A SECOND autism class will open for secondary school pupils in Ballincollig at the start of the new academic year.
It emerged this week that Ballincollig Community School (BCS) will open an autism class this September.
It follows news in recent months that Le Chéile Secondary School will also open an autism class for second-level students in Ballincollig this September.
Cork mother Katie Gould, who has highlighted the lack of school places available for autistic children at both primary and secondary level in Ballincollig, hailed the news.
“It is a step in the right direction. It is great news,” she said.
“It is one more step towards Ballincollig having sufficient provision. It is wonderful news to have another school coming on board and great news for the children who will get those places.”
Ms Gould, along with other concerned parents, recently held an awareness campaign in Ballincollig to highlight the need for more school places for students with autism.
She warned that they still require more school places at primary level to meet the demand.
“We are going in the right direction,” she said. “This news means six more families in the local area can be accommodated, which is fantastic.
“This is still not going to be enough. The demand for places is there and this new class is badly needed. There is a lack of sufficient autism class places in Ballincollig.
“Ballincollig is targeted for continued growth and yet the provision isn’t there. If you are a primary school boy who needs to go to an English-speaking school, which would be the case for a lot of people with autism, there is absolutely no provision in Ballincollig as neither Scoil Eoin and Scoil Barra have a class.”
Fianna Fáil councillor Colm Kelleher welcomed the news of the new class, saying: “It is brilliant news. This is something I have been campaigning for since I was elected. It is very welcome news that the community school are going to open this new autism class to coincide with the class that is going to be opened by Le Chéile Secondary School this September.
“My hope now is that Coláiste Choilm will be next. We need autism classes in every school.
“It is badly needed and long overdue. It is definitely going in the right direction.
“Le Chéile are opening an autism class this September, and this latest news about BCS is very positive.
“Back in 2019, we didn’t have these classes in national school. The unit in Gaelscoil Uí Ríordáin is going from strength to strength.”