Ireland's National Autism Charity calls for Special Education Reform through Review and Implementation of EPSEN Act
Developing and delivering a truly inclusive education system is one of AsIAm’s core aims as Ireland’s national autism charity.
We’ve made huge strides in recent decades towards this goal in Ireland and passing the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act in 2004 was a milestone on this journey. It set out a comprehensive set of supports for autistic pupils and their families, as well as important mechanisms of vindicating these entitlements.
Over fifteen years on however, despite EPSEN being a positive step for special education reform, many of the Act’s key provisions remain uncommented. These include:
• Granting Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and their regular review a statutory basis.
• Schools’ designations.
• Establishing a formal Special Appeals Board for assessments.
In April 2021, AsIAm appeared before a roundtable hearing of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education, Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science on the EPSEN Act’s future. There, we set out our analysis of the current state of play around special education’s provision for our community’s young people, as well as our proposals for how to vindicate their constitutional rights.
You can read our submission to the Joint Committee below, surmising why we believe EPSEN needs reformed and implemented.