Fianna Fáil Education Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue TD has called on the Education Minister to come clean about increases in resource teaching hours being made available next September. Minister Jan O’Sullivan claims additional teaching posts will lead to a 9.4 % increase in teacher numbers, however the real number is closer to 2% when demographic changes are taken into consideration.
Deputy McConalogue commented, “Last month, Minister O’Sullivan announced an additional 237 resource teaching posts would be coming on stream this September, and claimed that this would represent a 9.4% year on year increase. However, there will be an additional 12,057 pupils attending primary and secondary school this September, so the allocation of 237 additional resource teachers will make little impact on the overall resource teacher shortage.
“Hailing this demographic adjustment as a 9% increase in resource teaching hours, is blatant pre-election spin by the Minister, attempting to cover up the drastic resource shortages that schools across the country are facing on a daily basis.
“Since the 15% cut to resource teaching hours in 2012, pupils with special needs have seen their support structures chipped away year after year. A child with hearing impairment, for example, loses out on over half an hour of the four hours of recommended weekly resource teaching.
“This situation is significantly worse in some schools because of the system of assessment by the National Council for Special Education. There are gross inefficiencies and inequities in the current allocation system for SNAs and resource teachers, whereby wealthier parents are able to have their children diagnosed with a learning difficulty through the private system. The Minister’s delay in reforming the allocation and assessment systems is pushing these problems out for at least another year.
“While piloting the new system of resource allocation is to be welcomed, Minister O’Sullivan has not acknowledged the failures of the existing NCSE system, which needs further supports to ensure that children with special learning needs are successfully incorporated into mainstream education”.