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School support system to be reformed

Posted by SchoolDays Newshound on 19/06/2014. School support system to be reformedTags: Education And Politics Teachers Parenting

The current special needs school support system faces reform as Minister for Education and Skills Ruarí Quinn publishes new report drawn up by a working group of The National Council for Special Education (NCSE).

Under the current system, better-off parents who can afford to pay for a private diagnosis of their child’s disability are at an advantage, as they are able to access teaching resources denied to worse off parents with the same needs. Reforms aim to remove the need for professional medical assessment before allocating a resource teacher.

The new system would also see a shift of support from schools in higher socio economic backgrounds to those in less well off areas. These areas tend to see a “greater depth of learning problems” according to The Irish Times, and so will experience an increase in resources supplied to them.
Currently, there are approximately 11,000 learning support and resource teachers working in the country. Learning support teachers tend to cater for those with mild learning difficulties, with resource teachers working with children who have more severe special needs. Reforms seek to pool all of these teachers under the title of ‘support teachers.’

Under the proposed reform, approximately 8,500 teachers will be allocated based on the educational profile of individual schools. This profile will take into account the number of students with severe special needs, the proportion of students performing below a fixed academic level, as well as the social context of the school.

According to The Irish Times, “the reforms would provide “baseline” support for every mainstream school to support inclusion, prevention of learning difficulties and early intervention.”

While the plans have been supported by some teachers and parents, The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation have expressed concern regarding both cuts in resources and increased bureaucracy.

While it is hoped that the proposed reforms will be placed before the Government for approval in the Autumn, the Minister has said that it is his "intention that there will be full and comprehensive consultation with stakeholders and education partners, including the parents of special needs children, in advance of any changes to the current model for allocating resource teachers to schools.” 

If you are a parent looking for information on special needs support and schools in Ireland click here


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