independent

Saturday 16 December 2017

Parents 'won't back down' in fight against SNA cuts

MINISTER FOR EDUCATION MET BY PROTEST AT CONFERENCE

SAOIRSE MCGARRIGLE

ANGRY parents of children with special needs took to the streets last Wednesday to demonstrate to Ruairi Quinn, Minister for Education and Skills, that they simply 'wont back down'.

This group of parents are calling for cuts in funding to the Autistic Spectrum Disorder units at Scoil Mhuire and St. Senan's National School Enniscorthy to be reversed.

The protest was organised by a number of parents and Special Needs Assistants affiliated with the Alliance Against Cuts in Education.

They organised a peaceful protest outside Whites Hotel where Minister Ruairi Quinn was addressing the Teachers Union of Ireland conference.

The group had compiled a letter of petition which they had intended to hand over to the Minister outside the hotel on his arrival.

However, the Minister arrived over an hour earlier than his expect arrival time of 12 noon.

In response, one teacher attending the conference inside had a motion passed to allow a parent to speak, seeing as this had not been scheduled on the agenda.

Jane Johnstone, Baldwinstown, went on stage and told the 450 delegates at the conference, the Minister among them, of the difficulties faced by her two children, Evan (11) and Daniel (8) at school.

'It was a bit nerve wrecking talking on stage like that but when it's for your kids you know you just have to do whatever you can', said Jane. 'The whole thing went very well but it remains to be seen what comes out of it'.

Afterwards, she handed the letter directly to the Minister.

The group are lobbying to highlight the need for Special Needs Assistants at both schools.

It is feared, that following a review of SNA allocations, which is planned for next month, both Wexford schools stand to loose SNAS.

The letter handed over to the Minister on the day stated that these reviews are not carried out on the basis of the child's needs rather on a need to conform to capitation in funding for SNAS.

'It is not consistent within a civilised society to ask children with special needs to sacrifice their future in order to pay for an economic crisis which they had no part in creating', said Jane.

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