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Government neglect will have life-altering consequences - Crowe

5 December, 2006

Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Seán Crowe TD has called on the Minister for Education Mary Hanafin to ‘increase the number of special needs assistants (SNAs) and introduce local services where children can be psychologically assessed’. He was speaking after INTO research revealed that more than 26,000 primary schools pupils could have undiagnosed mental health problems.


The Dublin South-West TD said: “It is evident from this research that the majority of teachers questioned have pupils with possible mental health problems in their classrooms and are unable, despite their best efforts, to give them the attention they need, especially in large classes. Other pupils have their own learning disrupted as a result. We know that early intervention can identify problems with students and help reduce this kind of disruption.


“However, as a direct result of under-investment, a significant proportion of children are being forced to wait up to two and three years in order to be assessed by NEPS (National Educational Psychological Service). There are some parts of the state where NEPS is still unable to provide coverage, forcing those families who can afford it to avail of private sector psychologists.


“It is evident that Minister Hanafin needs to increase the provision of Special Needs Assistants and to reduce class sizes to assist those teachers who have children with special needs in their classrooms. I would also echo the call of the INTO for an integrated approach between Government departments, especially Education and Health, to ensure that the provision of services takes place in a co-ordinated fashion.


“Students with mental health problems require assistance and they are simply not receiving it. At this early stage in a child’s development, the detrimental impact of this Government neglect will have life-altering consequences, while it is left to teachers and parents on the frontline to pick up the pieces.”


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