Work must be done now to improve Summer Provision Programme - Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has called on the Minister for Education to put the work in now to make sure children with special educational needs are given the support they deserve over the summer months.
Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:
“There is no doubt that the cohort that suffered the most from the school closures were children with special educational needs. They have missed out hugely and many have unfortunately regressed.
"Children with additional needs in mainstream settings still aren’t back at school.
“I know from speaking to families that the supplementary programme has had serious issues. Families simply cannot find tutors to facilitate this.
“The work needs to be done now on the Summer Provision Programme. These kids have missed out enough.
“We need to be proactive here and begin planning now for a very substantial summer provision programme for children with special educational needs.
"The Minister needs to start now, to make sure there are enough tutors to facilitate this, and that every child who wants to take part in this programme can.
“In terms of the DEIS summer programme, we also need to go beyond the DEIS schools that have traditionally availed of the summer camps in tackling disadvantage.
“Disadvantage is concentrated within DEIS Band 1, but the reality is that it expands into DEIS Band 2 and much beyond that as well.
"I welcome recent investment in school completion, but we also need investment in home school liaison to support parents and families who have found engagement with engagement difficult over the course of the pandemic.
“We should be asking all principals to submit names of children who need an extra bit of help, and we should start that process now, so we can identify interest and capacity required.
“This week in the Dáil, I called on the Minister to put the work in now, to be proactive and to make sure the Summer Provision programme this year is sufficient to support all children who need that extra support.
“I know that one of the major issues families encounter, and indeed one of the major issues with the current supplementary programme, is finding tutors.
“At the minute, the task for families of trying to find a tutor for their children is like finding a needle in a haystack. I have urged the Minister to start the work now on a centralised database of teachers and SNAs who are willing to provide tuition for families, to try and counter these difficulties.
“Children with additional needs have missed out hugely over the course of the past 12 months. The Minister need to put the work in now, to make sure that this summer, all children with additional needs get the supports they deserve.”