Teachers demand timely support for pupils with special educational needs

At the INTO’s annual Congress in Galway, primary school teachers have demanded that the Department of Education and Skills put in place an annual mechanism for reporting newly identified and diagnosed special educational needs and called for timely assessment and care for children with mental health issues.

The current review process sees the teacher allocation for children with special educational needs reviewed every two years. It does not provide for children diagnosed with additional needs between reviews to be added to the school’s allocation. Teachers also condemned the lack of supports for pupils with mental health issues, noting that a mental health issue is special educational need under the EPSEN Act (2004).

Sinead O’Sullivan, a teacher in Dublin, said “It is extremely distressing that there are children of primary school age who are self-harming but we are seeing it… we need targeted and specialised services and therapies to be made readily available for school children.”

Alice O’Donnell, of the Education Committee said, “We are not trained, not supported and not resourced to support pupils who are experiencing mental health issues.”