150 schools and pre-schools taking part in Pilot, bringing speech and language therapists and occupational therapists into schools and pre-schools
Government focuses on early intervention and tailored supports
The Minister for Education and Skills, Mr. Richard Bruton T.D., the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone T.D., and the Minister for Health, Mr. Simon Harris T.D. today (14th May, 2018) launched the first ever project to provide in-school and pre-school therapy services. The project will be managed and co-ordinated by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE).
The model has been developed by the Departments of Education, Children and Youth Affairs and Health and is part of the government’s overall aim to help every child to fulfil their full potential.
The purpose of the project is to test a model of tailored therapeutic supports that allow for early intervention in terms of providing speech and language and occupational therapy within ‘educational settings’. Additionally, it is important to acknowledging that this innovative pilot will also compliment existing HSE funded provision of essential therapy services within each of the nine Community Healthcare Organisations.
150 schools and pre-schools will test the model in Phase 1 of the project, which will take place over the course of the 2018/2019 school year. The project has been developed in conjunction with the Health Service Executive (HSE). €2.25m is being allocated to Phase One of the project in 2018.
As part of the programme, 19 speech and language therapists and 12 Occupational Therapists will be recruited by the HSE to work with the 150 schools and pre-schools. The NCSE will also recruit 2 National Co-ordinators to manage the project.
Phase one of the project will focus on:
- Early intervention and tailored supports.
- Bringing specialised therapists into schools and pre-schools to provide tailored support to children.
- Collaboration and greater linkages between therapists, parents, teachers and other school and pre-school staff.
- Developing greater linkages between educational and therapy supports.
- Providing professional training and guidance for school and pre-school staff and parents in supporting children’s therapy and developmental needs.
- Maximising the participation of parents in their children’s communication development.
- Launching the project in Presentation Primary School, the Minister for Education and Skills, said: “The government’s aim is to help every child to fulfil their potential. Identifying a speech and language issue in a child, and dealing with that issue, can have a dramatic impact on that child’s life prospects.
“We have set the ambition to make Ireland’s education and training service the best in Europe by 2026. Parents tell us consistently that they would like to see greater levels of cooperation and integration between different services. A more cohesive, collaborative approach to delivering tailored supports to children in our schools is key to becoming the best.
“This model will bring together therapists and educational professionals who have until now often operated separately.
“It will allow them to work together to plan, collaborate, and share their professional knowledge and expertise. The project will allow therapists to use their time more efficiently to support greater numbers of pupils in school environments, where there are often large concentrations of need.
“The development of children’s speech and language capabilities is clearly linked to their capacity to develop literacy skills, and thus to access the curriculum. That is why we seek to address these issues at the earliest possible point and intervene early. We wish to see therapists and teachers working together to achieve better outcomes for children.”
Launching the project, Minister Zappone, said, “I am especially pleased that pre-schools will be central to the project. The 75 primary and post-primary schools that will take part will be matched by 75 pre-schools, demonstrating the importance of early intervention in supporting children with additional needs.
“We already know how important it is to act early in a child’s life to provide supports, and then to maintain supports throughout childhood. This project will test a practical and innovative approach to ensuring that both universal and targeted therapeutic supports are available in children’s early years.”
Minister Harris, said, “It is exciting to see such positive interagency collaboration between the health and education sectors that will result in the delivery of increased and better co-ordinated therapy supports for vulnerable Children”.