January 7, 2021
Minister for Education must now go back to the discussion table and put together a proper plan – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has said that the Minister for Education must go back to the drawing board with her plan for Leaving Cert students to return to school.

Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:

“The government’s plan to reopen schools for Leaving Cert students next week is in tatters.

“There should have always been a Plan B if schools had to close, but the government thought differently. Instead we had a plan cobbled together yesterday, which has now collapsed before its eyes.

“The Minister for Education now needs to take the next week to consult properly and to work out a better plan for the tuition of Leaving Cert students. 

“I note too that special schools and units will not now open either. Teachers and other school staff have very reasonable concerns about Covid-19 and their unions weren’t consulted. The government tried to bounce them and it hasn’t been demonstrated that their school environment – their workplace – can be made safe.

“However, I am very conscious of the impact that the last lockdown had on children with special educational needs. The regression was huge, they lost out on so much and their families were put under severe pressure. They were among the greatest victims of the last lowdown. I know that children with special educational needs and their parents are likely to be very disappointed at the government’s failure to plan properly here.

“For me, they should be educational priority number one and they should be the first back in when it is safe to do so.

“I would hope that children with special educational needs can get some form of in-class learning as soon as possible but clearly it needs to be in a manner that is safe, and has the support of workers, as well as families.

“I hope that over the coming days that there can be intensive negotiations between unions and the Department of Education, to see what is possible and when is it possible.

“This needs to be truly collaborative, involving unions, parents, students, management bodies and opposition. The government cannot try to bounce people again.”

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