The 10% cut to Special Needs Assistants will still go ahead in September despite today’s u-turn by the Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn.
Fianna Fáil has welcomed Minister Quinn’s late realisation that he made a mistake in signing off an additional 12% cut in resource teaching hours. But the party’s Education Spokesperson Charlie McConalogue has expressed concern that this latest u-turn has not been extended to the additional 10% cut in SNAs.
Deputy McConalogue explained, “It will come as a relief to parents and teachers that Minister Quinn once again has realised he made yet another mistake in targeting children with special needs for more cuts in September. However this is not the ‘full reversal’ of special needs cuts that the Minister wants us to believe it is, and which is needed. While he has decided to reverse the 12% cut to resource hours, Minister Quinn’s 10% cut to SNAs still stands.
“This means that the 22,000 children who need SNAs will still see a reduction in that support when schools resume in September. The Minister has shown today that it is possible to find the money to protect crucial services for children with special needs when the will is there to do so. I am urging him to do the right thing and reverse the SNAs cuts too, so that no child with special needs suffers a reduction in support from September.
“It is interesting that the Minister chose to bundle this announcement out on the eve of the Fianna Fáil motion calling for the reversal of SNA cuts and at a time when the entire news agenda is dominated by the Anglo Irish Bank tapes. It points to yet another failure of judgement on the part of Minister Quinn, and the timing of the announcement suggests a hope that questions about his leadership of his Department will be drowned out.
“We recognise the fact that resource hours are being restored and parents will welcome this, but the axe remains over Special Needs Assistants. We will be pushing ahead this evening and tomorrow in our effort to get government backbencher support for the campaign to reverse SNA cuts.”