The Department of Education’s decision to remove two special needs assistants from a Carrick-on-Suir secondary school was condemned at a Town Council meeting last week where a campaign was launched to reinstate the posts.
Carrick-on-Suir Town Council members unanimously agreed to write to Education Minister Ruairi Quinn appealing to him to reinstate the SNAs to Comeragh College and other local schools that require them.
Mayor of Carrick Cllr Kieran Bourke, who tabled the motion requesting the letter to Minister Quinn, said he was shocked to learn a few weeks ago the school had lost its two SNAs because he was aware of students, who needed these assistants.
Cllr Bourke said he attended a meeting in the Carraig Hotel with a number of parents concerned their children with special needs wouldn’t have a SNA at the school. One student had autism and another had hearing difficulties that required them to wear cochlear implants. They were not approved a SNA to assist them in the classroom as they didn’t meet the Department’s criteria. The school appealed but the Department upheld its decision. ”I reared a profoundly deaf child and I know if there are two or more persons talking the child won’t hear what is being said,” said Cllr Bourke.
Cllr Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan, who seconded the motion, said she was proud to say her daughter has started college partly due to the extra help she received from the SNA assigned to her at Scoil Mhuire Secondary School. She feared her daughter wouldn’t get this help if she were starting school now and she found this extremely sad. She understood the Department’s criteria for approving SNAs hadn’t changed but in the past it adopted a more flexible approach and approved SNAS in cases of children with milder special needs for example in the case of some autism conditions and dyslexia.