Members of the Special Needs Parents Association which represents parents of children across the spectrum of disabilities voted this afternoon to continue with planned demonstrations across Ireland tomorrow. Chairperson Lorraine Dempsey while welcoming Minister Quinn’s announcement today that a further 500 Resource Teaching posts will be allocated to cater for the needs of the 4000 extra pupils meeting the criteria said “Our call to action was not solely about raising awareness of a single issue of resource hours. They are not the only issue that parents and schools have to cope with, we also need to highlight the problem relating to Special Needs Assistants provision which will be further exacerbated by having to share the allocations with an extra 2000 children requiring SNA support, while the CAP on SNA numbers remains in place at 10,575”.
As well as announcing the 500 extra teaching posts, Minister Quinn is to set up a Steering Group to look at the allocation model for special education over the summer
The reality is that there is small portion of children who are being excluded from 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. Ms. Dempsey added “These issues are indicative of a system that is either failing a minority or needs an open discussion with stakeholders on difficulties faced by parents and school bodies in responding to the needs of children” Parents have also expressed anger that 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 and now have to pool the 40 hours of teaching between them rather than receive an individual allocation as was the case up until last year. 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.
The Association has a responsibility to highlight the prevalent issues on behalf of all of its members and to persevere on their behalf and stand in solidarity. We are calling on all parents to continue to support each other in highlighting the outstanding difficulties not addressed by recent announcements and join us in demonstrations on Wednesday evening.
For a list of demonstrations taking place nationwide click here
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