AsIAm welcome Expansion of the Summer Provision Programme

AsIAm, Ireland’s National Autism Charity, has today warmly welcomed the announcement by the Government of an expansion of the Summer Provision Programme. This Programme provides additional teaching time to autistic students, and other children with additional needs, during the summer months and is particularly vital in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, where many children with additional needs have lost vital tuition time due to the closure of schools and challenges with remote learning.

 

Responding to the announcement by Minister Norma Foley and Minister Josepha Madigan, AsIAm CEO, Adam Harris, said “We are really pleased to see the government commit to an expanded programme of support for children with additional needs this Summer. This is something which AsIAm has raised repeatedly in recent months as we know that many autistic students have been unable to learn remotely during periods of school closures and consequently have lost vital developmental skills. This Programme is a crucial ingredient in ensuring that the gap in learning and using daily skills is bridged for our young people as they look ahead to a brighter academic year in September.”

 

Traditionally autistic students who attend special schools or primary school special classes can avail of 2-4 weeks of in-school tuition if their school “opts-in”. Alternatively, autistic students, in both primary and secondary school, are eligible to receive 40 hours of home-based tuition, but their parents must find a suitable tutor to deliver the programme. This year, for the first time, all primary and secondary schools can opt to run a programme for students with additional needs in mainstream classes for 2 full weeks in-school. Additional supports have been put in place to encourage and support schools to choose to do this, they can choose to run the programme at any stage during July or August. If a school does not opt-in, the traditional home-based support will still be available to students.

 

“Every year there are many eligible young people who don’t avail of this support because they are unable to find a tutor or do not find home tuition suitable. It is particularly important for all schools to choose to provide the programme and avail of the new supports. This year we must ensure that every child who is entitled to participate is able to and that support takes place in the school environment which provides opportunities to re-acquaint with routine, interact with peers and access the support and expertise needed to re-connect with learning after a very challenging period.” Mr Harris continued.

 

Further details of the summer provision programme are expected to be published in the coming days and AsIAm will support families to navigate the details of the scheme and will have a dedicated portal of information at asiam.ie as it becomes available. “It is critical that the Department provides clear information to families on accessing the programme. We understand that families will be given further information about the programme through their school. This will include finding out whether or not the school will be providing an in-school option and how they can access the relevant application forms. We would urge families to wait to hear from their school before making any plans for the Summer.”

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