Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Kildare North Cllr Frank O’Rourke is calling on Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan to allocate much needed Special Needs Assistants (SNA’s) to fill vacant posts in Kildare schools, following a meeting with a number of concerned parents in North Kildare.
Cllr O’Rourke made the comments on the week that schools re-open, with many SNA posts across Kildare schools remaining unfilled.
“SNA’s provide an invaluable support for children. These posts are integral in the development of children with special needs and help provide a comfortable learning environment. Unfortunately this Government does not have a strong track record when it comes to the allocation of SNA’s, and the Minister has been slow to approve additional SNA allocations as initially promised” said Cllr O’Rourke.
“Minister O’Sullivan made a big fanfare last July when she announced that she was allocating 600 SNA positions across the entire country. This was already a minuscule number when you consider the massive amount of SNA posts that this Government has axed since coming to office. However the announcement is even more disappointing when you consider a large number of SNA’s were let go in May, with many having to re-apply for their jobs.
“The lack of SNA’s in our schools is something that is consistently raised with me when I visit people on the doorsteps. Families feel let down by the Government as their children are not getting the necessary support that they deserve due to a lack of SNA’s in Kildare schools and I will continue to fight for extra resources for this area.
“I also have serious concerns over the ongoing delays in assessing children who may have a learning difficulty. These assessments are vital in ensuring that children with a learning difficulty are identified and can be given the support they need to develop their full potential. Research clearly shows us that delayed intervention can have a detrimental impact on childhood development, and accordingly action needs to be taken to ensure all children get the support they need.
“I am calling on Minister O’Sullivan to ensure that all SNA posts in Kildare are filled without delay. This is the only way that we can ensure children are getting the educational supports that they deserve. There is an opportunity at the next budget to do the right thing by adequately funding our schools instead of just providing tax breaks for the most well off in our society.”