Updated 4pm 25th June
The Special Needs Parents Association is calling all parents and supporters to attend all demonstrations Wednesday 26th June which will still go ahead following a vote from members.
Click here for statement from SNPA
No Supports, No Education, No Future
6pm Enda Kenny’s Constituency Office, Tucker St. Castlebar
5pm Cathedral of Christ the King, Mullingar
19th June 2013
Yet again it is time to Fight Back!
“Within the education budget, my focus has been on protecting those who are most vulnerable. There will be no reductions in the overall number of Special Needs Assistants (SNA) or Resource Teachers in this budget.” Minister Ruairi Quinn Budget Statement December 2012.
Since 2010, there has been a decrease of 15% in the specialist teaching hours allocated to all children with more moderate to severe levels of special needs, with a further 10% cut to those essential teaching hours expected from September. “This is a direct attack on the educational provisions that are essential for children struggling through mainstream, in keeping with the Department of Education and NCSE’s policy of promoting Inclusion in education. With an increase of over 8,000 pupils with special needs requiring resource hours since 2011, you can’t have it both ways. Either provide children with the essential supports in mainstream to fulfill their potential or admit that the policy of Inclusion in our education system is based on rhetoric and is aspirational but not a priority for Government” stated Lorraine Dempsey, Chairperson of the Special Needs Parents Association.
Putting this cut into context for a child with autism, in 2010 they would have received 5 hours of resource teaching every week which will be reduced to 3 hours 45 minutes this September. This also includes time getting to and from the classroom, so the actual teaching time is much less than prescribed by the NCSE.
For the past few years, we have had to listen to the Minister for Education telling parents how he has done everything to ring fence the budget for special needs. The reality is that we have an ever increasing population of children in mainstream schools who need a higher level of educational support particularly at secondary level and we have not prepared for the future and present needs of these children.
Children are being excluded for school by only being allowed to attend for only 1-3 hours per day. Children are being suspended and expelled because some schools can no longer meet their needs in mainstream, but there is no where else for them to go as waiting lists for special schools grow longer each year. Children are being discriminated against because they may have siblings with disabilities that all qualify for July Provision that can only take place in the home. If they were attending school based July Provision, they would have two SNAs per class to assist the teacher. At home, they get no extra support and reduced hours overall under the new administration of the scheme this year.
Ms. Dempsey added “What we are creating is a bigger problem down the line for future governments and budgets when we pursue such shortsighted cuts. If you over-fill a passenger ferry, you risk sinking the whole ship. It’s up to us parents to take a stand on this issue, our futures depend on it”