Lucan teen born in direct provision had no school place since June
Place offered to boy is without special needs assistant and resources
Latifat Olagoke with her son Trevon at Lucan Library: “I try to bring him to the library, get him to do some history and spend a few hours on the computer, but he is getting frustrated.” Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
Trevon Olagoke (13), from Lucan, Co Dublin, has not had a school place he can go to since June.
He has a mild learning disability and needs a special needs assistant (SNA), to manage school socially and academically, as well as extra resource hours. Though he has been offered a place in a local secondary school, he cannot take it up because the additional resources he needs have yet to be allocated.
In addition, because he has an offer of a school place, the Department of Education will not sanction home tuition for him.
“He is not getting anything at the moment,” says his mother Latifat. “I try to bring him to the library, get him to do some history and spend a few hours on the computer, but he is getting frustrated.”
Born in direct provision – Latifat is from Nigeria – Trevon and his younger sister have lived in Lucan all their lives. The family are all Irish citizens.
Due to Trevon’s needs, Latifat sent him to a national school in Clondalkin – St Peter Apostle – because she says it was able to provide more resources than national schools nearer her.
However, because he was not in a local school, she missed invitations to open evenings in the local secondary schools, some of which stipulate applications for first year must be in almost two years in advance.
“Trevon is my oldest child,” says Latifat. “I did not know you have to apply for secondary school so early.”
Trevon was interested in Larkin Community College, in the city centre, as some of his classmates were going there.
“I didn’t like the idea of him travelling so far every day, and I couldn’t afford all those buses,” says Latifat. However, they applied for a sports scholarship to Larkin College, which would have covered his books and transport, but he was not successful. The college offered him a place.
However, as he did not get the scholarship, Latifat – who has another child, a daughter aged nine – was reluctant to take it. “And, really, he needs to be close to home.”
Two of the local schools – Coláiste Phadraig and Lucan Community College – had no space.
Kishoge Community College did offer him a place in September. However, because the school year had started, they have been unable so far to secure the SNA and resource hours to meet Trevon’s needs.
Asked whether Trevon could go to a secondary school in Clondalkin, Latifat says: “He would not be safe walking that distance there and back every day.”
She is hoping to get part-time work – having been a stay-at-home mother up to now – and says she cannot manage a journey to Clondalkin in the morning as well as dropping her daughter to school in Lucan. “He needs to be in a school close to home,” she says.
“It is very hard on him. He knows he should be at school and he is afraid to go out in case he meets his friends and they ask him which school he is in.”
Article 43.2 of the Constitution says the State shall: “As guardian of the common good, require . . . that the children receive a certain minimum education, moral, intellectual and social.”
Latifat worries her son “is not getting any education – in school or at home”.
A spokeswoman said the Department of Education could not comment “on an individual case”.
“SNAs are not allocated to individual children. In the event that a parent is dissatisfied with the levels of support provided to their child by a school, they should in the first instance take this up with the principal and thereafter with the school’s board of management.
“Home tuition is only available where a school placement is not available or in certain circumstances where a child cannot attend school for prolonged periods due to illness.”