Changes to special needs resource allocation to schools may be delayed

Minister for Education to meet teaching unions next week on Junior Cert impasse

Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan:  said the aim was to “move towards a system where educational supports and needs of children would be provided”.   Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan: said the aim was to “move towards a system where educational supports and needs of children would be provided”. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan has signalled that it may be 2016 before changes to allocating special needs resources in schools are introduced.

Ms O’Sullivan said in Galway yesterday she was looking forward to “positive engagement” when she meets the ASTI and TUI teaching unions next Wednesday to break a deadlock over Junior Cert reform. She said her priority was tackling the outstanding issues over junior cycle assessment. She also welcomed the fact that the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals was “engaging in debate” on Leaving Cert reform and felt the public should be involved also.

The Minister was in Galway to address the association’s conference and to mark the building of new secondary school premises for Coláiste na Coiribe. She said 2016 was a “more likely” start than next year for making proposed changes to special need resource allocation.

Under the National Council for Special Education plan, the school profile will be one of three sources of information used to allocate resources, along with standardised tests and the number of students who have complex special educational needs. Ms O’Sullivan said the aim was to “move towards a system where educational supports and needs of children would be provided”, instead of “the parent having to get a medical diagnosis before they get the support that they need in school”.

“We want to be very careful about how we do it because we want to ensure first of all that we consult properly and, secondly, that we know the effect that it would have,” she added. Changes were “more likely” in 2016 to allow time to “consult widely”.

In his address to the conference, association president Pádraig Flanagan proposed that the results of certain fifth-year exams should count towards Leaving Cert grades.