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Special Educational Needs

Four new special schools to be established in Limerick, Wexford, Meath and Kildare

The schools will be open for next September.

FOUR NEW SPECIAL schools are to be established next September in Limerick, Wexford, Meath and Kildare.

The schools will cater for an increasing number of students with Special Educational Needs (SEN), with government aiming to prevent an further uncertainty for parents over whether their children will have a school place. 

The schools are being sanctioned as early as possible as part of advanced planning to meet the needs of students with special educational needs due to start school next September.

The schools will cater for young people with autism and complex learning needs up to 18 years of age.

The four new special schools will be established for the 2024/25 school year in Limerick City; Enfield, County Meath; Gorey, County Wexford and in the South Kildare area.

The new schools are the first special schools being established under these Education Training Boards (ETBs). 

The new schools are also the first in recent years to be established in the regions, following the establishment of seven special schools in Dublin and Cork over the past four years.

Foley told reporters today that throughout Ireland, the number of special education placements continues to grow year-on-year. 

“This announcement reflects the very strong emphasis on forward planning and roll-out of provision for children and young people with special educational needs,” she said. 

Madigan said there are about 9,000 children with additional needs in special schools in Ireland.

“We really need to make sure that we have sufficient places for them. And I’m really pleased that the forward planning has established the fact that we need these four special schools in the regions,” she added.

There have been significant criticisms in the past regarding children with learning needs not being awarded a school place, or having to take to the airwaves to make their case. 

‘Scramble every year’

Madigan told The Journal that she was appointed to her role to tackle such issues, stating that it has been a “perennial problem every year, this big scramble to try and obtain special classes and provide appropriate placements for children”. 

She said the announcement today allows more time than ever before for the planning of school admissions, recruitment of staff, staff training and completion of any necessary building works in preparation for the opening of these new special schools for the 2024/25 school year.

The precise locations of the schools is not being revealed presently as some final agreements have to be agreed with stakeholders.

The schools will be established by renovating existing school buildings which are no longer used or by repurposing school buildings on school campuses with spare capacity.

This use of the existing school building stock is understood to be key to the accelerated delivery of the four new special schools by next September, according to the department. 

It added that the the NCSE will work closely with the families of the children and young people concerned to assist them in accessing the new places which will become available for the 2024/25 school year.

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