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More resources needed to help school children with special needs - David Cullinane

13 April, 2004

Sinn Féin's EU candidate for the South constituency David Cullinane, has today said that "more resources are needed to help school children with special needs."Mr Cullinane's comments came after today's announcement by Minister Dempsey to employ 350 new teachers across the state to cater for children with special needs. The proposal was unveiled as the Irish National Teachers‚ Organisation (INTO) met at their annual conference in Tralee, Co Kerry.

Speaking today, Mr Cullinane said:

"Today's announcement by Minister Dempsey is a much needed boost to the education sector. However, it is very clear that more resources are needed to help school children with special needs. The INTO has estimated that 1000 teachers are required to meet the shortfall, so we are still a considerable distance off ensuring that children with special needs are catered for.

"More than six thousand pupils whose needs have been identified for over a year are not getting any extra support in school. There are thousands of others whose needs have not yet been formally assessed due to a shortage of psychologists and other services. The National Education Psychological Service (NEPS) is chronically under funded and incapable of carrying out its mandates. Huge sections of the state, particularly in the west and north are not covered at all.

"There is also an urgent need for administration posts in schools. 75% of school Principals are also full-time teachers and the burdens of education, in particular dealing with special needs education are enormous. As my colleague Deputy Sean Crowe made clear in the debate on the Education for Persons with Disabilities Bill 2003, Principals do not have the administrative resources to serve those children with special needs as it stands, let alone after the Bill becomes law and the administrative workload massively increases.

"Whilst these teaching appointments are a welcome first step, it is long overdue, minimalist and fails to tackle the administration problem that is severely hampering the ability of Principals to deal with special education needs."ENDS

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