Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Ceisteanna (364, 475)

Mary Butler

Ceist:

364. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Education and Skills the guidelines for admission to the July provision scheme for children with Down's syndrome; her views on a potential shortage in tutors for the scheme due to increased numbers seeking access to same; the steps she has taken to ensure children are not excluded; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13726/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Mary Butler

Ceist:

475. Deputy Mary Butler asked the Minister for Education and Skills the position regarding access to the July provision scheme for preschool, primary school and post-primary school pupils with Down's syndrome; her plans to include preschool and secondary school in the 2021 allocation of the scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14584/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Education)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 364 and 475 together.

Covid-19 has presented an unprecedented global challenge for all of society, including our children. Learning has been challenging for many students since school buildings closed.

In response my Department published details of Summer Provision 2020 – Reconnecting with Education including a programme for children with complex special educational needs.

Summer Provision 2020 is a discrete response to Covid-19 and is a significant expansion on the July Provision programme of previous years with the eligibility criteria widened to include approximately 9,000 additional primary aged children with complex needs.

The programme aims to ensure, in so far as possible, that these children can reintegrate/transition into their planned education setting for the next school year with their peers.

My Department has been flexible in its approach to the programme so as to maximise the number of children participating. In-school or home-based supports can now be delivered in July or August. Where Parents cannot secure the services of tutor they can engage an SNA to provide care support.

In-school or home-based supports by teachers and SNAs will help to prevent regression among children with complex special educational needs.

The eligibility criteria includes the following categories of children:

- Pupils with a diagnosis of Autism

- Pupils with severe and profound learning difficulties

- Any child in special school or a special class in a Primary School

- Children transitioning into a special class or special school from early year’s settings

- Pupils in primary school mainstream classes who present with the following disabilities:

- Children with Down syndrome

- Children who are Deaf or most severe hard of hearing

- Children who are blind or have a most severe visual impairment

- Children who have a moderate general learning disability

- Children with severe emotional behavioural difficulties

Following a decision from Cabinet this week the home based summer programme is also open to children with down syndrome who are attending post primary school.

Funding for summer provision is not available to in respect of children who are not covered by the programme criteria. I have asked my officials to review the programme having regard to the need to ensure equity as far as possible. A child must meet at least one of the eligibility criteria.

If a Parent is in doubt about their child’s eligibility, they should consult their child’s school or contact my Department. Contact details are available on my Departments website:

https://www.education.ie/en/Parents/Services/summerprovision/summer-education-programme-2020.html

All special schools and primary schools with special classes are invited to provide the school based summer provision for their students. This programme will run for a minimum of two weeks and can extend up to four weeks where the schools, teachers and Special Needs Assistants are willing to participate.

Home-based provision will be available where a child’s local school is not providing a programme or does not have the capacity to accommodate a child in a planned programme this year. In this situation my Department will provide grant funding towards the engagement by Parents of a registered teacher / SNA to provide home based support for 10 hours a week for 4 weeks.

The programme will be reliant on schools, teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) choosing to participate on a voluntary basis.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has published information to assist Parents in sourcing the services or a Tutor or SNA for the 2020 Summer Provision. The information is available on the NSCE website at: https://ncse.ie/information-for-parents-on-private-home-tutor-services-advertising-platforms-for-the-2020-summer-provision-scheme

Full information on summer provision and its various strands, including guidance information for parents, is available at:

Gov.ie/summerprovision