"When A Special Class Is Sanctioned, Accommodation Must Follow" - Tánaiste

Micheál Martin is addressing a challenge being faced by a Westmeath school.

The Department of Education's building unit is 'resisting' plans for a new Autism class in Westmeath.

That's the claim being made by Longford Westmeath Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy, who's calling on the Education Minister to intervene and support Tyrrellspass National School.

The National Council for Special Education has already sanctioned the new room, but the school building unit is questioning the need for the unit.

Deputy Troy says that's not right:

When a special class is sanctioned, accommodation has to follow.

They're the words of the Tánaiste.

Micheál Martin says children are entitled to be accommodated:

In a statement to Midlands 103, the Department of Education says the NCSE is reviewing demand for the provision of special classes alongside the availability of space in local schools.

"The NCSE and the Department continue to engage on a regular basis in relation to the provision of additional special education placements.

In relation to the provision of primary special classes, the shared preference of both the Department and the NCSE is to use and reconfigure existing school accommodation to provide special classes in a timely manner. Given the number of primary special classes available already and the falling demographics, it is also likely that most of the new additional special classes may be required in larger population centres in a local school planning area.

The Department will be in touch with the school authorities as soon as possible in relation to their application, once the NCSE has completed their review of the demand in the area. 

The purpose of the Department’s Additional School Accommodation (or ASA) scheme is to ensure that essential mainstream classroom accommodation and accommodation for pupils with special education needs is available to cater for pupils enrolled each year, where the need cannot be met by the school’s existing accommodation or at other schools in the area.

In general, demographics have been falling at primary level and are due to continue to decrease. Therefore the Department considers it prudent to maximise the use of existing spare accommodation capacity at primary level in the first instance, before considering any applications for further accommodation needs. This is in line with public spending requirements."

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