Special Needs Parents Association disappointed in ASTI instructing members to stop engaging in planning processes for children with special educational needs
Wednesday 19th December 2018
Special Needs Parents Association as a cross disability representative organisation for parents of children with special educational needs is extremely disappointed that a Teachers Union would hold their children’s education to ransom in a dispute between the Department of Education and Skills and the ASTI.
In response to the ASTI Statement today, Parent and SNPA Committee Member Gina Grant said “This cannot be reassuring any parent after reading this ASTI statement and being made feel their child is a drain in a school and teachers aren’t trained to educate all learners. While resources may be required to benefit the full school body, to bring a section of learners to the forefront like this is grossly unjust” She further added “All children have a right to an education, those with additional educational needs in school should not be highlighted in such a manor”.
SNPA has always advocated for the full implementation of the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004 (EPSEN) and recognise the value and necessity of good planning to support the delivery of education for children requiring a differentiated curriculum and additional educational supports. Despite the lack of a legal requirement for educational planning in respect of an individual student, which involves a collaborative approach to setting out the educational needs of a child and goals for the academic year, there has always been evidence that teachers were supportive of the planning process and individual planning meetings with parents were part of the annual calendar.
Notwithstanding the legal hiatus, the range in quality and parent participation in the planning process, the recognition that individual educational plans and staff planning on how to best use supports for a child with special educational needs is recognised as best practice internationally.
The Education Act 1988 Section 9(a) states that “A recognised school shall provide education to students which is appropriate to their abilities and needs and, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, it shall use its available resources to—(a) ensure that the educational needs of all students, including those with a disability or other special educational needs, are identified and provided for”
Special Needs Parents Association spokesperson Lorraine Dempsey added, “While we have always supported the teaching unions in their call for more training and supports, we simply cannot support this call to down tools when it comes to planning”. ASTI have instructed its members that they do not prepare and implement Individual Education Plans/ Student Support Files as a means “to ensure that the Government delivers on its responsibilities to students with special education needs by equipping schools and teachers with the training and supports needed to deliver a fully inclusive education service”
It has been fourteen years since the legislation (EPSEN ACT 2004) stopped short of having mandatory individual educational plans. During that time teachers have engaged in educational planning with parents albeit on an ad hoc but broad basis. We can and must continue to argue for additional resources to support our children, our students, but we must also have some structure and measure of how they are being used to support achieving the best educational outcomes for our children with special educational needs and planning is an integral part of that process.
SNPA acknowledges that teachers are under increasing demands at post primary level with reductions in middle management teaching posts, problematic access to training and introduction of new curricula however, we consider it a total misstep on the part of ASTI to use our children as a bargaining tool and encourage an all-out refusal of their members to engage with planning to meet our children’s special educational needs.
For further comment contact
Lorraine Dempsey Communications and Policy Officer 0877741917
Link to ASTI Statements