PRESS RELEASE Children’s Rights Alliance calls for National Educational Disadvantage Plan to close gap for disadvantaged children and young people

Published date: 
22 Jul 2020


Children’s Rights Alliance calls for National Educational Disadvantage Plan to close gap for disadvantaged children and young people

Today (22.07.2020), a new study on the impact of Covid-19 on young people shows that the most vulnerable will be those most affected. Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic for Policy in Relation to Children and Young People’ Report was produced by the ESRI and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and draws on existing Irish research into the short -term and long-term impacts of the global health crisis on our children and young people.

Speaking on the key findings in the report today, Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance said, “This research solidifies the issues and concerns our members have been raising for months. The public health crisis we are going through raises new challenges. The Government is about to launch an economic stimulus package which is very welcome. However, the ESRI research shows that we are facing an ever-widening gap between children and young people in this country. There are now high levels of disengagement from education by disadvantaged young people. High levels of drop out. High levels of youth unemployment and many children with disabilities suffering with learning and developmental loss because of day care and school closures. 

We urgently need a National Plan to Tackle the Educational Needs of Children and Young People due to Covid19. The formal and non-formal education sectors have a key role to play in closing the gap and addressing the social and emotional needs of children and young people. The new Government is well-placed to lead such a plan and investing in innovative education supports, universal youth services and therapeutic supports will be key.”

The study focuses on four main domains:
• Family and peer relationships;
• Formal and informal learning;
• Physical and mental health and wellbeing; and
• Transitions to further/higher education, training and the youth labour market.

What this pandemic has also exposed are the inequalities that existed in Irish society long before Covid-19 hit. These inequalities are worsening as we grapple with this virus and they will only continue to widen if the Government does not respond. This could result in many young people disengaging from education with long term implications for their future, in the labour market and in society more generally. Short term measures and immediate responses were required at the start of this pandemic, but long-term policy solutions are needed to address the lasting impact these inequalities will have on our young people, especially more marginalised groups such as children from disadvantaged backgrounds, children with special educational needs and migrants and refugees,Tanya Ward concluded.

Key findings:
• School closures and the move to online learning will have the greatest impact on disadvantaged families and their children. Schools need to put measures in place to counter the negative impact for learners, families and teachers, especially for those in the most marginalised groups (those most disadvantaged in terms of social class, families with children with special educational needs (SEN), migrants, refugees and others) who lack the resources or skills to engage with home schooling. 
• In addition to formal education, learning outside school is also severely affected, with limited options available to young people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
• While the pandemic impacts on the outcomes of all children, the gap between the advantaged and less advantaged is likely to widen as it will be harder for the more vulnerable groups to ‘catch up’.


Contact: Emma Archbold Children’s Rights Alliance, Tel: 01-662 9400 / 0879971410, Email:

Notes to Editor:
Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance is available for interview.
Read the full report here.

About the Children’s Rights Alliance
• Founded in 1995, the Children’s Rights Alliance unites over 100 members working together to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. Further information is available at: or on Twitter, @ChildRightsIRL.
• The Children’s Rights Alliance Helpline is open three days a week, Mondays 10am to 2pm, Wednesdays 2pm to 7pm and Friday 10am to 12 noon. If you have are looking for legal information or advice, please contact us on 01 902 0494 or email