06 July, 2020 - Ministers Foley and Madigan welcome decision to extend Summer Provision eligibility to post-primary students with Down Syndrome

Minister for Education Norma Foley TD and Minister of State with responsibility for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan TD have warmly welcomed the decision by Cabinet to widen the eligibility criteria for Summer Provision 2020 to include post-primary students with Down syndrome.

Minister Foley said: “I was pleased to bring this proposal to Cabinet today, and secure this important support for post-primary students with Down syndrome. I am deeply conscious of the additional challenges these students have faced in continuing with learning since the Covid-19 closure of school buildings since March. Providing this additional support is an important step in recognising this difficulty and in preparing these young people for school re-opening and I would like to thank my Cabinet colleagues for their support in this.  

“The expanded programme for Summer Provision 2020 for children with complex needs is being provided to approximately 15,000 children, which is about 5,000 more than the traditional July Provision. The programme is made up of a school-based strand and a home-based strand. 4,000 children will be participating in the programme across more than 240 primary schools. It is estimated that an additional 670 children will be covered by today’s decision to expand the eligibility to post-primary students with Down syndrome.”

Minister Madigan said: “I am delighted that this proposal has been accepted; it reflects the feedback I have heard from those working with students with Down syndrome. Summer Provision 2020 is crucial in preparing students with complex needs to return to school in the autumn. It is right that this programme should be open to post-primary school students with Down syndrome also.

“The overall aim of the summer programmes is to prepare children for the reopening of schools in the autumn.  In particular, the programmes help to re-establish relationships between students, build connections, meet emotional needs, and support participation and learning. A summer education programme could provide a vital stepping-stone in rebuilding this connection for students with complex needs before they return to school more fully in the autumn as anticipated."




Note to Editors

The Department published details of Summer Provision 2020 – Reconnecting with Education including a programme for children with complex special educational needs.


Schools/Parents can chose to run the programme from 29 June 2020 until 21 August 2020 for a minimum of two weeks up to a maximum of four weeks.

The programme is a significant expansion on the July Provision programme of previous years with the eligibility criteria widened to include approximately 9,000 additional primary aged children with complex needs.


  • A total of 243 schools have registered for the summer programme for children with complex needs to date.
  • With regard to Summer Provision 2020, to date 240 schools have indicated that they intend to run a school based programme for children with complex needs involving approximately 3,900 children.


  • Three schools have registered that will be making the premises available to the HSE only and will not be providing a school-based programme.


  • 10,291 families have registered for the home based summer programme involving 11,012 children.



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 were 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.


HSE programme


The HSE is offering a programme of support, based in schools, for children with complex needs. 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