GUIDELINES ON REDUCED TIMETABLES PUBLISHED -
CHILDREN’S RIGHTS ALLIANCE RESPONSE
Thursday 16 September 2021: For immediate release
“We are delighted to see the Government’s long-promised guidelines on reduced timetables finally published. It has been a long time coming and addresses one of the most serious children’s rights issues in education in Ireland.
“We commend Minister for Education Norma Foley TD and Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan TD for getting these guidelines over the line, and being very clear that the practice should ‘only be used in circumstances where it is absolutely necessary’.
“Alliance members, at a high-level event just two days ago, outlined the growing trend in their misuse, and the disproportionate impact on certain groups of children and young people including Travellers and those with special educational needs. It is significant that the guidelines explicitly state that they should not be used as a way to manage behaviour or to sanction a child.
“This is an important first step in addressing this critical issue and providing a consistent approach. Vitally important is the instruction that they should only be used when it’s in the best interests of the child or young person, rather than prioritising the needs of the school. Requiring they be used as a temporary measure only, with parental consent, and used in conjunction with written plans to reintegrate the child will go some way to ensuring that a child returns to a full school day as soon as possible.
“Importantly, for the first time we’ll have concrete data on how widespread the practice is – as schools will now need to report their use to Tusla. This will help us identify if schools are overusing or misusing the measure.
“But implementation is key, and Government must go one step further and engage with principals, teachers and support staff about what they need to respond to the diverse needs of children and young people. Schools are managing a complex post-Covid19 environment but will education welfare officers have enough staff to enforce these guidelines? Will schools get the right resources and support services?
“Finally we need to see a child-friendly version of the Guidelines published, and children and young people will need to be educated about their rights. Parents will also need a lot of support to be able to challenge any misuse of the practice. Often they can be told that if they don’t consent, the child will be suspended or expelled. And that’s a difficult situation to be in.
“Missing out on school is a serious matter. It takes away so much from children and young people, both in terms of their education and socialisation. We welcome the Government’s clear recognition of every child’s right to education and for providing leadership on this important issue.”
For more information, contact:
Carys Mair Thomas, Children’s Rights Alliance
Ph: +353 1 8605574 (24/7 availability, diverted to mobile)
Note to Editors
• Reduced timetables (also known as Reduced School Days / Reduced Hours / Shortened Day / Shortened Week) = when the length of time a child spends in school is shortened.
• Information on the Guidelines on Reduced School Days can be found here https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/63545-the-use-of-reduced-school-days/
• You can learn more about the Tusla Education Support Service (TESS) here: https://www.tusla.ie/tess/
• Spokespeople available for interview include:
o Tanya Ward, Chief Executive, Children’s Rights Alliance
o Julie Ahern, Legal and Policy Manager, Children’s Rights Alliance
• The Reduced Timetables and Future of Alternative Education event took place just two days ago, online on Tuesday 14 September 2021, between 9.30am -12pm.
• Full details regarding the D- grade for ‘Reduced Timetables’ can be found on p.56 of Report Card 2021: https://www.childrensrights.ie/content/report-card-2021
• You can read more about the queries received through the Helpline and Legal Advice Clinics Alliance Helpline Annual Report 2020, published in July, here: https://www.childrensrights.ie/sites/default/files/Spotlight%20Helpline%...