INTO reacts to today’s Inclusion Ireland report

Primary schools have always been open and inclusive places for special needs students. Today’s report published by Inclusion Ireland does not reflect the successful inclusion of thousands of students with special needs in our primary schools and special schools over the last number of decades.

All children have a right to education. Boards of management do not put pupils on reduced timetables lightly. They do so out of a desire to do what’s in the best interest of the child in question and after full consultation with the parents involved.

Reduced timetables are never the first port of call; schools will endeavour to do whatever they can to avoid such a need arising. They are the last resort when a child simply isn’t coping with the full school day.

In recent years, resources for children with acute special educational needs have been cut, reducing access to resource teacher support, full-time Special Needs Assistants, and therapeutic support services for schools. Therapy services such as speech and language supports are practically non-existent in schools, as are supports for children’s mental health. The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) is severely under-resourced at present. Resources and supports are insufficient for schools to provide an appropriate education for some pupils with special educational needs.

This creates situations where the resources available in schools are not sufficient to provide for inclusion in that setting.