Cap cuts special needs pupils' hours
on 28/02/2013 00:00:00
Schools were told last year they would only be given 85% of the resource teaching hours recommended by experts for pupils with more acute needs in September, so late applications during the school year could be accommodated. These hours cover children with autism and a range of disabilities, including physical disability, emotional disturbance, moderate and severe general learning disabilities, or speech and language disorder.
But all 5,265 resource teachers allowed under this arrangement were already in place after applications from Mar to the start of Oct allowed for an extra 430 resource teachers to be sanctioned in November.
The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) has told schools that any pupils they applied to get resource teaching for since Oct 5 will not be given the recommended supports before the summer. They must instead provide help from their already-reduced resource teaching hours and wait until all applications are considered and allocated for next Sep.
Pat Goff, principal of Coolcotts NS in Co Wexford said it means all children in those schools where new applications are made have to get less than 85% of what they should be receiving. There are also fears that the 85% allocation will be cut further for next Sep.
"There's already a 15% cut, and we don't know if that will rise to 20% or more if there are more applications than available teachers," he said.
"But if there are going to be 10,000 children more than this year in primary schools next September, it stands to reason that you will have to cater for more children with special needs. The only way to do that if the cap remains in place is to take a bigger percentage off everyone," he said.
Mr Goff said the Government should do the same as for mainstream classes and provide extra resource teachers for the growing numbers of pupils with special educational needs.
A Department of Education spokesperson said it is too early to speculate on the level of allocations for next year.
The NCSE has asked schools to notify them by Mar 15 of any children needing resource teaching in the autumn and will notify the department of the likely demand after that.