'No cuts' to special needs teaching
EDUCATION Minister Ruairi Quinn has insisted that there is no cut to the provision of teaching resources for children with special needs.
Mr Quinn said the Government was holding back a balance of 10pc of next year's allocation of special needs teaching hours, and said it was a sensible provision based on unexpected demand for the service.
"We are keeping in reserve 10pc to be allocated in full by September of this year," Mr Quinn said yesterday.
He insisted 10pc was being held back to cover any late applications for special needs resources for those who missed the deadline for application to the National Council for Special Education (NCSE).
It assesses the number of specialised hours of teaching a pupil with particular needs may require.
He insisted the "intention" was that the children would get the hours they require based on the assessments of the NCSE.
The Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) called for the ring-fencing of education resources and funding in the current economic climate.
"Education will contribute to rebuilding society as well as regenerating the economy," INTO general secretary Sheila Nunan said.
The INTO said it would seek a meeting with the Education Department on the overall staffing of schools to ensure that primary schools can meet the needs of school population.
It is expected to expand by about 8,000 at primary level to 515,000 next September.
The Education Department said the anticipated demand for special needs hours through late or emergency applications was expected to be less than the 10pc held back.
It will then revisit the initial allocation of resource teaching and increase the numbers.
Lorraine Dempsey, of the Special Needs Parents Association, said this meant the department could not anticipate the level of demand on the 10pc set aside.
She said they wouldn't be "confident" until the new academic year gets under way and the teaching resources are fully allocated to those children with special needs.