JOINT PRESS STATEMENT
RESPONSE TO GOVERNMENT'S NEW COVID LEARNING AND SUPPORT SCHEME (CLASS)
Issued Thursday 9 September 2021
For immediate release
“The Children’s Rights Alliance together with AsIAm, Barnardos, Children’s Books Ireland, Dyslexia Association of Ireland, Inclusion Ireland, Museum of Childhood Ireland, Pavee Point, Society of St. Vincent de Paul and UNICEF Ireland welcome yesterday’s announcement of a further €52.6 million scheme to mitigate the impact to student’ learning and wellbeing of school closures during the Covid-19 pandemic. We believe the CLASS Scheme is a good first step in addressing the challenges the pandemic has presented to children already experiencing disadvantage and those most negatively impacted over the past 18 months.
“We have called for a catch-up scheme of this kind since witnessing the devastating impact of nationwide school closures on our children and young people. The State has a responsibility to make up for the disruption caused to thousands of children and young people during the pandemic. After all, they will be living with the impact of the pandemic for many years to come, so now is the time to forward plan so they can get back on course, gain their confidence, and reach their full potential - not only for the next few months, but well into their futures.
“It is positive that students who were not previously identified as needing support will fall within the scope of the new scheme, due to emerging needs following the impact of the pandemic on their learning. We also welcome the fact that children and young people will be consulted in preparing their school’s CLASS interventions and that they will aim to take account of their individual needs. The sharing of best practice between schools is another positive development.
“While we welcome the announcement and the focus on vulnerable children, CLASS should be viewed as an initial investment for children and young people’s futures. However, a longer-term Roadmap for Educational Reform as part of a child-centred Covid-19 Recovery Plan is needed to address the inequities and negative impact of the pandemic on our children’s learning as well as tackling systemic and pre-existing inequalities in the education system.
“While the CLASS scheme will be an important intervention for some of our most vulnerable children, it is essential that we can see the impact of the interventions by building an evaluation into the provision from the outset. With low take-up of the summer scheme widely reported, Government should consider why this was and take it into account when planning future interventions to ensure the scheme is fit for purpose.
“We know the negative impact that not seeing school friends had on many children and young people so the recognition of wellbeing in the CLASS scheme is more important than ever and schools will need to balance the positive impact of socialisation and learning opportunities.
“Future funding should consider expanding the focus of wellbeing supports beyond teachers by allowing access to additional and appropriate supports from other organisations and professionals in the school community. Any future roadmap should benefit all children and recognise their particular and diverse needs. It should also set out the kind of supports that will be made available for children who have disengaged from the education system and who do not plan to return to school.
“To build on the funding secured through the CLASS scheme, now is the time to consult with children and young people, parents and support organisations to explore creative and sustainable solutions that will make a real difference for children and young people now and in the future.”
Children’s Rights Alliance
Carys Mair Thomas, Children’s Rights Alliance
Tel: +353 1 8605574 (redirected to 24/7 mobile) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Adam Harris, AsIAm Tel: 0871366527
Rachel Boyce, Barnardos Tel: 086 1020361
Lorraine Dempsey, Inclusion Ireland Tel: 0877741917
Caoimhe McCabe, Pavee Point Tel: 0858162351
Rosie Bissett, Dyslexia Association of Ireland Tel: 0868511012
Notes to Editor:
• Spokespeople from each organisation are available upon request.
• More details about CLASS can be found here:
- Circular Letter 0045/2021 Covid Learning and Support Scheme
- Covid-19 Learning and Support Scheme (CLASS) Guidance for Primary and Special Schools
- Covid-19 Learning and Support Scheme (CLASS) Guidance for Post Primary Schools
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Children's Rights Alliance helpline: 01 902 0494
Open Mondays 10am to 2pm, Wednesdays 2pm to 7pm and Friday 10am to 12 noon.
Barnardos Parent Supportline, open to all parents who need support at this time
Mon – Fri: 10am – 2pm
Tel: 01 800 910 123