidance-continuity-of-schooling-supporting-students-with-sen-post-primary.pdf