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29/07/2021

Flaherty in fresh St Christopher's staffing plea

Longford-Westmeath TD calls on education chiefs to adequately resource Longford facility's special needs school

St Christopher's

Longford Fianna Fáil TD Joe Flaherty has called on education bosses to ensure St Christopher's Special School is adequately resourced when it opens in September

Education Minister Norma Foley is coming under renewed pressure to ensure St Christopher's new special needs primary school is adequately staffed when it opens in September.

 

Longford-Westmeath Fianna Fáil TD Joe Flaherty said it was imperative the school was sufficiently resourced with ample numbers of SNA staff when pupils return to their desks after the summer holidays.

The new school will include two new classes, taking the total pupil population to 36 while a new autism class and a class for young children with severe to profound needs will also be in situ at the Battery Road facility.

Mr Flaherty stressed the importance in ensuring staffing requirements were met given the significant care needs across sensory, medical and physical spectrums its pupils require.

Of the 12 students, nine go to school with a recommendation for SNA support.

“As it stands the two new classes are classified the same as our units in local schools - so in terms of staffing, that’s a teacher and two SNAs," he said.

"There has been some indication that the school may get two additional SNAs per classroom but that will still leave them three short of the required nine posts.”

The father of three said it was his understanding four children enrolled in a class for children with severe to profound needs are wheelchair users with all pupils in need of full-time SNA support.

The Longford TD said he has spoken with both the school management and concerned parents and assured them that he is pursuing the issue with the Department as well as Ministers Foley and Josepha Madigan. 

He added:“ This new school build is an outstanding investment in special education and certainly sets the bar in terms of this government’s commitment to special education. We have to ensure that a state of the art special needs education centre is given the staffing levels it requires to ensure the best start in life for 36 wonderful young people.”

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