Fine Gael Cork Senator, Jerry Buttimer, has today (Wednesday) said the Government’s decision to cut special needs education is unforgivable, callous and will have a profound effect on teachers’ ability to teach and students’ ability to learn in many Cork schools.
“Minister O’Keeffe was in the Seanad last night to debate education issues. In the interest of accountability and transparency he should have announced his decision in the national parliament rather than in a press release to the media.
“Why did the Minister chose to conceal this information from the House when notification had already been sent to the schools affected and the decision had been made to issue a press release a few hours later? The Minister has displayed the full extent of the spinelessness of his character and has exposed his yellow-belly for all to see.
“It is wrong that parents, teachers and students who have waited to so long for assessment and for recognition of services have been so badly treated and utterly dismissed by the Minister.
“Nine students might make a class viable but the reality is that the vast majority of Cork schools have students waiting to be psychologically assessed and have been on waiting lists for between 18 months to three years.
“The Minister is now engaging in cuts without having the full picture and he is denying special needs students the opportunity to flourish. It is a well known fact that special needs students do not do as well in mainstream settings so to deny them this service is to diminish their chances of accomplishment and success.
“I am calling on the Minister for full and immediate publication of the number of students on waiting lists for special needs assessment and for a list of all schools affected so that proper consultation and planning can take place.
“Education is about building relationships not destroying them as the Minister is clearing intent on doing.”