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(Ireland) SPED Minister orders schools to provide for autistic students; 100s need places

Aug 4, 2020, Irish Times: Special needs children will get back-to-school support, Madigan pledges Not ‘tolerable’ some schools refuse to set up specific classes despite demand from parents https://www.irishtimes.com/news/education/special-needs-children-will-get-back-to-school-support-madigan-pledges-1.4321129 Thousands of pupils with special needs will require additional supports to help them readjust when schools reopen at the end of this month. Minister of State for Special Education Josepha Madigan said the 17,000 pupils in special schools or classes had been impacted greatly by being out of the routine of school and would be provided with extra help during the transition back to school. She said work was under way to support children with complex needs and at very high risk to ensure that they could continue to make progress, though they may not be able to return to school in the same way as other pupils. … Campaign groups say many young people with conditions such as autism do not have appropriate school places in the coming academic year. They say the problem is acute in parts of Dublin, Cork and other mostly urban areas. Ms Madigan said it was not “tolerable” that some schools continued to refuse to set up these classes despite demand from parents…. Ms Madigan said all new schools should automatically be required to provide special classes. In addition, she said the only grounds for not having a special class in existing schools where there was demand would be in “exceptional circumstances”. Ms Madigan she wants to “eradicate” the problem of not having enough school places for children with special needs. “I want to ensure that there is no child that doesn’t get a school place, and that is something I want to eradicate completely and I intend to set out a roadmap on how I plan to deliver on that soon. These families face struggles on a daily basis and are constantly fighting to get something that is within their right.”