26th January 2017 - New Resource Allocation for Special Needs Children must do exactly as it says on the tin, warn school Principals

The Irish Primary Principals’ Network (IPPN) will caution Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton that his new recently announced resource model for children with additional needs must not become a vehicle for deferred cuts when he addresses the Annual Conference of the IPPN in Citywest Convention Centre on Friday, January 27th, 2017.

Last week the Minister announced the introduction of a new allocation model that will see the recruitment of 900 additional teachers and a promise that no school will lose special needs resources for at least 2 years.

Giving the Minister’s announcement a cautiously guarded welcome, IPPN Deputy CEO, Pat Goff, has stated that primary principals will only accept that this new model is an improvement if is fully resourced now and into the future. Full substitute cover must be provided to support training and briefing on the new model for teachers and principals.

“While this new allocation model may seem generous on initial inspection, it must be remembered that it still does not remotely compensate for the 15% withdrawal of supports during the recessionary years’’, he explains.

Mr. Goff also warned against the principal’s office becoming a battleground in the war over the prioritisation of children for supports now that the need for an official diagnosis of a disability has been dispensed with.

To ensure the success of this new allocation process, the IPPN Deputy CEO has called for a significant recruitment drive to bring more Speech and Language and Occupational Therapists into the system where they can be accessed by schools on a needs be basis. “Without such supports in place this new model will fail to secure the expected outcomes that the initiative envisages”, he stated.

Mr. Goff acknowledges that the new model contains many positives that will benefit schools in the long term particularly the fact that supports will be targeted towards schools with the greatest need. He also feels that principals will welcome the amalgamation of Resource and Learning Support into one unit. This will reduce the need for part-time teachers meeting each other as they move between schools, often to provide less than an hours’ support to a particular child.

The IPPN Deputy CEO also acknowledged that the new model will bring certainty to staffing by reducing the number of deadline dates for accessing supports which existed up to now.

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