A new special school will be established in Carrigtwohill for the 2023/24 academic year, it has been revealed.
Minister for Education, Norma Foley, and Minister of State with responsibility for Special Education and Inclusion, Josepha Madigan, have today announced the establishment of two new special schools as part of a comprehensive update on enhanced education provision for students with special educational needs.
The two new special schools, one in Carrigtwohill, east Cork and one in Dublin 7, will be established for the 2023/24 school year.
The new special school in Carrigtwohill will provide for the enrolment of children and young people with autism and complex learning needs up to 18 years of age. It is envisioned that the school will operate under the patronage of the Cork Education and Training Board (ETB).
Places will be prioritised for children who have no offer of a special school place for the 2023/24 school year. Details in relation to the location of the new special school, the admission process and the number of places to be offered for 2023/24 will be confirmed very shortly.
The NCSE will work closely with the families of the children and young people concerned to assist them in accessing the new places which will become available during the 2023/24 school year.
Planning for the establishment and opening of the new special school will begin immediately. This will include a determination of the size of the school required so that the necessary staff recruitment, school policy development and related arrangements can be put in train. This will also include ongoing communication with the families concerned.
In addition to the establishment of two new schools in the school year 2023/24, plans are also underway to increase the capacity at Rochestown Community Special School in Cork, along with 10 other schools across the country.
Meanwhile, a further 218 new special classes have been confirmed for opening in 2023, with more to be confirmed in the coming weeks – 126 at primary and 92 at post-primary level.
Allocations of special needs assistants will be published by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) before April 30, an earlier date than usual to allow schools to plan.
A new SNA Workforce Development Unit has been established in the Department and the NCSE is undertaking a recruitment process and campaign to fill special educational needs organiser (SENO) vacancies and hire additional SENOs.
Speaking on Wednesday, Minister Foley said: “The announcement of new provision today, including two new special schools serving Dublin and Cork, is a significant step forward, and I am pleased that we are making real progress in meeting the needs of our young people and collaborating in new ways to ensure every child has access to a welcoming and inclusive environment to learn and flourish.
“I want to thank all of the parents, schools, patron bodies and other stakeholders for their ongoing engagement with the Department and with the NCSE.
“This announcement reflects the very strong emphasis on forward planning and roll-out of provision for children and young people with special educational needs," she added.
“Our school communities have demonstrated a real commitment to inclusion. I would like to thank those involved in supporting the continued establishment of special classes.
"Throughout Ireland, the number of special classes continues to grow year on year ensuring that children and young people have access to school places which are appropriate to their needs."
Minister Madigan added: “As Minister of State for Special Education, I am committed to keeping inclusion at the heart of education by ensuring that every child has a school place appropriate for their needs. Special schools play a vital role, and it is for this reason that I am delighted to have secured agreement for the establishment of two new special schools in East Cork and Dublin, parts of the country where need has been highest.
“At this time of year, many families are applying for school places for their children. It can be a period of anxiety. I am determined to support students and families in securing school places where they are needed. I know this can be a difficult process and I want to make it as easy as possible.
“I am delighted to have secured the additional provision being announced today. This is a much-needed development which will help to meet the demand for special school places in these areas," she added.
“The major investment of an additional €13million in the NCSE is being undertaken so that the NSCE can respond effectively, compassionately and quickly to the increased need in our education system so that children and their families are fully supported and achieve the best possible education outcomes.
"I want to thank everyone involved in this endeavour. I also want to be clear that work continues to meet the ongoing demand for special education placements.”
Information on special schools and the list of mainstream schools with special classes, including new classes for the coming school year 2023/2024, the types and locations of these classes is published on the NCSE website.