26th January 2017 - ‘Schools provide a constant safe haven for Homeless and Immigrant Children’ states IPPN President

Homelessness is a legacy of a cruel and unforgiving recession that has consumed us for almost 10 years and which continues to bring hardship and discontent. Over 3,000 families have children in this situation attending primary schools. You principals continue to provide the only normality in many of these children’s lives - a safe and familiar space. I am proud of the fact that you manage this task with sensitivity and compassion despite the lack of basic resources.

This statement was made by Maria Doyle, President of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) in her presidential address to over 1,100 primary principals at their Annual Conference in Citywest Convention Centre on Thursday, January 26th, 2017.

The IPPN President paints a stark picture of the reality of homelessness and immigration on children in Irish primary schools today. She commends school principals and staff for providing the ‘beacons of light’ that enables these children adapt and cope with this reality.

Ms Doyle ventures the opinion that the shame of homelessness, poverty and inequality in modern Ireland is somewhat counterbalanced by the ‘tremendous inclusivity and sensitivity’ shown to these children in our primary schools.

The IPPN Preseident calls on the government to meaningfully support schools in welcoming these often traumatised children into school communities, particularly the Syrian refugee children earmarked for integration into Irish society in the near future. She expressly identifies the additional supports required by schools to meet this challenge. In particular, she sees the immediate provision of psychological and speech and language support as crucial to facilitating integration strategies.

Ms Doyle concluded “Schools are modelling a humanity for pupils led by actions not words and guided by school leaders displaying true compassion”.

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