Posts Tagged ‘special needs cuts’

Further Cuts from this short sighted Government!

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Parents and unions expressed their anger last night after the Department of Education announced a 10pc cut in teaching support for children with special needs.

From the beginning of the next academic year in September, schools will receive just 90pc of the teaching hours they need to meet the needs of students who require special needs assistance.

This means that a school which this year had 25 hours will have to teach the same children in 22.5 hours.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) condemned the move and said it was another example of cuts being imposed on the most needy pupils.

General secretary Sheila Nunan said schools that had been most inclusive of all children would be worst affected.

However, she said ultimately all children would be affected by the decision. “Inclusion in primary schools needs adequate resourcing,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Special Needs Parents Association said it was totally opposed to the cuts. “We have already taken substantial cuts when it comes to special needs,” Cathy Shevlin said.

“I understand that money needs to be found, but at the same time these children need all the support they can get, and at the minute resources are being pulled on a weekly basis.”

Concern

A spokesperson for the ASTI, Ireland‘s main second level teaching union, said it was seeking a meeting with the department.

“We are not aware of an actual cut to date. However, we are concerned that there could be the possibility of cuts at some stage,” said the spokesperson.

Ms Nunan said Irish classes at primary level were among the most overcrowded in Europe and special needs children would be lost without resource teachers. Many families would be hit on the double because both home and school supports to their children were being cut.

She said the decision would place schools in the very difficult position of having to explain to parents of children with special needs why schools will not be able to provide the level of support recommended by psychologists, psychiatrists and speech therapists.

The Department of Education said: “The number of resource teachers which will be allocated for the new academic year 2011/12 will be 9,950. This is an increase of 350 posts on the number of resource teachers allocated in 2010.

“It has been decided to allocate 90pc of the school’s identified resource teacher needs in the first instance. . . If the demand through late or emergency applications is less than 10pc of posts, as is expected, then the Department will revisit the initial allocation and increase the numbers.”

– Fiona Ellis

Irish Independent

Thursday 2nd June 2011

More Special Needs Cuts!

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

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FURY erupted last night over a decision to deprive children with severe disabilities from getting a second full year of pre-schooling, the Irish Independent has learned.

The move, which will save less than €500,000 a year, will hit families of Down Syndrome children, those with autism and other severe disabilities.

Many had assumed their children could avail of a second year, but now their hopes have been dashed.

Instead, they have been given the option of a full year starting in September, with their children attending Monday to Friday, or splitting the provision over two years.

The INTO last night described the move as a “shocking and mean spirited” decision by the Government, which had promised as far back as 2002 to ensure early education services for children and prioritise children with disabilities.

The highly successful free Early Childhood Care and Education pre-school year began in January 2010. An overwhelming 94pc of eligible children are now participating in the scheme.

About 170 children with severe disabilities were allowed to avail of a second full year starting last September. They were approved on a case by case basis.

But Children’s Minister Barry Andrews‘ office has decided this will not be available to children starting in September this year.

A spokesman for the minister said the 170 children were allowed to enrol in the second year because the first free pre-school year was a “short” one”, having started in January 2010 and finishing in June.

“No child at any stage has ever been approved for two full years,” he told the Irish Independent.

Drastic

But the decision has angered many parents. “As parents, we will not sit on the fence on this. Our children are already facing sweeping reductions in services due to drastic cutbacks,” said Down Syndrome Dublin chairperson Miriam Masterson.

She said the decision could not even be considered a cost-saving measure, when these same people will, in later years, require a lot more help than if they had been given the best start from the outset.

Irish Preschool Play Association chief executive Irene Gunning said the decision was very disappointing as it had not been signalled in advance and parents had an expectation of a second year.

However, Fine Gael last night held out the prospect of reversing the decision. Fine Gael education spokesperson Fergus O’Dowd said the party was committed to spending €20m on a First Step programme to help disadvantaged pre-school children. He said this would include those with severe disabilities.

“A Republic is judged by the manner in which it treats its most vulnerable citizens,” Mr O’Dowd added.

– John Walshe Education Editor

Irish Independent 19th February 2011