'It’s heartbreaking at this stage': Parents worried by lack of school places

'It’s heartbreaking at this stage': Parents worried by lack of school places

Aisling Henebry, Kayla’s mother. Picture Dan Linehan

A number of parents in Cork have voiced their worry and frustration that, with fewer than three months left until the new school year starts, they still do not have confirmation of a school place for their children.

Aisling Henebry’s daughter Kayla is attending Scoil Cara, which caters for children up to the age of 12. Kayla has a dual diagnosis of autism and an intellectual disability.

While Ms Henebry had hoped that Kayla would get a place in Scoil Triest, which caters for older children with a dual diagnosis, she was advised this year that the school was oversubscribed.

In April, the Government announced plans for a new special school to be established in Carrigaline, which would provide 48 places for children with autism and general learning disability up to 18 years of age. Aisling had hoped that Kayla would then be offered a place at that school, but says that, two months on, they have not received any formal offer.

The Cork mother said that, as they near the end of school term, she was stressed and worried about whether Kayla will have a place in September.

She said she was “thinking and hoping” that she may get a place in Carrigaline, but that following their experiences over the past few months, she has “no trust” that this would happen. Ms Henebry said she would be able to relax just knowing Kayla had a place and where she is going.

Mary Hickey is facing the same situation with her son Andy, who also has a dual diagnosis of autism and an intellectual disability.

Andy’s parents had also hoped that he would secure a place in Scoil Triest, but he did not receive a place either.

When details of the new Carrigaline school were announced, Ms Hickey said she thought he might secure a place there, but she says they have not received any official offer.

“It’s heartbreaking at this stage,” she said. “We thought everything was sorted.”

A spokesperson for Cork ETB, the patron for the new special school for Carrigaline, said: “Cork Education and Training Board is working with the Department of Education and the National Council for Special Education to finalise an admissions policy and an admissions process for Carrigaline Community Special School.

“As soon as this work is completed, we will be in a position to commence the enrolment process for the 2021-22 school year.”

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