Dáil debates

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate

Special Educational Needs

7:45 pm

Photo of Joan CollinsJoan Collins (Dublin South Central, Independents 4 Change) | Oireachtas source

That is why I welcome her being here. That is why I said it.

I am not here to have a go at the Minister of State. I want to express the frustration of parents whose children are losing special education hours. One parent who contacted me said that her son lost two days of special education teaching this week. The loss of one-to-one teaching to help him with social skills and extra reading will leave him further behind and regressing. This parent makes a strong point that mainstream autistic children are often forgotten about. Special needs assistants and special education teaching hours make it possible for them to get to school.

Another parent this week told me that a special education teacher was put in to cover for five days for a full-time teacher who was out sick, meaning that this young boy missed five days of special education teaching. Normally, these hours would be banked for future use if the special education teacher could not fulfil the hours that week. It is a seriously worrying trend in mainstream schools at present due to the shortage of substitute teachers or where teachers are absent and a special education teacher is used to teach the class.

During the peak of the pandemic when this used to occur, the school was allowed to bank these missed hours when a special education teacher was in a classroom to ensure that the hours lost were not at the expense of the children who rely on the special education teacher for resource hours. This practice now appears to have been revoked and I seek clarification on that. Vulnerable children are losing out on vital resource hours with no option to make up lost time.


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