Teaching solutions needed now for children with special needs
8 January 2021
Spokesperson on Education, Enterprise and Trade
- Engagement with representative bodies an immediate priority.
- Vaccination schedule for school workers and special needs students essential.
- Doubling of July Provision must be considered.
Labour Education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has called on the Minister for Education to use the weekend to progress teaching solutions for children with additional and special needs.
Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:
"What we need now are solutions to provide some in-school teaching or at home support to children with additional needs. The Minister needs to engage comprehensively with unions, and representative groups to find a way forward with proactive solutions. I understand a meeting will happen on Monday, but I would urge her to ensure the weekend isn't wasted, and is used to proactively find a way forward..
"Parents desperately need help and support, and we clearly heard their voices today that solutions must be found. It was clear that allowing some children return to schools on Monday wasn't going to work due to a failure to plan and consult on how it would work. The failure to put in place contingency plans over the last ten months for this scenario was an avoidable disaster but over the coming days I would urge the Minister and the Department to now actively progress solutions.
"Vaccination is part of the answer here and if supplies can be made available, then teachers, support staff and children with special needs will need to be prioritised on the vaccination schedule. This would avoid prolonged periods outside of the classroom.
"We also need to look at extended July Provision, and also in September a commitment to a post-Covid investment in this area to recognise the long term damage this will have. Whether home tuition is also a viable and safe option must also be examined."