Friday 9 December 2016

Teachers' union is furious at 'diagnosis for dollars' claims

Published 19/11/2016 | 02:30

INTO general secretary Sheila Nunan Photo: PA News
INTO general secretary Sheila Nunan Photo: PA News

Primary teachers' union the Irish National Teachers' Organisation has hit back at claims that children are being deliberately misdiagnosed in order to get extra resources in school.

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They have described it as a "disgraceful attempt to create a narrative" ahead of a proposed new system for allocating supports for pupils with special educational needs.

Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) general secretary Sheila Nunan said the claims were "outrageous" and had "further damaged trust that teachers had in the process" of designing a new system.

Ms Nunan said it was "clear that some take the view that some schools are seeking resources to which they are not entitled. The view from the schools is that the new model is a vehicle for still further cutbacks in staffing and supports."

Ms Nunan was reacting to a statement by the head of the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) Teresa Griffin.

Ms Griffin said professionals were making some children "fit a certain category of disability in order for them to get a resource" even though they "don't theoretically meet the actual label".

Ms Griffin told a recent meeting of the Oireachtas Education Committee that a practice known as 'diagnosis for dollars' in the US was happening here.

It comes ahead of the proposed changes in the system for allocating learning support and resource teachers. This will see a shift away from the practice of relying on the individual diagnoses, and look more at a school's general profile.

Work is still under way on the new model, which is expected to be rolled out in the new year, with a view to introducing it to schools in September 2017.

Fairer

The changes are supposed to bring a fairer system but, according to the INTO, attempts to design it got off to a bad start, and have been damaged by a climate of mutual distrust.

Ms Nunan said distrust had flourished because of failure to implement some policy measures and cuts in recent years, including reducing, by 15pc, the extra time allocated to individual pupils approved for extra supports.

Ms Nunan said that a suggestion that parents and schools were colluding, to medicate children in support of additional resources, did nothing to build trust.

Irish Independent

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