Lawyers for five children who have taken legal action over the failure to reopen special education classes last month have said it is now hoped the cases will not have to proceed.

It follows last Monday's announcement that there would be a partial reopening of special education later this month.

Last week, five test cases were taken in the High Court against the State and Minister for Education claiming a breach of duty to provide the children with an education.

The court was told there were harrowing circumstances in some of the cases and they would be asking for a mandatory order to reopen schools for those with additional educational needs.

Senior Counsel Eileen Barrington for the Minister and the State told the court there had been some developments and the Minister had announced an agreement with trade unions to plan for a return to school for primary school children with special educational needs on a phased basis from the 11 February.

Ms Barrington said discussions with the unions are ongoing.

It was agreed the case could be adjourned to 8 March and for the directions requiring opposition papers to be filed by next Monday to be lifted.

Derek Shortall, representing the children, said the applicants were very grateful to the court for the urgency it had given to the cases and they were also grateful to the Minister for advancing matters.

Counsel said the closures are obviously very serious for all the children involved but it is hoped, in light of the Minister's announcement, it will not be necessary to advance the cases any further.

Mr Justice Charles Meenan said given the progress that has been made he would not give any directions for the delivery of opposition papers.

On Monday last, the judge had refused an application by the Minister for a three week adjournment, saying the cases had to be considered as a matter of urgency.

He adjourned the cases to 8 March.

He said if matters did not proceed as hoped on that date he would like to be in a position to proceed with the cases and granted both sides liberty to apply to the court in the meantime.