5th October 2021
The INTO has published a series of FAQs on the Covid Learning and Support Scheme (CLASS) announced by the Department of Education last month. The programme will commence from Monday, 11 October.
CLASS recognises the damaging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s learning, development, and wellbeing and its potential to have a long-lasting and profound effect on our children and young people in a variety of ways.
The scheme supports schools in responding to pupils’ needs through the provision of a once-off, temporary allocation of teaching hours. It is anticipated the additional teaching hours for each registered school will help schools implement appropriate measures enabling pupils to fully engage in learning during the 2021/2022 school year.
The disruption of schools due to the pandemic was felt by all pupils and their families. While schools responded remarkably well, by adjusting to new methods for continuity of learning through a combination of online support and hard-copy learning packs, it is recognised that this is no substitute for quality professional teaching in a school-based environment.
There were disparities in engagement throughout the lockdown period – some children did not have the opportunity for home learning or the appropriate technology to engage in remote learning to the same extent as their peers.
This period of separation from classmates and the familiar school environment may also have exacerbated feelings of isolation and anxiety among pupils, negatively affecting children’s emotional and mental health.
The potentially adverse effect on children’s development is likely to be more acute for those pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds or those who, prior to the health emergency, were already experiencing barriers to education due a range of different factors.
INTO General Secretary John Boyle said:
The additional support being provided to primary and special schools as part of the CLASS provision is welcomed by the INTO and the flexibility afforded to schools under this programme is acknowledged.
The INTO also welcomes the announcement by the Teaching Council that NQTs will be permitted to apply for the Droichead process if employed under the CLASS programme. This is an important step to help support our newly qualified teachers, many of whom will have experienced a challenging end to their initial teacher education as they completed school placements in a COVID-19 context.”
Some frequently asked questions in relation to CLASS have been noted by the INTO and are now available to view online. Any queries regarding the scheme can be emailed to the Department of Education at firstname.lastname@example.org