A CORK TD has warned that there is an “alarming lack of places” available in special schools in Cork city and county, with many that are in place sporting waiting lists of five years.
Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said that while ASD units are needed and welcome, they are not suitable for every child with special educational needs and additional special schools are needed.
This week in the Dáil, the Sinn Féin spokesperson for Education raised the issue with Minister Josepha Madigan. “There is a major issue in our city and county when it comes to adequate places in special schools and places in units. I firmly believe there is a need for more units, but it cannot be units alone. We need both, but I think the Minister is not focused on the bigger picture, and is not working towards building additional special schools.
“Units within mainstream schools are not suitable for every child. Many children require the unique support they would receive through a place in a special school. There is an alarming lack of places in special schools in Cork,” he explained.
Mr Ó Laoghaire believes two additional special schools are needed in Cork city, with a third needed in the county.
“Existing special schools in Cork have waiting lists of five years, which is just not good enough.
“Of course, this has a knock-on effect. If a child who needs a place in a special school, which would be the optimum place for them, cannot obtain that and are placed in a unit, then that place in the unit is potentially denied to a student who does not have any special educational place at all.
“It is clear that what is needed is additional special schools and facilities for children with special educational needs in Cork city. I will continue to work constructively with the Minister, to ensure that the children of Cork get the supports they need,” he concluded.