Posted by SchoolDays Newshound, on 06/12/2023. Tags: Teachers Parenting
Minister for Education Norma Foley TD and Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan TD have today, 6 December, announced the establishment of four new special schools next year to cater for the increasing number of students with Special Educational Needs (SEN). The schools will cater for young people with autism and complex learning needs up to 18 years of age.
They 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. As part of this forward planning, four additional new special schools are being planned as part of a regional solution to benefit pupils and students in growing areas with special educational needs. The four new special schools will be established for the 2024/25 school year in Limerick City; Enfield, Co. Meath; Gorey, Co. Wexford; and in the South Kildare area. The new schools are being established under the patronage of the local Education and Training Boards – Limerick and Clare ETB, Louth and Meath ETB, Waterford and Wexford ETB and Kildare and Wicklow ETB. These are the first special schools being established under these ETBs. This was after analysis by the National Council for Special Education (NSCE) and the Department found that the level of need in these particular areas could not be catered for by expanding places in existing special schools.
The new schools are also the first in recent years to be established in the regions, following the establishment of 7 special schools in Dublin and Cork over the past four years. These additions to the country’s existing network of 130 special schools is part of the expanded package in Budget 2024 for special needs education, which includes -
• Up to 2,700 new places for children with special educational needs.
• The recruitment of 744 extra special needs teachers, and 1,216 extra special needs assistants to cater for the increased number of students.
• Up to 400 additional special classes for the 2024/25 school year.
• The expansion of capacity in existing special schools around the country.
• 100 new teaching posts in existing and new special schools, plus an Administrative Deputy Principal, from September 2024, to benefit almost 9,000 children in these schools.
Furthermore in Budget 2023, additional funding of €13m to the NCSE, has provided for, amongst a series of other measures, an increase in the number of special educational needs organisers across the country. This significant expansion of front-line staff in the NCSE, up to 116 in total, will ensure a high quality, responsive service for children, parents and schools.
Minister Foley said:
“As Minister for Education I am committed to having an education system that works for all.
“Throughout Ireland, the number of special education placements continues to grow year on year ensuring that children and young people have access to school places which are appropriate to their needs.
“Our school communities have demonstrated a real commitment to inclusion. I would like to thank those involved in supporting the continued establishment of special classes and special schools.
“Budget 2024 dedicates in excess of €2.7 billion to providing supports for children with special educational needs.
“This announcement reflects the very strong emphasis on forward planning and roll-out of provision for children and young people with special educational needs. I am pleased that we are making real progress in meeting the needs of our young people and collaborating in new ways to ensure every child has access to a welcoming and inclusive environment to learn and flourish.
“The announcement of new provision today including four new special schools serving Kildare, Limerick, Meath and Wexford is a significant step forward. I want to thank all of the schools, patron bodies and other stakeholders for their ongoing engagement with the Department and with the NCSE.”
Minister Madigan said:
“As Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion, I am committed to ensuring that every child has a school place appropriate for their individual needs. Special schools play a vital role, and it is for this reason that I am delighted to have secured agreement for the establishment of four new special schools in Kildare, Limerick, Meath and Wexford, parts of the country where need has been highest. I want to thank all those involved in delivering this new provision.
“Budget 2024 makes the biggest-ever commitment to students with special educational needs, representing over a quarter of the Department’s allocation. I am determined to support students and families in securing school places where they are needed. The Department and the NCSE are undertaking significant work with schools to ensure that additional special educational needs provision is sanctioned as early as possible ahead of the coming school year.
“Today’s announcement 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.
“It is a landmark day for parents of children with special educational needs in these areas.”
Four new special schools, one in counties Kildare, Limerick, Meath and Wexford, will be established for the 2024/25 school year. It is anticipated that these schools will initially enroll around 120 students in total next September and gradually increase numbers over the coming years.
Today’s advance announcement of the new schools is an important milestone because it allows more time for the planning of school admissions, recruitment of staff, staff training and completion of any necessary building works. 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 to modern standards, or by repurposing school buildings on school campuses with spare capacity. This use of the existing school building stock is key to the accelerated delivery of the four new special schools by next September.
Over the last 4 years, 7 special schools have been established in Dublin and Cork. As part of forward planning undertaken by the Department and the NCSE, additional new special schools are now being planned as part of a regional solution in the four counties of Kildare, Limerick, Meath and Wexford. This forward planning included an assessment of information and data in relation to existing capacity, demand, waiting lists, student enrolment projections, and the number of children travelling outside of their local area to access a special school placement. Details in relation to the location of the new special schools, the admission process and the number of places to be offered for 2024/25 school year in each new special school will be confirmed very shortly.
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. Planning for the establishment and opening of the new special schools will begin immediately. This will include a determination of the size of the school required so that the necessary staff recruitment, school policy development and related arrangements can be put in train. This will also include ongoing communication with the families concerned.
In addition to the establishment of four new schools for the 2024/25 school year, a significant number of school building projects relating to special schools are currently in progress. In the interim, some modular accommodation projects and reconfiguration works currently being planned or underway at special schools. Information on special schools and the list of mainstream schools with special classes, including new classes for the current 2023/24 school year, the coming 2024/25 school year, and the types and locations of these classes is published on the NCSE website and is available at www.ncse.ie The NCSE will continue to update the list as more classes are sanctioned ahead of the 2024/25 school year.Source and more information: Dept of Education