The summer programme for children with additional educational needs, and those at greatest risk of educational disadvantage, should be lengthened this year.
This is the view of Fianna Fáil senator Ollie Crowe, who said the changes to routine for such children, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, could leave them “particularly vulnerable”.
The extended school year for children with extra needs usually runs in the month of July, but Sen Crowe said it should be extended through August for this year. Schools for children with additional needs went back earlier than other schools, having resumed partially on February 11. However, parents and those working in the area have noticed the impact the educational breaks have had on the children.
“I have spoken with parents of children who take part in the summer programme, and they have told me how they have seen regression in their children as a lack of routine is a major issue for some children with additional needs,” said Sen Crowe.
“The parents have outlined very serious issues and very negative impacts on the lives of both the children involved and their families. The extension of the summer programme can have a very positive affect and go some ways towards tackling the regression.”
Sen Crowe said it was important clarity was provided on the issue as soon as possible. Earlier this year, the Department of Education said it was seeking to expand the programme in 2021. “That’s very welcome,” he sad, “but with the programme set to begin in July, it’s important that the details of the programme are announced as soon as possible.”