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(Ireland) Plans: 370 new special classes, 2,200 new places in 2023, 250 new special school places

Sept 22, 2023, School Days: Report published on use of reduced school days

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….

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….

"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 [$13M] 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….


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