Nov 18, 2019, Irish Times: Excluding pupils with special needs from school is a perversion of the Constitution Too many children are unable to get full-time primary and secondary school places https://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/excluding-pupils-with-special-needs-from-school-is-a-perversion-of-the-constitution-1.4080747 In recent times many questions have been asked about how we treat school-age children and teenagers with special needs. There are children with special needs whose parents cannot find a primary school which will admit them. There are children attending school for a few hours a day, before being collected and taken home. Some children with special needs have been excluded from school due to their behaviour. Special needs pupils reaching secondary-school age can find that there is no appropriate option and have to stay in primary school or attend a school far from home…. …The Education Act of 1998 referred to children with a special need or disability, but failure to implement these mentions have prompted yet another law. The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act of 2004 was well-intended but to this day has not been fully implemented. The Equal Status Act of 2000-2004 should have done away with discrimination against children with disabilities, however, it allowed for exemptions to equal treatment where the admission of a child would have a serious detrimental effect on services to other pupils. Ireland ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992 with its educational guarantees in Article 23, and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability was eventually ratified. Article 24 (2) is useful: “States Parties shall ensure… persons with disabilities can access inclusive, quality and free primary education and secondary education on an equal basis with others in the communities in which they live”. The right to a quality education is particularly apt, as some parents consider that teachers are not always trained in special education and cannot provide the educational experience their children need…. The Teachers Union of Ireland has argued that, as Ireland has a young population, the demand for special classes for children on the autism spectrum and with other special needs can only increase. … School exclusion Once admitted to school, problems do not end there. Some children are not allowed to have a full school day, with parents receiving phone calls asking them to collect their child early, depriving them of equal access to an education, compared with their brothers and sisters, according to a recent Inclusion Ireland study…. The laws and human rights principles have to be enforced. There have been increases in the numbers of special needs assistants and special education teachers in recent years. It is not just a case of throwing money at the issue.
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