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Minister for Education must not cut special needs assistants – Doherty

17 February, 2010 - by Pearse Doherty TD

He said:

“It is estimated that by March 2010 as much as 1,200 Special Needs Assistants will have been made redundant. Support is being withdrawn from children with a wide range of conditions within the Autism spectrum, ADHD, Dyslexia and in one reported case Down’s syndrome.

“This is a scandalous situation and one which not only has a direct impact on jobs but also will cause massive hardship to extremely vulnerable young children.

“Cuts to special needs support is not only heartless, the move will seriously impair these children’s education for years to come having knock-on effects in the future. It is yet another example of this Government’s short-sighted ‘cost-cutting’ measures. Special needs assistants are not a luxury that can be cut, they are absolutely essential and an integral part of the education system. Children with special needs are not second class citizens; they deserve adequate and equal care to any other child in this state.

“At the moment we do not have a clear figure of how many SNAs have been lost and indeed how many more are to go. 403 SNAs are employed Donegal alone. These SNAs deserve to know if they will have a job in the next months. We also don’t know if further cuts to SNAs will happen in the middle of the school year and if children will even have until the end of the year with their SNA.

“The Minister needs to get it out of his head that making blind cuts in an effort to save money will achieve anything unless he takes into account the very real impact that such cuts will have. These are children we are talking about not numbers. They have a right to be educated in an appropriate environment with the appropriate supports to suit their needs.”

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