Fianna Fáil is calling for the creation of a five-year projection of special needs education in each school catchment area to end the inevitable panic and mad-dash for places which occurs towards the end of each summer.

Thomas Byrne TD, the Party’s Spokesperson on Education was speaking ahead of a Fianna Fáil Private Members Motion on special needs education and said that schools should be informed of upcoming likely demand for special needs places in advance so that they can plan appropriately and target resources accurately.

He said, “Each year towards the end of the summer we see the awful situation where hundreds of children with autism and special needs are without appropriate school places. Without a doubt this is impinging on their constitutional right to an education.

“We have known of these difficulties for some time – over 850 children with special needs were receiving home tuition last year because a space could not be found for them in schools and parents are rightly frustrated.

“Instead of having a situation where there are stand-offs between the Minister and certain schools each year, we believe the Minister should order a five-year projection be carried out.

“Schools need to be aware of upcoming likely demand for special needs places, the supports which are available to them to open new special classes, and how many will be required. We need to move to a point where the provision of special needs education is planned for adequately. The situation as it stands cannot continue”, he concluded.