March 2, 2021
Children with additional needs in mainstream forgotten yet again – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson for Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire today raised with Minister Josepha Madigan at the Oireachtas Education Committee the urgent need to get all children with additional needs, including those in the mainstream, back to school buildings.

Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:

“Children with additional educational needs in mainstream settings and their families feel like they have been forgotten about by the Department.

“From the outset, Sinn Féin have been clear if there was to be a phased return, that children with additional educational needs should be the number one priority.

“That view seemed to be shared by the Department, however, children with additional needs in the mainstream continue to be forgotten, and their wait continues until they can return to the classroom.

“From today’s statement by Minister Madigan, these children don’t seem to be a priority, particularly children with additional needs in secondary school who barely get a mention.

“Today at the Oireachtas Education Committee, I put it to Minister Madigan whether she believed it was fair that a child in 1st or 2nd year with additional needs will have to wait until 12th April, six weeks’ time, to get back into the classroom.

“She replied by saying it was in the best interests of children with additional needs in the mainstream to return with their other classmates in the mainstream. I think the Minister has missed the mark here.

“I know from speaking to families that remote learning is challenging for many children with additional needs, and they want their children back ASAP, not waiting to return with their other classmates after Easter.

“The Minister needs to recognise that many of these children have complex needs that are simply not being met through online learning. They need to be back in their classrooms ASAP, waiting six weeks until after Easter isn’t good enough.”

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