Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on Education & Skills Charlie McConalogue has called on the Department of Education to put proper resource teaching hours in place for all children with Down’s syndrome returning to school this September. He raised the issue in the Dáil during Education Questions this week.
Deputy McConalogue, “Many children with Down’s Syndrome are not entitled to dedicated resource hours because they are assessed as having a mild intellectual disability and these resource teaching hours are only allocated to children determined to have a moderate or severe learning disability. However, in June, Mr. Justice Nicholas Kearns directed that more than four hours of dedicated resource teaching time be provided to two Down’s syndrome children diagnosed as having a mild intellectual disability after their parents took a High court case on their behalf.
“It is completely unacceptable that resource teaching hours would now be dependent on whether a family has the financial means to take a court case to decide if a child gets appropriate resource hours. The Minister needs to outline the situation facing children with Down’s syndrome who are starting or returning to school this September and I’m urging him to extend resource teaching hours to all children with the condition.
“I understand that a review of the process for allocating teaching support hours is underway, but there is no certainty as to when changes recommended in the review will be implemented. This Government has a record of sitting on reports, and it is unfair on parents and children to be forced to wait for an indefinite time to find out whether they will be allocated sufficient resource teaching hours. The Minister needs to act now to ensure that all students with Down’s syndrome are allocated appropriate hours before the school year begins.