Former Chief Inspector, Eamon Stack, to chair working group to review special education

The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D., has today announced the appointment of Eamon Stack to chair the working group established to develop a new model for allocating resource teachers in schools.

The group is being established by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) which is chaired by Mr Stack. The group, which will include parents and advocacy groups will begin its work immediately. It will provide an preliminary advice to Minister Quinn in September with advice on how to reform the way the substantial additional educational resources for pupils with special educational needs are allocated in the school system.

The group will urgently probe the reasons for the unprecedented 12 per cent rise in applications for resource teacher support this year. This compares with an annual 1.3 per cent increase in the number of students attending school in the current year. 

Minister Quinn is gravely concerned about the scale of the surge in demand for resource teachers this year which, if it were to continue, would make the current system unsustainable. There is evidence that the current model used to allocate resources is flawed. This is creating an inequitable distribution of resource teaching hours. It has been found that pupils with special educational needs in some schools in better-off areas get more support than those from disadvantaged areas.

The Minister said: “The NCSE has recently advised me of the need to develop a new model for how additional teaching resources should be allocated to ensure that students who need the greatest level of support can receive it. Today I have appointed Eamon Stack to chair this group and to report with advice on a proposed new model in September.

“Today I am also announcing measures to retain the level of resource teachers available to students with special educational needs at the 2012/13 levels.  This is a good day for special education, an area that I have passionately defended since coming into office. I have succeeded in protecting the 1.3 billion currently spent in this area.

“Today I have secured Cabinet agreement to release 500 additional teaching posts to schools in September to cope with the alarming rise in the demand for these resources. These posts were set aside to meet the late demand expected to arise over the remainder of the next school year. This is a once-off measure that will have Budgetary implications which I have alerted my colleagues to today.”

The NCSE will publish revised details of the Resource Teaching allocations for schools, based on existing allocation levels tomorrow and will be advising schools of their revised allocations in the coming days.
The Minister said: “Parents can be assured that their children will not be disadvantaged while we are moving towards a new model that will ensure greater fairness and quality of education for children with special educational needs.”