Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Questions (425, 426)

Thomas Pringle

Question:

425. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education when resource classes for visually impaired children will resume; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11295/21]

View answer

Thomas Pringle

Question:

426. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Education the number of visually impaired children attending resource classes by county; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11296/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 425 and 426 together.

Phase 2 of schools reopening has seen all Primary and Post-Primary Special Classes reopened on Monday 22nd February with pupils expected to attend these classes on a full-time basis.

Special classes at primary and post-primary level are supported in their return by the enhanced school teams put in place by the HSE and my Department. Updated guidance and information on the supports for schools has also been made available in advance of the return.

Recognising that remote learning has been particularly challenging for some students with complex needs, my Department has also put in place a supplementary programme to support the education and/or care needs of students with complex needs at primary and post-primary level.

Eligibility for the programme comprises:

- All pupils enrolled in special schools and special classes in primary and post-primary schools

- Pupils in mainstream primary and post-primary schools who are accessing the highest levels of support in school at the School Support Plus/Support for a Few stage of the Continuum of Support. This includes pupils with Autism, Down syndrome, sensory impairments, and other disabilities, as well as pupils who were identified for the Summer Provision Programmes of 2020.

- Schools have flexibility to identify pupils that require the highest level of support at any given time. This will ensure that pupils presenting with exceptional needs due to school closures can participate in the scheme.

This programme of in-person support is intended to supplement the teaching and learning provided by the student’s school and alleviate the impact of this period of school closure through the provision of 5 hours per week in-person teaching or care support to be delivered in homes.

An allocation of five hours per week of home-based teaching or care supports is available to eligible students for four weeks.

The support programme must be delivered outside of the normal school day (i.e. evenings and weekends), so that the student can continue to engage as fully as possible with the teaching and learning provided by their school.

Any unused hours can be delivered to families at any time before 30 April 2021, including during the Easter holidays.

I have arranged for the Deputy's query regarding the number of visually impaired children attending special classes by county to be referred to the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) for direct reply.

Question No. 427 answered with Question No. 417.