Summer education programmes are to be expanded with up to €40m funding being made available.

A doubling of funding from €20m to €40m for the programmes for schools was announced today.

For the first time, all students in special schools and those with complex needs in mainstream education will be eligible to participate.

The new programme has been drawn up as a direct response to the impact of Covid-19 on vulnerable children and their families.

Previously summer provision courses were only available to special schools and pupils in special classes.

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The new summer education programme will afford all schools in the State the option of hosting a summer programme, bringing the number of eligible students to over 80,000 compared to 23,000 last year.

Minister for Education Norma Foley said she hoped school communities would take full advantage of the programme, as evidence indicates that prolonged school closures have the greatest impact on children with complex needs and those at greatest risk of educational disadvantage.

She said she understood the worries families had about regression and loss of key skills.

Over the summer there will be numeracy and literacy camps in DEIS primary schools, courses in schools with special classes and programmes in special needs schools.

It also provides for home-based provision for children with complex needs where no school-based programme is available.

The announcement was made by Minister Foley and Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan.