Monday 15 July 2019

More than one in four primary schools 'have pupils who are homeless'

(Stock Image)
(Stock Image)
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

More than one in four primary schools have pupils who are homeless, according to a survey of principals.

And about one in six schools have children who are in living in the State’s direct provision accommodation for asylum.

The survey found that the top three challenges for children who are either homeless or living in direct provision are anxiety, neglect and family issues, such as marital breakdown, bereavement and financial difficulties.

It was conducted by the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) ahead of its annual conference this week and found that 27pc schools had pupils who were homeless, while 16pc had pupils in direct provision.

IPPN chief executive Pairic Clerkin said the daily reality for these families could often result in poor physical and mental wellbeing, low self-esteem, exhaustion and feelings of isolation.

"This can impact children’s school attendance and can result in reduced engagement and participation in school life and learning," he said.

Homelessness for children was lonely and they often became isolated from their closest friends and relations, he said.

"They become restricted and confined; their play area reduced to a hotel corridor, homework done at the side of the bed in a room the family share."

Latest figures show that about 4,000 children in Ireland are homeless currently and Mr Clerkin said schools are often only "the one positive place where they can be kids".

Mr Clerkin commended the many school leaders and teachers who were "quietly supporting these children and their families on a daily basis."

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