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Calls to introduce ‘catch up’ scheme for children who didn’t return to school

Labour spokesperson on children Senator Ivana Bacik has urged the Government to implement a ‘Catch Up for Children’ scheme to provide supports for vulnerable children who may not have returned to school as a result of Covid-19.

Senator Bacik said: “There was a huge sense of joy and relief when all schools reopened this month.

“However, unfortunately this feeling was not shared equally.

“It is deeply worrying to see reports that 4,500 children did not return to the classroom when schools reopened following Covid closures.”

It is reported that 57% of these children did not return for Covid-19 related reasons, while others may have chosen to go on to further education or to begin working.

“My colleague and Labour’s Education Spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has repeatedly highlighted the disproportionate impact that prolonged school closures would have on vulnerable and disadvantaged children, and unfortunately it seems this has come to pass.

“An analysis must be undertaken urgently to assess the damage caused by school closures.

“The lives of our children and young people have been severely and disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and time is of the essence if we are to reverse this effect,” she said.

“The Government must act quickly to identify where is the most acute need for supports.

“In order to address the needs in particular of those children who are still not able to go back to school, the Government needs to set up a dedicated ‘Catch Up for Children’ fund.

“We estimate that €100 million in funding should be put in place to target recovery in lost learning, focusing on one to one and small group tutoring programmes, as well as supporting the return to school and development for disadvantaged children in early years settings and summer provision for those pupils who need it the most. G

“Given the figures reported in the Irish Times this morning, it’s clear that a range of high-quality targeted online resources are also still required to reach out to children who are unable to return to the classroom due to Covid-19 concerns.”

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