Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has today announced that he will bring forward a motion in the Dáil on Tuesday that calls on government to introduce emergency measures to ensure all children have an appropriate school place this September.
This announcement comes amid another summer of stress for families of children with special educational needs who have no school to go to in September.
The motion calls on government to publish the data on the true number of children without an appropriate school place for September, to give a clear statement that the segregationist proposal of special education centres will not go ahead, and to bring forward emergency legislation to expedite the section 37A process and ensure all children have an appropriate school place within a school community.
Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:
“All children have a right to go to school. It is an all too common situation that families of children with special educational needs face a summer of stress, not knowing whether their child will have a school to go to in September.
“There are no excuses for the failures of Minister Foley and Minister of State Madigan to make adequate preparations to ensure every child had an appropriate school place. They were warned – by parents, by disability advocacy groups, by Sinn Féin and others.
“Both ministers have access to the data on the number of children who need a school place in September. They have the budget and the power to intervene and resolve this. Their failure to act is inexcusable.
“Half-baked measures at the 11th hour, and proposals to segregate children into special education centres, are unacceptable.
“Minister of State Madigan’s announcement that she will only now begin the process of issuing section 37A notices to compel schools is a day late and a dollar short.
“Without emergency legislation to streamline the section 37A process, it is incredibly unlikely new special classes will be ready for September.
“The time to act was yesterday. This is an emergency situation, which requires an emergency response.
“Sinn Féin are bringing forward a motion to force the government to make good on their promises of ensuring every child has an appropriate school place in September.
“We are calling on government to publish the data they hold on the true number of children who do not have a school to go to, and to give a clear statement that the segregationist proposal of special education centres will not go ahead.
“Crucially, we are calling for emergency legislation to expedite the 37A process, ensuring special classes are opened in time for the start of the new school year in September.
“The government cannot continue to fail children with special educational needs. Sinn Féin will stand up for children with special educational needs and their families, and ensure that every child has access to education, as is their right.”