Permanent Therapist appointments a crucial first step

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) welcomes the appointment, on a permanent basis, of 19.5 occupational therapists, 19.5 speech and language therapists and 5 behaviour support therapists to the Education Therapy Support Service in the NCSE.

This is a crucial first step in making therapy services available to schools nationally and building on the School Inclusion Model (SIM) pilot, which has been operating in a number of areas since 2019/20.

Access to therapies is a key support for inclusive education. This was raised forcefully by our members at our Special Education Symposium in March and most recently in a meeting with the Minister for Special Education, Hildegarde Naughton earlier this week.

Ensuring children have access to therapy in schools and having those therapists share their expertise with teachers makes inclusion for children with special educational needs meaningful. Making appointments on a permanent basis is essential to recruit and retain therapists who are in huge demand in the public service. Children with SEN should have access to the therapies they need, whether they are in a mainstream class, special class or special school setting. The service must be extended to all schools, adequately resourced and staffed to provide a service to all pupils who need this extra support.

Reacting to the announcement, INTO Deputy General Secretary Deirdre O’Connor said:

Schools and teachers are doing their utmost to support children with special educational needs, but they can’t do it on their own. They need to be able to access the therapeutic supports on consistent basis, to ensure that children can learn and thrive.