Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, has called on the Minister of State for Special Education, Josepha Madigan TD, to urgently provide detailed guidance to schools on how the Summer Provision programme will run this year.
Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:
“We are in the final weeks of the school year. The Summer Provision Programme begins in 6 weeks or less. It is appalling that schools are still waiting for detailed guidance from the Department of Education on how the programme will work.
“Minister Madigan has put a lot of emphasis this year, on the expansion of the programme, and the large number of participants. That is of course a great aim, but I do not see how this will be achieved if schools do not have sufficient guidance and can’t properly plan.
“When I questioned the Minister last week on the delays in releasing guidance, she assured me that all guidance had been issued, that schools were being properly prepared by the Department.
“However, speaking on the ground with school staff I know that this is simply not the case; schools have been left in the lurch and are still waiting for all of the details on how summer provision will run.
“It is completely disrespectful for school staff, who will be expected to put together a comprehensive summer programme as the Minister has promised to parents and children, within an extremely tight time frame.
“School staff deserve a break too. The fact that the Minister has not yet released all of the guidance that schools need, leads me to think that she expects staff to spend their hard-earned holidays putting in the preparation that will be necessary.
“I am concerned that many schools will ultimately not be in a position to run the programme, despite their best efforts, because they simply haven’t been given the time to plan and prepare. I am worried that many families will end up disappointed as they will not be able to find a place in a school programme for their child.
“The Minister may try and shift the blame onto schools, but the reality is that this will be solely down to the Government’s failure to plan and produce detailed guidelines.
“The Minister has promised a lot to children with special educational needs and their families. I truly hope she can make good on those promises, but to do so, she must stop leaving schools in the dark, provide all of the guidance that schools require to fully prepare, and maximise the number of spaces available for children most at need.”