Educational supports for D15 children and schools sadly lacking

by Rose Barrett
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Cllr John Walsh (Lab for Dublin West) is calling on new Taoiseach, Simon Harris, to take action urgently to address a long-term, endemic crisis in provision for children with additional educational needs in Dublin 15, and to seriously look at introducing the School Inclusion Model.

At least 13 children in Dublin 15 have no appropriate school placement for September, said Cllr Walsh with over two thirds of primary schools in D 15 having lost Special Education Teachers due to the changes in the SET allocation model.

 This follows a public meeting hosted by Cllr Walsh recently at St Brigids Community Centre Blanchardstown. The meeting was was attended by principals, teachers and parents. The meeting included contributions from a school principal, a representative of Autism School Dublin 15 and the National Council for Special Education.

“The current system of support for children with additional educational needs in Dublin 15 is fundamentally broken and requires a coherent, holistic solution to ensure that every child is able to secure a school place in an inclusive setting, not ad hoc crisis driven responses year after year,” said Cllr Walsh. The areas affected include Blanchardstown, Clonsilla, Ongar, Tyrellstown, Mulhuddart and Carpenterstown.

“Parents should not have to fight for basic educational rights and services for their children. Principals should not have to provide the detailed analysis of the shortfall in school places and services for children with additional needs that should be done by the Department of Education.”

He added: ”Currently, schools are effectively left to their own devices without any real support from specific and specialised services that are desperately needed. The School Inclusion Model which would offer holistic, sustained support for schools to offer inclusive learning settings has been stalled since 2021 due to lack of resources, staffing and above all, political will.

“Taoiseach, Simon Harris should intervene to roll out the School Inclusion Model, starting with suburban areas such as Dublin 15 where secondary provision for autistic children and children with other complex additional needs is in crisis. Currently the needs of children with additional needs are being neglected and this neglect is disgraceful at a time of a record budget surplus’.

The following fundamental issues with provision for children with additional educational needs were identified in a report by the Dublin 15 Primary Principals Network:

  • At least 13 children in Dublin 15 have no appropriate school placement for September.
  • 111 children in primary schools are struggling to engage meaningfully with staff and peers due to a glaring lack of services and specialised staff to support schools.
  • 68 per cent of primary schools in Dublin 15 lost Special Education Teachers due to the changes in the SET allocation model.

Walsh added: “Immediate, radical change is needed to fix a broken system and give every child a fair chance to secure education. The current situation cannot simply be allowed to continue year after year.”

Photo: The education panel included Helena Trench, Principal of Powerstown Educate Together NS, Sile Parsons, Autism School Dublin 15, Cllr John Walsh (Lab) and a representative of the NCSE.

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