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Guidelines for reduced timetables should prevent practice being used as informal suspension – Ombudsman for Children

The Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon, has welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh, of proposed guidelines on the use of reduced timetables in schools.

“In June of this year, I highlighted my concerns about the use of reduced timetables to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills. At that time the use of reduced timetables in schools was completely invisible as there was no guidance available to schools on its use, or how to record where reduced timetables were in place.

“According to anecdotal evidence, reduced timetables were disproportionately affecting particular cohorts of children, children who are especially vulnerable. This included children with disabilities, children with emotional and behavioural difficulties or children from a different cultural background such as the Traveller or Roma communities. Without guidelines, it is impossible to determine if this is the case and to what extent these groups have been affected.

“I very much welcome Minister McHugh’s announcement today that proposed guidelines are available and I would encourage all of those in the education community to get involved and evaluate them.

“If applied effectively guidelines will prevent the use of reduced timetables as an informal form of a suspension and it will bring clarity to this issue which has long been of concern.”