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Education Committee recommendations must be implemented to ensure equality for children with special educational needs - Kathleen Funchion TD

25 January, 2019 - by Kathleen Funchion TD

Sinn Féin's Spokesperson for Education and Skills Kathleen Funchion TD has said that recommendations from the Oireachtas Education Committee's need to be acted on immediately in order to ensure children with additional needs are treated equally to all other students in mainstream schools at both primary and post primary level, and so that all staff working with students with additional needs are sufficiently supported.

Teachta Funchion was speaking in the Dáil this week during a debate on the Education and Skills Committee's report on Training and Supports for Providers of Special Needs Education and Education in DEIS schools.

She said:

“Our recommendations from this report are based on the valuable first hand information from a number of stakeholders who made submissions to the Education and Skills Committee in 2017.

“The report addresses the adequacy of training and supports available to providers of special needs education and education in DEIS schools and the measures that need to be introduced urgently in order to catch up with the increasing level of need in the sector.

“The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act 2004, puts in place legislation to give children with special educational needs the right to graduate from school with the skills necessary to participate, to the level of their capacity, in an inclusive way in the social and economic activities of society and to live independent and fulfilled lives.

“Parts of the law have been brought into effect, but unfortunately those provisions which would give a statutory entitlement to provide students with a full assessment of the supports needed to allow them participate in education and to have the necessary resources provided in accordance with an individual education plan, have not been.

“In my own constituency of Carlow/Kilkenny there are only two ASD classes at post primary level; one in Kilkenny city and the other in rural Kilkenny. This is totally unacceptable as the number in no way meets the demands of the number of children who will be entering post primary level in our constituency in the next two years.

“This government continues to tell us that the needs of children with Autism are being met, yet the findings of this report clearly state they are not.

“Recommendation number five of the report states that, ‘The Committee recommends that the shortage of specialised school places for post-primary children with autism and other special educational needs, be addressed as a matter of urgency.’

“This echoes the critical needs of my constituents, children and their families who currently have no information about what will happen to their children once they finish primary school.

“The issues and obstacles that students, parents, teachers and schools are being confronted with in terms of access to adequate resources for children with additional needs, particularly children on the Autism Spectrum are laid out clearly in black and white in this report. I urge the Minister to act on the recommendations and not just pay lip service to them.” ENDS

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