Parents of pupils attending Scoil Chiarain in Glasnevin have raised over €10,000 for a sensory room, after the Department of Education have failed to provide them with funding.
Scoil Chiarain in Glasnevin caters specifically for children with ‘mild general learning disabilities’ from ages 5 to 18, some of whom have autism or challenging behaviours.
Parents have been petitioning the Department for funding for a sensory room for children who become distressed, but have said that despite repeated promises, the Department have failed to provide any funding for the room, or an extension.
Fiona Hogan, whose son Cormac attends Scoil Chiarain, said that the sensory room is a vital requirement, as a child who is in distress can impact on the learning of other students.
Currently, students are brought for a walk outside to try and calm them, or along the corridors if the weather is bad.
Fiona told Dublin Gazette: “The principal of the school, Kathleen Dodd, told parents that because there is no sensory room and they’re stuck for space, upset children have to be walked around the school yard, or in the corridors if it’s raining. That’s not right.
“They’ve had a promise of an extension ten years ago, that was broken. They had a promise of money for a sensory room, that was broken too.
“Because some of the children have autism, have behavioural diagnoses, have down syndrome, this Sensory room is as essential in this school as toilets would be in the building. They need a calming sensory room.
“They’re the only school in North Dublin that caters to children with mild to moderate learning difficulties.
“There’s a mainstream school in Donnycarney that even has a sensory room, and here’s a school with 140 pupils serving the whole of North Dublin for children that have learning difficulties, that have challenging behaviour, and they have no sensory room.”
Upon hearing the difficulty that the school was having with raising the funds, Fiona organised a group of parents to band together to raise the money required to create a sensory room for the school.
The parents set up a group on Whatsapp, and have organised a number of fundraising events.
“My brother wanted to run the marathon for the school, and I set up a GoFundMe, and then there’s other different parents doing different things.
“There’s going to be cake sales and bag packing, and other parents are donating things like posters and fundraising cards. The parents are building this room now.”
So far, they’ve raised over €10,000, and hope to continue raising the funds for the school that the Department of Education have yet to provide.
The Department of Education and Skills had not responded to queries regarding Scoil Chiarain by time of going to press.