Five Leading Advocacy Groups Call for Urgent Passage of School-Places Legislation

28th June 2022

The five leading advocacy groups which make up the Department of Education’s Special Educational Consultative Forum (AsIAm, Down Syndrome Ireland, Inclusion Ireland, National Parents Council Primary and Special Classes and Schools Ireland) have welcomed the Government’s decision to initiate emergency legislation to address the shortage of special class and school places across the country.
It is thought that over 100 children are currently without a school place for September in Dublin.
Presently, the Minister for Special Education and Inclusion, Josepha Madigan TD, has the power to compel a school to open a special class, however it is a lengthy, complex process which can last for up to 18 months. Proposed changes to the law will allow the Minister to act much more swiftly and will also enable the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to instruct a school to enrol a child with special educational needs.


A spokesperson for the group said “For too long we have had a back and forth between schools and the Department on who is responsible for ensuring every child has access to a school place which meets their needs in the locality. This law will put an obligation on all schools to engage with providing appropriate special class places where they are required, whilst also holding the Department to account in effectively planning, sanctioning, and resourcing school places where they are most needed. This legislation is absolutely critical to ensure that no child is left behind in the coming academic year however in many respects it is sad that it is required. Planning needs to happen well in advance of a child commencing primary or post primary school to ensure that proper supports can be put in place in providing a high quality, inclusive education experience for the child.”

“This Summer must be the last in which families face major uncertainty about their child’s educational future – this legislation will be one element of achieving that but it must be accompanied by a rights-based approach to resourcing schools properly and the development of an inclusive school culture. Our groups are urging the Oireachtas to pass the legislation without any delay so that every child has the same chance to go to school this coming September”

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