Special needs resource teaching funding stays at €1.3bn but student numbers up

Most vulnerable in society targeted for Government savings in education, FF claims

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore: denied there was a cut in special needs education funding. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore: denied there was a cut in special needs education funding. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Fri, Jun 21, 2013, 01:00


Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has insisted there is no cut in special needs education funding following the announcement by the National Council for Special Education of a cut in resource teaching hours.

To repeated heckling and intervention from the Opposition, Mr Gilmore said that neither the financial allocation nor the number of resource teachers was being cut.

“The financial allocation for special education needs in 2011 was €1.3 billion and the allocation in 2013 is €1.3 billion,” he told the Dáil.

But the number of children requiring resource teaching hours will rise by 4,000 from 2012 to 42,500 in September. And 22,000 children would require special needs assistants, an increase of 2,000.

Fianna Fáil education spokesman Charlie McConalogue said that represented a 12 per cent cut in teaching hours from September.

That would mean a cut in special teaching hours by half an hour a week from four and quarter hours to three and three-quarter hours, he said.


‘Most vulnerable’
He contrasted that with the increase of 900 teachers for mainstream primary and secondary schools and asked: “Why is it that the Government are targeting their drive for savings in education at the most vulnerable students in our education system?”

Mr Gilmore said the Minister for Education had published detailed policy advice as to how the resources should be allocated, and “that’s the first time the allocation system has been looked at in detail for about 20 years”.

They were looking at how best to use the resource and this was “reasonable”.

Sinn Féin’s Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said those who would be affected were “children with autism, with speech and language difficulties, with multiple disabilities, with severe emotional disturbance, visual or hearing impairments”.