“No child should be excluded from inclusion”

Responding to the publication of ‘An Inclusive Education for an Inclusive Society’ this afternoon Derval McDonagh, CEO of Inclusion Ireland said: “We’re delighted to see a direction of travel for inclusive education but it is vital that no child is excluded; from those who require a small amount of support to access their rights to children who require intensive support and who have traditionally been left out of the “mainstream” conversation. Inclusive education includes children who are non-speaking, have medical needs and/or psychosocial disabilities.”

She added: “For too long children with intellectual disabilities have been forced to fit into narrow boxes – special classes, special schools or mainstream. We want to challenge that kind of thinking. It is not the child who should bend to suit the system and fit into available choices, rather the system should bend and flex to suit the child.”

Inclusion Ireland has been campaigning for inclusive education for many years. “We are delighted to see movement and progress with the launch of this paper and now we urge Ministers Foley and Madigan to launch an implementation plan. Unless there is step by step direction on how we’re going to get there over the next 10 years we’ll remain static. We need to put in place measures such as training, education, and resources to create this inclusive culture.”

She added: “We know that many of the complex barriers in education which exist today for children with a disability have arisen from societal attitudes. We must prioritise tackling this and creating a norm that a school supports all children from the local community regardless of support need. Real inclusion is a set of values, it is a set of beliefs; you belong here, we will support and accept you as you are, we will not give up on you. We need government, departments, organisations, schools, parents and communities to really get behind this vision for a time when all children get to go to school together.”

Earlier today the Minister for Education Norma Foley, T.D. and the Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion, Josepha Madigan, T.D. welcomed the publication of the NCSE’s policy advice paper. The policy advice was requested in 2018 by the then Minister for Education and NCSE. The advice was requested in the context of Ireland’s ratification in 2018 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and on foot of significant growth in the number of special classes being opened in schools.

ENDS

Editor’s notes: gov.ie – Ministers Foley and Madigan welcome publication of NCSE policy advice paper – ‘An Inclusive Education for an Inclusive Society’ (www.gov.ie)

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