Summer Provision plans cannot be left on back-burner - Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has called on the Minister of State for Special Education Josepha Madigan to put in the work now to ensure that this year’s Summer Provision can support as many children with additional needs as possible.
He has called for details on this year’s programme to be released as soon as possible to allow schools, staff and families to prepare.
Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:
“Summer Provision is a crucial programme for supporting children with additional needs. One of the greatest criticisms I heard last year from schools and parents was the last-minute approach taken to announcing the details of the Summer Provision scheme.
“For some schools, delays in providing detail actually prevented them from being able to provide Summer Provision to their students, as the extremely tight timeframe meant they simply did not have time to prepare and organise the programme.
“A response I received from the Minister at the beginning of March to a parliamentary question indicated that the consultation process on Summer Provision was only beginning now.
“It is absolutely crucial that the Minister does not leave this on the back burner; schools and families need to know what the Summer Provision programme will look like this year as soon as possible.
“There are a number of issues that the Department must also address to ensure that the programme runs as smoothly as possible.
“For families who take part in the home tuition component of Summer Provision, trying to find tutors is like finding a needle in a haystack, and causes a lot of stress and anxiety for parents.
“I again urge the Minister to put in place a centralised database of teachers and SNAs who are willing to provide tuition for families, to try and counter these difficulties.
“This is a simple thing the Minister can do, that would make a massive difference to the stress of these families.
“The Minister must also put the work in now to address the long-standing issues with late payment of staff who facilitate Summer Provision.
“Last year the Minister made commitments that staff would receive prompt payment, yet there were SNAs and teachers contacting me in November and December who still hadn’t been paid.
“It is hard to see how we can continue to incentivise staff to facilitate Summer Provision, when commitments made for earlier payment have been broken, and staff are facing significant administrative hurdles to receive their hard-earned pay.
“Summer Provision is an incredibly important resource for children with additional needs and their families. The Minister must not leave schools and parents in the dark; she must publish plans for this year’s programme as soon as possible.”