Studenst attending St Michael's NS summer programme

Trim students thriving with school summer programme

Parents of children who attend a special class in a Trim primary school say their sons and daughters are ‘thriving’ since the reopening of the school to facilitate a summer programme designed for children with autism.

St Michael’s N.S in Trim reintroduced their summer programme or July Provision as it it traditionally known with 36 pupils taking part in the four-week course.

It was imperative that the programme came along when it did for Michaela Cunningham’s eleven-year-old son Joey Kennedy as she explains:

“He has loved it. He has always enjoyed the July Provision programme since he started school but this year he’s coming home so happy.

“He asked me if this week was his last week and when I said yes, he was nearly crying he just doesn’t want it to be over.

“All credit to the teachers they have really pulled out all of the stops and have done so much with them.

“For the first two months of lockdown, Joey was like a duck to water. Our children are born to socially distance and he was so happy being in his room and being home but after the two months it was getting that he didn’t want to leave his room at all.

“He was telling me that he wasn’t going to do July Provision if it came up and then it went to I don’t think I’ll go to school in September, he really did not want to even leave the house.

“Autistic teenagers and children can be prone to self isolating themselves anyway.

“It was absolutely essential that the July Provision came long for him.”

Emma O’Malley’s two children Erin (7) and Sean (5) both attending the programme.

“We are blessed that it has gone ahead, it has made a massive difference. It has four months that they have been in school and routine is so important for children on the spectrum.

“They are sleeping so much better because they are stimulated. There is only so much I can do with them at home.”

Michelle Meighan’s twelve-year-old son Sean will be starting secondary school in Beaufort College’s new autism unit in Navan in September and this programme could not have come at a better time.

“It would have been nearly six months by the time he would have gone back into some semblance of a routine after been off since March 12th so this was absolutely perfect timing for him.

“These kids thrive on routine.”

Despite initial reservations principal Brid Gorry says the programme has been a resounding success.

“It has been wonderful, it was a big decision for us, we were quite apprehensive initially but we followed the guidance and we have really strict protocols in place and it his heart warming to see the children in the morning coming in, they are happy and they slotted so quickly back into their routines meeting their friends.

“It is a great opportunity for us to address any regression that they did experience during the lockdown because the lockdown was really tough on the special class children.

“The children had regressed not just academically but socially as well, they needed their trips to their OT room and sensory rooms and they missed out on all of that.

“Even though we could address the academic issues over Google Classroom we couldn’t address the other issues that were so important un their lives as well. They are just so happy to come in, it’s fabulous.

The children have adapted well to the new normal in the classroom and outside of it according to Brid.

“In the morning, we have temperature checks and we wear our visors and the children have adapted so well. They come in in the morning and stop and put their head forward for the temperature check.

“They know that when they come in, they go straight to the hand sanitising station, they wash their hands, we have really strict cleaning regimes in place, we have class bubbles in operation as well so are keeping the children as safe as we possibly can.

“We have 36 pupils attending the summer programme so it’s a good practise run for us for September. I have great confidence is opening the special classes in September, what we have put in place has worked so far.

“Online teaching and learning is good but it doesn’t meet the needs of pupils or staff.”

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