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(Ireland) Autistic twins still waiting for a school place; 383 special needs places added

Aug 27, 2022, Extra.ie: Mum of autistic twins 'shocked' that school is still a building site https://extra.ie/2022/08/27/news/mum-of-autistic-twins-shocked-that-school-is-still-a-building-site
THE mother of two autistic twins who were promised a school place in September following a high-profile public appeal, has said she was 'shocked' to discover it is 'still a building site'.
Ryan and Kyle Milne, 11, will now have to wait another two months before they can start their class.

THE mother of two autistic twins who were promised a school place in September following a high-profile public appeal, has said she was 'shocked' to discover it is 'still a building site'….

In May, the family received an apology in the Dáil from the Taoiseach, in which he said the State had 'failed' the family in providing an appropriate education for the children.

However, just three months later their mother Gillian said she is 'devastated' after finding out the boys will once again not have a school to go to this September, as construction on the building is not yet complete….

Darren Milne from Glasnevin in Dublin who is pleading to be heard to get supports for his twin sons Ryan and Kyle who both have autism. The family speaks to RTE Prime Time, three years on from their inital interview in 2019. Broadcast: Tuesday 17 May 2022 at 9.35pm on RTE One

The Department of Education said that work on the school building at Drinan in Swords, where the boys have been offered a place, is scheduled to be completed by the end of October….

Ryan and Kyle were diagnosed with autism when they were twoand-a-half. They are non-verbal and have a range of other special needs - including ADHD and a severe learning disability.

Their parents, Gillian and Darren Milne, appeared on Prime Time in May to plead for the State to intervene and provide places for the boys in a special school.

Special Education and Inclusion Minister Josepha Madigan then met the Milnes and confirmed that the boys would be given places.

Ms Milne said the minister had told them that she had 'staked her reputation' that those places would be in a special school in their area for September 1….

'We've had several chats back and forth with the minister's adviser and the Department of Education. But yesterday (Thursday) was when we found out for definite that we were offered a school place, but there is no actual school ready - and it won't be for September 1.'

The Department of Education said the boys' new school, St Michael House Foxfield, is gaining 24 additional places, which will be located on a second site in Drinan, Swords. When the Milnes heard the twins would be attending the new facility in Drinan, they drove out to see it.

'We were completely shocked when we realised it was a building site,' Ms Milne said. 'So, yes they can come and say we have offered you a school place - but there is no actual school yet.'


Ms Milne also said that she had heard from several parents who had yet to be given a school place for their children.

In a statement, the Department of Education said: 'The recent announcement of 383 additional special classes for the 2022/23 school year, across the primary and post-primary school system represents the largest number of special class places ever available for children with special educational needs.'

It also explained that the Drinan site to which the boys will be going is only an interim site, with a new permanent school building planned on an adjacent location.

'Architectural planning for the new school commenced recently and the next stage includes developing the school design and advancing the project through statutory consents through to tender and construction stages. The Department will continue to work to advance this project as quickly as possible,' it said.

The Department said that accommodation requirements are in place 'for the vast bulk of the additional special classes being established for the 2022/23 school year'.

'Where reconfiguration and/or additional accommodation was required project managers and procurement frameworks were used, as appropriate, to ensure any remaining accommodation requirements are dealt with as early as possible in the first term of the new school year. These classes will open as soon as these works are complete,' it said.

Darren Milne from Glasnevin in Dublin who is pleading to be heard to get supports for his twin sons Ryan and Kyle who both have autism. The family speaks to RTE Prime Time, three years on from their inital interview in 2019. Broadcast: Tuesday 17 May 2022 at 9.35pm on RTE One