Every so often the Technical Group has the opportunity to bring a motion to the Dáil during Private Members Business. These motions can request the Government take action, express opinion or debate a certain issue.
That Dáil Éireann: acknowledges that:
- every child has the right to equal opportunity through education as enshrined in Article 28.1 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child;
- the State has promised to ‘assist children with Special Educational Needs to leave school with the skills necessary to participate…in an inclusive way in the social and economic activities of society and to live independent and fulfilled lives’ through the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act 2004;
- the State has failed to fulfil a number of its obligations under the EPSEN Act 2004 as key sections remain unimplemented;
- Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) must be allocated on the basis of need, must not be subject to arbitrary recruitment limits that curtail their ability to support the most vulnerable members of Irish society and must be recognised for the vital role they play in the Irish educational system; and
- the recent cap placed on SNA numbers and the 10% cut to resource hours for schools is a disgraceful, mean-spirited, short-sighted false economy that will be detrimental to the lives of children with special educational needs, their classmates, their teachers, their families, the SNAs themselves and to Irish society as a whole;
- recognises that:
- SNAs are fundamental in the development of increased long-term independence for children with special educational needs;
- the role of the SNA has, in practice, evolved from a purely support function to incorporate an educational remit that must now be acknowledged;
- teachers cannot, in the absence of SNAs, provide the dedicated care that students with special educational needs require in addition to catering to the needs of the entire class; and
- there is currently no alternative in the Irish schools system that would eliminate the need for SNAs to deliver pedagogical support to students with special educational needs; and in recognition that the need for special educational supports is increasing in line with population growth as highlighted in the Preliminary Census Report released in June 2011, calls on the Government to:
- develop a centrally-led strategic and expert approach to educational support provision that takes cognisance of the experiences of users, parents, teachers, SNAs and other resource providers in addition to top-level educational experts;
- include parents as educational partners, in any correspondence between schools and the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) with regards to their child and decisions made in relation to the allocation of supports, to ensure transparency within the system;
- introduce an Independent Appeals Process which would allow parents to apply directly to the NCSE for learning supports as per the EPSEN Act 2004;
- amend the EPSEN Act 2004 to establish a framework of rights and needs-based provision thereby eliminating the need for parents to vindicate the rights of their children through court action;
- establish a system of accreditation that would allow SNAs to train and qualify as Learning Support Assistants in recognition of the complex role they play;
- end its plans to introduce financial charges for pupils availing of the School Transport Scheme and to maintain existing school transport services;
- reverse cuts to learning supports, specifically the 10% cut in resource hours for schools, the planned withdrawal of resource teachers for travellers, language support teachers, rural co-ordinator teaching posts for Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) schools and the visiting teacher service for travellers; and
- immediately abandon the cap on the number of National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) psychologists and SNAs.
— Catherine Murphy, Maureen O’Sullivan, Mick Wallace, Joan Collins, Clare Daly, Joe Higgins, Seamus Healy, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, Mattie McGrath, Tom Fleming, Stephen Donnelly, Thomas Pringle, Finian McGrath, Shane Ross, Richard Boyd Barrett, John Halligan.