In the midst of the recession, one of the early cuts to education was a 15% reduction in support hours for pupils with additional needs. This meant that pupils receiving 5 hours per week of support were down 45 minutes of support per week. When not much came in the way of protest, Ruairi Quinn, the then-Minister for Education, almost got away with increasing the cut to 25% but public outrage brought on a U-turn.
A new model for allocating Special Educational Needs timetabling followed with schools’ Resource Hours being given a new name, SET allocation, based on some sort of new metric because of some false idea that the whole system was rigged, but in reality looked like it was simply to cut hours further. Again after a bit of outrage, somehow the Department of Education convinced everyone to wait for two years before the cuts to SET Allocations would be imposed. In the meantime, the 15% cut was forgotten about and schools will now get an overall SET allocation based on the new metric, which makes things worse.
In September 2019, the new allocations will be fixed and about half of schools will lose SET hours, many of who will also lose teachers. Pupils with additional needs will lose out on important support teaching and, naturally, the result of this will see standards, in general, falling. It seems such a bizarre series of events and nobody seemed to do anything about it.
Before anything else happens, the first thing the government needs to do is a restoration of the 15% that was cut during the recession. After that they can calculation their SET Allocations. However, this is only the first step, they must also revisit this new model and ground it in facts rather than blaming the tiny minority of people they claimed were abusing the system.