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Budget 2023: Josepha Madigan seeking extra funding for more special school places

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Minister of State Josepha Madigan

Minister of State Josepha Madigan

Minister of State Josepha Madigan

Junior Minister for special education Josepha Madigan says she is fighting for extra funding to open more special classes and special school places for children with additional needs.

While there has been a significant increase in special classes and special school places over the past decade, every year there are families who struggle to find a suitable place for their child.

This school year sees a record 2,535 special classes in mainstream primary and post-primary schools, an increase of 383 classes and 2,312 new places on last year. In all, they cater for a total of about 15,759 pupils.

But the ongoing difficulties facing parents triggered emergency legislation over the summer giving the minister stronger powers to compel a school to open a special class, and to allow the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to designate a school place for a child.

Dublin and Cork were identified as areas suffering the greatest shortfall in places for September, but the problem was more widespread than that.

A spokesperson for the minister said that places had been secured for all children known to the NCSE.

Ms Madigan told an NCSE conference today that she was fighting for an increase for special education in current Budget negotiations.

“I feel there is a momentum around special education in Ireland at the moment and we must do all we can to ensure every single child has access to a school place,” she said.

She said her “number one priority” was increasing the number of special school and special class places across the country and ensuring that these placements were adequately funded.

“We have made significant progress in achieving this over the past few months, especially in Dublin. But another one of my key priorities for the budget is ensuring that the NCSE has an increase in resources in order to help children find the right school place.”

Ms Madigan said that a detailed business case had been submitted as part of the Budget process to increase capacity in the NCSE, which, she said was “a priority in ensuring the NCSE can deliver on its commitments and maintain a level of service in an expanding environment”.

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