Services for special needs children need protection

Labour TD Willie Penrose has spoken out strongly against this week’s decision by Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe to cut special needs teacher support in over 100 schools, saying it is “a clear indication that vulnerable children are to be the next target of this callous government”.

Next September, close to 1,000 school children with learning disabilities are to be told that they will no longer be getting the support they need.

According to Deputy Penrose, the move amounts to the abandonment of these children by the Department of Education. “This decision means not only that these children themselves will suffer, but so too will their classmates, as a further burden will be placed on the mainstream teachers who are already under huge pressure.

“The trend in recent years has been to accommodate children with learning disabilities in mainstream schools, with much of the old ‘special school’ infrastructure being dismantled. This is something that the Labour party has very much welcomed, but if the replacement infrastructure in mainstream schools is itself now being dismantled, that means that these children are being left high and dry,” said Deputy Penrose.

“Services for children with special needs have come under sustained attack in recent years, with many schools already suffering from severe cutbacks in Special Needs Assistants numbers.

“Ending vital services for these children is inexplicable, but denying them the opportunity to flourish in school is unforgivable.”


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