Independent TD Carol Nolan has said she is deeply concerned about the lack of classroom provision across all the Midland counties for children with an autism or special need diagnosis.
Deputy Nolan was speaking after The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) confirmed that its allocation list for Special Classes in Primary and Post Primary Schools Academic Year 19/20 showed that only 10 new places will be provided for all schools in Laois/Offaly in addition to a further nine in total for Longford and Westmeath.
“At the outset, I want to acknowledge the enormous and indeed heroic efforts that parents and schools put in place in terms of working with the NCSE to improve Special Class provision," she said.
"That being said it is deeply concerning to note that only five new classroom spaces will be provided this September in Offaly and a further five in Laois. This becomes even starker when you consider that Offaly has almost 40 Primary and Post Primary Schools that have a requirement for Special Classes."
"So, the allocation that has been provided is clearly insufficient and will not match the level of need that currently exists."
"I am aware that The Education (Admission to Schools) Act 2018 can assist in addressing this issue where the NCSE is of the opinion that there is insufficient education provision for children with special educational needs in an area."
"That is why I will be asking the Minister to review the situation in Laois/Offaly and the Midlands under the relevant sections of the Act."
"As a parent and former Gaelscoil Principal, I absolutely believe that all children, including children with special educational needs, have a right to an education in line with their abilities, in order to live full and independent lives,” concluded Deputy Nolan.