INTO response to new special education allocation model
Jury out on new model for allocating special education teachers to schools.
The DES today (18 January, 2017), announced that a new model for allocating Special Education Teaching Resources to mainstream primary and post primary schools will be introduced from September 2017.
The INTO said that while there were a number of positive aspects to the proposed scheme for allocating special education teachers to schools the jury was out on the new model. The union said the success of the new model would depend on resource provision to match the rhetoric.
Proposals such as giving a single allocation for special educational teaching resources to schools in January of each year, as opposed to a staggered allocation process are positive. This will allow for earlier planning to take place in schools.
The replacement of the existing system of a general allocations combined with an NCSE allocations with a single allocation model for schools is also an improvement which could reduce bureaucracy at school level. On the same basis the ending of the need for schools to complete an application process annually is a positive step.
The claim that schools will no longer have to wait for assessments for children to receive supports in schools has been made before by several ministers for education. Previous models promised that schools would be frontloaded with resources to provide supports immediately to those pupils who needed it without delay. This did not prove to be the case in many instances. The reality is that resources didn’t match the rhetoric. The current claim remains to be proven and will be closely monitored.
The new model proposes to give greater autonomy to schools to allocate resources to the pupils who most need these resources, regardless of their diagnosis. The INTO warned that it will not allow school offices to become the new battleground over scarce resources. The new model will not allow the state to evade its responsibility to properly resource schools. Principals and teachers will continue to advocate for resources for pupils and will not become gatekeepers for the state’s failures to resource schools.
The introduction of an allocation to schools for two years is an improvement on annual allocations of resources. However, it does not provide certainty of resourcing to children for their school career. Two years is a fraction of a child's time in school which means parents face regular battles to ensure resources are allocated to pupils.
Additional provision for 900 extra teaching posts is being made available for 2017 to support the introduction of a new allocation model. However, this includes approximately 600 teachers which are required for increasing demographics.
Up to 1,000 schools will receive additional allocations. The remaining schools will not receive allocations less than they currently have for the next two years. It remains to be seen if the new model is simply a method of postponing resource cuts for two years.
The support that NEPS psychologists and HSE professionals can provide to schools in terms of assessment for intervention, and review and guidance depends on resourcing of those services. Currently NEPS is significantly under resourced. In addition, speech and language therapists, mental health professionals and occupational therapists are either in short supply or non-existent in the education system.
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Date: Wednesday, 18 January 17