Sinn Féin TD for Dublin Bay South, Chris Andrews, and TD for Cork South Central, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, have introduced legislation in the Dáil to make the education system more inclusive for pupils with autism.
The Education (Inclusion of Persons) Bill 2023 requires the National Council for Special Education and the Department of Education to properly forecast and plan for the number of school places needed for children with special educational needs.
It also requires school management boards to consider how to support children with special educational needs, and for board members to undertake training in disability rights.
Speaking in the Dáil as he introduced the legislation yesterday, Teachta Andrews said:
“There is a strong feeling among parents of autistic children that their voice is not being heard on school boards of managements and this Bill would go some way to correcting that imbalance.
“In many schools across the country children with Autism are being transported out of their communities to schools huge distances from their homes. This is because there are not the number of class places in schools that are required.
“This Bill will also mean that issues relating to autistic children are raised at the Board.”
Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:
“Children with special educational needs, including autism, deserve to have the supports that they need to flourish.
“Unfortunately, parents too often feel that they are being badly let down by the education system and forced to fight to ensure their children’s needs are met.
“This legislation would be an important step in supporting families of children with autism. Teachta Andrews and I are urging all TDs to back this Bill to ensure it can pass as soon as possible and begin making a positive difference in children’s lives.”