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(Ireland) Disabled students as young as 4 on reduced hours; some in school as little one hour/day

May 30, 2019, The Irish Times: Parents of vulnerable children as young as four placed on reduced school timetables—Some children with behavioural problems face school day of just an hour a day Parents of vulnerable children are being told to accept drastically reduced timetables or face the threat of suspension or expulsion, according to campaigners. Groups representing children with autism, intellectual disabilities and Travellers are set to tell an Oireachtas committee on Thursday that use of reduced timetables to manage behavioural problems is a “hidden” practice that is undermining young people’s education and wellbeing…. Adam Harris, the group’s chief executive, says a survey of more than 300 parents found that about 17 per cent of students were on reduced timetables. Some of these students were as young as four or five. “In some instances, parents who did not wish to have a reduced timetable were threatened with a suspension or expulsion process for not complying,” he says. “ In many instances, reduced timetables were a symptom of a lack of resources and knowledge.” Inclusion Ireland, which represents children with intellectual disabilities, will say hundreds of “invisible” children on reduced school timetables do not show up in official statistics because they are being marked down as present on school roll books. Its survey of parents with children on reduced timetables found that almost two thirds were in school for less than three hours per day. Some 12 per cent received just a single hour of school per day or less… It says schools often cite a lack of resources or the child’s “inability to cope with a full school day” when placing children on reduced hours. However, it said many teachers have no specialist training nor are they required to have specialist training to teach children with disabilities. This, it says, may lead to bored children who can act out. There is also poor access to therapeutic services including speech and language therapy, which can assist children to address their sensory and communication needs in a more appropriate manner than through disruptive behaviour…. While it says schools say they take these measures to tackle behavioural problems, the forum says more usually it is a response to lack of resources, behaviour management and low expectations….


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