Disappointment as Education Admissions Bill fails to address barriers for children with special educational needs - Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD
Speaking this evening on the Education Admissions Bill Sinn Féin spokesperson for Disability Rights and Older People, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, said that while Sinn Fein broadly welcomes the bill there are a few issues of concern with respect to admissions that were not addressed, particularly in relation to the needs of those with special educational requirements.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said;
“Special education need services in schools, primary and secondary, are hard to come by and suffer from chronic under-funding, particularly in disadvantaged areas.
“In my capacity as spokesperson for Disability Rights I am particularly concerned that this bill does not give powers to the National Council for Special Education to request that a special class be established where there is sufficient demand as there is no power to increase capacity.
“The NCSE note that many schools will not open ‘autism classes’ where the local need is there. A provision in this bill that would give the NCSE the power to instruct a school to open an autism class would be welcome.
“The current situation is that a child can only be offered a place where there is an existing place. This is not acceptable and it is regrettable that this bill will not address this issue.
“Most of the problems within the education sector are down to lack of resources. Many schools for example create ‘soft barriers’ to the enrolment of children with special educational needs due to issues around resources.
“This is the issue that so critically needs to be addressed. The fact remains that without appropriate investment, resources and ministerial intervention, this bill, in and of itself, will change very little.”