Minister for Education Norma Foley TD and Minister of State with responsibility for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan TD have warmly welcomed the decision by Cabinet to widen the eligibility criteria for Summer Provision 2020 to include post-primary students with Down syndrome.

Minister Foley said: “I was pleased to bring this proposal to Cabinet today, and secure this important support for post-primary students with Down syndrome. I am deeply conscious of the additional challenges these students have faced in continuing with learning since the Covid-19 closure of school buildings since March. Providing this additional support is an important step in recognising this difficulty and in preparing these young people for school re-opening and I would like to thank my Cabinet colleagues for their support in this.

“The expanded programme for Summer Provision 2020 for children with complex needs is being provided to approximately 15,000 children, which is about 5,000 more than the traditional July Provision. The programme is made up of a school-based strand and a home-based strand. 4,000 children will be participating in the programme across more than 240 primary schools. It is estimated that an additional 670 children will be covered by today’s decision to expand the eligibility to post-primary students with Down syndrome.”

Minister Madigan said: “I am delighted that this proposal has been accepted; it reflects the feedback I have heard from those working with students with Down syndrome. Summer Provision 2020 is crucial in preparing students with complex needs to return to school in the autumn. It is right that this programme should be open to post-primary school students with Down syndrome also.

“The overall aim of the summer programmes is to prepare children for the reopening of schools in the autumn.  In particular, the programmes help to re-establish relationships between students, build connections, meet emotional needs, and support participation and learning. A summer education programme could provide a vital stepping-stone in rebuilding this connection for students with complex needs before they return to school more fully in the autumn as anticipated.”