Posts Tagged ‘St Michaels House Special Needs School Skerries’

St Michael’s House

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

I had a meeting with senior Personnel in St Michaels House on Monday 19th October as arranged. It went as I would have predicted- very little progress made. I asked could I join the Family and Parent Council – but I was refused this request – they said the rules and regulations of the Council would not permit this. They also acknowledeged that the Family and Parent Councils had failed after 2 years. This does not surprise me as the reasons for setting up the councils is unclear and could not be explained to me at the meeting.

The culture within St Michaels house is so uninspiring and lethargic that meetings held there always leave one frustrated. They are negative and most time is spent discussing why things cannot be done. There is no “can do” approach. The organisation as a whole would appear to be extremely poorly managed with no accountability within the organisation whatsoever. It is high time the HSE reviewed the remit of the organsiation and how it is managed.

Reluctantly they have agreed to ask the Board of Management of St Michaels House Special Needs School in Skerries to consider setting up a committee to spearhead the New School Project – and again reluctantly – they will consider allowing me become a member of this committee. When they say it has taken them 20 years so far – not to build a new school – I can fully understand why!!!

Nevertheless I will be forming a new Parents Association in 2010 that will ensure that parents have much more influence on the running of St Michaels House and ensure that it becomes more accountable. Further details on this initiative to follow.

St Michaels House Meeting Arranged!

Monday, October 12th, 2009

A meeting has been arranged with St Michaels House for Monday 19th October 2009. This long overdue meeting is welcomed – and I sincerley hope that unlike other meetings that have taken place with St Michael’s House- this meeting will prove fruitful! There are a number of Public Representatives awaiting the outcome of this meeting so that they and we can decide how best to progress this Campaign.

St Michaels House and Special Needs School Transport

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Inclusion Ireland state in their September Newsletter – “… some of the children availing of special needs school transport are forced to travel long distances to schools as their local school will not accept them”.St Michaels House are a member of Inclusion Ireland – yet they are the very ones forcing special needs children to travel long distances to school! We call for St Michaels House to withdraw from Inclusion Ireland. St Michael’s House are part of the problem – not the solution. Shame on them!

Meeting with St Michaels House Special Needs School Skerries-When?

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

And still we wait! We have been promised a meeting with St Michaels House – the planned meeting was arranged for Wed 16th September but it was cancelled due to unforseen circumstances. I have no problem with that – but I do have a problem with the fact that I have not been contacted by anybody from St Michaels House since then and thus the promised meeting is not even scheduled yet.

This is another very good example of how slowly and inefficiently this organisation works and illustrates how woefully inadeqate communication within the organisation is!

Department of Education and Science Reviewing its Discriminatory Policy

Friday, September 25th, 2009

The Department of Education has been forced to change rules that would have required a teenager to leave school at the age of 18 because he has a learning disability, while allowing his twin sister to continue.

Ms Keen ( mother of the two children) took her case to the Equality Tribunal, along with the parents of other special needs children, who are all pupils at Catherine McAuley School in Limerick. The case was supported by the Equality Authority.

As well as ordering the Department to review its policy, the Tribunal ordered it to pay a total of 10,000 euro compensation to three of the students who took the case under the Equal Status Act.

We congratulate Ms Keen for winning her case and commend her for fighting for the rights of her son. Well done and we wish you and your children evry best wish for the future.

Batt O Keefe TD Minister for Education and Science making renewed enquiries!

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Batt O Keefe T.D. Minister for Education and Science has informed us that he is making renewed enquiries about our issues. Let’s hope that he takes a personal interest in this case as we feel that unless he or somebody at his level intervenes then it will be rather more time consuming for us to succeed in achieving our objectives.

Email to Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney TD

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Dear Minister

I received a letter yesterday from Mr Pat Dunne, Local Health manager, North Dublin in response to my last email to you dated 21st August 2009.

Mr Dunne states in his letter that children with profound intellectual disability “ need intensive support to develop adaptive skills to their full potential”.

Yet he still refuses to answer the question of whether he believes that it is right and proper that a profoundly mentally and physically retarded who suffers from travel sickness should have to make a 40 mile round trip on a daily basis to attend school. Minister could I implore you to direct Mr. Dunne to give an honest answer to that question?

Mr Dunne also states that “ Special needs schools are established to provide a service to children with similar levels of dependency to ensure that their needs are met and that they are working with a peer group who have similar abilities to their own” .

Can you tell me where is the above statement written down in a policy document? St Michaels House does not have a written policy on education for special needs children- or if it has – the staff are completely unaware of it’s existence.

Furthermore the above statement flies in the face of the National Council for Special Education strategy which is to implement a plan who’s ultimate aim is that of inclusive education as set out in the EPSEN Act 2004:

“ having regard to the common good and in a manner that is informed by best international practice, the education of people with special needs shall, wherever possible, take place in an inclusive environment.”

Could I also ask you to confirm that there are places for 32 children in the St Michaels House Special Needs School in Skerries, and yet there are only 26 children attending.

Mr Dunne informed me in a telephone conversation I had with him on 27th August 2009 that the HSE could not influence policy decisions in St Michaels House- can you confirm that this is the case?

Finally – as the parent of a user of the services of St Michaels House and as a tax payer – I can recommend to you as Minister countless ways that St Michaels House could be more efficient and thus get a much better return on their quite substantial funds allocation from the HSE. I am available at your convenience if you would like to meet with me to discuss any of these matters.

Meanwhile may I again request that you personally have a bigger input into these matters.

Yours faithfully

Tommy Boyle

St Michaels House Special Needs School Skerries- not a priority for this Government

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Below is a copy letter

Mr Batt O’Keefe T.D.
Minister for Education and Science
Office of the Minister for Education and Science
Marlborough Street
Dublin 1

September 14, 2009

Your Ref: 0904528 BC

Dear Mr O Keefe

Further to your letter of 2nd September 2009 – I am writing for further clarification in relation to the matters I raised.

1 You say that the application to your Department for funding for a new school has been assigned a 1.2 band rating. What does that mean?

2. Is there a site for the new school selected and paid for?
3. How many pupils will the new school cater for?
4. You say that it “is not possible to give an indicative timeframe for the progression of the project at this time” Why not? It should always be possible to give an indicative timeframe.

It is extremely disappointing and distressing that you and your department would appear to be treating this matter is such a casual way. The building of this new school should be a priority because of the unacceptable condition of the existing school. Furthermore a new school building accommodating the needs of special needs children in Fingal will have an enormous impact on so many people’s lives.

There was no problem spending over €250,000 refurbishing an existing office for Bertie Ahern- but the education needs of special needs children in Fingal have to wait? I think this is a disgrace and I urge you to address this issue as a matter of supreme urgency.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours Faithfully

Tommy Boyle

Minister for Justice Equality and Law Reform now looking into these matters

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

We received a letter today from the office of the Minister for Justice Equality and Law Reform stating that these matters will be brought to the Minister’s attention.We are again very encouraged by this support- thank you.

It also gives us great pleasure to say that our son is settling in very well in Lusk National School- so far so good and long may it continue. We are overcome with the welcome, support and the “can do” attitude in the school. It is so refreshing and  enlightening  and is a credit to all involved in what is a truly remarkable school.

As this is the first time (that we are aware of) that a profoundly mentally and physically retarded boy has entererd main stream school from St Michaels House Early Services- we would be delighted if any students studying in the area of special needs  would like to monitor Michael’s progress as part of their research – we would gladly facilitate them what ever way we possible can. Please do not hesitate to contact us at

Senator Mary White joins the Campaign

Monday, September 7th, 2009

We received a very warm and encouraging telephone call from Senator Mary White today. Senator White is very suppportive of this campaign and has vowed to help us in whatever way she can. This support -as with all our support- is greatly appreciated.

We will need this support as we recieved a very disappointing letter form Batt O’ Keefe T.D. Minister for Education and Science last Friday. I find it hard to believe that Batt wrote this letter himself  and I will post my response to his letter over the next few days.