Education Action Plan Needs Government Investment for All Children to Benefit

Published date: 
15 Sep 2016
Education Action Plan Needs Government Investment for All Children to Benefit
Thursday, 15 September 2016: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Children’s Rights Alliance welcomes today’s publication of the Government’s first Action Plan for Education, led by the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD. The plan outlines hundreds of actions between now and 2019, with a particular focus on disadvantage, skills, and continuous improvement within the education service. 
Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, says: “For children, education is the pathway to freedom, choice and fulfilling their unique potential. We welcome this dedicated action plan on education with key targets and timelines. We are pleased that a number of important Children’s Rights Alliance recommendations to the Department have been reflected.”
In particular, the Children’s Rights Alliance welcomes the following actions:
1.      Early-School Leaving:  Currently, certain groups of children fall through the cracks of our education system and get left behind. We welcome that a new DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) Review will be published by the end of 2016 that will seek to improve the educational outcomes for children. It is vital that this has a clear focus on retention rates and that the needs of children with poor educational outcomes are prioritised: Traveller and Roma children, children with disabilities and children with language support needs. The rights of disadvantaged children who do not attend schools within the DEIS scheme must also be considered.
2.       Early Years: The early years of a child’s life are vital to their educational development so the commitment to ensuring a high-quality learning experience for children through the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme is welcome. The plan commits to an increase in the number of local mentors from 15 to 65, to improve the quality of services. While such a step is positive, these posts must support 4,000 early childhood sites to approximately 85,000 children nationally. 
3.    Mental Health and Well-being: Children and young people are experiencing high levels of anxiety around exams but also in their life generally. Schools will be assisted in embedding wellbeing guidelines and the mandatory area of learning on wellbeing to the Junior Cycle. We also welcome that the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) is to be expanded.
4.    Voice of the Child: Children themselves have much to teach us about how to improve the education system. The plan commits to strengthening the role of parents and students including the development of a Parents and Learners Charter to give them a stronger voice at school level. Such a charter should be comprehensive and include information on how to access grievance and complaints procedures in schools. 
Tanya Ward continued: “While the plan to conduct an assessment of Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) is also positive, a broader assessment of the educational outcomes of children with special educational needs is also needed. 
This plan is a good starting point but it needs investment from Government for it to be successful and for all children to fully benefit.”
For further information please contact:
Emma McKinley, Communications and Development Manager
Tel: 01 662 9400 / 087 6559067