‘Impact on all pupils’

FIONNUALA Lynch won’t start school until next year but her mother Tracey Holsgrove is fighting to ensure she gets all the supports she needs when does.

The three-year-old has a rare condition called Dandy-Walker syndrome, which means part of her brain is not fully developed. She is at the developmental stage of a 10-month-old and is unable to walk or to stand on her own, and still wears nappies.

Under the previous government’s four-year national recovery plan last November, the number of special needs assistants (SNAs) helping children with disabilities in primary and second-level schools can not breach 10,575, despite thousands more children entering classes over the next few years.

Tracey and Fionnuala’s father Liam Lynch travelled from Oldcastle, Co Meath to Sligo to impress on Education Minister Ruairi Quinn the need to ease the restrictions on the number of SNAs.

“We know she’s not going to go to college or do the Leaving Certificate. But we want her to have a chance to read and write and live as happy a life as she can,” said Tracey.

“She might not be starting school until September 2012 but if they’re restricting the number of SNAs now, what are her chances going to be in a year’s time?”.

After approaching Mr Quinn at the teachers’ congress Tracey and Liam plan to write to his office and seek a further meeting.

“I just told him how important it is that all children with special needs get the supports they should have,” Tracey said.

“These cuts don’t just impact on those children but also on the other pupils in the class because if a child doesn’t have the proper SNA help, the teacher has less time to give to the others.”

Tracey and Liam are involved in a campaign to restore SNA numbers and a Facebook page — Give Our Kids their SNAs — has more than 2,000 supporters.


Lifestyle

There are literally hundreds of free events on offer this evening for kids and adults on Culture Night. Marjorie Brennan selects the best of them, in Cork and beyondCulture Night: Get out and make the most of it

The American heritage brand has put together a collection inspired by the most stylish Friends character.This is why Rachel Green’s style is the epitome of Ralph Lauren – as a new collection is announced

When starting out as a comedian, Cork man Andrew Ryan decided to go to straight to London, sidestepping the usual starting ground of Irish clubs and pubs.Cork comedian Andrew Ryan is 'a cross between Ardal O’Hanlon and Ed Byrne'

Rachel Marie Walsh knows the best eyeliners to try this season.Beauty is in the eye of the beholder: Essential eyeliners for a killer look

More From The Irish Examiner