Every Child Counts - Stop Cuts To SEN Provisions In Our Schools! sign now

 

 

FAO: Minister for Education and Skills - Joe McHugh TD, 

The Department of Education and Skills recent Circular 30/2020 stipulates their revised arrangements for the allocation of Special Needs Assistants for the 2020/2021 school year for mainstream primary and post-primary schools.

This document outlines in essence, a frontloading model which has frozen schools' current SNA allocation and demands an excessively labour intensive application process – an exceptional review of  mainstream allocations, for  schools trying to secure additional SNA access for the 2020/2021 school year. 

We educators and parents strongly object to the phased rollout of this School Inclusion Model (SIM), which has been foisted upon schools without due process or consultation. We also object to the complex and excessive paperwork required in this process – including the duplication of paperwork already with the NCSE in many cases. This process is utterly excessive at any time, but due to Covid 19 restrictions it is exponentially more difficult for principals and SENCOs to organise remotely. This new model signifies a worrying precedent which we completely reject.

The SIM Model is inequitable and does not reflect the level of care needs in our schools. This model is also in breach of the Education Act 1998 and the EPSEN Act 2004, paying mere lip service to this legislation. It places severe pressure on schools to make up the deficiencies in the supports granted to us by the NCSE to cater for the needs of our pupils, and we face the fallout alone when we cannot stretch our insufficient SNA and SET allocations far enough.

This SIM Model does not cater for additional students requiring SNA supports for 2020/2021 and beyond. Parents are told that the decision to grant SNA access lies with the school principal, which is disingenuous and abhorrent, as we cannot give what we do not have. As ardent advocates for our SEN and ALL pupils we demand a halt and review of this process immediately. 

For too long we have been expected to accept and implement a loaves and fishes style provision for our pupils with SEN and care needs, as cuts disguised in spin have been rolled out systematically. We cannot stretch insufficient allocations further without it detrimentally impacting on all of our pupils' education, safety and wellbeing, as well as the wellbeing of teachers and SNAs trying to manage this impossible situation. 

Applications for additional SNA support for a school should not necessitate 'an exceptional review' nor should they be so arduous and infeasible. Principal teachers are not SENOs and object to the work of the SENOs being foisted upon us and our staff. We are being scapegoated in this new SIM model and will not tolerate being responsible for allocating supports that are not forthcoming from the DES and NCSE. 

We call on the DES and NCSE to:

Halt the rollout of the SIM Model. Review this model properly, in consultation with practicing teachers and principals and listen to their feedback before rolling out any new model. Devise a fairer and better model that respects both the pupils and the educators involved, and is reflective of our reality and capacity.

 

Accept applications for SNA access for individual pupils WITHOUT it necessitating an exceptional/whole school review. 

 

Grant additionality to schools that provide the evidence for this need, instead of expecting us to  grant access to pupils within our existing allocation. We would not be seeking additional SNA supports if we already had sufficient SNA access in our schools to meet these needs.

 

Provide a mechanism whereby the NCSE gathers an EXACT SEN profile of schools through POD or another database, and therefore stop using 'guesstimates' to profile our schools and our pupils' needs.  Our schools are filled with individuals and have individual SEN profiles that change year to year, sometimes quite considerably.  We should not have to prove this to the NCSE with mountains of paperwork every time we need to apply for additional supports. There should be a database of our exact SEN profile with the DES and NCSE and a new application should be reviewed on a case by case basis and on its own merits. 

 

In addition to this, we call on all education stakeholders - most specifically INTO, IPPN and NABSME, NPC and our school management bodies, to stand with us in objecting to this new SIM model which will increase our workload and further erode and reduce our capacity to meet the needs of our pupils. Political will is evidently sorely lacking to remedy this situation and we call on our Minister for Education to address our concerns immediately. 

 

 

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NPFBy:
School and EducationIn:
Petition target:
Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD, NCSE, IPPN, INTO, NABMSE, NPC, Education Management Bodies

Petition community:
National Principals' Forum

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access, education, provision, sen

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