For Written Answer on : 25/05/2023
Question Number(s): 153 Question Reference(s): 25412/23
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Education if she has given consideration to allowing childcare providers to offer a service for the Summer Programme 2023, especially in areas where no such service is currently being offered and where there is definite demand; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
The Department recently announced details of the 2023 Summer Programme on 9 February 2023. All schools, once again, have an opportunity to run a programme for those children for whom the support would be most beneficial. The main priority in 2023 continues to be those children with the most complex special educational needs, especially in special schools, should have access to a school-based summer programme.
The central theme for this year’s programme is, ‘Building Confidence and Connections’. The primary aim of this theme is to help our children and young people to realise their potential, to be resilient in dealing with the normal stresses of their lives, to take care of their physical wellbeing and to have a sense of purpose, connection and belonging to their school community.
The terms for the 2023 programme are being implemented following a comprehensive review and engagement with education partners and stakeholders since last summer, including the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Autism. The Department has listened to the feedback and designed this year’s programme to encourage even more participation by schools and staff.
This year’s school based programme is open to pupils enrolled in special schools, special classes, pupils who have complex special educational needs in mainstream classes and those who are most at risk of educational disadvantage.
Schools are given flexibility to engage staff that are not currently employed in their schools to support their summer programme. A portal is available for teachers and SNAs to register their interest in working on a school based programme in a special school. This portal is currently live on www.educationposts.ie. An advertisement campaign aimed at recruiting student teachers and students in relevant disciplines such as therapy, social care and nursing and others, including early childcare workers and carers, for the role of SNA is currently being promoted in Third Level Colleges. These students will also be able to register their interest in working on this year’s Programme on www.educationposts.ie.
This year’s Home-based programme will also be available for pupils with complex special educational needs where their school is not running a Summer Programme or a place on a school-based programme is unavailable. Full details of the Home Based Summer Programme can be found at www.gov.ie/summerprogramme. All schools have been emailed directly with full details.
The Department is also promoting the Private Group Provider element of the Home based programme where groups and organisations can seek funding to provide programmes, with staffing profiles similar to special classes, and these can support children with more complex needs. The Department is currently engaged with a number of interested groups to develop this service in different parts of the country where it is needed. Private providers, such as childcare providers, will be required to be in compliance with the published terms and conditions for Private Group Provider Arrangements. These terms and conditions are available on www.gov.ie/summerprogramme.
Lastly, a Department helpline is available at 09064 84292 to address any specific queries regarding this year’s Summer Programme. Alternatively queries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com as appropriate.