Influx of Ukrainian children poses huge challenges to school system, says ASTI

Integrating thousands of Ukrainian children into Irish schools will present challenges on a scale the education system has never seen before, said ASTI General Secretary Kieran Christie.

Mr Christie told delegates attending the union’s first in-person annual convention in three years that the crisis in Ukraine and its impact on the Irish education system was evolving daily.

“ASTI, as a participant in a stakeholder group that was convened to plan for such a scenario, sought to ensure that the impacts on an already heavily oversubscribed and underfunded system would be addressed,” he said. he said at the meeting in Cork.

“We are asking for provisions to overcome language barriers, the need for educational social support services, critical incidents, trauma and wider support and many other necessary resources.”

Mr Christie acknowledged that regional education support teams have been set up to seek to match services and streamline the offer, but there is no doubt that managing the situation will be a huge pressure. in the period to come”.

Earlier, Education Minister Norma Foley promised that the government would provide the necessary resources to primary and secondary schools to enable them to cope with the influx of thousands of Ukrainian children expected after the Easter holidays.

Generosity

“We already have quite a large number of Ukrainian students in our schools. I would like to recognize and salute the generosity of the schools that have made available places, capacities and spaces to accommodate these students,” she said, adding that more than 260 primary schools had already requested overtime. or additional teaching positions.

“We have over 2,000 pupils in primary school and we have almost 1,800 at secondary level, but there will be many more after Easter.”

Ms Foley said Regional Education and Language Teams (REALT) under the Education and Training Board (ETB) have been set up to ensure pupils will have a place in a school.

“We are aware that we have a large capacity in some places and less in others. The REALT teams will therefore work there. We have made available important resources in terms of (the) English language

“And we are now going with the Department of Further and Higher Education to put in place a new system for English as an additional language where we have tutors made available to post-primary students and also adults in their families – almost a community – family-wide initiative to make sure the language is available.

“There is an intergovernmental vision here – (we are) determined to provide and put in place the necessary resources to meet the needs of Ukrainian families and students.

“We at the Department of Education will be sure to provide the (necessary) financial resources – but also recognize that there is extraordinary goodwill on the ground from staff, students and entire communities to ensure that a (school) place is made available.”

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