Explainer: Supplementary Education Programme

What is this? 

The Department of Education, along with relevant education stakeholders, has begun a phased return to in-person learning for children with additional needs, including those on the autism spectrum. 

While many pupils reportedly adapted well to online learning, there is a growing body of evidence which indicates that the absence of school and additional supports have had a disproportionately negative effect on our community’s young people.

The Department is introducing an In-person Supplementary Programme over the next two months. It seeks to enhance remote learning experiences during the school closure period.


How does this affect my child and I?

As this Programme is intended to supplement, and not replace, remote teaching provided by the pupil’s school, the Programme will be delivered outside of the normal school day hours.

It may be provided by a teacher or SNA in a pupil’s home during evening and weekend hours. The support will build on the learning taking place as part of the remote learning provisions provided by the school. 


How long will this Programme last?

A maximum of five hours per week home-based tuition or care support will be available to eligible pupils for a four week period.

The Programme will begin on February 11th. It can be used by families at any time up until the end of April.


Banking unused hours 

To give parents every chance to participate in this scheme, the Department will allow parents to arrange for the delivery of any unused balance of the 20 hours of support during the Easter break. 

All hours must be used by Friday 30 April and completed claim forms must be submitted to the department by close of business on Friday 14 May. 


Who eligible for this Programme?

Those eligible include:

•   Pupils enrolled in special schools or special classes at primary level. 

•   Pupils in mainstream schools who are accessing the highest level of in school supports (School support Plus or For a Few). This includes autistic pupils, those with Down Syndrome, sensory impairments or other disabilities).

•   Pupils who were eligible for the 2020 July Provision Scheme.

•   Schools also have the flexibility to identify their own pupils who need the highest level of support at any given time. This will ensure that those presenting with exceptional needs due to school closures can also participate.


What does the in-person support look like?

The in-person support is intended to enhance the remote learning experiences of pupils with special educational needs. Home-based support will be provided on a 1:1 basis. 

The aims of the in-person supplementary programme are to:

•   Provide a foundation for addressing and limiting regression.

•   Support families and provide respite, where appropriate.

•   Support a pupil’s physical, social and emotional wellbeing.

•   Provide pupils and families with the practical and technological skills they may need to communicate with schools and engage with remote learning.

The Programme will promote resilience whilst also addressing regression, as pupils begin re-engaging with in-person learning.


What’s the school’s role in all of this?

School authorities have been asked to identify eligible pupils and bring the Programme to the attention of families and staff. Schools are also asked to contact teachers and SNAs in order to make sure of their availability to provide support during the Programme. 

Principals need to confirm their staff’s availability, check families’ requests and allocate on an appropriate basis. All relevant online learning, student support and care plans should be shared between school management, teachers and SNAs throughout the Programme. 


How can I apply for my child?

Step 1: Eligibility and sourcing support 

Schools will contact eligible children’s families and provide them with a Grant Claim Form. Part 1 must be completed, which will establish their child’s eligibility.

Families will then be asked, with assistance from the school, to identify and secure either a teacher’s or an SNA’s services. If families can’t find neither a teacher nor an SNA through their school, they can 

For information on sourcing a teacher or SNA where parents cannot source support through schools, check out this list from the NCSE


Step 2: Engagement and child protection

Parents must complete Part 2 of the Grant Claim form in full with their details and child’s details.

The decision to engage with the teacher/ SNA and the hours of delivery will be a matter of agreement between parents and teacher/ SNA. The application form asks families to confirm their child’s teacher’s or SNA’s relevant qualifications and child protection requirements. 

The selected teacher/ SNA is then required to complete their details in Part 2 of the Form. 


Step 3: Submitting claim form for payment

The timetable of the teaching/ care support should be completed as provision occurs. Following the Programme’s completion, families and the teacher/SNA must complete the Section 3 declaration of the Form. They must then return the Form to the Department of Education to allow for the payment’s processing. 

The Department is currently finalising the Programme’s logistics. Payments will issue as soon as possible once the Programme has been completed. Further information will be provided on this issue in due course from the Department.


What are families’ and parents’ roles?

Families and parents should provide their children’s most recent educational support plans to the teacher/ SNA. This is to enable the planning of future content and approaches for the Programme. 

Parents should also engage with teachers regarding:

•   Identifying their children’s strengths, interests and needs, and in setting learning objectives.

•   Planning for transitions and routines.

•   Selecting activities and teaching approaches.


What’s next?

For queries regarding eligibility for the scheme, you should contact your child’s school principal.

If you are unable to source the information you require in the scheme’s published information, you can email supplementaryprogramme@education.gov.ie

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