“The Department of Education itself says reduced timetables should be used only in exceptional circumstances and never as a behavioural management tool.”

Social Democrats Spokeswoman for Children, Councillor Jennifer Whitmore, has backed calls for schools to record and report how often they impose reduced school hours on children.

Cllr Whitmore said she fully supported the call by organisations working with children for the Department of Education and Tusla to collect data from schools on the extent to which they are reducing children’s access to the full school day.

Cllr Whitmore said:

“It is reported today that disadvantaged children’s access to education is being curtailed across the State by schools imposing “reduced timetables” on them, sometimes without the consent of their parents.

“There may be occasions when it is appropriate for children with particular behavioural needs to be given reduced school hours. However, this must be done with the full consent of parents and in the context of what is best practice and what is best for an individual child.

“The Department of Education itself says reduced timetables should be used only in exceptional circumstances and never as a behavioural management tool. We need to know whether a lack of resources for schools to meet the needs of children with challenging behaviour is driving the practice. But the first task is to get to grips with the scale of the practice – and that means obliging schools to report on the extent of their use of it.”

ENDS

16th November 2018