A NEW BILL presented before the Dáil today is expected to pass into committee stage without a Dáil vote as the Government has indicated they will not be opposing it.
The ‘Down Syndrome Equality of Access Bill 2013’ is being presented by Independent TD Finian McGrath and would mean that pupils with Down Syndrome in mainstream schools will be guaranteed resource teaching hours.
There is considerable cross party support for the bill and the Government’s support will mean that it will proceed directly to the Third (Committee) Stage.
At present not all children with Down Syndrome are guaranteed resource teaching hours if they go to mainstream schools.
Down Syndrome Ireland estimate that about 30 per cent of children with Down Syndrome who attend mainstream schools don’t receive resource teaching .
This is primarily because, under a 2005 circular from the Department of Education, Downs syndrome is not listed as being a “low incidence disability” and as such resource teaching hours were not guaranteed.
The new bill being debated will therefore afford statutory recognition to Down syndrome as a ‘‘low incidence disorder’.
Downs Syndrome Ireland argues that the disorder affects about 1 in every 500 births in Ireland and is less frequent than other forms of disability.
At present they say that the provision of resource teaching is allocated on the basis of a psychological assessment.