Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Charlie McConalogue has called on the Government to lift its cap on special needs assistants and learning support and resources teachers for the next academic year, in light of the increase in the school-going population expected in September.
It comes after the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn confirmed to the Oireachtas Education Committee this week that an additional 20,000 students will enter the school system next September (10,000 at primary level and 10,000 at second level). The Minister confirmed that an additional 900 teachers will be brought in, but there will be no extra SNAs, learning support teachers or resource teachers for children with special needs.
Deputy McConalogue said, “While I welcome the fact that the Minister has agreed to provide additional teachers to cater for some of this pupil increase, it is simply not good enough that there will be no additional staff for those children with special needs.
“It seems that once again, it is the children with learning difficulties and intellectual disabilities who will suffer the most. Supports for children with special needs have already been severely restricted within the school system, and now these children are being side-lined in the Minister’s plans to cater for the additional intake of new pupils next year.
“As with previous years, a proportion of these 20,000 new pupils to enter the school system next September will require special supports. But Minister Quinn has so far refused to provide one single extra SNA or resource teacher for them. They will just join the queue of children who have already seen significant cuts to their resource hours and special needs supports in school.
“We cannot tolerate a situation where there will be far more students sharing the same capped number of SNAs and resource teachers. I am appealing to Minister Quinn to see sense, do the right thing and lift the cap next year.”