“There is a real fear among parents in Cork, and indeed throughout the country about the decision taken by Government especially when news that local schools, such as St. Columba’s, which has become a model for the teaching of special needs students, is being forced to write to parents explaining that substitute supervision may not be provided if a teacher does not come to work because of illness.
“It is insufferable that a provision that causes such hardship is being imposed on special needs schools and attempts by principals to alleviate concern among parents are understandably proving unsuccessful.
“In this time of financial difficulty, those who most need our help deserve to be treated with the respect they are entitled to from the State.
“As the Minister is aware, substitution and supervision cover for special needs pupils are not like the cover afforded to mainstream classes whereby any teacher can be brought in as a substitute. Special needs education requires specific and appropriately trained teachers.
“This scheme must be revisited. I will continue to press the Minister through whatever means possible for an exemption for schools that cater for special needs pupils. This Government cannot be permitted to continually penalise the most vulnerable in society.”