Children in wealthy areas get more special education teaching
Department of Education investigation reveals children in wealthy parts of Dublin benefit from more resource teaching for special educational needs than their counterparts
Ruarí Quinn: has created working group to devise a new model for allocating resources
Children in wealthy parts of Dublin benefit from more resource teaching for special educational needs than their counterparts in disadvantaged areas, a Department of Education investigation has uncovered.
The study found “middle-class” areas on the southside of the capital got an hour of additional teaching support for every 6.5 children, while the figure was an hour for every nine youngsters in “working-class” northside areas.
Resource teaching hours in primary schools are allocated following assessment for 11 so-called “low incidence” disabilities, including autism; speech and language disorder; hearing and visual impairments; learning disability and emotional disturbance.
Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn has pledged to revamp the system of allocating resources so that pupils can receive assistance based on their needs rather than their parents’ financial status, a Departmental spokesman said.
“Some students with special educational needs don’t have equitable access to assessments at present and, as a result, are not receiving the full range of teaching, care and other supports they require,” he said.
“The Minister has created a working group to devise a new model for allocating these resources – one that doesn’t depend on formal assessments – to make sure that all children are supported based on their individual needs, and not on ability to pay.”
The study undertaken by departmental officials examined four Dublin postcode areas specifically selected because of their traditional socio-economic make-up.
Two areas south of the river Liffey, Dublin 6W and Dublin 14, are described in the study as middle class, while the northside boroughs of Dublin 5 and Dublin 17 are categorised as working class.
Some schools in areas including Terenure and Rathfarnham received an hour of resource teaching for every 6.5 pupils, while places in such areas as Darndale and Coolock were found to get an hour of resource teaching for every nine pupils.
The study looked at 25 schools in the geographically large area of Dublin 5 and seven schools in Dublin 17. Twelve schools in Dublin 14 and four in Dublin 6W were studied. The investigation included 48 boys’ schools, girls’ schools and mixed-sex primary schools of varying size.
The resulting statistics were released by the Department to Labour TD for Dublin North Central Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, a former primary school principal. He pointed out that some parents could afford to pay for private assessment of their children instead of waiting for a diagnosis of special educational needs in the public system. He welcomed the initiative being undertaken by Mr Quinn. The working group set up by the Minister is due to deliver a progress report next month and is expected to complete its work by early next year.
The disabilities for which allocations of resource teaching hours are granted include syndromes such as Down syndrome in conjunction with another “low incidence” disability such as a physical disability.
Also included are autistic spectrum disorders, severe emotional disturbance and general learning disability, which can range from moderate to profound.