Cuts to resource hours for children with special needs

Fri, Jun 21, 2013, 01:05

Sir, – I would like to highlight the cut to resource hours, announced by the National Council for Special Education (Breaking News, June 19th). These hours are allocated to children with special needs in order to facilitate their inclusion in mainstream schools. This cut affects children who spend months, even years awaiting diagnosis and therapies. They will now spend time waiting for resource hours and when these hours are approved they will be at 75 per cent of the recommended allocation. This is because the number of resource teachers and special needs assistants is capped at current levels even though the school-going population is set to increase dramatically in the next five years.

As a teacher, I can see the inclusion of children with special needs in our school has taught compassion and understanding to our pupils, our teachers and the wider school community. As a parent, I believe all children should receive the supports they need so they can be educated in mainstream schools, along with their siblings and friends, in order to achieve their full potential as adults.

We need to decide whether we really want inclusion or not. It simply cannot happen without adequate supports.

Is our society willing to keep hurting the weakest and the most vulnerable? Children with special needs should know that they belong, that they are respected and valued for themselves as well as for what we can all learn from them. Unfortunately, we seem to be creating a country that treats such children as a drain on our resources and just about tolerates their presence in our schools. – Yours, etc,

ALICE O’DONNELL,

Dromont,

Delgany, Co Wicklow.