Minister for Education Norma Foley TD and Minister of State with responsibility for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan TD have welcomed clarification on the eligibility for Summer Provision to children with complex needs who are entering a mainstream primary school class in September. This follows a memo to Government earlier this week expanding Summer Provision to children with Down Syndrome in post-primary school.
Minister Foley said:
This is a significant announcement and one which demonstrates the Government’s commitment to providing an expanded Summer Provision programme.
Summer Provision is crucial in helping children with complex needs prepare for a return to education, particularly after the health restrictions that have been in place over recent months. As we continue to prepare for the re-opening of schools, we do not want children with complex needs to regress in terms of their education and social interactions.
Minister Josepha Madigan said:
This is another positive development for children with complex needs and their families. When I was appointed as a Minister of State in this portfolio, I asked that the eligibility for children with complex needs participating in Summer Provision be expanded and I welcome the fact that this has now been achieved.
During my first week as Minister I met with advocacy groups such as Down Syndrome Ireland, AsIAm, and others and heard their concerns about the exclusion of children with complex needs who are due to enter mainstream primary school next year. I want to clarify that this group will also be eligible to participate in Summer Provision, along with students with Down syndrome in post-primary school following a Government decision earlier this week.
Since the announcement of the programme on 12 June and the subsequent decision by Government earlier this week on the inclusion of post-primary children with Down syndrome in the home-based strand, there has been further engagement on the inclusion of children with complex needs entering primary school for the first time in September. It is proposed to clarify the criteria as follows:
The criteria which schools can use to select children that might benefit are:
1. Pupils with a diagnosis of Autism
2. Pupils with severe and profound learning difficulties
3. Any child in a special school or a special class in a primary school
4. Children transitioning into a special class from early years settings to primary school
5. 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
The Government has also approved the inclusion of children with Down syndrome who are attending post-primary school in the home-based strand of the Programme.
Children entering primary school next September are now also eligible for the programme.
Notes for Editors
Nationally, a total of 243 schools have registered for the summer programme for children with complex needs to date. 240 of these schools have indicated that they intend to run the School Based Education Programme and 41 of these will also make the school premises available to the HSE for its programme. 3 schools have registered who will be making the premises available to the HSE only and will not be providing a school based programme. Estimated number of children involved is 3,900.
10,291 families have registered for the Home Based Programme in respect of 11,012 children to date.