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Mary Lou McDonald slams decision to axe special needs teachers in north inner city Dublin

5 January, 2006

Sinn Féin National Chairperson and MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today criticised the findings of a survey, which reported that eighteen schools in the north inner city lost special needs teachers or their equivalent in teaching hours since the introduction of a new system in allocation from September 2005.

Ms McDonald said that such a situation 'flew in the face of attempts to tackle educational disadvantage in Ireland and particularly in working class areas of Dublin'.

Speaking today Ms McDonald said:

"This survey of school principals in inner city Dublin has shone a light on how this government treats educationally disadvantaged areas of the capital, and in particular the north inner city area which has suffered disproportionately through the loss of high skilled Special Educational Needs (SEN) teachers.

"Under the new system introduced in September whole communities have effectively been disadvantaged. It is completely unacceptable that in the north inner city alone, there is a net loss of eight Special Educational Needs teachers or the equivalent in teaching resources affecting eighteen schools. There is already a huge shortfall in special education needs teaching in our primary schools, and the new 'weighting system' has only compounded the problem.

"SEN teachers are a vital component in the delivery of a first class educational system through assisting children with varying levels of ability and need. This government must place less emphasis on cold hard statistics and more on the educational needs of whole communities." ENDS

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