Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education, Thomas Byrne has welcomed the announcement today that the Department of Education is to run an expanded summer scheme to meet the needs of children with additional educational needs.

The Summer Provision will be available to a wide range of students with severe to moderate needs, autism, Down syndrome and children with audio and visual impairments. The scheme will be available both through participating schools and in the home. DEIS schools will also have the opportunity to run literacy and numeracy camps.

Deputy Byrne commented, “It is welcome that the Minister has progressed plans in this area. In light of the concern which has been expressed by some organisations and parents I particularly welcome the expansion of the scheme to a broader range of students than in previous years.

“We are all too aware the impact of school closures has had on pupils with special educational needs in particular. There is a clear need to stop and address the learning loss which is taking place.

“A number of elements will require further detail in the coming days including how this will take place in the classroom setting and the willingness of schools to participate. This information needs to be provided as soon as possible.

“The Minister has talked about this scheme being made available to 24-25,000 pupils. I hope that the scheme which has been announced achieves this objective.

“In terms of schools reopening in September, I believe, as Fianna Fáil has said many times, that there is scope for NPHET to further examine the advice provided by the WHO which we know is at odds with our guidelines. I am hopeful that this will develop in the coming weeks and that the risk assessment announced by the Minister is completed without delay. Students, their parents and teachers all need better clarity,” he concluded.