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Parents of Special Needs Children will be forced to go to Court

21 April, 2006

Sinn Fein Education Spokesperson Michael Ferguson has said that £100 million pounds allocated for Special Needs is a pittance when put in the context of real need and current school budgets. Commenting upon the budget for Special Needs children across the 5 Education Boards he said,   “ The allocation of £100 million pounds for Special Needs Schools is deliberately misleading when you take into account the fact that this money is divided up between 47 Schools amounting to an average of £2 million which is no more than what the average school is allocated”   “These 47 schools are average schools but because of the new Special Educational Needs Order they will also have special needs children who have Mild Learning Difficulties through to Severe Learning Difficulties and in reality there is not only no additional investment in these schools but because of falling rolls they are being forced to make teachers redundant and are now faced with bigger class sizes”   “ These 47 Schools would have an average annual budget of £100 million so they are now faced with meltdown as fewer teachers are faced with larger class sizes, with the additional requirements of special needs children and the accompanying loss of Class Room Assistants.”   “ This very situation in the 26 Counties has lead to court action by the parents of Special Needs children resulting in the Department of Education and Science paying out a total of $20 million Euro money that would have been better spent through investment in special needs services in schools. This will inevitably happen hear and the Nolan Case in (August 200) which cost the SEELB £5 million is but the tip of the iceberg”   “ It is crucial that when the Assembly is Recalled on May 15th that we appoint an Education Minister as expeditiously as possible because Direct Rule Ministers care as much about the Special Needs of our Children as they do about Court cases and will simply further reduce school budgets to pay the costs locating responsibility with Education Boards who are carrying out their dirty work and  implementing the cuts to Special Needs”. ENDS  

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