Children with Additional Needs are being denied their Constitutional Right to Education - Tóibín
Aontú leader and Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín has stated that “children with special needs and their families are suffering significantly due to the shutdown of their schools. It is absolutely wrong for the Minister for Education to close down educational services for these children”.
“Children with special needs often depend upon education far more for their physical, emotional and mental stimulation and wellbeing than the general population of children. Many parents have seen reversals developmentally of their children as a result of the shut down of education in the first wave. Parents have told me that they have seen behavioural change such as withdrawal, self-hitting, aggression, insomnia and chronic anxiety during the first close down. Human activities such as toileting and feeding are often thought and learned in the special education setting. It is very hard on children and adults to experience regression in these human activities. Remote learning is not sufficient for children who may not be able to read, write, speak or type. Every child has a Constitutional right to education”.
“In terms of the safety and Covid prevention, many schools for children with additional needs have worked really well during the crisis. Classes and bubbles can be as small as 6 children which ensures that their educational setting is a low risk in terms of transmission. Parents have told me of Covid cases being in their child’s school but not spreading due to the necessary procedures being adhered to”.
“ To say that parents are furious is an understatement . Many parents are hearing about school shut down from the media. Schools themselves have had little or no contact from the department. There is to be no plan. Many services such occupational therapies were delivered through schools. As a result of closure many of these services have dropped off or migrated to teleconferencing and through the phone. Respite services are operational in some areas but not in others. This is not good enough. I am calling for the Minister to sit down with Teachers’ Unions and Parents to work out as a matter of urgency a system to get education up and running with no further delay. We have a responsibility to parents and children to make sure that this happens now”.