Lack of resources stymies education progress

 

Sir, – Members of the National Principals’ Forum (a registered lobby group of over 1,200 primary school principal teachers across Ireland) believe Tuesday was an extremely dark day for Irish education. The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) conference gave clear indications where policy makers are driving our education system.

It is terrifying – the death knell has been sounded for specialised education or intervention, and any hope of ever meeting the needs of pupils with additional needs in a properly resourced or inclusive manner are dashed.

In a report published on Tuesday, the NCSE says the State should consider moving to a “total inclusion” model, where all children are placed in mainstream schools, regardless of their level of disability (Home News, November 20th).

The pretence of working towards more “inclusion” when the reality is that Special Educational Needs (SEN) is simply too costly for the Government’s liking is pernicious and disgusting .

When will Government leaders learn that they need to invest in our young people, provide the necessary services, adequate provision of special education teachers and special needs assistants (SNAs), link us in with therapeutic services, HSE services, listen to educators on the ground and stop running with the latest and “greatest” brainchild of other countries.

Every child deserves a holistic and inclusive education. This is not achievable under the current system, nor the “Utopian” New Brunswick model. This model has by many accounts imploded in Canada, and yet our special needs policy makers are flying speakers over to speak to the virtues of this very system!?

It sickens and gravely concerns us that urgent investment can be found for numerous futile and undeserving Government projects and yet our children – our precious children, the future, are bottom of the pile for investment.

The concerns of educators are neither acknowledged or addressed. We have tried relentlessly to raise awareness and offer practical and reasonable recommendations not excessively demanding of our exchequer. The Joint Oireachtas Committee is aware of the efforts we have made in this regard, and we appreciate its engagement and support.

Sadly, despite our fruitless efforts to engage with education stakeholders and effect necessary change, the worrying trends in education are worsening, the most exceptional expertise is being lost daily in our country, and teachers and principals are exploited and becoming demoralised across every front. What hurts the most and damages the most is the lack of the supports we need to help all of our pupils.

More energy is poured into vilfiying or discrediting us. There is no trust in our educators, no value placed on us, and absolutely no appetite to truly address the issues maligning our education system and which fail our pupils miserably.

The Government and its policy makers, far removed from reality, are destroying our education system. Death by a thousand cuts – and now our children and pupils are the targets.

We are urging our education colleagues across this country to inform themselves of what is coming down the tracks. Indeed anyone interested in our future needs to pay heed. It is utterly scary and coming fast. – Yours, etc,

ANGELA DUNNE,

Principal Teacher,

Representative of the

National Principals’ Forum,

Co Tipperary.