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'Homeless kids are real challenge', says Bruton

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Education minister Richard Bruton. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Education minister Richard Bruton. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Education minister Richard Bruton. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Education Minister Richard Bruton has admitted that the growing number of homeless children is a "real challenge" for the Government.

It comes as the latest figures reveal the number of homeless children has more than doubled in some parts of the country.

Overall, the numbers continues to rise, with Government figures from July showing there are 9,891 homeless people living in Ireland.

Concerns have been raised over the number of homeless children returning to school and about the support mechanisms in place for pupils.

Mr Bruton described it as a "difficult issue".

"We do have a lot of support in place for children who come to school with whatever special needs. There is travel support for children who are homeless," he said.

"Clearly our teachers, special needs assistants and our principals go to great lengths to ensure that every child who comes to school is accommodated as best as possible.

"We do try to support those initiatives in schools, whether it be breakfast clubs or any others that support children so they can participate.

"This is a real challenge for us - no other issue gets more attention than the challenge of homelessness.

"From the outset, the Government has said it is a five-year challenge and we are not halfway through that programme.

"We continue to have diffic- ulties, but many of the targets we have set have been reached.

"This is a really difficult issue we are seeking to meet and challenge."

Mr Bruton said he also recognises the budget pressures that primary schools are under.

The minister made the comments as he was launching the School Of The Future to highlight education reforms and increased investment.

Potential

He said his party's target was to have the "best education system" in Europe by 2026.

"As young people go back to school, they will benefit from increased investment in educ-ation and curricular reforms designed to help them progress in life and achieve their full potential," Mr Bruton said.

"Fine Gael has increased investment in education by over €1bn in the last two years, bringing the education budget to its highest ever at over €10bn.

"Five thousand extra teachers were recruited in the last two years and 1,200 more teachers are being recruited in September.

"We also want to ensure that children with special educational needs can fulfil their potential."


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