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Tullydonnell principal ‘upset’ at taking SNA off child for another

Urgent meeting this week to discuss SNAs for local children

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Anne- Marie Ford (third from left in back) with other staff members of the early intervention classes. Back: Stephen Breen, Rebecca O’Hare, Anne Marie Ford, Linda McDonnell Front row: Kelly Lynch, Tara Grennan and Jenny Flood.

Anne- Marie Ford (third from left in back) with other staff members of the early intervention classes. Back: Stephen Breen, Rebecca O’Hare, Anne Marie Ford, Linda McDonnell Front row: Kelly Lynch, Tara Grennan and Jenny Flood.

Principal of Tullydonnell NS is upset at having to choose between vulnerable children in allocating SNAs.

Principal of Tullydonnell NS is upset at having to choose between vulnerable children in allocating SNAs.

School principal Anne Marie Ford in Co. Louth who is refusing to choose between vulnerable children for the allocation of SNAs after she says the Department of Education refused to sanction extra resources.

School principal Anne Marie Ford in Co. Louth who is refusing to choose between vulnerable children for the allocation of SNAs after she says the Department of Education refused to sanction extra resources.

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Anne- Marie Ford (third from left in back) with other staff members of the early intervention classes. Back: Stephen Breen, Rebecca O’Hare, Anne Marie Ford, Linda McDonnell Front row: Kelly Lynch, Tara Grennan and Jenny Flood.

droghedaindependent

A local school principal says she feels 'very compromised and upset' after being told to choose which vulnerable children should be provided with SNAs.

Principal of Scoil Naomh Colmcille in Tullydonnell, Togher, Anne Marie Ford is refusing to make the impossible decision to take a Special Needs Assistant (SNA) off one child to give to another because, she says, the Department of Education has refused to allocate more resources to the school.

An urgent meeting will take place in the Monasterboice Inn, outside Drogheda, this Thursday November 18th at 8pm for families who have children with a diagnosis of ASD.

Clinical psychologist Damien Connolly will be present on the night along with parents who will discuss various difficulties surrounding resources and support for their children. Strict Covid -19 protocol will apply. Limited places available. Free tickets may be accessed on Eventbrite.

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Ms Ford is passionate about integrating children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) as soon as possible into mainstream education to allow them to become independent and realise their potential.

The school currently teaches 24 children who have a diagnosis of ASD, from all over Louth and Meath, in four early intervention classes at the rural facility.

However, the school says that the Department of Education has refused to give the school extra SNAs to facilitate moving children with ASD into mainstream classes and instead, has told Ms Ford to reallocate already scarce resources through 're-prioritisation of those with the greatest needs receiving the greatest support'.

Essentially, it means deciding to take an SNA from a child to give to another.

The extra supports were refused after the enrolment of children with Autism from early intervention, where they had been allocated their own SNAs into the mainstream school, a move which was celebrated by both parents and staff.

"I thought it would have been logical to just continue to support these children through their early years in school in order to sustain their progress but instead, I was asked to make a decision to choose from my most vulnerable pupils to allocate my existing SNAs," said Ms Ford.

"I feel very compromised and upset about being put in this position. Ironically if the children had stayed in an ASD class. they would automatically be allocated an SNA.”

Anne Marie’s goal is to give every student the opportunity to reach their full potential and acknowledges that with the correct intervention every effort should be made to integrate children into their community primary school where they will learn alongside their neighbours and friends.

"This can only be achieved with continued SNA support in the early years with a view to gradually reducing access as the child progresses through the classes to promote independence.’

"This issue will affect many more primary schools besides Tullydonnell."

Mrs. Ford has had a particular interest in the area of ASD having studied the areas of neuroscience and psychology of mental health in London and psychotherapy in Dublin’s Trinity College.

Free tickets for Thursday’s meeting in the Monasterboice Inn at 8pm meeting may be accessed on Eventbrite.


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