The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD has today (Friday, 5 June 2020) confirmed that a Summer Education Programme will take place for children with significant special educational needs and those at greatest risk of educational disadvantage.

“I am delighted that in the coming days we can give schools and parents a green light for children to participate in a summer programme,” Minister McHugh said.

“It will be a stepping stone to help some young people ahead of the next school year and it is in line with public health guidance.

“The programme will help children to renew relationships, routines and connections with school and with learning and help to support ongoing social development and wellbeing.

“It gives us an opportunity to provide a vital additional support for some of the children with significant special educational needs and those who have been at risk of educational disadvantage since schools closed in March.”

Further engagement with the school sector will take place as proposals are finalised over the coming week.

Minister McHugh said: “The programme would be reliant on schools, teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) choosing to participate. Everyone deeply appreciates the efforts that have gone in to education and maintaining connections and bonds with schools since March 12.

“Teachers and SNAs have worked harder than ever since schools closed 12 weeks ago in order to support our young people. We are grateful for their work. And I know they will try to do whatever they can to support this Summer Programme.

“We now want to work towards a new level of engagement. The focus will be on students and young people with complex needs – including those who live with significant behavioural, social, emotional and sensory difficulties. It will be similar to the July Provision of previous years and children with Down syndrome will be included as part of our plans for this summer.”