Cavan-Monaghan Sinn Féin TD Pauline Tully reacted with dismay and frustration at the government’s decision to delay the passage of a Bill which would have ensured that each child with additional education need would receive an individual education plan, and these would be examined to ensure their standard.
The government’s amendment to the Bill will ensure at least a twelve-month delay for it to proceed.
Teachta Tully said:
“In 2021 I, along with my Sinn Féin colleagues, introduced the Education (Inspection of Individual Education Plans for Children with Special Needs) Bill which sought to amend the Education Act 1988 to grant additional functions to the education inspectorate to examine and report to the Minister for Education on the prevalence and standard of individual educational plans for children with special educational needs on an annual basis.
“The Bill was scheduled for second stage reading on Thursday and I sought support for its passage on to committee stage.
“Unfortunately, the government saw fit to introduce an amendment to the Bill which has now halted its progress for at least another 12 months.
“Census 2016 reports that 13.7% of disabled persons aged 15 to 50 had completed no higher than primary level education compared with 4.2 per cent of the general population.
“The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act was passed in 2004. This included the provision of Individual Education Plans (IEPs).
“An IEP is a written document prepared for a named student which specifies the learning goals that are to be achieved by the student over a set period of time, as well as the teaching strategies, resources and supports necessary to achieve those goals.
“Unfortunately, IEPs, along with several other provisions within EPSEN were never implemented.
“While it is the case currently that many teachers do prepare IEPs for their students, and the NCSE have guidelines in place on how to prepare a plan, this is not compulsory and they are not inspected, and therefore the quality of such plans vary significantly, and many schools do not provide IEPs at all.
“It is essential that we put procedures in place that will assist disabled people in their journey through the education system and enable them to progress with the skills necessary to participate, in an inclusive way in the social and economic activities of society and live independent and fulfilled lives.
“Many barriers in regard to inclusivity still remain within the education system for people with disabilities.
“We must fix this now.”