I propose to take Questions Nos. 236 to 238, inclusive, together.
My Department’s policy, in relation to provision of education for children of international protection applicants, is that attendance at mainstream school is a key element in integration.
In keeping with the terms of the EU Recast Reception (conditions) Directive, children of international protection applicants are required to receive an education within a three month period following their arrival in this State, allowing for school holiday periods.
Every effort is made to ensure that all children of school going age receive an education at the earliest possible date. My Department has seconded an official to the Department of Justice and Equality to deal with any queries that schools who are enrolling children from accommodation centres may have. This official is also available to advise schools on specific queries on the range of supports available to schools and on how to access supports.
Following the receipt of an application for a school place, a school must advise of the outcome of each application in writing. Any decision to refuse to enrol a child can be appealed under Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998. Tusla Education Support Service (TESS) is available to provide support and guidance to parents in relation making applications to local schools and the Section 29 appeals process.
The purpose of my Department’s Home Tuition Grant Scheme is to provide funding towards the provision of a compensatory educational service for children who, for a number of specific reasons, are unable to attend school. It is not an alternative to a school placement and is provided in very limited and specific circumstances and intended to be a short term intervention.
Where difficulties arise in securing school places, home tuition can be put in place similar to arrangements that apply to all other children who reside in this State, but only if school places are not available. Should a school placement not be available an application for home tuition can be submitted to my Department as an interim measure while awaiting a school place being secured by the parent.
The local Education Welfare Officer of TESS may be available to provide parents with a list of local tutors who may be in a position to provide the tuition to the child while awaiting a school place.