26 May 2022 Inclusion Ireland as the national advocacy organisation for children and adults with intellectual disabilities was shocked and appalled to see the sudden announcement of a proposal of five “special education centres” across Dublin to address the shortage of school places for children in September 2022.
This “emergency” plan seems like ten steps backwards on the path to inclusive education. Inclusion Ireland was not contacted or consulted in any way about these measures despite being heavily involved in the national consultative groups and forums about special and inclusive education. We are so disappointed at such a response to an issue that the department has been aware of for months and years.
CEO of Inclusion Ireland Derval McDonagh says : “We all know what happens with ” short term” segregated solutions, they quickly become the accepted norm that last years longer than they were intended to and that is not what children deserve for their education. Children only get one chance to participate in their education and then they become the adults of tomorrow. There needs to be proper planning around children’s right to their education and a coordinated well thought out and appropriately resourced response to the needs of children, even when the response needs to happen quickly. This plan does not offer choice to children and families, if parents refuse a place in a segregated “temporary” centre what happens then? Energies and resources should be immediately channelled into finding and following through on appropriate places for each child in their local communities.
Derval continued: “The Department of Education is not running an accident and emergency department, the system has known about these children’s support needs for years. Emergency responses have no place in Education and have far reaching consequences beyond the intended fix and will impact massively on the inclusion and educational outcomes of children who deserve and are entitled to an appropriate education”.
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