Monday 27 February 2017

Schools hit hard with special needs cap

Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

THE number of pupils with special needs in mainstream schools has soared to more than 84,000 as the Government puts a cap on teachers available to provide extra support.

The staggering figures represent about one in 10 of the pupil population in our primary and secondary schools.

There are 66,629 pupils in primary schools with special educational needs and 17,512 pupils in secondary schools

The primary figure includes about 50,000 pupils with high incidence disabilities such as dyslexia. There are also 16,629 with less common disorders, such as autism or a hearing impairment.

A limit of 9,950 resource teachers has been placed on the forthcoming school year, while primary school enrolments are set to increase by 5,000-10,000.

Because of the growth in demand for support, coupled with the strain on public finances, the Department of Education recently froze the resource teacher application process.

The department will soon tell schools they can retain the allocation of resource teaching hours that they already hold. However, if extra support for new pupils arriving in September is needed they will have to contact other schools in the area to see if they have a teacher with available time.

Irish Independent

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