Schools to get extra teachers for pupils with special needs
There has been a broad welcome for a new system for allocating extra teachers to schools for children with special educational needs, but with a warning that it would have to be backed up by resources.
It will eliminate the need for parents of children with the most complex needs to pay for a diagnosis to support an application for additional classroom resources.
In future, additional teaching support for pupils with special needs will be based on the social and educational profile of a school. Profiles will be based on results from standardised tests conducted in primary schools and from Junior Cert data, as well as information on the socio-economic backgrounds of a school's pupils, such as the numbers availing of an exam fee waiver.
The profiles will also include a weighting for pupils with the most complex needs, who will be identified through a scheme being devised in consultation with the school psychologists, the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE).
Up to now, extra resources for pupils with high incidence needs, such as dyslexia, were linked to a school's overall teacher numbers, while parents of children with the most complex needs required a professional assessment, which was deemed unfair to less well-off families.
Education Minister Richard Bruton said it would be a fairer and better way to allocate resources. He said no school would receive an allocation of resources less than the allocation they received in the current school year.
Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) general secretary Sheila Nunan said while the plan had a number of positive aspects, the "jury was out" and its success would depend on "resource provision to match the rhetoric".
Association of Community and Comprehensive Schools (ACCS) president Antoinette Nic Gearailt said they trusted it would result in a less cumbersome application process.