Termination of specialised teaching posts in Wicklow must be reversed – Deputy Jonathan O’Brien
Sinn Féin education spokesperson, Jonathan O’Brien TD, says the loss of an estimated 58 teaching posts provided by the St Catherine’s Association in Wicklow would be a serious blow to vulnerable children with special educational needs.
The Cork North Central TD was responding to the loss of one-to-one specialised teaching hours at a number of centres in in Wicklow that provide essential levels of support for children with autism and learning difficulties.
He continued: “The St Catherine's Association caters for approximately 150 children and young people who range in age from two years to 18 years in five centres in the Wicklow area. The imminent forced termination of specialised teaching posts provided by St Catherine’s, which is funded by the HSE, has arisen because the appointment of additional positions has resulted in budget shortfall.
“Sinn Féin is calling on the Health Minister James Reilly to provide the estimated €222,000 in additional funding until the end of the school term so these essential posts can be retained in order to avoid serious disruption to children with learning difficulties.
“The matter can then be reviewed during the summer when issues around funding that are affecting St Catherine’s can be addressed. Clearly however, there is a demand and need for the retention of these posts and the shedding of 40% of frontline staff who teach, support and nurture children will have serious implications.
“I will be raising this matter in the Dáil with the Health Minister James Reilly and Education Minister Ruairí Quinn who I am calling on to intervene ensure parents and children are not left in limbo.
“One of the parents my office spoke too, Mark Larkin, has two twin boys with Autism and other learning difficulties attending St Catherine’s Special Needs School and he does not know how his children will cope without having access to one-to-one teaching. He explained that he and his wife had to give up their jobs to look after their children, and that the progress they have made at St Catherine’s will be lost as a result of these cuts.”