Independent Senator Eileen Flynn has called for transparency and action to provide for the educational needs of children with additional needs.
The Donegal Senator has said she cannot stand for measures that are causing vulnerable children to be left behind. “Education is an essential service”, Ms Flynn said, as she called for solutions to allow schools to reopen safely for children with special educational needs.
Senator Flynn said: “The interests of vulnerable children must be prioritised. Of course everyone wants our students, teachers, SNAs, and school staff members to be safe. We also want our most vulnerable students to receive the education and education supports they deserve.
“We see in Northern Ireland, not even 50 miles down the road from where I am now in Donegal, many schools provide in-person teaching to children with special educational needs. We are also an outlier in Europe, in not providing in-person teaching. What do we need to do to make that happen here?”
Senator Flynn said she has spoken to families of children with additional needs who feel let down and forgotten. She added that four national advocacy organisations, AsIAm, Down Syndrome Ireland, Family Carers Ireland and Inclusion Ireland have said that children with special educational needs and their families and carers have been almost completely forgotten about in talks.
These advocacy organisations have called for urgent interim measures to be put in place while schools remain closed for children with special educational needs. Their call for a meeting with the Taoiseach has been backed by Ms Flynn.
“If we are all in this together, as we hear over and over again, we cannot forget the most vulnerable in our society,” Senator Flynn said.
“I can understand the frustration of children and their families. This is not the time for a ‘blame game’. Now is the time to find solutions and to give children with special educational needs the education and supports they deserve.
“I call on the Government, the Department of Education, and all stakeholders to re-engage and come to an agreement on education supports, including the re-opening of schools for children with special educational needs.”