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Failure of Minister for Education to address concerns of teachers to ensure reopening of special education 'a calamity' - Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

18 January, 2021 - by Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has described the failure of the Minister for Education to allay the concerns of teachers and school staff to guarantee the reopening of special education later this week as a 'calamity'. 

Speaking tonight, Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:

"The news tonight that the INTO have stated that there remain grave concerns amongst teachers, and that the Department of Education have failed to address them, reflect a complete and utter mishandling of this issue by the government

"Once again, children and parents were told late last week that special education provision would resume this week. This now looks in serious jeopardy.

"The pronouncement last week followed on from the debacle of the week prior when the Minister for Education tried to bounce stakeholders - rather than engage in proper dialogue and secure agreement to do so - with school staff.

"They have made the same mistakes again and they have not acted on the concerns relayed to them.

"Trying to dictate policy by press release is not the way to do business. It is utterly irresponsible and has once again proved fruitless due to the failure of the Minister to address the concerns of school staff. This represents a monumental failure on the government's part. Students, parents and teachers remain in limbo once again tonight, with no clarity.

"Children with additional needs are the cohort of students that missed out the most when schools closed last Spring and were among the greatest victims of the last lockdown. They must be foremost in our mind in trying to get education back up and running - they should be priority number one.

"But desire to reopen special education alone is not a solution. Properly addressing the concerns of teachers and school staff is what is required.

"I believe there is a genuine desire among all, including staff, to ensure children with special educational needs can return to in-school learning. We might have a solution by now if the Minister didn't take teachers for granted and once again try to bounce them into a decision without the government having done its homework."

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