Work on greatly expanded Summer Provision Programme must begin now – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has today called on the Department of Education to put the work in now, to ensure this year’s Summer Provision Programme can support as many children with additional needs as possible.
Speaking following today's Oireachtas Education Committee, Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:
“Children with additional needs are among those who missed out the most when schools were closed at the start of this year.
“Summer Provision is a vitally important programme. Given the difficulties of the last year, it is crucial that this year’s programme is the largest ever. Capacity planning needs to be done now to ensure those who lost out the most are given greater assistance, and to allow them to catch up over the summer months.
“At today’s session of the Oireachtas Education Committee, I called on the Department of Education to outline their plans to expand the programme even further this year.
“In terms of the DEIS summer programme, we need to go beyond the DEIS schools that have traditionally availed of the summer camps in tackling disadvantage. 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.
“One of the biggest obstacles for families is finding tutors to facilitate the programme. I urged the Department to put the work in now, into creating a centralised database of teachers and SNAs who are willing to provide tuition.
“This is a simple thing the Department of Education can do, that would make a massive difference to families of children with special educational needs.
“In-school summer provision is the largest component of this programme. It is essential that schools get both the resources and adequate time to plan for providing this.
“The government also needs to consider how it can incentivise staff to participate, and to resolve the issues from last year in terms of fair and timely pay.
“Children with additional needs have missed out hugely in the past year. The work needs to be done now, to make sure that this summer provides an opportunity for all children who need that additional support.”