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Quinn U-turn on special needs cuts 'not enough'

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Minister for Education and Skills Ruari Quinn. Photo Damien Eagers

Minister for Education and Skills Ruari Quinn. Photo Damien Eagers

Minister for Education and Skills Ruari Quinn. Photo Damien Eagers

MINISTER for Education Ruairi Quinn's dramatic U-turn on resource teacher cuts doesn't go far enough for special needs children, parents claim.

Mr Quinn back-pedalled on the controversial decision to cut resource teaching hours by 10pc, announced last week.

He said that he has authorised the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to retain the level of resource teachers at 2012/13 levels.

PETITION

The minister said that he had listened to the plight of parents of special needs children and regretted any anguish caused last week.

"This is a good day for special education. I secured Cabinet agreement to release 500 additional teaching posts to schools in September to cope with the alarming rise in the demand for these resources," he said.

"This is a once-off measure that will have budgetary implications which I have alerted my colleagues to today." However, parents claim that although the cut to resource hours has been reversed, the requirement for special needs assistance has not been met.

Billy Brophy is a father of a 12-year-old boy with special needs and said that the move will not improve his son's plight.

Mr Brophy was informed last week that Jack – who has Down's Syndrome – won't be allocated a special needs assistant (SNA) when he moves into sixth class in September.

"While I welcome the reversal on those cuts (resource teaching), it still doesn't go far enough," he told the Herald.

"It certainly doesn't address the needs of my child and he is still going to be without his SNA support."

Jack attends Star of the Sea school in Sandymount.

Mr Brophy, along with other parents with special needs children, plan to petition outside the Dail today at 6pm.

Fianna Fail's education spokesperson Charlie McConalogue also expressed concern that this U-turn has not been extended to SNAs.

MISTAKE

"It will come as a relief to parents and teachers that Minister Quinn has realised he made yet another mistake in targeting children with special needs for cuts in September," he said.

"However, this means that the 22,000 children who need SNAs will still see a reduction.

"I am urging him to do the right thing and reverse the SNAs cuts too, so that no child with special needs suffers a reduction in support."

clairemurphy@herald.ie


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