A summer programme for children with special educational needs has been given the green light.
Minister for Education Joe McHugh confirmed that the Summer Education Programme will take place for those at greatest risk of educational disadvantage.
Mr McHugh said it will be a “stepping stone” to help young people ahead of the next school year.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Mr McHugh said that the programme will rely on schools, teachers and Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) choosing to participate.
“We now want to work towards a new level of engagement,” he added.
“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.”
Down Syndrome Ireland’s interim CEO Deirdre Saul welcomed the decision to include children with the condition.
“We are glad that the Minister has listened to our concerns and the concerns of parents of children with Down syndrome and acted,” Ms Saul added.
“All children with Down syndrome have complex learning needs and will need support during the Summer months to prepare for their return to education.
“Some 1,200 more children with Down syndrome will now be eligible for the programme as a result.”