Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Thomas Byrne TD says he is horrified to learn that parents can no longer appeal decisions in respect of resource teaching and learning support allocations.

Deputy Byrne raised the issue in the Dáil today and called for a comprehensive appeals process to be put in place.

“The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) always had an appeals process which allowed parents or schools to appeal a decision on the allocation of resources for children with special needs. This process was often availed of by parents whose children were refused allocations or if it was felt that the resource allocated was insufficient,” explained Deputy Byrne.

“The previous appeals process led to a number of allocation decisions being overturned. This in itself clearly demonstrates that an appeals mechanism is necessary to ensure children get the allocation they deserve. However the NCSE recently introduced a new system of allocation whereby learning supports and resource teaching hours are allocated to a school based on a demographic profile rather than the needs of individual children. The allocation to individual children then becomes a matter for the school itself.

“The NCSE set out a strong case for the new system but nonetheless many parents raised concerns about it. However it was generally understood by all that an appeals process would be in place whereby the needs of individual children could be identified. Parents are now shocked to learn that no such appeals system is being put in place.

“It’s shocking that the NCSE appears to have completely eliminated the possibility of parents appealing the allocation of resource teaching and learning supports. This has come as a come as a complete shock to parents. Previously an appeal could be lodged by parents or a school “where a parent / school appeals the decision that a child was not granted access to resource teaching hours and / or SNA support on the gourds that the Department of Education and Skills policy was not met”. This mechanism has now been done away with, except for the allocation of Special Needs Assistants which in itself further proves the need for this.

“The new mechanism allows an appeal to be made by the school in relation to the overall resource allocation to the school itself, but the parent has no right whatsoever to appeal or even express any dissatisfaction about a decision made in relation to their child. This is inexcusable.

“I have raised this issue in the Dáil with Minister Bruton. It’s important that a comprehensive appeals mechanism is put in place,” concluded Deputy Byrne.