Govt running scared from a debate on Special Education

31 May 2022

Government’s refusal to facilitate a debate on Special Education in the Dáil this week points to a government out of touch with the huge concern facing many families throughout the country, said Labour education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin.

Labour called for a scheduled debate on Higher Education this Thursday to be replaced by a debate on Special Education given the mounting issues in this area. This request was voted down by government.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin said:

“Labour called for a debate on Special Education needs to address the issues and upset caused by the fall out from the Minister with responsibility for Special Education’s proposal to segregate children with special educational needs. This could easily have been facilitated by swapping out a debate on Higher Education, which was debated as recently as last week. However, government are insisting that we wait a further two weeks to discuss the crisis in special education.

“Following the Minister’s proposals to effectively ‘warehouse’ children with special education last week, our offices have been inundated with representations from families who are disgusted and distraught.

“To add insult to injury, there are many issues outstanding with the delivery of special education for the coming school term – namely the delayed release of SNA allocations and queries over school places for September.

“The lack of communication and urgency in announcing SNA allocations points to a clear disconnect between the Department and their school communities. Students and families who require a SNA need reassurance that their needs will continue to be met, and schools need to be able to plan in advance where allocations are shared.

“The principle of providing every eligible child with SNA support is at the heart of making education fair and giving every child an equal start. It shouldn’t always be an uphill battle to get information about it.

“Many parents across the country are still unsure as to whether there’ll be a place for their child in September or not. I have met with parents’ groups who have spoken with me about the difficulties they have had securing school places for their children; and their frustration at seeing their children being bussed into other areas, often for only a few hours of limited class-time, because there are simply no places available in local schools. This is unacceptable; we need to ensure that there is a place for every child.

“The approach taken by the Minister is failing children with special educational needs. Government was wrong to deny an urgent debate on the matter. The State simply cannot continue to fail thousands of families and children.”

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