- A wide range of children with special needs will benefit, including those with severe and profound and moderate needs, to those with autism, Down syndrome, and those with severe visual or hearing impairment.
- Teachers and special needs assistants being given the opportunity to offer provision in-school or in the home.
- DEIS schools being offered the chance to run educational summer camps on literacy and numeracy, wellbeing and re-engagement with school.
The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD, the Minister for Health Simon Harris TD and Minister of State for Disability Issues Finian McGrath today (Friday 12 June 2020) announced Summer Provision 2020 – a significantly expanded programme for children with special needs and students in DEIS schools.
Summer Provision 2020 will involve three strands with different options for parents, students and schools.
- The first is in-school or home-based supports by teachers and SNAs to help prevent regression among children with special needs.
- The second is an opportunity for all 890 DEIS schools to provide summer camps, including a numeracy and literacy programme for primary pupils and a programme of re-engagement for post-primary students.
- The third is Health Service Executive-led. It will aim to provide summer camp type supports to up to 1,200 children with complex needs.
The following children with special needs will be eligible for the first strand of the Summer Provision as part of in-school and home-based programmes:
- Students with autism or severe and profound learning difficulties.
- Children in special classes in primary schools and special schools
- Children transitioning from early years into a special class in primary school or special school.
- Primary pupils in mainstream classes who present with Down syndrome, students who are deaf or most severe hard of hearing, students who are blind or have most severe visual impairment, children with a moderate general learning disability or those diagnosed with a severe emotional behavioural difficulty.
If possible, school transport will be provided to support the programme where appropriate. Departments are also finalising plans to provide the Schools Meals Programme for schools taking part in Summer Provision 2020.
A dedicated online registration system for families of children with special needs to access Summer Provision is being made available on gov.ie/summerprovision
Minister McHugh said: “As a Government we are determined to support families who have felt the deepest impact from the closure of schools. Summer Provision 2020 is a significant expansion of support for the children and families who are most in need. The aim is to help address the concerns that families are feeling over the loss of in-school time and learning for children with special needs and those at greatest risk of disadvantage.
“Teachers and schools have made huge efforts in the last three months. In no time at all, they have taken massive strides on remote learning and striving to make sure no child is left behind. They deserve enormous credit for that. I hope many schools, teachers and SNAs feel they can get involved in Summer Provision, in the knowledge that the Department will provide all necessary assistance and support.”
Minister Harris said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been tough on everyone but it is even tougher for some families in our country. Children with additional needs and their families have been severely missing the support, activity and connectivity that they need. I am so pleased my Department and the Department of Education and Skills have worked together to provide a programme of supports that I hope will be of really practical benefit.
"The health-led part of the programme will have the input of clinicians to ensure that activities are tailored to the needs of children and has three main goals: to provide short respite breaks for families; to facilitate children with complex needs to being the transition from their homes to re-engaging with their communities and schools; and to provide safe opportunities for the children to engage with their peers.
"I hope that children and parents can now look forward to a Summer 2020 that is a bit better for them and brings some relief after what has been a very challenging and difficult time."
Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty said: “I am very pleased to support this initiative. While we are all challenged as a society by the restrictions and circumstances created by the Covid 19 emergency, some groups are more exposed than others.
“I believe that we should do as much as we possibly can to support vulnerable children through the summer - and throughout the crisis - and the measures announced today will allow us to do just that.”
Minister McGrath said: “I am all too aware of the serious challenges which parents and carers of people with disabilities have faced over the last three months. I am hoping that the measures which we are announcing today will bring some help and comfort to those who can avail of them. We will continue to work to restore services as soon as possible in a safe way for both providers and users.”
Government today also published a report on planning around the next school year and the reopening of schools.
Minister McHugh said: “It is clear that the risks and impacts on children and society where access to education is significantly reduced are considerable particularly for the more vulnerable students in our society. The report sets out the clear ambition to develop a sustainable plan to fully reopen schools.”
The Department of Education and Skills is in ongoing engagement with the education partners to work together to ensure a safe return to education for children and staff is an essential part of the planning for reopening and the development of guidance in relation to infection prevention and control in a school setting is a key component of that work.
Notes for Editors
Full details of the programmes and published material is available on Gov.ie/summerprovision
Special Education Programme
The 2020 Summer Provision expands the Department of Education and Skills’ July Provision programme which in 2019 ensured 10,563 students with autism and children with severe or profound general learning disabilities enjoyed an additional education over four weeks at the end of the school year.
All special schools and primary schools with special classes are being invited to provide the 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.
Parents are being asked to register their interest online, providing some outline information of the extent of their participation in the programme e.g. number of weeks.
Once registered, the parent is then free to plan and organise the programme for their child by consulting with the child’s school; securing the services of a teacher or SNA.
Home-based provision will be offered if a child’s local school is not providing a programme or does not have the capacity and you can find more information here
For more general information on the Special Education Programme, go to gov.ie/summerprovision
All 890 schools in the DEIS programme are being invited to make expressions of interests in running a one week programme they feel best fits the needs of their students.
It will be offered on a voluntary basis. Schools have been asked to identify those pupils most in need and will contact parents directly. They will have flexibility on when to hold it during the summer.
All 692 DEIS primary schools will have the opportunity to run a Literacy and Numeracy Camp. A module on Wellbeing has also been developed. The aim of these summer camps is to provide rich educational experiences for young people, which foster a sense of belonging and creativity and confidence in their learning.
Details on the primary summer camp and how to apply can be found at here
All 198 DEIS post-primary schools are being offered the opportunity to run a new programme which has been developed focusing on encouraging those students deemed most in need to reconnect with school, supporting their physical, social and emotional wellbeing and providing them with the skills they need to engage in a meaningful way with learning in the future.
Details on the post primary DEIS programme and how to apply can be found here
The programme will take place in schools, subject to availability. It will involve a number of three hour sessions per week for children and young people with complex needs.
Children’s disability service managers will engage with families to identify those in most need of these supports and agree the number of sessions per week that can be provided.
Staff in children’s disability services will provide direction and support for SNAs to deliver activity based “summer camps”. The input of clinicians will ensure that activities are tailored to the needs of the children.
The programme aims to -
- Provide short respite breaks for families
- Facilitate children with complex needs to begin the transition from their homes to re-engaging with their communities and schools
- Provide safe opportunities for children with complex needs to engage with their peers
More information on the HSE-led programme of support for children with complex needs is available here