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***(Ireland) Facing 'ever-increasing number of students with special needs'; numbers double

Nov 1, 2019, Irish Times: Schools still short of special needs assistants despite increase – union—Report shows rise in number of pupils with special needs in mainstream schools https://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/schools-still-short-of-special-needs-assistants-despite-increase-union-1.4068494 There is still a shortage of special needs assistants in primary schools, despite a new Department of Education report showing a significant increase in their numbers, a teachers’ union has said. The report, Education Indicators for Ireland, found that the number of children in special classes in mainstream primary schools rose from 3,816 in 2014 to 6,229 in 2018 with another 1,000 places to be added this year. Up to 15,950 special needs assistants will be working in schools this year, an increase of 51 per cent since 2011, and the Government has budgeted for another 1,064 assistants by the end of next year. … Irish National Teachers’ Organisation spokesman David Geary said the figures show that schools are providing education to “an ever-increasing number of students with special needs in mainstream schools” but he pointed to significant shortcomings in the availability of supports for students. • Lack of support on special needs: ‘Does my son not have rights?’ • Learning difficulties: Schools may be forced to open special classes • Fifteen special needs schools report difficulty meeting insurance premiums “There are insufficient numbers of special education teachers and special needs assistants available in primary schools,” he said. “Our members routinely share their difficulties in accessing such resources, alongside clinical therapy services such as speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, behavioural therapists and other counselling services.” Mental health Support for students with mental health difficulties were “practically non-existent”, while the National Educational Psychological Service, an agency of the department, was “under-resourced”. Mr Geary said the report shows Irish primary schools remain crowded, four above the EU average. He called on the Government to meet the euro zone average of 20 pupils in a single class. …