The most important voice in education policy is children.

Throughout the last few weeks, children have been speaking up and sharing their experience of a system desperately letting them down. The message from children is loud and clear. They are telling the Department of Education over and over again that they are not being supported appropriately in school. They are not getting the same opportunity to access the curriculum as their peers. Children as young as five are having their wellbeing and prospects for the future shattered.  They wait months and years to get support, and sometimes that support comes too late for them, leaving children and their parents to live with the lasting consequences of the system’s inadequacies and inaction.

And yet, the concerns of children and families are simply not being listened to by the Department of Education.

Inclusion Ireland, AsIAm and Down Syndrome Ireland are deeply, deeply concerned by this.

On behalf of children – Inclusion Ireland, AsIAm and Down Syndrome Ireland – urgently request that the Department of Education acknowledge the real concerns of children and respond properly to their very real everyday lived experience of school.

Our children deserve to be listened to, acknowledged, respected, and to have their rights met at school.

We ask anyone reading this to please add your voice and power to support the voice of Autistic children and disabled children.

We are calling on the Department to urgently:

– Provide transparency on this issue by disclosing the budget it sought through the estimates process for the SET allocation model

– ⁠Publish accessible information about the changes to the allocation model which are clear and consistent for families

– ⁠Show confidence in its own model, and comply with basic good governance and good administration, by putting in place and publish a budget for the Exceptional Review Process and guaranteeing the independence of the process

– ⁠Provide a written framework document on how disability stakeholders will be consulted into the future, which demonstrate an understanding of the UNCRPD and the fundamental obligation to centrally consult disability stakeholders.

We are calling on all our members to make contact with their public representatives to seek assurances from Minister Madigan and Foley in this regard. Additionally, we encourage our community members to make their views known to all with a stake in the education system.

ENDS

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