Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (427)

Catherine Connolly


427. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Education if children who, as a result of the disruption to their education due to the impact of Covid-19, wish to repeat a school year will be permitted to do so; the consideration given to the matter by her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6738/21]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

During the current period of school closure, schools are required to put in place their plan of action to enable continuity of learning for all pupils. This involves all teachers who are medically fit to work, including SETs, providing remote teaching and learning to all pupils in their class or on their caseload.

It is crucially important that the learning of all pupils/students, especially those with special educational needs and those at risk of educational disadvantage and/or early school leaving, are supported at this time. These supports include teachers engaging with their pupils/students on a regular basis, through a blend of guided and independent learnings tasks and experiences. Chosen learning tasks provide an opportunity to demonstrate a student’s learning in a clear and concise way. These learning tasks enable teachers to monitor progress and provide constructive, developmental feedback to support learning.

Where possible it is important that pupils move on with their peers and continue on to the next stage of their education. When pupils have started back in school, the principal and teachers can assess their needs and adapt their teaching programme so that any gaps in their learning resulting from the temporary closure of schools can be addressed. For the vast majority of pupils, this will ensure progression is as seamless a manner as possible.

In exceptional circumstances a school may conclude a pupil or student would benefit educationally by repeating a grade level having first consulted with the learning support teacher/resource teacher and class teacher and parents. In such circumstances there should be a clear programme outlined for such a pupil that records precisely what new approach will be used for her/him and what its expected benefit will be. These records should be retained within the school and should be brought to the attention of a Department Inspectorate, by the Principal on visiting the school.

The full re-opening of our schools for all students remains a top priority for Government and I am committed to working on an ongoing basis with all stakeholders to achieve this outcome at the earliest opportunity.