Issues For Scoil Chormaic Cashel Raised In The Seanad By Tipperary Senator

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The situation at Scoil Chormaic in Cashel was raised in the Seanad by Senator Garret Ahearn. All of the staff and principal Lorraine Lowry signed a letter that was read into the Seanad Record.

The Special School provides education to 219 children and young people from the age of 3 to 18. The school has pre-school, primary school and post primary students enrolled and supports children with more severe and/or complex special educational needs.

The school says the level of resources provided are totally inadequate and based on outdated models. In addition, if the school wants to apply for resources over and above the general allocation (SERC allocation), schools must apply to the NCSE for a review of their SNA allocation invoking a whole school review – a very long and arduous process.

There are also difficulties in seeking resources if this is not supported by HSE specialists reports. Waiting times for Children’s Disability Network Teams interventions and support are too length causing children to miss windows of opportunity for progression according to the staff at the school. The Seanad heard that the involvement of several Departments and low levels of autonomy for school management was frustrating for all involved and that the current resource levels mean that staff are overwhelmed and unable to do their jobs.

Responding for the Government, Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton, pointed to two changes announced in last Autumn’s budget – the removal of the current 15 teacher threshold for the appointment of administrative deputy principals in special schools supporting children with the most complex special educational needs and a commitment to hire an addition 100 teachers for all special schools supporting children with the most complex special educational needs. There is also a new Cabinet Committee on children, education and disability, which includes all relevant Departments and Ministers intended to ensure an improved service to schools and children.