Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has said that more must be done to support school-aged children arriving into Ireland from Ukraine.
The Cork South-Central TD has written to the Minister for Education outlining a number of steps to support Ukrainian children and young people.
Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:
“Children and young people arriving into Ireland from Ukraine have had their whole lives uprooted. It is crucial that we provide them with some normality as soon as possible, and that necessarily includes appropriate school places and educational supports.
“Last week in the Dáil, I urged the Minister for Education to put in place additional language support teachers in schools where there are Ukrainian children.
“Whilst this support is usually allocated every September, it is critical that the Minister provides the additional funding required so that children can access this English language support immediately in their new school.
“It is welcomed that Ukrainian educators arriving to Ireland will have their Teaching Council registration fast-tracked. The Minister must also take steps to fast-track Garda vetting for education staff who want to work in our schools.
“I believe it would also be beneficial if the Minister could provide a database of both school-aged children and teaching staff that have arrived from Ukraine and their locality on the island, so that they might be matched.
“This would help to alleviate the pressure for language assistance until the Minister can put in place this support.
“It would also be helpful if a further database of schools across the country who have indicated they have space to accommodate Ukrainian children could be published on the Department of Education’s website, so that Ukrainian families arriving into Ireland can get their child settled into a school in their locality as soon as possible.
“It will be important that both the Department of Education and the Department of Children work in tandem to provide holistic supports to these children and young people, including access to any mental health supports that might be required, as well as measures to integrate these young people into their communities. It will also be important that mental health supports are trauma informed.
“A specific plan must be put into place for Ukrainian students who are in their final years of primary and secondary school, to find them an appropriate secondary school place or to ensure a smooth progression to third level in September.
“So too will it be necessary for a bespoke measure of supports for Ukrainian children with disabilities or with additional educational needs. The Minister must work with the NCSE to ensure that access to appropriate class places including within ASD units or special schools are made available, as well as the support of SNAs if necessary.
“I have written to the Minister asking that she examine these steps, and will work with her to ensure that all of the educational supports necessary are provided to Ukrainian families arriving here in Ireland.”