Teachers condemn special-needs cuts
TEACHERS and school managers have condemned cuts that will reduce the tuition time for pupils who need most support in the classroom.
Resource teaching hours will be reduced by an average of 10-15 minutes per child, per week from September. This amounts to a further 5pc cut on top of a 10pc cut that was implemented last September.
Resource teachers provide additional teaching capacity in primary and post-primary schools for pupils with special educational needs, such as autism. While resource teacher numbers will be maintained at 5,500, there will be no new teachers.
Schools will be forced to reduce one-to-one teaching and do more team teaching with groups of children.
As well as resource teachers, there are 4,450 learning-support teachers to provide tuition and support for pupils with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia.
The surprise move has been condemned as unjust and unfair in educational circles.
Ferdia Kelly of the Joint Managerial Body (JMB), representing 450 secondary schools, expressed "grave concern at the further erosion of special educational needs supports for the most vulnerable young people and schools".
He said each child with a low-incidence special educational need, such as autism, would receive a total of 25 hours less support than in 2010-11.
The Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) said the new time-allocation levels would not easily add up to units of 25 hours needed for a full-time teaching post and would make more work for schools.
The 2012-13 allocations for resource teachers and special needs assistants were announced yesterday by the National Council for Special Education.
Its chief executive Teresa Griffin said schools should maximise their use of the available hours though careful planning and working with students in small groups.