Second ASD class for North Mon Primary School

Second ASD class for North Mon Primary School

Teacher Laura O'Farrell with young Conor Hurley looking forward to getting a new ASD classroom at Scoil Mhuire Fatima, North Mon primary school where Josepha Madigan TD, Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion announced the establishment of a new ASD classroom. Picture Dan Linehan

The Minister of State with responsibility for Special Education and Inclusion, Josepha Madigan has announced the opening of a second autism spectrum disorder (ASD) classroom at the North Monastery Primary School.

The school’s existing Páistí Rís special educational needs classroom was opened by Taoiseach Micheál Martin last year.

Speaking to The Echo, Ms Madigan said that these classrooms are absolutely essential and said she is really thrilled that the school is opening a second class dedicated to children with additional needs.

“Every new build now automatically from last year, in fact, will automatically provide special educational needs facilities so we hope that we won’t have this conversation in years to come.

“We have increased the amount of special classes by 386% since 2011 so we now have 2,018 classes. 

"We opened 269 this year, 287 next year, that will be 1,700 class places so we have done a huge amount of work in the area of special education.

 Pupils Jack White and Jacob Collins with their SNA Katie Kelly O'Shea in their ASD class at Scoil Mhuire Fatima, North Mon primary school where Josepha Madigan TD, Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion announced the establishment of their new ASD classroom. Picture Dan Linehan
Pupils Jack White and Jacob Collins with their SNA Katie Kelly O'Shea in their ASD class at Scoil Mhuire Fatima, North Mon primary school where Josepha Madigan TD, Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion announced the establishment of their new ASD classroom. Picture Dan Linehan

“I have a budget of €2.1bn so it’s great but you want to put that money in the right places and schools like this that are opening today.

“[Fine Gael] Deputy Colm Burke has been talking to me for a long time about providing for special education in this area in Cork in particular which is one of the pinch points so I’m delighted to be here today and I want to commend the school for doing this,” she said.

Ms Madigan, who also visited Carrigaline Community Special School and Scoil an Athar Tadhg in Carraig na bhFear during her time in Cork, said that the opening of such classrooms means a huge amount to parents.

“I mean, these are our most vulnerable children, children with additional needs. They need the support, they need the assistance.

“It can be a fight for them and I want to take that sting out of it for them and you have schools like this opening a second class and indeed some schools opening a third class or fourth class wherever it’s needed,” she said.

She said that the department works very closely with the National Council for Special Education in engaging with parents, families and with schools “to make sure that we get sufficient places” for children.

She said that there are plans for more ASD classrooms in schools across Cork, dependent on demand.

 Teacher Laura O'Farrell and pupils Lauren Daly, Conor Hurley and Jacob Collins giving a big welcome to Josepha Madigan TD, Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion who announced the establishment of a new ASD classroom at Scoil Mhuire Fatima, North Mon primary school. Included are Colm Burke T.D., Cllr. Camien Boylan, school principal Carl O'Brien and chairperson Dr. Barry O'Connor. Picture Dan Linehan
Teacher Laura O'Farrell and pupils Lauren Daly, Conor Hurley and Jacob Collins giving a big welcome to Josepha Madigan TD, Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion who announced the establishment of a new ASD classroom at Scoil Mhuire Fatima, North Mon primary school. Included are Colm Burke T.D., Cllr. Camien Boylan, school principal Carl O'Brien and chairperson Dr. Barry O'Connor. Picture Dan Linehan

“It’s up to us to anticipate the demand and we now have a new forecasting model through the NCSE who liaise with the building and planning unit of the department so we can actually anticipate through that forecasting model where the growth is needed and where the demand is and how to make sure that we provide for it,” she said.

Mr Burke said that work must also be done to ensure secondary school places are available to make the transition from primary to secondary easier for those with extra needs.

“One of the issues now which was raised in Carraig na bhFear was a parent whose child finishes up in the primary school and there’s this worry about a place for the child at the next level so we need to ensure that people don’t need to be stressed out about that and that there are places there when they move from primary level to secondary level and that’s something we have to do a lot more of intense work on as well.”

Chairman of the Board of Management of the North Monastery Primary School, Barry O’Connor said he was delighted to welcome the minister to announce a second ASD classroom.

“We’re delighted for the sake of the kids and their parents and families and wider community. It’s a resource that we’re delighted to add to the existing success that we have,” he said.

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