Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education, Thomas Byrne, has said that the Fine Gael containment strategy for accommodating children with special educational needs must end. Deputy Byrne made the comments following a Prime Time report on the inadequate special needs education within schools.

Deputy Byrne said, “The sad reality is that the level of support that children with special needs are getting is leaving many of them behind. Despite the best efforts of under-trained and under-resourced teachers, many children with special needs spend their school days contained rather than educated.

“From reduced timetables, to a lack of school places, to delayed assessments of need – this Government has consistently undermined the constitutional right of children with disabilities to receive an education.

“While many children with special needs are able to attend mainstream schools, there is a serious unmet demand for special schools throughout the country and we see the trickle-down impact of that demand on schools all across the country where teachers and classrooms are ill-equipped to cope.

“Last night’s Prime Time report was harrowing, and it clearly showed that families are exhausted from fighting for the most basic services for their children. The Minister for Education must renew his focus on special needs education over the coming months and set out real solutions to the many problems raised.

“We need fully resourced special education needs classrooms, we need training for teachers – more than a couple of hours per year – and we need more inspections to ensure that students with special educational needs are getting the access to education that they deserve”, he concluded.