Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Irish parents special education experience

Although crude and quite simplicitic this survery is very representative of what is happening in our education system for children with needs.
In summary :
50% of children with special needs attend mainstream school and over 20% of these children do not have access to a SNA at all with 35% only having part-time access. 40% of children do not receive any additional learning resource hours. Almost 70% of children do NOT receive any therapeutic intervention at school. 70% of parents who moved their children's school setting did so because they were disatisfied with the actual school. 33% indicated it was because there was not enough resources and interestingly almost 15% did so because the school no longer wanted their children with 10% having their child suspended. Alarmingly only 9% of people hold the Department of Education responsible for their child's welfare at school!!!
In the process of forming a policy statement for our group this among many other issues will help us tackle what is our facing our chidren when trying to get equal access to an education.

Monday, July 18, 2016

I am a product of the Irish Education system. I went through all of the school cycles, primary, secondary and third level. My parents sent four of us through school in Ireland. They made huge sacrifices to give us every educational opportunity. I think they were successful overall. Most people take it as a right that your children will go to school and receive an education from a teacher . Actually it is written in our constitution that every child has the right to an education. How many times have we heard that the Irish education system is among the best in the world. Our people are in demand globally due to their wonderful educational achievements. So why do we need to talk about it?
Do  you know that the Department of Education ARE NOT in any way accountable for our nations' schools. They do not have any responsibility whatever for what happens once your child goes into school with the exception of what curriculum is covered- although if I am honest I don't know how they actually monitor that either.  All schools in this country are independent fiefdom's run entirely  by the Principal of each school who reports not to the Department of Education but directly to the Board of Management of which he/she is a member. They are entirely responsible for hiring staff.  The principal is all powerful and is not answerable to any authority within the Department of Education. Your mouth is gaping open now? Really? So what happens if your child is being bullied? Your child is being excluded? Your child is being victimised? Your child is not receiving the resources allocated to them? Your child is struggling with a teacher who is bullying them? Beaten? The list goes on....You decide you are going to make a complaint? This is what happens!! You contact the teacher- if there is no solution.  You contact the principal- if there is no solution.  You contact the Board of Management - no solution . Finally at your wits end you contact the Department of Education- the following is the response you receive!

Please note that while this Department sets out the constitution of Boards of Management and rules of procedure it is not directly involved in the management of schools. It is the duty of the board to manage the school on behalf of the patron. Under the provisions of the Education Act, 1998, the Board of Management is the body charged with the direct governance of a school, and it is the Board of Management which employs the teachers at the school. Accordingly, whereas the Department provides funding and policy direction for schools, the Department does not have the power to instruct schools to follow a particular course of direction with regard to individual complaint cases or to investigate complaints.  I am enclosing a guidance document which you may find useful if you wish to make a complaint about a teacher or other staff members of a school including the principal. If you are still dissatisfied after having brought your complaint to the attention of the school’s Board of Management, you may write to the school patron and/or the Office of the Ombudsman for Children. The Office of the Ombudsman for Children may independently investigate complaints relating to the actions or non-actions of a school recognised by the Department of Education and Skills, provided the parent has firstly and fully followed the school’s complaints procedures. The key criterion for any intervention by the Ombudsman for Children is that the actions or non-actions of a school has, or may have, adversely affected the child. The office can be contacted at: Ombudsman for Children’s Office, Millennium House, 52-56 Great Strand Street, Dublin 1; tel. 1800 20 20 40 or (01) 865 6800 or email (

The Department website is a useful source of information. The section dealing with parental complaints, bullying and child protection is
Louise O'Keefe  her case is an example of what can happen to your child at school!

What do you do now?