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Ferris welcomes announcement of extra special needs teachers

9 May, 2005

North Kerry TD Martin Ferris has welcomed the announcement that 660 new special needs teaching posts will be put in place in primary schools from next September. Deputy Ferris broadly welcomed the announcement but said he was still concerned about how the posts were to be allocated. Under the Education Minister's announcement each primary school will be allocated resource teaching hours, based on their enrolment figures, rather than actual need.

Deputy Ferris said:

"This announcement is a significant step in the right direction in terms of tackling the huge shortfall in special education needs teaching in our primary schools and must be welcomed. However, I am still concerned that these extra positions may not reach children in most need. Under the announcement each primary school will be judged on their enrolment figures and not on their actual special educational need.

„In February I conducted a survey of all primary schools in Kerry and I pointed out that if the proposed weighted system was to be implemented, 72 schools would lose 38 full time special needs teachers. Just because a school has a bigger enrolment does not mean that it will have a greater special educational need. For example one school in Kerry with 53 pupils has 10 with special needs, while another with 240 pupils has 3 with special needs. This proves that allocation of special needs posts must be based on need rather than school size. ENDS

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