Posted by SchoolDays Newshound, on 22/09/2023. Tags: Teachers
Minister for Education Norma Foley TD and Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan TD have today ( 21 September 2023) published 2 reports on the data received from Tusla Education Support Services on the use of reduced school days (RSD) since the guidelines were introduced on January 1st 2022.
There is a commitment in the Programme for Government to “Ensure robust data collection on the use of reduced timetables. Ensure that reduced timetables are only used in a manner that is limited, appropriate and absolutely necessary in line with the Department of Education’s rules.”
In September 2021 the Department published guidelines for schools on the use of reduced school days. An information note specifically designed for parents and guardians has also been published. The purpose of these guidelines is to provide clarity to school authorities and parents and guardians on the use of reduced school days and to ensure that this practice is limited to only those circumstances where it is deemed absolutely necessary.
The guidelines came into effect from 1 January 2022. From that date, schools must inform Tusla Education Support Service when they use reduced school days for any student. Where schools apply a reduced school day, such arrangements should only be put in place with the consent of the parent or guardian. It is recognised that, in certain situations, the use of reduced school days is a positive intervention with a view to assisting a student to return to full time attendance and that in some instances parents may request a RSD to support their child to return to full time attendance.
These reports are the first to be published in relation to data gathered since the guidelines came into effect in January 2022. The reports can be found at the following link Reduced School Day Reports
Minister Foley said:
"I am now pleased to be in a position to publish the data on the use of reduced school days since the guidelines were introduced. This is the first time a report on reduced school days notifications has being published and it is the first step in ensuring reduced school days are used only as intended, as an exceptional measure, in exceptional circumstances, and that the focus is always on return to full-time schooling as quickly as possible.
"Feedback from schools indicates that implementing a reduced school day can have a very positive effect on a student. It supports the student to attend school in a measured way and allows for a gradual return to a full school day but in a manner that is tailored specifically to the students individual needs.
"Schools are demonstrating flexibility with students, careful to pace expectations, not to overwhelm the learners and to progressively re-integrate them.
"The parents are also to be acknowledged and commended. They have shown a willingness to engage with schools and work in partnership to support their child’s education.
"The data gathered in these reports will also help to inform the Traveller and Roma Education Strategy that is currently being developed and will provide further insight into supporting Traveller and Roma students in their education journey. I am also pleased to publish the information videos for parents and guardians, which include specific information by members of the Traveller community for the members of the Traveller community.
The reports will shape the policy development in this area. I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this report and acknowledge the continued work on reduced school days."
Minister Madigan said:
"The Department of Education is working closely with Tusla Education Support Service and the National Council for Special Education to ensure that all students are supported to the greatest extent possible, to attend for the full school day. The data contained in this report will be instrumental in informing the development of future policy in this area.
"We are committed to supporting all children with special educational needs to reach their potential. In 2023, the special education budget will be substantially increased by almost ten per cent, with a total spend on supporting students with special educational needs of over €2.6 billion.
"We have put in place extensive new measures to support students with special educational needs, with additional teaching, SNA and support resources. In 2023 there are 686 new teacher posts, both providing additional supports for students attending mainstream classes and €12 million has been allocated for additional teachers, which will provide 686 new teacher posts, as follows; 206 of the new posts will provide additional support for children attending mainstream classes. We will open 370 new special classes providing over 2,200 new places in 2023 and 250 new special school places.
"Additional funding for the National Council for Special Education will enable it to provide additional support to students with special educational needs and their families. An additional 121 frontline and administrative posts to support families will be recruited. This commitment will rise to a €13 million investment in a full year. This reflects the government’s strong commitment to ensuring children and young people with special educational needs receive the support they need to participate fully in education."
The guidelines give direction to school authorities on the process to be followed where the use of reduced school days is under consideration for a pupil.
The guidelines are underpinned by the following principles:the use of reduced school days is limited to only those circumstances where it is absolutely necessarythe consent of the parent/guardian (or in the case of a student who has reached 18 years of age, the student) is required prior to implementation of a reduced daya reduced school day should last only as long as is necessary to facilitate a return to school on a full-time basis.
In order to assist parents, video resources with advice have also been published and are available here:Parents Video Traveller Parent Video
Tusla Education Support Services (TESS) provides support and guidance to both parents and schools in relation to the use of a reduced school day and the Educational Welfare Service works in conjunction with relevant agencies, including the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), where necessary, to support students to return to school.
The Department of Education continues to work closely with schools, TESS and the NCSE to ensure that schools are supported to meet the needs of all students and that reduced school days are used as an exceptional measure, and in the best interests of the child or young person.Information for schools on the Guidelines on Reduced School Days