Mar 1, 2023, Echo Live: 'My son has nowhere to go': Cork father outlines stress for family as son with autism has no school place for next academic year https://www.echolive.ie/corknews/arid-41082469.html
“WE just want the authorities to get their finger out and do something,” said a frustrated Cork father whose 13-year-old son with autism has no secondary school place for the next academic year.
The Cork parent said there are up to 12 sixth class students with autism in the greater Carrigaline area who have no school places ahead of the new academic year.
“Since last September I have been trying to get my son a place in a local secondary school. There are lots of other families in similar situations unfortunately.
"There are between 10 and 12 children who are supposed to be going to secondary school this September from the Carrigaline area and none of them have any places. What annoys me is that we have had to chase everything for our son. …
A spokesperson for the Department of Education told The Echo 46 new special classes were sanctioned over the last three years at secondary school level in Co Cork.
“There are three units in the Carrigaline Community School. They need another two units to fit all the students,” said the Cork father.
“There are two other secondary schools in Carrigaline but there are no places in any of them. I have been on to everybody including principals, Cork TDs, ministers, and government departments.
“We have been told to go to Kinsale, Douglas, and many more secondary schools. We have applied to all these schools but were refused because of the catchment area and location. At present all the schools have said no. We have nowhere to go.”
The Cork parent said his 13-year-old son has two options should a place in a local secondary school not present itself in September. “The options for my son are to stay in primary school for another year, meaning he would be 14 when he leaves primary school, or he can join a unit in the Gaelcholáiste Carrigaline.
“However, all his current class are exempt from Irish.”
“The authorities have known for a long time that there was an urgent need for extra secondary school units for the many students finishing primary school this year. They should have been able to forecast this scenario….
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said: “Two of the new special schools were established in County Cork. In addition, there are a total of 420 special classes in County Cork, with 299 at primary level and 121 at post-primary.
“Over the last three years, 103 new special classes were sanctioned at primary level in Co Cork, with 41 of these sanctioned for the current school year 2022/2023.
“Over the last three years, 46 new special classes were sanctioned at post-primary level in Co Cork, with 23 of these sanctioned for the current school year 2022/2023.
“The department is engaging intensely with the [National Council For Special Education] in relation to the forward planning for new special classes for the next school year 2023/2024,” said the spokeswoman.