Seven leading advocacy organisations, AsIAm, Down Syndrome Ireland, Family Carers Ireland, Inclusion Ireland, the Children’s Rights Alliance, Barnardos, and the National Parents Council, have described today, which sees a partial return to special education for a limited number of students, as a mixed day for families, and called for the Government and education stakeholders to prioritise the full restoration of appropriate education for all students with special educational needs.

Speaking today, a spokesperson for the groups said:

“While today is an important day for many children with special educational needs returning to school, a huge cohort of children with SEN will not be returning to school – only children with SEN in special schools and special classes in mainstream schools. The majority of children with SEN attend mainstream schools and they are not returning to school today. They remain unable to access appropriate educational supports. It is a mixed day for families – there is progress for some, and others who remain locked out of education.

“We’re calling on the Government and education stakeholders to work as quickly as possible to ensure a return to full capacity for special schools and classes. We have had numerous reports from parents that a partial return – every second day at 50% provision, will be even more disruptive for their children due to the lack of routine. We also need to see the issue of children with SEN in mainstream classes sorted ASAP. There has been no update for these children since the last Government announcement some weeks ago.

“We welcome the announcement from Government and unions last night on a return to school for students with SEN in special classes in secondary schools. This is another step in the right direction.

“We need clear communication from the Government about next steps. We have had lots of feedback, for example, that parents just didn’t know about the enhanced access to home provision supports. We will be seeking a meeting with Minister Madigan to seek to progress these issues.

“While we acknowledge the progress made today, the majority of students with SEN remain locked out of education.”

The above statement was issued on behalf of Down Syndrome Ireland, Family Carers Ireland, AsIAm, Inclusion Ireland, the Children’s Rights Alliance, Barnardos, and the National Parents Council.

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