Educate Together is calling for an urgent review of cuts to special needs education funding. It has labeled current cuts as ‘false economies’ that are damaging schools, children and teachers and will incur far greater social costs to the state in the future.
Educate Together Chief Executive Paul Rowe stated today ‘Special needs education needs investment, not funding cuts. The impact these cuts are having are enormous and children are being damaged because of them. It is government policy to teach children with special needs in mainstream schools wherever possible. Yet they are cutting the resources and services to schools resulting in less specialist care being available. Children with moderate to severe needs cannot get the educational support they need in a mainstream environment but special school places are underfunded. There are extraordinarily dedicated professionals in primary schools across the country who are presented with impossible situations on a daily basis. This has to stop – we are calling on the Minister of Education to make special needs education a funding priority and reverse the previous administration’s cuts’.
Paul Rowe continues ‘In special needs education early intervention and intensive support pay large dividends in later life. Unfortunately the other side of that coin is that lack of investment means more and more children are not getting the right kind of education and are struggling. We as a society are failing these children. The most vulnerable must be protected, not ignored. There are other areas in the education budget where savings can be made. All educational commentators agree that the Junior Cert exam no longer serves any real purpose. By simply not holding a state exam we can save €30m.
The administrative costs of multiple VECs are also fertile territory for savings to be made. Even after proposed amalgamations are implemented, there will be 16 separate state-funded bodies to administer a third of the second level infrastructure, when the entire primary sector is managed by voluntary boards at a fraction of the cost to the state. We need to look to these administrative areas for savings and efficiencies, instead of inflicting cuts that will effectively deny the most vulnerable children a proper education’.
Educate Together is patron to 60 primary schools nationwide, a number of which have dedicated special needs units.