Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dear Minister For Education....

 It was with great shock and sadness that we learned, on the final week of the school year, that our mainstream school was to lose 4.5 SNAs (Special Needs Assistants) by close of business on the final day. Shocked because only one month previous 'access to an SNA' had been granted to the 5 extra pupils due to start in September, yet they incredibly saw fit to reduce our SNA resource by a similar amount a mere four weeks later. In what universe does that make sense? We were saddened for the children who are losing a  valuable resource that can make all the difference in them making a succesful journey through mainstream primary schooling. The feelings of  unrealised potential and loss of some dedicated, hard working individuals is palpable. We also feel sad for the women who lost their jobs without prior consultation or warning.

Our school- and we are by no means alone in this- are now in an impossible position of having to share 9 SNA's  between 21 children with varying needs for the coming school year. You don't need a mathematical degree to realise that this is not a workable computation. I'm sure educational psychologists would agree that reducing these numbers could have a really negative affect on how those children perform in school.How can SNAs properly and safely support more than one child in different classrooms throughout the school day?

I am not privy to the reasons behind the decision in our school's case...all indications throughout the year were that all would be well...but I am very concerned. I have studied the recent very comprehensive, and incredibly scary, review entitled  A VALUE FOR MONEY (VFM) REVIEW OF EXPENDITURE ON THE SPECIAL NEEDS ASSISTANT SCHEME which is dated June 2011. I'm not sure if this influenced the cuts in our school but it does not bode well for the future. Whether or not this report is implemented I feel it's backing up SNA cuts already made in schools all across the country and clears a path for more.

Therefore it would seem that the only way to fight these cuts is to challenge the Review.

This whole review, in my opinion, has an agenda and most findings, recommendations and  conclusions contained within are brought back to a certain DES circular dated 07/2002 which specifies the role of the SNA as envisaged at that time. The review, for example,  states that the role of the SNA (and  in particular the 'care needs'):  'has expanded since then' and it 'has established that the role of the SNA is not well understood. Schools, parents and professionals now seem to consider that SNAs may be used for administrative, pedagogical, behavioural management and therapeutic duties.'

I do actually agree with some of the  findings in this Review. I agree that the role has expanded and that there may be an over allocation of SNAs, for example. I agree that some SNA's are acting as therapists and doing duties never envisaged in 2002. I agree with the findings... but NOT the conclusions.

The conclusions in the report are flawed beacause the parameters set were too narrow and stifling. When you start from a position of analysing the cost effectiveness of a scheme based on the vision of the role as set 8 years ago what other conclusions can you reach? And as this is a Review it '... should not, as a general rule, recommend an increased resource allocation for the programme concerned...' So, what else can this review do but find that 'the cost effectiveness of the scheme is compromised'...in other words support the case for cuts in SNA resources?

This review also finds that 'There is evidence that the category related to ‘behaviour is such that students are a danger to themselves or others’ is being misinterpreted and leading to an over-identification of students in this category.' The review advocates the abolition of this criteria or at the very least seriously containing it with more specific, detailed information being demanded.  Given that a high proportion of the children (see p.80 of the report) with SNAs fall under the category of Autism/Autistic Spectrum Disorder or Emotional/Behavioural Disrder it's easy to see why they  arrive at this conclusion.  As the parent of a child with ASD this causes me great concern. As does the list of Special Needs Assistant Duties Identified as Over and Above the Care Role Specified that appears on p.70/71 of this review.

If this Review is implemented then there will be many more SNA cuts and a large number of children, particulary those with Autism or Behavioural Disorders, will go unsupported through the school system. This would be a complete travesty for everyone and we must fight this, vigorously. If this review goes unchallanged then I fear for the education of this whole generation, seriously... I do.

In the quest for VFM we should widen the parameters and consider other things. For example:

*Consider why it is that the role has expanded and how succesful that expansion has been?

*Consider why it's a bad thing that SNA's take part in waterfall based training and implement some therapies whilst under supervision? 

Given the fact that there are no therapists to ' bring in' as the review suggests, is this not real VFM in action?? This is saving the government a fortune! The fact that it's being funded through the education budget is the real problem.  It is simply not good enough to present one report from one Government Department when there are two Departments responsible for these children. Here's a thought.... DES and HSE: communicate please and join forces to use the available resources more creatively. Just like the SNAs are doing in schools all over Ireland. Right now.

And finally, in order to present you with the evidence of how expanding the role of the SNA over the past 8 years  has been successful and has provided true value for money,  let me tell you a little story...

Seven years ago there was a lttle boy with Autistic Spectrum Disorder who, due to his behavioural and Speech & Language difficulties and his inability to sit still and learn, was unable to commence Mainstream Primary School. The parents had no choice but to send this little boy,  at great expense to the Government, to a Special Needs School. However, in order to assist her little boy in reaching his true potential his mum took a very long career break from her Good Government Job, thereby saving them a fortune. She may not have contributed to the exchecquer during this time, however she couldn't  avail of  Carer's Benefit in her own right either and due to the inequalities of  Individualisation, her Husband paid higher tax,  so over all a huge financial saving was made. By the Government, not the family.

Through a lot of interventions, the mother's persistence and the child's ultimate desire to take part and succeed, a breakthrough was made. Within months the little boy began a gentle and very supported inclusion programme in his local Mainstream School. He even attained his own SNA, which freed the SNA from the Special Needs School to go attend to the higher maintenance children in that other school. No doubt that looked like an 'over-allocation of SNA'... on paper.

Over the past five years the SNA in the Primary School helped the little boy through his yearly transitions and through each and every day. The consistency of having the same SNA every year is a great help to a child with Autism. His SNA helped him in many ways, every day of the week. For example she:

*Helped him stay on task in the classroom.

*She reviewed concepts with him that had already been taught ...Auditory Processing Difficulties mean that children with Autism can't process instructions at the same speed as others and language difficulties make some mathematical concepts very difficult indeed.

*She sometimes acted as a scribe in spelling tests for example...so that she could lessen his frustration levels and allow him to take part and to succeed.

*She has helped him to improve his organisational skills...particularly in latter years in prepartion for second level education.

*She has produced, helped with and worked through Social Stories with him.

*Supervised his social skills learning from his peers in class and on some occasions in the playground. Really, 5, 6 or 7 y.o. children cannot be expected to 'teach' social skills to their Special needs classmates as is hinted at in this Review!

In fact, this SNA did most of the duties mentioned on p70/71 of this Review, duties  that are now considered to be over and above what was intended back in 2002. However, by doing all of this (and more besides) she has helped this little boy to reduce his frustation levels and  behavioural outbursts so that he could stay on task and learn.  The SNA support in this case has resulted in this boy growing up to be  a very happy, contented, independant, confident 11 year old who is now considered to be a valuable and popular member of his happy, contented and educated class of children. Win/Win.

This 11 year old boy, my son, will attend a very mainstream secondary school in 14  months time, as opposed to the more Special Needs orientated one as envisaged back in 2004... times change, you see. He even  has hopes for his future... he wants to be a 'CEO of a Games Incorporation'. So not only may he pay his way in society he may even provide employment for others! A lot of children on the Autistic Spectrum will have skill sets relating to IT, Technology, Mathematics and Science.

This case, and others like it, shows how the expansion of the role of the SNA has been successful and presents true Value for Money. I seriously worry for the 5 year olds with Special Needs commencing in our Education system these days. How many will be 'discouraged' from attending their local mainstream school due to lack of SNA support?  Not every child with Special Needs will make such dramatic progress, of course but with appropriate SNA support most will reach their true potential. Inclusion is considered to be best practise but inclusion without support is a disaster in the making for all children and the education of  a future workforce is seriously at risk.

This Review quotes (and no doubt cherry picks from) a lot of Research Studies and mentions that there has been no research in Ireland in certain categories. True VFM will be attained from researching the success of the expansion of the role since 2002 versus the effects of dramatic cuts in SNA support, as has been happening recently. Therefore I urge all parents of Special Needs children to keep a daily account of their child's progress, or lack thereof, to schedule regular (weekly?) meetings with class teacher and to compare the results of annual Standardised and other tests with previous ones. We should also record any change in behaviour and any situation that puts the child or other children at risk. All this information should be used in our campaign to have our SNAs reinstated.

The Government however, should not dally too long over this issue. We wouldn't like to see a case of neglect or denial of constitional rights before the courts now, would we?


Yours sincerely,




32 comments:

  1. This must be so frustrating for you, and everyone. Fewer fancy shopping malls and better school facilities would go a long way to regaining some sense of balance in today's society. And it would benefit the local artisans.

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  2. "losing a valuable resource that can make all the difference in them making a succesful journey through mainstream primary schooling"

    Not just school but through life. Early intervention is key.

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  3. @Midlifesinglemum: True. Would you believe that the Health Depts budget was overrun by something like €170mil in May, the SNA sceme would cost a mere €10mil to maintain at pre-cuts level yet there's reports that they're considering building yet another bridge over our captal city's River Liffey at a cost of €15mil??? I repeat.... 'in what universe does that make sense??'

    @Casdok: Absolutely... totally agree!

    Thanks you both for your comments :-)

    xx Jazzy

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  4. Well said Jazzy. My sister is a teacher and also unimpressed with SNA cuts.As you say yourself, it doesn't make sense.

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  5. God that's so frustrating! I just don't get how the cuts can be so severe in the most needed places. Somebody somewhere must know something we don't.......I very much doubt it though! I think they need to start listening to MR and MRS ordinary now!!

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  6. very well put together...am all tensed up reading it...so goddam frustrating...we all know where cuts need to be made and its not in special education...thats just lazy and picking on those they hope have no fight left in them after yrs of battling for services and to get as far as we have. As with all govt depts look to the bigger fish in big offices claiming massive expenses....to consultants in hospitals paid far too excessively and using public hospitals and staff for private practice...to td's travelling to local funerals in chauffer driven cars..stayin in top hotels..travelling first class...travel economy instead of ruining ours...stay in a premier inn...everythings premier but the price...drive ur own bloomin car...it is not essential to partake in an alcoholic beverage at every conference/meeting/funeral...now u started me lol

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  7. Irish Autism Action should have an interesting contribution to make on the analysis of the SNA report.

    The IAA negotiated with the DES on the transfer of the ABA pilot schools to special school status. The deal that they negotiated saw all staff below the level of director (think of the director as the equivalent of a principal) to SNA status.

    However the department's offer to the school specified that they saw no conflict between the roles of ABA tutor and supervisors and SNAs. In fact, the DES offer states that all duties that had been part of the supervisor and tutor contracts would continue to be duties of those who transfered to SNA status.

    To put that in context, these duties included behaviour management, delivery of the curriculum, administration, writing up IEPs, staff education etc. There were no teachers or principals in these schools prior to the transfer, so all teaching duties were carried out by tutors and supervisors.

    So only a few short months ago, the DES was claiming that the SNA role included administrative, pedagogical, behavioural management and therapeutic duties, now they claim otherwise.

    Somebody should really call them out on this.

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  8. It is getting to a similar stage here in the north too. it is almost impossible to even get an assessment in the first place and then the hours they give are no where near enough. keep making lots of noise about this, unfortunatly its the only way.

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  9. It looks as though these cuts are being made with a very blunt instrument indeed. As you are hinting, those making them are failing to recognise that taking away SNAs could result in more children dropping ut of mainstream and ending up in special schools which presumably cost more per pupil. Or will some children just end up without an education at all? My understanding is that this would be an illegal situation.

    On the positive side your son's story shows exactly the contribution that SNAs can make when they are used to meet the child's individual needs and not restricted by some arbitrary rulebook as to what they can and cannot do.

    Great post xx

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  10. Re Wednesday 13th July 2011 the Special Needs cuts in Education protest and Dail debate
    I saw the protest, I watched the debate as it happened inside, I spoke to a handful of TDs on my own individual case.
    I am a parent of a special needs child, having worked myself in education in the past, my son and thousands of other children will come September (and have been already and will continue to) be DIRECTLY affected by those very same issues debated this Wednsday 13th July. I cried inside up in the Gallery and briefly for a moment had visible tears during the debate, as the anger, frustration and hurt hit me right to my very core.
    And I can safely say this: that this is something that will not, should not, MUST not go unnoticed or unheeded by a LOT of people in this country. Education is an enshrined right, in this country and in the UN Rights too.
    I commend the Technical Group TDs for engaging in a very impassioned and important debate, and was heartened by their strongly voiced arguments, the clear evidence was read out time and time again from real-life cases happening now all over the country. These are not exceptions that were highlighted, just some examples, but I also commend Government TDs for standing in the Dail at that same debate and those who gave their point of view on the issues. They do I imagine think it is okay to wait and wait when it comes to a child’s needs, and maybe forget that the same child (my child for instance) grows and develops and lives their life one day at a time, and the parent copes and worries and frets often for their future.

    However, as far as the Europeans are concerned, the IMF-ECB bailout negotiations will not be successful for Ireland and we are indeed now labelled as “junk” on the international markets and in the foreign media.
    “Junk” is also now the label the people who run this country gave on Wednesday to my 7 year old Autistic/ADHD son. An amendment was made which basically threw out all the good wording and suggestions made, and this again (as had already been happening due to inadequacies in the present system) sacrificed my child’s education and welfare for a few poxy million euro. Sure, now the Irish people are more concerned about 100s of billions and yet a democratically elected Government gives more priority, it seems, to the banks and bailouts. How are these nameless, faceless investors more vulnerable than a child’s future? Than a special needs child’s?
    This will not go unrecognised, children cannot wait! And parents WILL not accept that their children are not a matter of urgency, the hard-working and overstretched SNAs, classroom teachers, resource teachers, language support teachers, all those frontline service providers MUST not let Irish children be treated as a non-priority. They are not to blame. They are innocent.
    I can say with 100% safety that a special needs child in contemporary Ireland waits long enough (it can be measured often in years) to get assessments, services, diagnoses and treatment as it stands. If you have the money you clearly get more and quicker, and so you “matter”. If you don’t have the money, then you don’t count.
    Those in Government (and former Government parties) have a lot to be grateful for right now, that they have (presently) their salaries, expenses, pensions and their jobs….for now. Yes, they are comfortable enough not to have to suffer the cuts, caps, cutbacks etc. to access a service or an education, not as many others are suffering and will continue to suffer for the next 3-5 Budgets. One last word, however. Karma.

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  11. Very well written
    It's s,o very frustrating

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  12. @Mammy Doolittle: Thanks. No, it doesn't make sense and we,as a nation, will pay the price for years to come.

    @Mum in meltdown: Yes, they do need to start listening to us! We need data to back up any claims though...hence keeping records ;-)

    @Sesame: Totally agree. Cuts need to be made elsewhere. As I've been saying... they're intent on making SNAs (and all PS workers)cover duties for all staff who've left...double jobbing, so to speak. Why don't they double job their portfolios? Do we need that many Government Departments? Do we really need Junior Ministers? The Ministers could do both jobs there. And reduce the amount of TDs too.

    @JP: That's a very interesting point that you make. I'm not privy to the background to those negotiaitions but I believe it may not be as simple as that? By reducing all staff (regardless of degrees attained)to SNA status the intention may have been to ultimately reduce them to 'care needs' as envisaged in 2002....eventually! Most SNAs everywhere are doing way more than that circular...and are trained to do so.

    @Mum of All Trades: Yep. Same here. Long wait for assessment and then no services. This post only dealing with the Education side. Don't get me started on the clinical side!We have got to continue to make noise and be heard.

    @Blue Sky: Yes! That's exactly what I'm hinting at! mainstream schools will do what they can but every child in a class with Special needs kid is at risk of a below par education...or at the very least very stressful school days. Special needs schools will be at breaking point. Waiting lists are long enough now and kids that would be ideal candidates for inclusion programmes won't make it without support so will cost more to keep in Special education. These cuts are false economy.

    @Deirdre Flannery: I hear you Deirdre, loud and clear. I heard some of those impassioned arguments from my position outside the Dail too and was impressed. Disappointed at the outcome of the vote. It is disgraceful to see money shoring up the banks and the punitive rate of interest being charged by the IMF/EU bailout. For money THEY lent OUR banks? And now they expect OUR kids to pay?? It's only €10mil to keep SNAs at current level..will cost WAY more to keep them in Special schools... or institutions etc.

    I totally agree, the wait to garner information and to fight back should not be allowed to drag on. Most kids have waited long enough to simply get a diagnosis.

    @K floortime lite mama: Thanks..very frustrating indeed!

    Thank you all for your comments and points of view...really appreciate them.

    I have been told that there are ongoing consultations in place and that they will resume in September when the Dail (and the school year) recommences.

    See ye outside the Dail ;-)

    xx jazzy

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  13. I always find it interesting when looking over a study or research report to first look at who provided the funding and to whom the researchers were working for. No matter how hard you try I believe a study is flawed when you have a vested interest paying for it.

    Jazzy-very well put together and very distressing at the same time. It is amazing what early intervention can do and how terribly wrong things can go without it. Thank you for this.

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  14. @Jazzygirl

    Here's the quote and a link to a scan of the letter:

    SNA Terms and Conditions:
    Any tutor/supervisor, currently serving in the centres in the ABA pilot scheme, who takes up a position as an SNA in these new special schools will be subject to all of the SNA terms and conditions of employment as detailed in the following circulars, or as amended by the Minister for Education and Skills from time to time. In this regard it is noted that the required duties encompass the full range of duties currently carried out by the tutors/supervisors in the ABA pilot scheme.

    http://www.abaschoolsforum.com/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=27&Itemid=

    The DES were in possession of copies of the contracts that detailed tutor/supervisor duties prior to the transition

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  15. @Lizbeth: That is very true indeed. In this case the Government paid and the basic tenet would seem to be ..make the cuts to save the dosh. Dig out that old circular and let's revert back to that. Simple as that.

    @Annonymous: Hmmm...that is very interesting indeed. So, they wanted the tutors (I pick on them 'cos they're the qualifid ones...who's qualifications weren't accepted)to continue doing what they were doing (ie therapies..as directed by Ed Director) as SNAs? Which is pretty much what a lot of SNAs do in special and mainstream schools.

    It would seem to be a question that needs asking. Although I do have it on good authority that the tutors never did IEP plans or behavioural management etc. As I understand it they implemented plans that were devised by Educational Director. However, as you're now pointing out te Dept was Ok with them doing that...then. And that's a very important point.

    Thank you for taking the time to post the links etc.

    I have been advised that Special Needs Parents Association have now established direct communications with an education committee in gov and are in contact with them.

    People are free to forward their comments or thoughts to them for inclusion.

    I will be passing the link to this blog post on to the Minister himself. Which he may, or may not, read.

    Thanks again to you all for taking the time to comment.

    xx Jazzy

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  16. Jazzy, behaviour plans etc. were generally drawn up by supervisors rather than educational directors, or in some cases supervisors signed off on behaviour plans written by tutors. To the best of my knowledge, the DES didn't even recognise the role of director in some of the schools so they couldn't argue that directors were responsible for some of these duties. IEPs were drawn up by a team of people, but the supervisor was primarily responsible. This would have been reflected in the supervisor/tutor contracts that the various schools forwarded to the DES.

    Bizzarely, the DES actually increased the number of responsibilities tutors had, since they were told that as SNAs, their jobs would include not only their own responsibilities, but also those of their supervisors - all of which, they claimed, are standard responsibilities of an SNA.

    Go figure.

    It's a joke for the DES to go around saying that the scheme has been misused when they're the one's who promoted the view that SNAs could carry out those kind of duties.

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  17. When I started reading this, I saw red. Our kids are always the first ones to feel the cuts. It just makes me so mad. How can they be expected to make progress when their support is yanked out from under them?

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  18. @JP: Thanks. As I am receiving some conflicting info that I can't include here, I will leave some points aside.

    The basic point is that tutors/supervisors carried forward the duties they were doing when they transferred to SNA status. Some of those duties exceeded those as stated in the 2002 circular yet it appears that DES were ok with that. That is evident from the link you posted when they say :
    '... In this regard it is noted that the required duties encompass the full range of duties currently carried out by the tutors/supervisors in the ABA pilot scheme.'

    However, they then follow that by listing some circulars that cover all terms and conditions of their new SNA employment . I was curious so I searched and I found the 1st one ie DES circular 15/05 here :

    www.into.ie/ROI/.../DESCirculars/DESCirculars2005/SNA_contract.doc

    Unfortunately, Appendix 1 attached to this circular lays out the SNA duties and they do not include the duties tutors/supervisors were doing before viz-a-vie therapies and IEPs etc. They are more in line with 'Care needs'.

    One document seems to conflict with the other and doesn't tally with what they 'said'. Perhaps I have misread these cirulars/links? Looks like they've covered their bases though :-(

    Totally agree with your last point JP and What's REALLY annoying about the 'joke' is that it is the DES who pushed for inclusion in mainstream school in the firstplace and now they're withdrawing SNA support. The 'misuse' suited them in order to get more Autistic kids into mainstream and now they want to withdraw (or severely curtail) the 'behavioural' reason for SNA.

    So wrong.

    @Apples and Autobots: yes. It is incredibly frustrating....see my last point above :-( Special Needs are the easiest target. For one it's harder to go protest/fight when you have a Special needs child! We MUST keep fighting though... the money MUST be found elsewhere.

    Thanks for your comments :-)

    xx jazzy

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  19. The "get out" clause that Irish Autism Action would have highlighted at the time was that as part of an SNA contract, boards of management had the option to include additional duties not listed elsewhere in the standard SNA contract, so long as they were appropriate to the grade and were not teaching duties (the DES does not have a definition of teaching).

    Clearly, the DES were trying to have it both ways. They were willing to tell people one thing, willing to seem to put something else on paper, but at the same time, they included contradictory statements that they could fall back on if they wanted to make cuts.

    If the DES acknowledge the full range of duties that SNAs carry out, they're going to be forced to introduce more training for SNAs and increase the type of qualifications required. That would leave SNAs with the basis of a pay claim, so I can't see the DES acknowledging the work that SNAs do anytime soon.

    JP

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  20. It is encouraging to hear the parents' perspective on this. It has been discouraging lately (I'm a school psychologist) and watch the school budget cuts, especially with special education. Our children MUST be a priority. It is maddening.

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  21. JP: I'm not personally privy to terms agreed at the time but I take your point.

    Yes, The DES ARE trying to have it both ways..in the point you raise and in the one I @raise in my previous comment! Typical!

    Yes, I agree with your last comment and it is a worry I have in highlighting these issues. SNAs do an incredible job, in most cases and to be honest that's not properly acknowledged. Nor or their abilities used to obtain best efficiency...or, to bring it full circle, VFM!

    @Kristy: It is very maddening (and worrying) indeed. And evidentally not only happening in Ireland :-(

    Thank you both for your comments :-)

    xx Jazzy

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  22. Hi there, I'm in Shankill and our three schools have been hit hard. We've set up a petition if you would like to sign it ... this is the link
    http://www.keepitlocalshankill.com/saveoursna.htm

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  23. @Anonymous: The school I write about here is one of those schools;-)Thanks for the link, I signed it and shared it on fb AND twitter while I was on holidays! As soon as I find an opportunity I'll get it nto a blog post for you. Well done on reacting so fast and setting it up. Thanks for commenting :-)

    To all: Please note that I sent a detailed emailto the Minister and linked to this blog post. I received what seems to be a generic reply to which I'll be replying shortly. I'll let you know how it goes.

    xx Jazzy

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  24. Words cannot express the short-sightedness of these cuts. There is no question that at many levels, these cuts will generate higher costs to the Department. And more importantly they fail our children, the innovators, scientists, writers and artists of the future. This is an excellent post Jazzy, and your personal story illustrates the problem - in technicolour.

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  25. An SNA is not just an educational assistant for children with special needs but are a way for our kids to embrace and engage with the school world. Do not underestimate children with individual needs; they are valuable, they are worthy, they will contribute but they need assistance, they need support. Enable them to reach their potential.

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  26. Very articulate & precisely written.. As a teacher who supports ASN, it's so frustrating to see valuable resources withdrawn.. Unfortunately, the powers that be don't agree with us :(( Same old story here in Scotland :(

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  27. very well written and obviously from the heart, as the husband of an SNA I can see daily the effect these cuts etc are having on not only the children but also the SNA's that are left trying to manage with less and less hours but still trying to do their best for the children. there are evenings that my wife will just break down and sob away expressing her fears for the children that she knows that are doing without an SNA but so badly need.

    keep up the good fight, its very much appreciated

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  28. @Vanessa O'Loughlin: I totally agree with you. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    @Anonymous:Totally agree but it's not JUST a way for them to 'engage with the school world' but a lead in to engage with the real world. A way forward to take their full and righful place in our society in their adulthood. THAT'S what's so short sighted in these cuts...

    @Anonymous: Thanks, sorry to hear it's the same in Scotland. it is extreemly frustrating!

    @psychosax: Thank you so much for sharing your wife's side of this. I have thought about this angle and really wanted someone to come forward. These cuts are so wrong. Your wife, and the SNAs in our school and all schools, wouldn't be under such stress if the kids denied their help didn't warrant it in the first place! Why can't the Dept see that?? Our education system will fail because of this I fear.....and a split will form between parents of Special needs kids and those of NT (neuro-typical) ones. Watch this space..

    Thank you all for your comments here and on fb and on twitter and especially to my twitter pals who are sharing this post:-)

    xx Jazzy

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  29. Well said, Val. Unfortunately, your school is not alone. It's a disgrace! Good on you for posting about it.

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  30. The savage cuts in SNA's and other support services in schools(main stream and specialised) that has occured since you wrote this post unfortunately will have a very long term and a very costly effect on ALL children in this country. Teachers simply cannot be expected to cater, support, and even simply teach in the environment they face at this start of the school year. ALL CHILDREN suffer from these cuts.

    In the long term, lack of support means children will not achieve their potential, and will cost more on the state because of a higher level of dependancy.

    And if some parents decide to take legal action against the state, and seek compensation, the cost of that alone will outweight the short term savings. Because let us not forget, by such actions as these cuts, Ireland is in breach of the UN charter of the rights of children with special needs.... What is being done it totally illegal.

    EDUCATION IS A RIGHT, A PROTECTED RIGHT, FOR ALL. IT IS NOT A PRIVILEDGE.

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  31. @Nan P: That's exactly it.. ALL children in the classroom will suffer. Not all parents realise that...yet. The repurcussions of these savage cuts are not realised by all....yet. But we will ALL live to regret them.

    Totally agree with what you have to say Nan.. the long term costs to the state...and to society... are yet to be realised:-(

    Legal action to simply achieve education, let alone compensation, will sadly become a neccessity. One only has to look at the previous Government's wanton disregard for the public purse as they actively fought Special needs parents attempts to attain appropriate (ABA in these cases) education for their children... they spent €5 million....€5 MILLION.. to avoid this ultimately cost-saving education, so that they could ultimately force these ABA schools into their acceptable eclectic educational models. So that thay, and this Government, could ultimately cut the special needs resources. Go figure.....

    Thanks for your much valued comment Nan, I hear ya....sigh :-)

    xx Jazzy

    ReplyDelete
  32. @derekflynn: Yes, it is unfortunate and I know only too well that our school is not alone. it is so sad..... so wrong.

    Thanks for your comment :-)

    xx Jazzy

    ReplyDelete

Your comment is very much appreciated! x

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