Posted by Schooldays Newshound, on 23/03/2022. Tags: Parenting Education And Politics
Minister for Education Norma Foley TD and Minister of State with responsibility for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan TD have today, 23 March, announced a significant expansion of special school provision in Cork and Dublin.
This significant announcement will provide for the establishment of a new special school in Cork and increased capacity in existing special schools in Cork and Dublin to meet the needs of children and young people.Minister Foley said:Our education system is at its best when it has the welfare and wellbeing of our children at its heart, and when every child and young person feels welcomed, nurtured, and inspired within their school community. As Minister for Education I am committed to having an education system that works for everyone within it.
The announcement of new provision today in Cork and Dublin is a significant step forward and I am pleased that we are making real progress in meeting the needs of our young people and collaborating in new ways to ensure every child has access to a welcoming and inclusive environment to learn and flourish.
I want to thank all of the parents, schools, patron bodies and other stakeholders in Cork for their ongoing engagement with the Department and with the NCSE. I know that this has been a difficult period for many students and their families in Cork who have been unable to secure a suitable placement, and I am pleased that we continue to make progress in addressing this.
In particular, I want to thank the patrons, boards of management and principals for their willingness to engage on expansion of their school designation. Discussions will continue with patrons to finalise the patronage arrangements for the new special school.
I know that the additional capacity announced today will be a welcome relief to the families who do not have a school place for next September.Minister Madigan said:"As Minister for Special Education, I am committed to keeping inclusion at the heart of education by ensuring that every child has a school place appropriate for their needs. In this, there will always be a vital role for special schools. It is for this reason that I am delighted to have secured agreement for the expansion of special school places in Dublin and Cork, parts of the country where demand has been highest.
At this time of year, many families are applying for school places for their children. It can be a period of anxiety. Today’s announcement is about saying to families that we understand the pressures you are facing, we are on your side, and we are committed to ensuring that as many places as possible are available.
I am particularly delighted to have secured agreement for the opening of a new special school in Rochestown for the benefit of students and families with additional needs in Cork, as well as provision of new special school places and buildings in Dublin. I also welcome the Memorandum of Understanding with the Spiritan Order which marks the first time that schools such as these will be part of the provision of special education in Ireland, without barriers to entry for those who need a place.
This is a much-needed development which will help to meet the demand for special school places in these areas.
I want to thank everyone involved in this endeavour. I also want to be clear that work continues to meet the ongoing demand for special education placements. As Minister of State for Special Education, I am determined to support students and families in securing school places where they are needed. I know this can be a difficult process and I want to make it as easy as possible."Cork
The Department, together with the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), has been working with parents, schools, patron bodies and other stakeholders in Cork to address the current shortage of specialist school placements in the Cork area.
A new special school will be established during the 2022/23 school year in Rochestown, Cork which will provide for the enrolment of children and young people with autism and complex learning needs up to 18 years of age.
While places will be provided for all children who have no offer of a special school place for the 2022/23 school year, it is estimated at this stage that 30 places will be required initially.
Priority will now be given to those children and young people who currently do not have an offer of a school place for next September and require the support of a special school.
Special educational needs organisers (SENOs) will work closely with the families of the children and young people concerned to assist them in accessing the new places which will become available early in 2023.
Planning for the establishment and opening of the new special school will begin immediately. This will include a determination of the size of the school required so that the necessary staff recruitment, school policy development and related arrangements can be put in train. This will also include ongoing communication with the families concerned.
The new school will be located on an interim basis in Rochestown in a premises expected to become available in early 2023.
Additional special school places are also being provided in the following special schools in Cork:
- Carrigaline Community Special School
Carrigaline Community Special School, which was established in September 2021, will expand by 16 places to an enrolment of 48 for the 2022/23 school year.
- St. Killian’s Special School, Mayfield
As part of a major capital investment at this school, which will ultimately deliver a large number of additional classrooms with associated multi-sensory and living skills areas, enrolment has already commenced for 18 additional places for September, 2022.
- St. Gabriel’s Special School, Bishopstown
A major refurbishment project is currently underway in this school which caters for children and young people with severe and profound learning disability and those in this category with associated autistic spectrum disorder. This project comes under a scheme operated in conjunction with Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) and is expected to deliver additional capacity in the 2022/23 school year.
More broadly, in addition to identifying possible locations for the permanent location of the new special school announced today, the Department is also considering the overall special education placement requirements of the Cork area including locations for special school provision on the eastern side of Cork City.
In this context, the Department will continue ongoing discussions with patron bodies in order to identify a patron for the new special school in Rochestown, and an announcement will be made shortly.Dublin
The Department, together with the National Council for Special Education (NCSE), has been working with parents, schools, patron bodies and other stakeholders in Dublin to address the current shortage of specialist school placements in the Dublin area. This approach has recently seen the establishment of two new special schools in Dublin – Danú Community Special School in Dublin 15 and Our Lady of Hope School in Crumlin, Dublin 12.
The new provision announced today will see additional capacity at the following special schools in Dublin:-
- Casa Caterina School, Cabra
This school will expand its enrolment by 6 children for the 2022/23 school year.
- Danú Community Special School, Dublin 15
A building project to facilitate the school’s relocation to Rath Dara Community College Campus, Blanchardstown is nearing completion and will facilitate the provision of 6 additional places at the school.
- Our Lady of Hope School, Crumlin
This school opened in autumn, 2021 following a major refurbishment project. Additional capital investment is planned which will provide for 7 additional places at the school in September, 2022.
Planning is also underway for the provision of new school buildings for a number of special schools in Dublin under the patronage of St. Michael’s House. This will provide additional capacity in both the North and South Dublin areas.
More broadly, the Department is also considering the overall special education placement requirements of the Dublin area in particular to ensure a supply of placements coming on stream to meet emerging demand.
In line with these demographics and as part of forward planning, it is envisaged that special classes will be required at most, if not all, post-primary schools.
A range of measures to meet additional SEN capacity demands have already been put in place including the utilisation of spare capacity in existing schools and delivery of additional SEN capacity within the scope of existing building projects.
Additionally, it is general practice to include a SEN Base in the accommodation brief for new school buildings, unless exceptional local circumstances indicate that it will not be required. The extent of provision made at these schools is informed by the level of demand in the area as well as the size of the school. As a general guide, a two classroom SEN Base is typically provided in new 8 classroom primary schools and a four classroom SEN Base is provided in new 1,000 pupil post primary schools.
In the context of the significant emerging demand for special education provision, and in particular, the specific requirements in South Dublin, the Spiritan Education Trust has entered into an agreement with the Department of Education in relation to the use of its existing school sites and other lands to support the provision of school places for children and young people with special educational needs. A copy of the Memorandum of Understanding is available here
This very important and pro-active initiative will see the Trust, with the full support of the Spiritan Congregation, making land available on its school campuses to provide special schools and special classes as required.
The initial focus will be on maximising the opportunities for facilitating special education needs provision at the Templeogue College campus as part of an overall modernisation/ development of the campus. This will include a four-classroom base for students with special educational needs at the college.
In addition and as part of supporting additional special school provision, strategic engagement and discussions will be commencing between the Trust and the patron of Cheeverstown School, a special school currently located on a temporary site in Templeogue.Minister Foley added:"This announcement today reflects the very strong emphasis on forward planning and roll-out of provision for children and young people with special educational needs. This is a key priority for me and I am particularly conscious of the need for a strengthened focus on special class provision at post-primary level to ensure as smooth a transition as possible for children with special educational needs.
"The Memorandum of Understanding with the Spiritan Education Trust is an example of the way the Department is seeking to maximise the opportunities for enhancing special education provision.
"Budget 2022 provided for the creation of 287 additional special classes for the 2022/2023 school year. These additional classes will provide over 1,700 new places from September next.
"This provision for 287 additional special classes will bring the total to 2,435 in the 2022/2023 school year, making a significant contribution to addressing unmet need across the country.
"Our school communities have demonstrated a real commitment to inclusion. I would like to thank those involved in supporting the continued establishment of special classes. Throughout Ireland, the number of special classes continues to grow year on year ensuring that children and young people have access to school places which are appropriate to their needs."Minister Madigan said:"I am delighted to have secured the additional provision being announced today.
"This is critical to meeting the demand for special school places in the area.
"As Minister of State for Special Education, I am determined to support students and families in securing school places where they are needed. I know this can be a difficult process and I want to make it as easy as possible.
"There has been a shortage of special school places in the Dublin area in the last two years. Many students who should have a special school place were unable to secure one. This has impacted on their lives and the lives of their families. This expansion will increase the number of places available for students in the area and allow students to receive a full education appropriate to their needs.
"I want to thank everyone who works with us in our shared endeavour. I too am grateful to the Spiritan Education Trust for working with us to enhance special education provision."
Intensive work is underway at present to ensure the additional places are established as early as possible, with a particular focus on the 2022/23 school year.
The provision of additional special school placements is to cater for the immediate requirements. The Department and the NCSE continue to work towards the development of additional placements nationwide to meet ongoing and future demand.