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***(Ireland) "Sharp growth in number of pupils with special/additional needs"

Jan 24, 2019, Irish Times: Special schools struggling to cope as pupils’ needs become more complex Many school principals worried about behavioural problems and violent behavior Principals at special schools say they are struggling to cope with the growing complexity of young people’s disabilities and behavioural problems. A new survey of principals at the State’s 134 special schools indicates many are worried that highly vulnerable pupils are not getting the support they need. There are about 8,000 pupils attending special schools, typically with mild to profound learning disabilities. The sharp growth in the number of pupils with special or additional needs in mainstream education means many special schools have a higher concentration of students with complex needs. The poll, to be published at the annual conference of the Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) on Thursday, finds that the vast majority – 97 per cent – believes further supports are needed to alleviate behavioural issues in the classroom. … Many also say they face challenges ensuring sufficient access to essential clinical services such as psychology, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and physiotherapy…. The poll also shows special schools very often struggle to get the equipment and provision they need to support those attending their schools. Some 85 per cent of special school principals believe they do not have sufficient funding to run their school effectively and efficiently. … e, however, will hear calls for these measures to be expanded to all special schools. “An administrative deputy principal in more special schools would make an enormous positive impact in meeting the complex needs of these unique schools,” said IPPN deputy chief executive Pat Goff. … Many principals of special schools have also called for the staff schedules for the schools to be revised in light of the growing complexity of pupils’ needs. … The Department of Education has pointed out that it has significantly increased investment in special education in recent years. Latest figures show funding for special education provision last year amounted to some €1.75 billion, [$2.4B US dollars] up 43 per cent since 2011. …
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