Children in special needs education could return to school next week.
Following a meeting with primary and special education stakeholders this morning, The Government said all parties are now behind the reopening of special education
Classes are expected to reopen on a phased basis from next Thursday.
In a statement, the Education Minister Norma Foley said: “All parties share my objective to work together so that children with special educational needs, who find it very hard to engage with remote or online learning, receive some face-to-face education in schools before a fuller reopening is possible.
“We are working together towards a phased return for children in special schools and a return to school for those in special classes in primary schools and children with significant additional needs in mainstream classes beginning on January 21st.”
She said department officials are now working with post-primary stakeholders to try and organise a partial return for special needs students in secondary school.
“I very much hope that we can work together to set out a pathway for the return of all children at all levels of schooling at the start of February, subject of course to Government and public health consideration of what constitutes the safe movement of people at that point,” she said.
She said officials are working closely with public health specialists to reassure staff, parents and students that schools are safe.
Following intensive engagement, I am pleased that there is now a commitment to work towards a return to school for students in special schools and primary school special classes - as well as some students with SEN in mainstream primary classes - from the 21st January.
— ⚖️Josepha Madigan TD ✨ (@josephamadigan) January 14, 2021
The Minister of State for Special Education Josepha Madigan said she has worked with families, representative groups and education stakeholders in a bid to secure agreement in recent days.
“There is a positive willingness to be proactive and supportive of our most vulnerable students at this time,” she said.
“I welcome the solution-focused approach that all stakeholders have brought to the ongoing engagement on education provision for children with special educational needs in this period.
“We all have a shared objective of supporting our students with special educational needs and providing them with face-to-face learning in a safe environment as soon as possible.”
She said the “driving concern” of all involved “must continue to be the wellbeing in the fullest sense of the children who rely on specialist provision to receive their education and to progress.”