Expanded Summer Provision for children with complex needs confirmed

Galway Daily classroom summer provision
The government has confirmed that the July Provision has been expanded for children and young people with complex needs – who will be able to benefit from school-based education this summer.

There had been concerns raised about whether the programme would go ahead in recent weeks and months during the COVID-19 emergency, but the Department of Education has today confirmed the details of the ‘Summer Provision’ scheme.

The programmes will run for a minimum of two weeks, and a maximum of four weeks, between July and August – and they will provide children with an opportunity to continue or re-engage with learning, at school or at home.

Special schools and schools with special classes will be sent information on how to take part and participation is voluntary – schools may choose whether to participate.

DEIS schools are also being offered the chance to run educational summer camps on literacy and numeracy, wellbeing and re-engagement with school – and in addition, the HSE aims to provide summer camp type supports to up to 1,200 children with complex needs.

East Galway TD Ciarán Cannon said that this is positive news for many families in Galway.

“Traditionally known as July Provision, summer education has been hugely important to children with special needs in Galway,” he said.

Minister Cannon said that throughout the pandemic, the Government has consistently acknowledged the additional challenges faced by children with special needs at this time.

“I know many families here locally who were concerned at their children missing out on school.

“So I am really pleased to see the Government follow through on the commitment to do something for this vulnerable group of students who rely so much on their annual summer programme,” said Minister Cannon.

Children with special needs will benefit from Summer Provision this year, including those with severe and profound and moderate needs, to those with autism, Down syndrome, and those with severe visual or hearing impairment.

Teachers and special needs assistants are being given the opportunity to offer provision in-school or in the home.

“I am informed that if possible, school transport will be provided to support the programme where appropriate. The Government is also finalising plans to provide the Schools Meals Programme for schools taking part in Summer Provision 2020.

“I encourage anyone who wishes to register their child for Summer Provision to do so via the dedicated online registration system for families of children with special needs, at gov.ie/summerprovision,” Minister Cannon added.

Summer Provision 2020 will involve three strands with different options for parents, students and schools.

  • The first is in-school or home-based supports by teachers and SNAs to help prevent regression among children with special needs.
  • The second is an opportunity for all 890 DEIS schools to provide summer camps, including a numeracy and literacy programme for primary pupils and a programme of re-engagement for post-primary students.
  • The third is Health Service Executive-led. It will aim to provide summer camp type supports to up to 1,200 children with complex needs.

The following children with special needs will be eligible for the first strand of the Summer Provision as part of in-school and home-based programmes:

  • Students with autism or severe and profound learning difficulties.
  • Children in special classes in primary schools and special schools
  • Children transitioning from early years into a special class in primary school or special school.
  • Primary pupils in mainstream classes who present with Down syndrome, students who are deaf or most severe hard of hearing, students who are blind or have most severe visual impairment, children with a moderate general learning disability or those diagnosed with a severe emotional behavioural difficulty.

Minister Joe McHugh said: “As a Government we are determined to support families who have felt the deepest impact from the closure of schools. Summer Provision 2020 is a significant expansion of support for the children and families who are most in need.

“The aim is to help address the concerns that families are feeling over the loss of in-school time and learning for children with special needs and those at greatest risk of disadvantage.

“Teachers and schools have made huge efforts in the last three months. In no time at all, they have taken massive strides on remote learning and striving to make sure no child is left behind. They deserve enormous credit for that.

“I hope many schools, teachers and SNAs feel they can get involved in Summer Provision, in the knowledge that the Department will provide all necessary assistance and support.”