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Guidance for schools in relation to making up for time lost due to unforeseen closures

- issued by Department of Education 26th January 2011

The Department has consulted with the relevant education partners in relation to the options for making up for time lost due to the recent adverse weather conditions.

The Department’s position is that schools should make all reasonable efforts to make up for lost time due to unforeseen school closures. The severity and impact of the recent weather conditions varied countrywide and from school to school. For that reason it is each individual school authority that must assess the actual impact on teaching and learning in the school concerned. Having consulted with the school community, the final decision in relation to how to make up for lost time is a matter for each individual Board of Management/VEC. Guidance in relation to how Boards of Management/VECs should approach the matter and ultimately determine how to make up for lost time is set out below.

Guidance for Boards of Management/VECs in relation to making up for time lost due to the recent adverse weather conditions during the remainder of the current school year

    1. The Board of Management/VEC should, in the first instance, quantify the number of school closures that have occurred.

    2. The Board of Management/VEC should, in consultation with the Principal and teachers, assess the effect of the loss of tuition and identify any shortfalls that have occurred as a result of the unforeseen closures.

    3. The Board of Management/VEC should consult with the Principal and teachers with a view to ensuring that the curriculum for each class/year group can be completed before year end. Subject to consensus at local level, any changes to normal practice that can be made to facilitate such work should be put in place. A non exhaustive list of possible examples of how this might be achieved include:

      • Prioritising tuition over other non-tuition activities
        • Reducing where possible the length of mock/house examinations
          • Consideration of whether learning in the classroom should be prioritised over school tours etc.
            • In the case of second level schools ensuring examination classes attend all classes to the end of May

          4. If necessary, the Board of Management/VEC should review the school calendar with a view to identifying any discretionary days or half days that the school had planned to close that could be made available to make up the loss. In this regard, the Board of Management should take into account the need to provide adequate notice of any changes to the school calendar to pupils, parents and staff.

          5. In cases where a school has been affected by extensive or prolonged school closures and where the Board of Management/VEC considers that the above measures will not adequately address the loss in tuition involved, the Board of Management/VEC may, subject to consensus at local level and having established what arrangements forschool transport may or may not be feasible if other schools are remaining closed, identify and utilise any such other days that it considers appropriate and necessary to address the shortfalls.

          6. The Board of Management/VEC should consider the implications of any measures identified for pupils, teachers, parents and other staff and also other parties such as school transport, bus escorts, traffic wardens, visitors to the school etc.

          7. The Board of Management/VEC should consult and communicate with the school community as early as possible on this matter.

        Standardised school year 2011/2012 onwards
        It is recognised that there is a need to consider how to include greater flexibility and to provide for contingency arrangements within the standardised school year to deal with unforeseen school closures. The detailed arrangements will be dealt with in the context of the recently commenced discussions with the relevant education partners on the standardised school years for 2011/2012 onwards. The position was due for review in any event as this is the last year of the current agreed timetables.

        Source: Education.ie


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