Carol Nolan, the party’s education spokesperson, said the fact that 519 schools appealed the staff numbers provided under the revised scheme to allocate special education teachers is evidence that there are concerns that need to be addressed.
The Department of Education designed the new model with the National Council for Special Education in the hope of saving parents or schools the time and cost of having children with more complex needs undergo a professional diagnosis before being allocated extra teaching hours.
But while this may remove some problems with the existing system, Ms Nolan said a number of features of the new system have yet to be put in place. These include, she said, an inclusion support service and a model for identifying future complex needs.
“These measures were specifically designed to capture those pupils whose needs are identified subsequent to the allocation being made to schools and are particularly important as the resource allocation is fixed for two years under the new model,” she said.
Schools are being given the freedom under the new system to decide how to distribute their allocation of weekly special needs teaching amongst pupils with varying needs. But guidelines on how to organise, deploy and use their special education teachers are still being prepared.
Mr Bruton told the Dáil last week they will be published shortly. He said no school will have its allocation cut for the first two years.
The minister said the NCSE will examine cases where schools can show a substantial increase in the level of special needs being catered for, above those on which an allocation of resource teaching was based.