After the Celtic Tiger and the country went bankrupt, the government had to save money and make cuts to education. Because they have less of a voice, they cut from the most vulnerable people in our society. Over the last few years, they made cuts to children from EAL and Traveller backgrounds. They cut as much as they could from children with diagnoses of SEN. They refused to enact the EPSEN law. They capped SNAs and pretended they didn’t make any cuts. They cut psychological services. They cut occupational therapy and speech and language therapy. I could go on. Now there’s an election so let’s see what the parties are promising now.
- Fine Gael: will invest €10m by 2021 to fund 217 additional therapists for a new model of In-School Speech and Language Therapy / expand NEPS service
- Labour: No mention
- Fianna Fáil: Huge promises too many to mention here but: instantly increase Resource Hours to 92.5% in first year and up to 100% within lifetime of government / reform NCSE / early intervention / clusters of SEN services shared between schools / reform of Special Schools
- Sinn Féin: Cannot find anything about this.
- Green Party: a very loose, “maintain and improve supports for students with special needs”
- Social Democrats: No mention
- Renua: Hard to understand what they mean when they say: “The extension of disability into the Ombudsman’s remit will play a key role in enforcing the often neglected rights of the disabled in Irish schools.”
- AAA/PBP: immediate reversal of all cuts in the education sector. The reinstatement of resourcing hours, guidance counsellors and SNA’s should be a priority
The winners here have to be Fianna Fáil as they systematically go through all the ways they are going to reverse the cuts since 2011. The AAA/PBP seem to have plans to do the same but no details were evident so it was difficult to see how exactly or when exactly it was going to happen. Renua and the Greens were very poor in their manifestos and Labour and the Social Democrats didn’t even see fit to put this issue in their manifesto.