The Government is planning “summer school” for thousands of Ukrainian students, as well as vulnerable Irish pupils with additional needs and those living in disadvantaged areas.
Minister for Education Norma Foley is expected to seek Cabinet approval for the €40 million plan on Tuesday, which will be available to about 48,000 students.
The two-week summer programme will include English language classes for Ukrainian students as well as numeracy and literacy camps in Deis (or disadvantaged) schools and supports for children with additional needs.
The summer programme has expanded significantly in recent years as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Last year, for example, 38,000 pupils participated across both home and school-based elements, an increase of 65 per cent on participation in the 2020 programme.
Secondary schools were included in the summer programme for the first time in 2020 and the number of schools participating climbed by almost 40 per cent in 2021.
Officials hope that increased awareness of the programme will see a further increase in the number of schools prepared to participate this year.
Some principals say they are frustrated that more time has not been provided to determine whether enough teachers and special needs assistants are available to run programmes in their schools.
However, it is understood that “enhanced measures” are being put in place to encourage participation of schools, including reducing red-tape and earlier payment of school staff and tutors. Eligible staff will include final-year student teachers and student teachers registered with the Teaching Council.
Ms Foley and Minister of State for special education Josepha Madigan are expected to formally announce on Wednesday that this year’s summer programme will have a number of key strands: numeracy and literacy camps in Deis primary schools; school-based programmes in primary schools with special classes and special schools; home-based provision for children with complex needs where no school programme is available.
All primary schools (including Deis schools) will be invited to provide a two-week programme for mainstream pupils with complex needs and those at greatest risk of educational disadvantage, In addition, all secondary schools (including Deis schools) will have the opportunity to provide a two-week programme for mainstream students with complex needs and those at greatest risk of educational disadvantage.
The programme will also offer an opportunity for schools to provide for the needs of migrant students, such as addressing English language skills and integration, including those who have recently arrived from Ukraine.
The origins of the summer programme, formerly known as July provision, were to provide an extended school year for children with a severe or profound general learning disability or children with autism. The aim was to reduce potential regression in learning associated with these categories of special education needs over the summer holidays.