Posted by Schooldays Newshound, on 23/09/2019. Tags: Teachers Education
The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. has today (Monday 23 September) announced that schools will be required to give formal notification of the use of reduced timetables.
Minister McHugh is seeking the views of education partners on proposed guidelines for the notifications.
Following consultation over recent months between officials from the Department of Education and Skills, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) and TUSLA Educational Welfare Service, arrangements to facilitate the notification and monitoring of reduced timetables have been agreed.
Proposed guidelines have been drafted to provide clarity to schools around reduced timetables and to set out the procedures to be followed by schools where such an option is being considered and used. The aim is to ensure that the use of reduced timetables is limited solely to those circumstances where it is absolutely necessary.
The draft guidelines are underpinned by the principles that a reduced timetable should not be used as a sanction or as a behavioural management tool; that it should be applied proportionately and should last only as long as is necessary to facilitate a return to school on a full-time basis.
The following proposals have been included:Schools will be required to notify TUSLA Educational Welfare Service when a reduced timetable is being put in place.
A rationale for the use of a reduced timetable should be included in the report to TUSLA.
The consent of parents or guardians will be required for the use of a reduced timetable.
A school must set out a plan of action for the child’s full re-integration to the full-time school day.
TUSLA Educational Welfare Service will use the notifications to record and monitor the use of reduced timetables.
The Department of Education and Skills will continue to work closely with TUSLA Educational Welfare Service and where appropriate with the National Council for Special Education to ensure that, in the very limited number of cases a reduced timetable is deemed necessary, such measures will be used for only time-limited periods.
If parents have concerns about the use by a school of a reduced timetable for their child they can contact their local Educational Welfare Officer, who will advise them on the most appropriate approach.
In announcing this invitation for education stakeholders to give their views on the proposed guidelines, Minister McHugh said: “Inclusion is central to this Government’s education policy and it is essential that all pupils who are enrolled in a school should attend for the full day unless in exceptional circumstances.
“A reduced timetable is not in any way a standard aspect of a child’s experience of school and must not be allowed to become such; it should be an exceptional measure.
“It has to be accepted that in some cases it may be necessary to use a reduced timetable, for example, as a means of assisting the reintegration of a pupil to a school routine, but such arrangements must only be adopted in limited and time-bound circumstances.
“The best interests of the child, their education and their development, should be paramount in any decision making by schools.”
The finalised guidelines will apply to all recognised schools.
The Minister added: “I would greatly appreciate the opinions of the education stakeholders prior to publication of the finalised guidelines.”
The Department is inviting observations from education stakeholders until 18 October 2019.