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Education Minister quizzed over needs of schoolchildren with Down Syndrome

The group are looking for the Minister to recognise that children with Down Syndrome have complex and enduring needs.

DOWN SYNDROME IRELAND has met with the Minister for Education to ask for recognition that Down Syndrome is a complex and enduring disorder which means children with the syndrome require extra resources in school.

A spokesperson from the organisation said that there was “a robust exchange of views” at the meeting yesterday, and that Minister Ruairí Quinn promised to consider the issue and get back to Down Syndrome Ireland before the Dáil recess.

She said that they were looking for all children with Down Syndrome to be recognised as having complex and enduring needs. The Minister didn’t give a ‘yes or a no’ on this, but did commit to examining the issue and getting back to DSI before the Dáil’s recess, which the group is happy with.

They are hoping for a positive result, as DSI feel that recognising this would have a major impact on children when it comes to resource teaching and special needs assistants in the classroom.

They want this recognition to be dealt with effectively, and for schools to be given extra resources for all children with Down Syndrome – not just children who fall into the “moderate” category for intellectual disabilities.

DSI believes it is unfair to base resource teacher allocation on intellectual disability alone, as children with Down Syndrome also experience speech and language difficulties, for example, among other issues.

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Education Officer for Down Syndrome Ireland, Patricia Griffin, strongly condemned the NCSE cuts announced last week, describing them as “utterly unacceptable”.

Yesterday, the Education Minister rowed back on the cuts.

Griffin noted last week that though staff numbers were not being reduced, pupil numbers have increased by approximately 10 per cent, and that there had been a 15 per cent cut in resources for special needs students last year.

Read: Children with Down Syndrome “let down” by resource allocation>

Read: ‘We listened’: Minister reverses special needs education cuts>

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