Root and branch review of ‘July Provision’ needed

Inclusion Ireland said today that the Government’s enhanced Summer Programme for children with additional educational needs will not serve the needs of many children amid low take-up among schools, difficulty for parents in sourcing home tutors, and the exclusion of children with mild intellectual disabilities in mainstream education from the scheme. Yet again, the Department delayed announcing the details of the Summer Programme until mid May, which has impacted on time for school planning and parent’s ability to source tutors.

Speaking following a meeting with the Department of Education, Lorraine Dempsey, interim CEO, Inclusion Ireland, said that progress on the issue had been extremely disappointing, that the Government and Department must redouble their engagement with the education sector to overcome the barriers holding back the scheme this year, and a complete review of July Provision was needed going forward.

“We’re extremely disappointed with progress on the Summer Programme for children with additional educational needs, and the scheme as it is, does little to ensure that children with mild intellectual disabilities and those with the highest support needs can benefit, unless something radical changes. We’ve heard reports of extremely low take-up among schools, real difficulties among parents in sourcing home-based tutors, the exclusion of children with mild intellectual disabilities in mainstream education, and, most worryingly, anecdotal evidence of the exclusion of children with high support needs from the scheme by schools and tutors.

“Children with additional needs have really lost out again this year, and it’s vital that the Department makes every effort to ensure the success of this scheme, which provides additional support to our most vulnerable students. They must leave no stone unturned to facilitate the uptake by schools and home tutors.

“In the longer term, we need a root and branch review of July Provision and the Summer Programme, because these issues are arising year after year, time and again and they need to be systematically addressed. We need to see long term planning for our children’s education, and avoid schemes being developed and announced last minute, like this year.

“Ultimately, it’s children with additional educational needs and their families who are suffering here. It is absolutely incumbent on the Department that 2021 is the last year we see this scramble around the provision of additional summer education services.”

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