Need for more ASD classes in schools in the Nenagh area

Posted by Alan Kelly on March 13, 2017 at 10:52 AM

I have a number of parents who are struggling to get their children into an ASD class despite it being clear that this is the best choice for their children. They are willing to go to the ends of the earth in order to help their children and travel long distances to get to a designated school but even with such sacrifices there are some who cannot get a place.

There are approximately 14,000 students with ASD in the school system and of these approximately 23% are educated in special classes in mainstream primary and post-primary schools. These special classes operate across Tipperary in over 40 schools but we simly do not have enough of them to meet the obvious needs of the children that require them.

The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is responsible, through its network of local Special Educational Needs Organisers (SENOs), for allocating resource teachers and special needs assistants to schools to support students with Special Educational Needs, including Autism. It is also the role of the NCSE to make appropriate arrangements to establish special classes in schools in communities where the need for such classes has been identified.

Special classes for children with ASD within mainstream schools are intended for children who, by virtue of their level of Special Educational Needs, cannot reasonably be educated in a mainstream class setting, but who can still attend their local school in a special class with a lower pupil–teacher ratio of 6:1 at primary level and 6:1.5 at post primary level, and also have Special Needs Assistant support normally amounting to 2 SNAs for a class of 6 children.

I am calling on the NCSE and the Minister for Education, Richard Bruton to create more ASD special classes in schools in the Nenagh and surrounds area. We have a real crisis at the moment. The schools that have special classes are doing a great job but they are also being forced into a very difficult situation wherby they have to choose between children because they are limited in the numbers of enrolement they can take. Some parents are effectively left with very little chance of getting a place for their children as they are outside the geographical area of the schools that have special classes and this is casuing them huge worry and anxiety so his needs to be addressed and plans put in place immediately.

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