Twenty-five south Dublin schools ordered to open classes for special needs pupils

Dozens of children with conditions such as autism unable to access school places

Minister of State for Special Education Josepha Madigan said, “Recent months have been very difficult for staff and students, and we want to work with our schools to ensure that the necessary special class places are available for those who need them.” Photograph by Crispin Rodwell for the Irish Times

Minister of State for Special Education Josepha Madigan said, “Recent months have been very difficult for staff and students, and we want to work with our schools to ensure that the necessary special class places are available for those who need them.” Photograph by Crispin Rodwell for the Irish Times

 

CARL O’BRIEN, Education Editor

Twenty-five primary schools in the south Dublin area have been ordered to open classes for children with special needs due to an acute shortage of school places in the area.

The move is aimed at sourcing places for dozens of school-age children with conditions such as autism and other learning difficulties and who have been unable to secure school places.

As a result, many are availing of home tuition or forced to travel long distances across the city in rush-hour traffic to access school places outside their community.

The schools were requested during the summer to provide special classes on their premises.

However, many of the schools argued that they did not have trained teaching staff or that they did not have room for more pupils.

Following inspections by the Department of Education, the schools have been told this week that their existing accommodation is suitable and can be adapted for the immediate establishment of special classes.

The schools have been directed to begin to make provision for special classes without delay and that classes should come on stream during the current 2020/2021 school year.

In a statement, Minister of State for Special Education Josepha Madigan said every child has a right to an education and this was a core value for everyone working in the education sector.

“Recent months have been very difficult for staff and students, and we want to work with our schools to ensure that the necessary special class places are available for those who need them,” she said.

“Our schools are welcoming and inclusive environments and the NCSE will continue to liaise with schools to identify additional capacity for special classes where this exists.”

Many parents say their children with special needs have been told that they are over-subscribed or not equipped to enrol children with additional needs.

The Involve Autism campaign group has said parents who are unable to access appropriate school places for their children have been under “phenomenal stress”.

In some cases, individual parents have applied to more than 30 schools across Dublin without finding a place for their child.

The department states that a package of supports available to assist schools in making the additional places available.

The supports cover the provision of additional teachers, special needs assistants, training, advice and funding.

One teacher and two special needs assistant posts are sanctioned for each special class.

Thousands of euro in grants are also available to schools for establishing special classes, classroom furniture and ICT equipment. The schools which are being ordered to open classes are as follows:

Dublin 2:

City Quay National School, Gloucester Street South.

Dublin 6/6W

Bishop Shanahan NS, Templeogue;

Gaelscoil Mologa, Harold’s Cross.

Dublin 8:

Gaelscoil Inse Chór;

Sancta Maria CBS.

Dublin 12:

Scoil Mhuire, Crumlin Road;

Scoil Mhuire Óg II;

St Damien’s NS, Perrystown;

Scoil Úna Naofa, Crumlin.

Dublin 16:

Scoil Mhuire, Ballyboden;

Queen of Angels Primary School, Sandyford.

Dublin 18:

Scoil Mhuire, Rathsallagh;

Holy Trinity National School.

Dublin 20:

Scoil Bhríde, Palmerstown.

Dublin 22:

Scoil Naomh Seosamh, Clondalkin;

St Mary’s Senior National School, Clondalkin.

Dublin 24:

St Anne’s Primary School, Tallaght;

St Dominic’s National School, Tallaght.

Co Dublin:

St Raphaela’s, Stillorgan;

Scoil Náisiúnta Padraig Naofa, Kilternan;

Our Lady of Mercy Convent School, Booterstown;

Scoil Lorcáin, Seapoint, Blackrock;

Scoil Náisiúnta San Treasa, Mount Merrion;

Scoil Cholmcille Senior, Ballybrack;

Star of the Sea, Sandymount.