Hours for special needs pupils cut by 10%
Level of resource teachers and special needs assistants the same but demand up
The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation has strongly condemned the cuts , describing them as ’savage’. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Support hours for children with special educational needs are being reduced by 10 per cent due to an increase in demand, the National Council for Special Education announced today.
The level of resource teachers and special needs assistants at primary and post primary level will be maintained at last year’s capped levels for the 2013/2104 period, the council said.
However, there is an increase of some 10 per cent in children entitled to support, with 4,100 more children receiving teaching supports than last year. There will be 42,500 children receiving additional teaching supports against some 38,400 last year.
The reduction in hours represents a 25 per cent cut on 2010/2011, meaning a child receiving an hour support per day in 2010 would see this reduced to 45 minutes.
“The level of SNAs and resource teaching post has not been cut,” Teresa Griffin chief executive of the council said today.
“We still have exactly the same number of resource and special needs posts to allocate,” she said. “At a time when there are real cuts in almost every other area of the public service, to be asked to do more with the same and not with less is a significant of the Government commitment to special education.”
She acknowledged the growing number of school children was a factor in the increased entitlement to support but it may also reflect people being more aware of special needs and of the availability of resources.
The council wants schools to use careful planning and team teaching to maximise the teaching hours and “minimise the impact of this adjustment on individual students”, she said.
Some 3,750 schools will receive resource or special needs assistant teaching. in September. About 24 per cent of schools will see an decrease in their resource allocation while 23 per cent will see their allocation increase.
The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation strongly condemned the cuts , describing them as “savage”. The union said the Department of Education and the council were “attempting to hide the extent of cutbacks” from parents.
“Given the increase in special needs children, in real terms this is a significant cutback in resource support for special needs,” the union said.
The cut in hours is a “ significant policy failure that will have long-term implications,” general secretary Sheila Nunan said. She accused the Government of breaking its commitment to “support mainstream education”.
The Joint Managerial Body, which represents secondary schools, said the situation was totally unacceptable. “Pupils with low incidence special educational needs, such as autism, will receive only 75 per cent of the hours recommended in an assessment of the child’s needs by an educational psychologist,” Ferdia Kelly said in a statement, adding that such a child would receive 41.25 less hours next year than in 2010/2011.