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The government has just made a rake of promises about special needs education

Teachers union the INTO said that the “jury was out” on the new resource model.

Minister Richard Bruton at the launch of the new model at Marino College in Dublin today.
Minister Richard Bruton at the launch of the new model at Marino College in Dublin today.
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

THE MINISTER FOR Education Richard Bruton has announced that the new model for allocating special education teaching resources for schools will be introduced in September.

Bruton said that the new model “will deliver better outcomes for children with special educational needs”, and that it will eliminate “unfairnesses and other problems which exist in the current model”.

Teachers union the INTO said, however, that the “jury was out” on this new model and that, previously, “resources didn’t match the rhetoric” when it came to ensuring services and resources were provided in this area.

Under the new system, an additional 900 teaching posts will be created while up to 1,000 schools will receive additional resources.

The Department of Education said that the new Resource Allocation Model will ensure that:

  • Barriers to accessing resources will be removed, and children who need support will get it immediately rather than waiting for diagnosis.
  • These resources will be linked with genuine need, and children will not be unnecessarily labelled in order to access resources.
  • Schools will be able to allocate resources based on a child’s individual needs rather than for a particular diagnosis.
  • Children with special needs will be properly integrated into the school.

This new method for allocating resources for special education came from a series of recommendations made by the National Council for Special Education.

The decision to implement the model came after a pilot scheme was conducted in 47 schools.

Bruton said that €18 million of additional funding would support the new teaching positions.

He added: “Indeed, the €1.5 billion which the Government spends on this area overall, demonstrates our commitment to this crucial area. That is one fifth of the total education budget”.

Under the model, while 1,000 schools will receive more resources, the remaining schools have been guaranteed that their allocations for special education will not be lower than the amount they received in 2016/17 for the next two years.

The INTO fears that this guarantee is just a way to postpone cuts to funding in the area in future.

A statement from the union said: “It remains to be seen if the new model is simply a method of postponing resource cuts for two years.”

While the INTO welcomed the greater autonomy being offered to schools and the single allocation for special education teaching resources that the model offers, the union is sceptical on other aspects of the scheme.

“Previous models promised that schools would be frontloaded with resources to provide supports immediately to those pupils who needed it without delay,” their statement said. “This did not prove to be the case in many instances.

The current claim remains to be proven and will be closely monitored.

The model was also welcomed by the National Parents Council who said the new system will set a “more level playing field for all children” and that it will “remove the need to label children to access necessary learning supports”.

Read: Schools to be required to publish all complaints made against them

Read: Government must stop discrimination in funding for new schools, say teachers

About the author:

Sean Murray

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