Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue has accused the Tánaiste of misleading the public about an effective 12% cut in educational supports for children with special needs from September.
In response to questions from Deputy McConalogue during Leaders Questions in the Dáil today, Éamon Gilmore denied that there would be any reduction in resource hours and Special Needs Assistants next school year.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “How can the Tánaiste deny this cut when the facts speak for themselves. All 42,500 children requiring special teaching supports in the next school year will see a reduction in hours.
“The government has made a deliberate decision to discriminate against children with special needs. It has deliberately decided to target special needs supports for cuts in the education budget. In the full knowledge of the increase in the student population in September, the government is hiring an additional 450 mainstream teachers at primary and secondary level. But there will be no increase whatsoever in resource teachers and special need assistants. The result is that most children will see their special teaching hours cut by up to half an hour per week from September.
“Why are students with special needs not being treated in the same way as all other pupils? The Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn has presided over an effective 25% cut in resource hours since he took up office. He is looking at his education budget each year and treating children with special needs as an easy target for cuts.
“Equality in education is yet another value that the Labour Party seems to have abandoned spectacularly since getting into power. This cut is an indefensible mistake. I am asking Minister Quinn to admit this, do the right thing, and ensure that no child with special needs suffers any cuts in school support from September.”