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(Ireland) Increasingly Irish children on reduced school hours for behavioral issues

Updated: Nov 21, 2018

Nov 16, 2018, Irish Times: Children on reduced timetables ‘denied education’ https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/children-on-reduced-timetables-denied-education-1.3699181 Children – many of them disadvantaged – are being “denied their education” by being placed on reduced timetables at school, usually for behavioural issues, according to June Tinsley, head of advocacy with Barnardos. The measure entails a school allowing the affected child attend school for a few hours or less per day. Though such a reduced timetable should “not be used” to manage behaviour according to the Department of Education and should be used only with parents’ consent, The Irish Times has established it is being used widely to manage behaviour, and at times without parents’ consent. … A youth worker in Finglas and Ballymun, Dublin who did not wish to be named as he works for a State-funded charity, said it was “endemic”. “On our project, a random sample of 50 young people up from one area might have 20 per cent on reduced timetables. Schools use this as a behavioural management response and it is usually a step towards permanent exclusion. The most challenging young people can be put on reduced timetables as early as October of first year, and although there is supposed to be a plan to return them to full time, it rarely happens.” The Irish Times is aware of families across Dublin and in Limerick, Offaly, Kerry, Wexford and Westmeath where children are being denied access to full school days and parents feel powerless to challenge it. … Barnardos has raised the issue with the department, while the Irish Traveller Movement, which says “reduced timetables have been raised by parents many times this year”, has raised it with Minister for Equality, David Stanton. A spokeswoman for Tusla said: “There is no provision in Irish education law for the implementation of reduced timetables. All children should attend school for the full day unless exempt on such grounds as medical reasons. Our understanding is that the reduced timetable practice is not widespread. However, our remit does not cover collecting data.” A Department of Education spokesman said: “This data is not collected by the department. Placing a child on a reduced timetable without the parent’s consent is considered a form of suspension. . . All pupils enrolled to a school should attend school for the full day, unless exempted for exceptional circumstances . . . Reduced timetables should not be used as a behavioural management technique.” The Teachers Union of Ireland said reduced timetables were “only considered as a last resort if the safety and well-being” of others were at risk. “However, this is another clear example that in many cases schools simply do not have the resources to offer a service that meets the needs of all children.” …