Ebene News – GB – Up to 3,000 vulnerable pupils in school after “significant” increase

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By Rebecca Black, PA

Up to 3,000 vulnerable children are in school, a “significant” increase since the first lockdown, according to a Stormont committee

The director of family and children’s policy at the health ministry said data had been collected since the start of the pandemic following a drop in the number of referrals to children’s social services

Eilis McDaniel said that by the week of April 6, 2020, a weekly average of 646 referrals fell to 542, sparking fears of potential harm for some children who were no longer ‘visible’ as a result of the lockdown

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Eilis McDaniel Director of Family and Children Policy at Department of Health testifies at Stormont Health Committee (NI / PA Assembly)

“This was one of the main reasons we were looking to educate vulnerable children,” she told MPs from Stormont’s health committee

“However, the trend quickly reversed – on May 11, the three-week moving average of referrals was consistently higher than the average number of referrals received each week before the pandemic, and this is a trend that repeated during the circuit -breaker, drop in numbers followed by a spike, and now repeat itself during the current period of lockdown, making access to school as important as it was in March or April of last year “

Ms McDaniel said the ministry worked with the Education Ministry to educate children about social services at school

She said the definition of vulnerable children included those who had received support before the pandemic and those who “were under increased pressure as a direct result of the pandemic”

This includes young people known to children’s social services, those with a declaration of special educational needs as well as children not known to statutory or voluntary community support services and asylum-seeking and refugee children

She said officials had heard that the loss of routines led to an increase in challenging behaviors, with children being educationally disadvantaged due to home learning, financial hardship, isolation and the potential damage caused by increased time spent online in terms of gambling addiction and risk sexual exploitation

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Ricky Irwin of the Department of Education testifies before the Stormont Health Committee (NI / PA Assembly)

Ricky Irwin of the Department of Education told MPs the number of vulnerable children attending school was “quite low at first, in the hundreds” but now there are between 2,000 and 3 000

“This would be separate for children who attend special schools Special schools have been open since the start of the term, all children who attend special schools would be vulnerable by definition because they have a declaration of special educational needs “, did he declare

“Attendance at special schools since the start of the term has been around 50%, or around 3,000 children there as well

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Ebene News – GB – Up to 3,000 vulnerable pupils in school after ‘significant’ increase

Source: https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/up-to-3000-vulnerable-pupils-in-school-after-significant-increase-40105390.html