Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education and Skills Thomas Byrne TD has confirmed that his party has secured a commitment from the Government to provide additional special classes in schools across Ireland.

In order to support the passage of the Schools Admissions Bill Fianna Fáil emphasised the need for the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to be given the power to force schools to open special classes where they are required.

Originally Minister for Education Richard Bruton had indicated his opposition to this but today he has confirmed to Deputy Byrne that he will include the provision that Fianna Fáil sought. Therefore Fianna Fáil is in a position to facilitate the passage of the School Admissions Bill.

Deputy Byrne said, “Earlier this year Fianna Fáil tabled an amendment to this Bill with the aim of ensuring that children with special needs, such as autism, can no longer be denied their right to be educated in a mainstream primary or secondary school. Fianna Fáil made it clear that we would not support the passage of this Bill unless the Government dealt with the lack of special classes in schools.

“Currently children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other special needs are being denied access to schools right across the country due to the absence of special classes. The problem is particularly acute at second level and we have known for some time now that additional special classes are needed to ensure that children with special needs can be educated in a mainstream school as is their right.

“Special classes within mainstream schools are intended for children who cannot reasonably be educated in a mainstream class setting, but who can still attend their local school in a special class setting. The lack of special classes in schools has had a detrimental impact on children right across Ireland. It has robbed them of the opportunity of being educated in their local school,” concluded Deputy Byrne.