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(Ireland)12,700 in SPED; 1,700 places "in the pipeline"; call for more teacher training

Nov 12, 2021, Dublin Irish Times: Teacher training and inclusive education https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/letters/teacher-training-and-inclusive-education-1.4726062

Sir, – Michelle McBride in her excellent piece “Serious upskilling required” (Education November 9th) as the number of special classes soars, outlines the very significant increase in pupils now accessing special class places. There are currently 12,700 pupils with additional needs being catered for with another 1,700 places in the pipeline. This is indeed a most welcome development in Irish education however as Marie Byrne, a primary-school teacher and autism consultant correctly points out, teachers are not necessarily trained to work in special classes when they come out of college. This surely begs the question, why not? Some 14,400 of our most precious citizens deserve much better from our colleges of education. Young, aspiring teachers now spend four years attending the colleges of education. It is imperative that their training prepares them for working in our 21st-century inclusive education system. Student teachers must be afforded opportunities not only to be trained in the areas of special education and autism but also to specialise in them if they choose to do so. – Is mise, RONAN MAC NAMARA, Principal, St Kilian’s NS, Mullagh, Co Cavan. Nov 12, 2021, (UK) Peterborough