Number of Ukrainian pupils enrolled in Irish schools climbs to 5,843

Official data suggest significant spare capacity remains at primary and second-level

The number of Ukrainian pupils enrolled in Irish schools has climbed to 5,843, latest figures show.

This includes 3,968 pupils attending primary schools and 1,875 pupils in post-primary schools.

A county-by-country breakdown shows Dublin has the most pupils (1,100), followed by Cork (536), Kerry (535), Clare (441), Wexford (352) and Galway (302). Overall, latest figures indicate that about 30,000 Ukrainians – mostly women and children – have arrived in the State since the Russian invasion.

Weekly numbers arriving in Ireland peaked at more than 4,000 in late March/early April and have since fallen back to about 1,600.

A surge in the number of Ukrainian pupils seeking school places is expected after the summer break. Department of Education data indicates there is significant capacity within Irish schools with an estimated 25,000 spare places at primary and 20,000 at second level.

To assist with the transition of Ukrainian refugees and their families into Irish schools, new Regional Education and Language Teams have been established, hosted by the State’s 16 regional education and training boards. The primary role of these teams is to assist families in securing school places and to supporting schools to meet the needs of these children.

Accessible information

They aim to ensure that clear, accessible information flows are in place between schools, local education support services and national support structures in relation to people arriving from Ukraine.

In addition to providing school places, the Department of Education has announced a “summer school” programme for Ukrainian students, as well as vulnerable Irish pupils with additional needs and those living in disadvantaged areas.

Minister for Education Norma Foley obtained Cabinet approval earlier this month for €40 million summer education programme which will be available to about 48,000 students in July or August.

The two-week programme will include English language classes for Ukrainian students as well as numeracy and literacy camps in Deis (or disadvantaged) schools and supports for children with additional needs. The summer programme has expanded in recent years as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ms Foley has also said there has been “significant” interest among Ukrainian teachers in availing of a fast-track system which could allow them to teach in Irish classrooms.

Newly arrived teachers will have the option of formally registering with the Teaching Council or working as tutors under a separate programme run by Education and Training Boards aimed at supporting students and their families.

Fees and grants

Meanwhile, proposals will go to Government shortly to ensure Ukrainian third-level students will not have to pay international fees to access college courses in the Republic and will be eligible for State grants

The likely number of Ukrainians seeking to access third level is not yet known. However, a help desk which has been established for newly arrived students and researchers has dealt with 240 queries so far.

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris said his proposals would ensure "Ukrainian people are treated as Irish students when accessing third-level education".

Anecdotally, many students at second and third-level are continuing their education with Ukrainian colleges and schools online.

Mr Harris said there will be financial supports including for accessing laptops and digital devices under the existing educational disadvantage fund.

A memo to Government will also seek additional sums for mental health services to ensure adequate help is available to Ukrainian students.

Information for parents in Ukrainian and Russian on accessing school places is available on gov.ie/Ukraine

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