As the Deputy is aware my Department, in conjunction with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and Tusla, has compiled draft guidelines for schools on the use of reduced timetables.
The following proposals have been included in the draft guidelines:
- Schools will be required to notify TUSLA Education Support Service when a reduced timetable is being put in place.
- A rationale for the use of a reduced timetable should be included in the report to TUSLA.
- The consent of parents or guardians will be required for the use of a reduced timetable.
- A school must set out a plan of action for the child’s full re-integration to the full-time school day.
The submissions received following stakeholder consultation are currently under consideration and the final version of the guidelines will issue when this process has been completed.
The Department of Education and Skills will continue to work closely with TUSLA Education Support Service and where appropriate with the National Council for Special Education to ensure that, in the very limited number of cases a reduced timetable is deemed necessary, such measures will be used for only time-limited periods.
This will enable data on the use of Reduced Timetables in schools to be collated and will inform policy going forward. At this point in time, I would consider it to be premature to consider bringing about any legislative amendments until this data is available and a clearer picture is obtained in relation to the use of reduced timetables across the system. The situation will be kept under review.
If parents have concerns about the use by a school of a reduced timetable for an individual child they can contact their local Educational Welfare Officer, who will advise them on the most appropriate approach.