Education News: Late February 2024

In this podcast episode, I discuss the challenges in special education, specifically the issues with school allocations and the ineffectiveness of the current system. I also delve into the expansion of the school transport system and the complications arising due to patronage. Lastly, I touch on the topic of Irish exemptions and the audit of schools with high exemption rates. Additionally, I reflect on the ownership of newly built schools by religious bodies despite being funded by the state.

MacBook Pro Microphone & FaceTime HD Camera:

Hello. I know you're very welcome to if I were the minister for education regular podcasts where I delve into the world of Irish primary education and let you know what I would do if I were the minister for education. This is Simon Lewis on this week's show. I am going to be exploring the further collapse of special education in our system. I'm going to be asking whether we should be re-examining both transport rather than expanding it. I know they'll also be wondering why schools are to blame for granting Irish exemptions. When it was the department of education who made the rules up in the first place. If you are interested in subscribing to this podcast, you can do so on your favorite podcasting platform, whether that's Spotify, apple podcasts, or any of the rest of them. And you can also watch this live on YouTube. Where I have been broadcasting for the last while. Let us start very straight away in special education because I, as you may or may not be aware, the set allocations fiasco, the cluster games, the. Are still on the agenda with schools, still struggling to make a full-time post from the fractions of posts that they were given the the cuts to many schools who weren't expecting the cut to complex needs, which. Inclusion Ireland as I am and a dancer debarment managed to get a meeting with Josefa Madigan. And the risk and not only that lobby groups, such as the national principal's forum of which I'm part of have gathered a huge amount of data, which states that nobody on the ground is happy at all. So neither parents nor teachers, nor the pupils are happy about the special educations that have were doled out for this coming September. And yet the representative bodies have said not a word. And the department of education are essentially making a blatant spin doctoring. Blatantly false. Claims about the system and the biggest stat. I can probably say that, there's lots and lots of big stats, but the big staff, the national principal's forum basically found was 76% of school principals. Are not, I do not believe that the allocations fulfilled the needs of the pupils within their schools. And that is a big status. So I guess the question I always ask really is. Could a head spreads principles Skinner from that, the problem from the Simpsons. Could put the children BA. I can't remember. I'm paraphrasing here, but he's pondering in his office. Do you know, could it be at, could it be that I am wrong or is it the children that are wrong? No, no nonsense. It's clearly that clearly everybody else's wrong. I can't be wrong kind of thing. So essentially I'm saying to the department, I could just, the principals on the ground could 76%. Our principles be completely wrong on this. I don't think so. We really need this to be sorted. I don't think, I think the story is going to rumble on a special education continues to collapse as, since it has been doing so since 2008. When cuts were made to as, as good to services for children from traveler communities. There were cuts to EAL, which now becomes special education issues because the services to. Students with the AAL have weren't recovered and we have children who are struggling with the use of English language plus other needs, maybe not exactly, always resulting from the lack of English education. English as an additional language education, but it's unbelievable to see how things have fallen. We continue on in 2012 to 15% cross cuts to special education hours. The better fairer way of 2017, where 91% of schools, it would have been better off with the old system compared to the change that happens in 2017, keeping going and going as developing schools were hardest. Hit children were not get additional hours. Weren't being given to children. Their schools are given an algorithm and in. 2024, for whatever reason. We are now relying on a very small amount of data to Dola allocations. And the algorithm is a nonsense and we have proved as time and time again, over the last couple of months. And over the last few years, really. And it's and yet the department of education. Tenue to dig their heels in saying that what they're doing is correct, and the children are being supported and their big sale item, though. That is that because class sizes are smaller. Obviously teachers can deal with the needs, add themselves. And yet they're trying to get a fully inclusive model. Under the radar this week. I found myself on the media talking about this a little bit based on an article that came along from the journal. And the journal. Basically approached me after someone in naps contacted this journalist. And sorry, I need to find out the name of the journalist here because I've forgotten it. It's oh, Dalton here. And Owen Dalton was approached. I don't know whether it was a friend or anyway, it was a NEPs psychologist who basically said naps is falling apart. He, the psychologist said to Owen that there are surfaces on a countable and said that they cannot feel Mo a lot of the positions are 20% down. And oh rang me because he said, I see about on the online talking about special education. Is what I'm hearing true. So I asked him to explain. What he meant by, on accountable, because for me, that's a very loaded word. And clearly. I'm not quoted as saying their own accountable, but this is what their own accountable for when the next psychologist comes into the school. I think this is the thing that really shocked. Oh. And more than anybody else. I, and lots of people and actually on the radio. Most journalists isn't naps. Doesn't operate a waiting list. Okay. And this is what they mean by on a countable, essentially what happens is at. Naps, like I'll just comes into a school. If you're lucky enough to have a nap, psychologist says, this is when you have an app psychologist, lots of schools do not have access to naps by the way. And did they ask you to prioritize your highest needs dot year? And then next we'll have a look at those children that do not get onto the priority list are not on a waiting list. There is no way to miss. So that looks like, on paper that naps fulfills all the needs that schools bring to them. But it's the stuff that happens before that. I think that's where they want to countable means. So essentially what you're already asked to do and just the, no, I just hate the statement and it seems to be like this kind of thing that's used all the time, by all the different services, the NCSC will have set. Actually I had a, I had an NCSE meeting. And in the whole meeting, I don't know how many times the net. The CNO set. You're prioritizing to the highest needs within your school. This is the school's chance. This is what they do. The school has to prioritize the needs of the highest needs or whatever, the kind of. I'm paraphrasing here a little bit. But, essentially, when you hear that people go, oh yeah, you have to prioritize the highest needs all the time. What that means is you're saying which children aren't getting a service. It's not that the children who are don't have the highest needs don't have any needs. We have, I think they've calculated. And I think the department of education have said 25% of children in primary schools have additional needs. And we are not able with the hours that we get on that naps are given. And then any of these bases are given. You're not given an allocation to cover all 25% of these needs, these children these children. So what you're basically covering is probably maybe 10%. I don't know, I'm putting a random figure on it. So 15% of children get nothing. By prioritizing to the highest need. So I guess that's what I'm talking about. The next do the same thing. When they come in, you use, you have to prioritize the, to the highest needs within the school. So the highest needs are children that are out of school. That's that's children who are on shortened days. Now you're talking in that context, you're talking about less than 2% of children, far less than 2% of children in any school. And that's through the prioritory. You're also looking at children who need it, who aren't getting resources. Because they don't have an assessment. So there's the. The department will say, oh, people don't need assessments for anything anymore, but if you want to go into a special cost for autism, In a secondary school. You can't get that without a full assessment. So you've got dozens of children, sorry, dozens, hundreds, and hundreds of children every year who have to have a reassessment from naps or privately from, but mainly from naps. To say that they are allowed to go to an autism task in a secondary school. So you're looking at. But by the time they get to that, You can forget about any other service and that's not good enough. It's not good enough. So this is what we're talking about when we're talking about on accountability, because there no one can say that there's no way. Essentially, this is what I think this comes from. And whether it's on the verge of collapse. Now I argue it's already collapsed collapse. A while ago, naps is one and I've already did this in the podcast. You can listen back. The naps is the one good service we had left in the education system for children with additional needs. If you were lucky enough to have a net service, you could be guaranteed to get a very good assessment of where you're at. They give good advice. And I'm very fond of naps as an organization. The trouble is there. Isn't enough. At all. And unfortunately, as a result of that, They're not being asked to do more for less. And they can't do that. So they're doing all these pilots, they're doing all these consultations. They're doing all these things like passing on their luck. They're getting involved in literacy schemes. Now for some reason, And they're getting involved in all sorts of areas. But they're not able to do their core work because there aren't enough of them. This is the problem. And what I was saying on the media is that if you went to another country, so I'd been. And I know everyone says, oh Finland is different. It's not really, if you got to Spain, even we'd be, we were in I was, I had a member of staff who went to Valencia. In most schools have access. And good access to a psychologist. A social worker is at a nurse onsite. There isn't very many primary schools that have a social worker, a psychologist, and a nurse on site. And the thing is they're all, a lot of people that are working in these organizations. Do you know where they're working? They're working in offices, away from children. If you ask the NCSE, for example, they have the service where they. They come in and they give you a, if you have children that are, you have a child that you're not able to work with, because they're not that you're not able to work with. They're just unable to monitor themselves. That could be violence. That could be. And you just don't know what to do. You can ring the NCSE for an advisor. Now that advisor comes to your school. But they will not see that child. They are not allowed to look at that chart. If you do one of those pilots they've been doing. They're bringing in speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, and they come and advise us skills on how to deal with occupational therapy and speech and language therapy in this guess what? They don't see the children. This is the kind of stuff it's madness. And what we need is a system where all schools have onsite access to psychologist, a social worker, and under. The nurse. And if you had these services in schools, you wouldn't have the problems that we have. We have to wait until children are absolute crisis mode before we actually see them. I, it's a funny thing after this. Ah, article was was I knew this I, this. This always happens in Arnett. Okay. Basically some NEPs psychologist has sounded the alarm to privately. There are whistleblowing, for want of a better word. I was wrong to see if this is true. I am now basically talking about my sister. I talked about actually, how I got a decent service at J D compare in comparison to most schools. Based on the status. Of my school. But fully enough why. And I find this, I find it. I don't find it humorous at all. It's sad. Is that rather than nap psychologists. At. Coming up, coming on board. And I'm saying, yeah. What time and saying here is probably right. Is I had someone on Twitter, lovely guy. I presume, I don't know. I've never met him basically saying we work hard. We're really proud of the work we do. I'm. We're. Th this thing that we're unaccountable and we don't, and it's on the verge of collapse. This is what I did. And you're like no. This isn't personal. This isn't perfect. This isn't about you. I know every neck psychologist, I know does a good job. In fact, every per most people I know working in education work really hard, but we just don't have the level of service we all need. And that's the problem. It's not that the service itself is bad because the service itself is really good when you get it. But the problem is we don't get it. And then I keep moving on. Like he was saying, like I helped 56 children in a week. But the thing was. You maybe, but what happened after you left? Who what new thing happened? No kickin service was there, those 56. I don't know who the 56 children were, but I can absolutely. I can nearly guarantee you that they didn't get us. They didn't get anything that actually helped them. They might've got some advice. They might've got a little bit of Tanya, but we didn't sort out the root of the problem. And the root of the problem is our health services is fallen to pieces. There is no mental health supports for children. There's no occupational therapy, there's no speech and language therapy. There's no dieticians. There's no if you, the CDN. T I can't remember that's collapsed. It's not, it doesn't, it just doesn't exist. You have all these services that don't exist and everything is falling back. On service. Overloaded service, like naps, who can only do so much rather than basically saying, this is the reality of the situation I even heard. I won't mention any names that some friend of mine was by saying, oh, I heard you were on the radio about naps. My friend's a NEPs psychologist, and she's not happy with you. And I was like, Don't shoot the messenger. I don't know. The fact is, if naps as a service is great. If it was supported better, it's not. I treat the education system very similar to the time I'm going to do. If you're watching me on YouTube. Basically all these services are, but like in this kind of rising tide of Pooh and essentially naps is now in that pain, they're sinking and sinking and sinking, and we're just sinking all the time and everything is falling back on parents and families and schools. And, people are just throwing the cans, do the work they need to do. So they just try and fire it off on someone else. We've seen it in every other service that EWO, for example, back in my day, when I started, if a child missed 22 days, I was on the radio about this actually as well with. On our T drive time that basically if a child missed 20 days, I'd ring up my EWO and I'd say, oh yeah, we've got someone here missing 20 days. She'd take over and ring the family and say, why are you doing missing 20 days? They don't have enough people. So what happened was it was turned back to schools to do all that stuff. And it's only when something's in a chronic state. Because it's an absolute crisis that EDW comes in. You can see. I really, I suppose what I'm saying is everything is sinking and sinking. The department of education have, do you know, if they put as much African to solving the problems as they do to spend doctoring would be doing a hell of a lot of good, but anyway, I could go on about this for long or left for ages and ages and who would do no. Good. So that's to move on to story number two, which is school transporters. Yes. The minister of education, not learning from her past foibles. Mistakes of expanding school transport system without making sure they didn't have buses and bus drivers is further expanding the service. And at this time, she's making sure that over a hundred times a more pupils, they're going to be able to access the service because they're scrapping some of the rules, which are, you don't have to go to your nearest school at your, the bus. Doesn't bring you to your nearest school anymore. If you don't want it to. And oh, something around. The distances from schools. I think that's more for secondary schools and primary schools. But I could be wrong on that. But the thing. Why aren't children going to their nearest school. And the answer to that question of course, is tied up in patronage. I don't send my kid to his nearest school because if I did, I would have to. On teach him a lot of what has been taught in school, because it would be faith formation. And I don't want him to go to, I would prefer him to go to his nearest school because he will be within his community. I am sick of the fact that he, when he goes to his local football club or his local lab, It's local swimming club or whatever it might be. He's doesn't really know that many kids there. Because he has to go to a different school because I just don't want him to be, I don't want them to be indoctrinated into a religion that we don't buy into. And this is where the it's funny, how bus transport, and even insurance ties into this. I go on about this in the PA in previous episodes of the podcast. I don't want to go on about it too much, but the way, the reason bus transport is so convoluted. Is because children are not going to their nearest school. We also have far too many schools, so we have far too many buses. And if we simplified the system. It would be so much easier. My kid, I don't, my kid could go on a bus in the morning. I'd go to his nearest school and he would be brought back home after that, along with his neighbors and all the rest of it. And if we just re-examined the way we do bus transport, but we can't do that until reexamined patronage. And ultimately the answer is very simple. We have to look at patronage. All the stuff that it does to complicate the system, because when we have this. S idea of school choice. And have that choice along religious lines in the main. It's not going to work. We have to make sure that schools are welcome to all children. Not just, I know schools will say, oh, you always Simon, all children. I've loads of Muslim kids at my school. I've lo the blah, blah, blah. 80th and my school. And so there wa I get that. I know they're welcome to a point. We've taken down the baptism barrier, but we've simply moved it under the March in thing, because what happens is when you welcome those children, it's good. That's very much, they're nice. They're able to come into the school, but when it comes to teaching your religion they sit at the back of the class. That's not welcome. That's fully welcome. And I'm, I see all this things. What am I. I love looking at comments that principals make in the media, if they do or. We're on Twitter or wherever it might be. And I love the new thing now isn't to say that we're an inclusive school. I'm noticing now that people are saying we're a very inclusive school. Very inclusive. I find that very interesting. Why do they have to use the word very there? It seems like without protest too much, a lot of the time, and I'm not blaming the schools. But what I'm saying is, you, we have to look at the Patriot system so that we can actually, Dan examine the hopeless transport's going to work. Otherwise you have to weirdly on wielding system where buses are passing each other in times to go to totally different schools on necessarily. I'm in a school where there's an 11 buses serving our school. It's madness. It's not. And the reason there's so many is because we're the only, and multi-denominational school in the entire county. Children should be going to their nearest school. My kid should be going to his nearest school, but they can't because of this patronage system, which basically doesn't allow for it to happen. So what are we saying? The only thing I'd be saying at, instead of expanding the service, I think the minister needs to be looking. At. Why we have such. A convoluted boss service and how we actually can fix that. Bye. Fixing the human rights of all children. It's as simple as that really. I don't think there's any much more to say on it. Let's move on. To Irish exemptions. Yes, schools with high rates of Irish exemptions are now going to be audited by the department of education, because, and let me tell you, I took, put this down as a story are them. On Twitter, which seemed to get a bit of a reaction and people thought it was quite funny. Despite it being a bit mad, really, it's a, basically a number of years ago. And if he wants to get an Irish exemption, you have to have a psychological assessment going back to naps, been over Being over overwhelmed. So because it's overwhelmed nap such when the, I don't know if nap setup. Satish but basically naps couldn't basically do these assessments, just fryers exemption. So the suggestion was made that school principals, it would be thrown back onto schools. As most things are on schools would be able to add, give Irish exemptions. And we were given clear rules and those rules that children would have to fail in our reading or spelling test or, and be under the 10th percentile on a standardized test. It, and there was a couple of rules about ages, whether you were the son or daughter of someone in a concert. No last. But most children who fell under that either were to age or at, through under 10 percentile in the. Tests and it's very easy. And in fairness to fall onto the 10th percentile in reading or spelling tests, If you're a child whose parent tells you whatever you don't try and the tasks get all the answers wrong. I know. I don't think that happened because children, people are not like that. Of course, but any. There are a lot of children do fall under the 10th percentile in, at single reading or spelling test. And that makes them. Eligible for being exempt. However that wasn't enough for some families, because some families argued that Irish get it's traumatic experience for their children. So they argued. They argued that it was too hard for their child to get an Irish exemption. So we then have to prove that over a period of time, I think two years that Irish is causing undue stress to children and that. Would make them eligible for an Irish exemption on the other side, the glory mainly, or may people who are fond of the Irish language. And defending the Irish language, our arguments too easy to get an Irish exemption. So they argued that this was the that they needed to change all that to. I put the department of education, listen to the people who said it was too hard and they put in this new room fast forward a couple of years. And more, lots and lots of children are being are getting exemptions from Irish. And. The people who saying who were saying it was too easy or back saying, we need to scrap the sat, this whole exemption thing. It's wrong. We need to stop it. So the department education went to them, said, oh yeah, I know what we'll do, but blame the schools. They're given far too many Archie exemptions at therefore they're going to be audited now. And do you know, what's going to happen to be a Frank what's going to happen is schools. Aren't going to be audited. And if they are audited anyway, We'll show them. Look, we did all this tick, tick, tick, tick would have ticked all the boxes. And they'll come back with a report saying, yeah, the schools are doing what they're saying. The grail glory will be grumbling again. And who knows where we'll go, but essentially. In summary, it's all those awful schools fault for granting all those Irish exemptions. I don't know. So there we go. Finally if you I've lots and lots of stories that I add. I look at. Every couple of weeks and I save them onto my feet before. This week, if you subscribe to the newsletter, you'll find that I have been scouring Britain and the U S for stories. And I've shared them in the newsletter, but I also looked at my local county Cal count to go. Kenny had a visit from the minister for education. Nor have a phony who turned the sods. On on three different schools, she visited four, three of them have got some turns, sodding and and had a visit. Where is she? It spoke to all the children, all that it's all of us right now used to be visited by the minister for education. I get that. You have to make a bit of a thing. I get there's politics at play and all the rest of it. And you have to be calling to nice and do all these dances and. All the rest of it. And I'm sure she was treated very well in the cook county schools. What I'm more interested in is the fact that when she turns the sod in those schools are built guests, who's going to own those schools. Despite the department of education, funding them for millions, this will be millions of Euro and cash being spent by the state. And those buildings will be a nicely gifted to the churches that they add that where. With the skills set. And of course we add, move onto county meet where there is a school list. His mother nationals go to be waiting 17 years for the minister to gift their school, rebuild their school and give it to their church. I don't know if it's the church of Ireland school. Eh, it's funny. It looks like one Bush. It may not be. I actually don't know. Anyway, it doesn't really matter because whatever the religion, cause I'm not all about the conflict church here it's any religious body or any private body that owns a building. Ah, I find it really distasteful that when the department. The state funds, these buildings that the state no longer owns. After such a huge amount of investment. But that is the system that we have. Anyway, I could go on about that for ages, but I am running out of time. We're coming up to the half hour mark and I try to make these new episodes less than half an hour long. As I said, if you are interested in any further of those news stories, I've loads of them. Ad that I found on everything from children in the UK, having to wait a whole year. The hundreds of children in the UK are waiting a whole year for psychological assessments. Oh my gosh. Wait till they, if they came over here, what they'd see. And there's some really nice side. There's a really cool article. I love it. Written by the secret teacher. And I think it's in the Irish times and like the Irish times or the Irish examiner, where at they talk about a apparent, is that. I gave this, my child has got the worst teacher in the school doesn't ever got higher level, whatever it is, it's secondary school story, but it's brilliant because it's written from the parent's perspective and then absolutely torn to pieces by the school and the child themselves. As a teacher at it's a very good article. It's actually worth subscribing to my newsletter for that a news article alone. I also go through a number of tweets that I thought were really good. I'm very. Useful for you. I'm really good at analysis and in certain areas. And also if you want, I'm doing what I do in an ICT, a tech tip every two weeks. And this time I'm looking at sending electronic newsletters on the options that are available. And so have a look at that. If you want, you can find out by going to onshore dot Nash slash subscribe. If you haven't done so already. And I published those and about a week after the podcast is published. So if you aren't a subscriber. Anyway. I know from me. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Thanks so much for listening. We'll chat to you again very soon. All the very best. Bye bye.

Ask Us A Question

You will get a notification email when Knowledgebase answerd/updated!

+ = Verify Human or Spambot ?