The Ministry of Education is preparing for thousands more Ukrainian students to enroll in schools across the country after the Easter holidays.
It is believed that only about half of the school-age refugee children who arrived in Ireland before the break have so far signed up.
With around 500 refugees arriving every day, more and more families are turning their attention to integrating their children into the education system.
Currently, about a third of the Ukrainians who have come to Ireland since the Russian invasion are children.
While many children showed up at schools within days of their arrival, other families chose to wait.
Figures are fluid, but the ministry estimates that at least 6,300 Ukrainian school-age children have arrived in Ireland ahead of the Easter holidays.
With up to 32,000 refugees expected in the country by this weekend, the number of children would rise to at least 10,000.
Of the children who arrived before the Easter holidays, about 2,000 were enrolled in primary schools and about 1,800 in secondary schools.
Other families have delayed school entry, coping with sudden displacement or awaiting a move from emergency shelter to medium- or long-term accommodation.
The department updated education partners this week on the evolving situation, telling them to expect a spike in enrollments after the break.
Hundreds of schools have already accepted Ukrainian students and so far about 260 primary schools have been allocated additional teaching hours; in some cases full-time class teachers.
Among the elementary schools enrolled by Ukrainian refugees, the average number is three or four, although in some cases it is much higher, at 30 or more.
As the department prepares for the next phase of demand and the need for thousands more places, the major challenge will be finding a match between schools with capacity and the availability of accommodation in the area.
It’s estimated that there are about 25,000 total vacancies in elementary schools nationwide – but vacancies are not necessarily in areas where housing is available.
The situation is more tense at the post-primary level.
Student enrollment in this sector is generally increasing and many schools are overbooked and unable even to meet existing needs.
The department is still looking for an accurate figure on the sector’s capacity and is awaiting details from a survey of schools.
Depending on needs, some schools may require additional accommodation, but the ministry has not spelled out what form this might take.
It has set up 16 regional teams known as Realt – Regional Education and Language Teams for Ukraine – To help children find school places and to support schools in meeting their needs.
Schools can request additional teaching resources, mainstream classes and English language support, but at the secondary level, teacher shortages will pose a challenge.
Helping schools accommodate Ukrainian students is expected to be a key topic at next week’s annual teachers’ conferences.
It is understood that union leaders will bring the resource needs to the attention of the government on a scale to match demand, particularly if the numbers translate into long-term enrollments.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/education/thousands-more-ukrainian-pupils-expected-to-enrol-in-schools-here-after-the-easter-break-41558145.html Thousands more Ukrainian students are expected to enroll in schools here after the Easter holidays