The Government and unions must re-engage to get special education back up and running as soon as possible following another “cruel blow” to families, according to four advocacy organisations.
AsIAm, Down Syndrome Ireland, Family Carers Ireland, and Inclusion Ireland have written to Taoiseach Mícheál Martin seeking a meeting to discuss the range of support students need in place.
The groups have called on the Taoiseach to provide a "whole-of-Government" response to the issues facing the families each represents, and for every effort to be made to alleviate the pressure on children with special education needs and their families.
“We cannot stress enough the scale of the impact the closure of schools is having on some children with special educational needs," the groups said in a statement.
“We’re asking again for their needs to be prioritised, and for all parties to re-engage on this issue to get these children back to school.
The groups recognise that all parties involved have concerns for their members but that they hope a way forward can be found that works in everyone's interests.
“Unfortunately, while talks continue, children with special educational needs continue to regress and see the decline of key skills – some severely.
"This is moving out of the realm of education, and we are facing a welfare and wellbeing crisis for these children and their families. We need additional supports made available as a matter of urgency."
Meanwhile, Leaving Cert students have called for clarity on this year's Leaving Cert exams. This follows the publication of a survey conducted by the Irish-Second Level Students’ Union (ISSU).
From more than 20,000 responses, it found that 81% of students who took part favoured students having the option of sitting a written exam, or calculated grades.
A further 73% of respondents said they felt either very unsafe or unsafe with regard to the prospect of schools reopening. A further 75% of those who took part also described their trust in the department as either "very poor" or "poor".
A further 71% of the Junior Cycle students who took part in the survey communicated their dissatisfaction with the support they have received. Most respondents said they were not in favour of exams proceeding as currently planned.