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Thursday 30 November 2023 Dublin: 3°C
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Radical shake-up on the cards for country's 10,000 special education teachers

Under the proposals, teachers would be allocated to schools “in line with each school’s educational need for such support”.

Updated at 11.04am

RADICAL CHANGES ARE being proposed in the way special education teachers are are allocated to mainstream schools.

The new measures, which are being proposed by a statutory body set-up to oversee teaching resources for children with special eduction needs, would affect around 10,000 existing teachers.

The National Council for Special Education working group recommends that in future there would no longer be a distinction between learning support and resource teachers. They would be known simply as ‘support teachers’. Under the proposals, the teachers would be allocated to schools “in line with each school’s educational need for such support”.

Currently, all primary and secondary schools receive additional Learning Support Teachers on the basis of the number of class teachers or the number of students in each school. The mooted new model would take into account the individual needs of pupils and the ‘educational profile’ of schools, and suggests the following should be taken into account:

  • The number of students with complex special educational needs.
  • The percentages of students performing below a certain threshold on standardised test results.
  • The social context of the school, including levels of disadvantage. 

The current system also requires a doctor to diagnose a child’s disability before support resources are allocated. The new plan recommends such a diagnosis would no longer be needed.

According to the NCSE:

The need for a better allocation system arose because the NCSE had found that the current way of allocating additional teaching for students with special education needs was inequitable.

The NCSE’s working group was tasked with examining the issue by Education Minister Ruairí Quinn.

Reacting to the proposals today, the Minister said the recommendations would be carefully reviewed by Government.

“In looking to implement any new model it is important that we both protect the gains that we have made in relation to special educational provision in recent years, while also seeking to improve provision,” he said in a statement.

I understand that any proposed changes to the way that we allocate teaching resources to our children with special needs can cause anxiety to parents and schools.

“It is therefore my intention that there will be full and comprehensive consultation with stakeholders and education partners, including the parents of special needs children, in advance of any changes to the current model for allocating resource teachers to schools.”

It’s expected some redeployment of teachers will be necessary if the new proposals are implemented in their current form.

First posted at 10.35am

Read: Schools are campaigning against new plans for reviews of special needs assistants

Read: 118 new classes to open for children with special needs

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