Cut in resource teaching time for special needs pupils

 

PUPILS WITH special needs face further cutbacks in the time they spend with their resource teachers in the next school year.

Resource teaching time for children with learning difficulties is being reduced by 15 minutes per week, a reduction of 5 per cent.

This comes on top of a 10 per cent cutback last year, meaning special needs pupils will have lost 45 minutes of learning support since the 2010-2011 academic year.

The cutbacks will result in a reduction in the number of resource teachers in primary schools across the country.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation said it was concerned with further cutbacks for pupils with special needs and said it will be monitoring the impact of the cuts on individual schools.

Schools are being asked to make up lost time by supporting the students in groups and exercising more effective time management.

Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn said he was “quite satisfied that this is a very small reduction”.

“I would expect that resource teachers would, like many others in the public service, respond and go that extra mile in terms of meeting the requirements of their group,” he said.

“We’re trying to meet the educational needs of young people who have special requirements within limited resources and obviously, no matter how wealthy this country might be or could be, you could never meet the individual needs of any one person because there will always be a sense that they will need more,” he added.

The number of resource teacher and learning-support posts the government can allocate to primary schools was capped at 9,950 in December 2010 to meet the terms of the EU-IMF bailout.

The cutbacks are in place to cope with this year’s higher demand for resource-teaching posts, which exceeds the capped number currently available.

Jennifer Doran of the National Council for Special Education said: “One of the issues with having a cap in relation to the number of posts we can allocate is that where there is an increase in the amount of demand, something has to give.”

The Department of Education has to cut 15 per cent of assessed needs to schools to ensure they can respond to further demands for resource teachers throughout the school year.

Resource teachers work with pupils who have learning difficulties stemming from problems such as speech and language difficulties and attention-control difficulties.

There will be no further cuts in the number of special needs assistants, which is capped at 10,575.

Every school that has made valid applications have been allocated such an assistant and further reserve assistants will be available throughout the year, according to the Minister.