We welcome the progress which has been made in terms of both special class & special school placements. It is vital that all families who await a school place are communicated with as soon as possible and that new classes and special schools open as soon as possible.
Most significantly today’s announcement would appear to confirm that Special Education Centres, which as proposed were regressive and non-rights compliant will NOT proceed.
This must not be seen as an end in and of itself – it remains that there are children across the education system who do not have access to an appropriate school place, based on their psychological assessment, or an appropriate place in their community.
It is welcome that the Minister has recognised today that more than 1 in 65 children in our education system are autistic. We need transparent national data which allows for the appropriate planning and resourcing for mainstream classes, special classes, and special schools.
Moving forward we need to ensure all autistic students can access a school place that meets their needs, in terms of setting and inclusive, rights-based practices, in their locality.
The emergency legislation passed this year means there should never be a shortage of school places for our community as both the Minister and NCSE have the powers they need to plan each year effectively.
AsIAm will continue to engage constructively with the Department and NCSE on these issues in the year ahead as much remains to be done.
Recognition is due to the families, young people & local campaign groups across Ireland who have told their story, campaigned, and made change happen over the last 3 months – this should never be necessary, but the progress made to-date is thanks to their incredible work.
Read the statement from the Department of Education here on gov.ie