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(Ireland) New $25M special (autism) school for 134 is "state-of-the-art"

Sept 14, 2022, Irish News: ‘We can already see a difference in the children’: Pupils adapt to new surrounds at state-of-the-art special school Stewarts School’s new €25 million [$25M] building makes it one of the biggest schools of its type in the State https://www.irishtimes.com/ireland/education/2022/09/14/we-can-already-see-a-difference-in-the-children-pupils-adapt-to-new-surrounds-at-state-of-the-art-special-school/

When it first opened 40 years ago, this Dublin special school catered to just 12 pupils at a time when most children with disabilities were invisible to the education system.

On Wednesday, Stewarts School celebrated the opening of its state-of-the-art premises in Lucan where 134 pupils with moderate, severe and profound learning difficulties are being helped to reach their full potential.

It is now one of the largest special schools of its kind in Ireland and employs 23 teachers, 63 special needs assistants, along with nurses and a support team.

The new school building, the result of a €25 million investment by the Department of Education, has been developed to meet the complex needs of its community and features 28 purpose-built classrooms, sensory areas, teaching support rooms, an IT room, a PE hall, a library, outdoor play areas and canteen. “We can already see a difference in the way the children are engaging with the learning environment here,” said principal of Stewarts School, Mary Carrig.

“The school community is so happy with the feeling the new school gives. The sense of space is fantastic, and the acoustics are perfectly suited to creating a very calm environment that supports our teaching goals.”

One of the pupils benefiting from the new setting is Josh O’Brien.

His father Stephen O’Brien said there were fears that he might never walk or talk when he was first diagnosed with autism and developmental delays, as well scoliosis or curvature of the spine.

Today, the 13-year-old is running, talking and full of excitement over the new facilities….

Today, the school is attended by children with complex needs including physical, behavioural, and sensory difficulties. A significant number of students are also on the autistic spectrum….

Ben Farrell (7), one of the 134 pupils at Stewarts School in Lucan, Co Dublin.