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(Ireland) Hundreds of autistic students without school places/on reduced hours

Updated: Aug 1, 2019

July 31, 2019, Dublin Journal: Concern hundreds of children with autism could be without school places in September HUNDREDS OF CHILDREN with autism could be without a primary school placement in September if the government fails to take urgent action, the country’s national autism charity has warned…. The survey found 313 of the 1,000 families who participated had a child without a school place, not attending school due to a lack of suitable school space or due to a lack of support, or because they were on a reduced timetable. He said the issue is not just a lack of available places, in some cases a child who needs a special school is placed in a mainstream school and when they cannot cope, or the school reduces their hours they stop attending. “There are situations where if parents of a child who is not on the autism spectrum didn’t send them to school for an extended period the State would pursue you – this is a complete double standard.”… This is fundamentally a civil rights issue. We did that survey with 313 families and I know that is only the tip of the iceberg, the number could be over 1,000….. The NCSE wrote to Minister Joe McHugh on 18 April formally informing him of its view that there is insufficient special school and special class capacity in Dublin 15, and special class capacity in County Kildare for September 2019. In May he wrote to 22 schools in the Dublin 15 area to request they give serious consideration to a request to open special classes. Despite some progress, there is still a need for an additional seven special classes for the coming school year in this area. On 27 June, the department served statutory notices on 18 schools and two patrol bodies in the Dublin 15 area “communicating the Minister’s opinion that they should make additional provision for children with special educational needs”. The department is now considering responses it received from these schools and a meeting with patrons is due to take place in the coming days. The number of special classes in mainstream schools has increased from 548 in 2011 to 1,459 this year. “Of these 1,196 special classes cater for students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD),” the department said. “The NCSE has informed the department that they intend to establish over 170 new special classes nationally for 2019/20 school year of which approximately 165 will be new ASD special classes.”…

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