Sinn Féin - On Your Side

SENO decisions adversely affecting special education needs

25 June, 2008


Sinn Féin Donegal Senator Pearse Doherty this evening called on the Minister for Education and Science to review a decision made by a Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO) to reduce access to Special Needs Assistants for pupils in schools in Inishowen, Co. Donegal. In addition the Senator demanded that the Minister immediately implement in its entirety the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 (EPSEN Act) legislation to ensure the right of families and schools to appeal controversial decisions enforced by SENOs

The Senator said:

"A recent SENO decision to reduce access to special needs assistants and also to reduce Special Needs personnel from 5 to 2 in St Patrick's Boys' School in Carndonagh Co.Donegal examples the disastrous decision making being made by unaccountable SENOs.

"In the last fortnight, the issue of how a Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO) makes decisions about the allocation of Special Needs Assistants without the right to appeal brought hundreds of people across the Inishowen peninsula in my own county of Donegal to a public meeting in support of the parents affected by this situation.

"I commend and offer my full support to these courageous parents. The huge attendance at their public meeting last Monday night, 16th June, speaks volumes about the mood across Inishowen on this issue.

"The parents with the full support of the schools across the peninsula want the right to appeal controversial decisions by the Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO) to remove or deny the allocation of Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) to their children. It is remarkable that one person can be given power to over rule a multi disciplinary team of professionals.

"What is even more remarkable is that this person is not accountable to anyone affected by the decision.

"In the St. Patrick's Boys' school in Carndonagh the review of Special Educational needs was conducted by a particular SENO on June 16th 2008. The review decision confirmed reduced access to Special Needs Assistants for all pupils and the reduction in Special Needs personnel from 5 to 3 and possibly from 5 to 2 for the year 2008/09. Carndonagh Community School Special Needs personnel have been further reduced for the year 2008/09 from 6 to 3.

"Just as with the HSE, we see decision-making and accountability being outsourced by government departments. I call on the Department of Education to immediately implement in its entirety the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 (EPSEN Act) legislation to ensure the right of these families and schools to appeal controversial decisions by SENOs." ENDS

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