Teachers’ union criticises minister over special needs enrolments

Teachers’ union criticises minister over special needs enrolments

A leading teachers’ union has accused the Education Minister of “putting the cart before the horse” on enrolments for children with special needs.

Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh said on Tuesday that within the next two years, he intends to prohibit schools from asking parents who wish to enrol a pupil whether their child has special educational needs.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) recommended the move to the minister in a report published on Tuesday.

The move is to be included in legislation that has not yet commenced.

However, the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) says some schools are not funded adequately to take on every special needs child who enrols, and have asked for an immediate meeting with the minister to discuss their concerns.

The Department of Education and Skills has a long history of abject neglect when it comes to delivering special education.

The union added that if schools are unable to ascertain the needs of a particular pupil, they will be unable to ensure adequate provision is put in place.

“Once again, the minister has put the cart before the horse, unilaterally announcing a major policy change without any consultation with teachers who will ultimately bear the brunt of this ill-conceived approach,” a statement from the union said on Wednesday.

“Without sufficient resources schools simply can’t deliver inclusive education, which our members overwhelmingly support.

“INTO fully supports inclusion which works, where schools are properly resourced with appropriate accommodation, staffing, professional development training and services such as the psychological service and other therapeutic provisions for pupils.”

The union says that without such basic resources, real inclusion is not possible.

“The Department of Education and Skills has a long history of abject neglect when it comes to delivering special education.

“Primary schools have routinely, without adequate resources and with ever dwindling access to services, delivered inclusive education for thousands of pupils with special needs.

“At every turn, this department has erected barriers to full inclusion.”

The Department of Education has been contacted for comment.

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