Belfast Telegraph

Cuts 'hitting vulnerable children'

Savage education cuts are hitting the country's most vulnerable children while the state continues to bail out bankers and developers, campaigners have claimed.

Officials said a record number of pupils applying for extra support and special educational needs left them with no choice but to slash resource hours in schools nationwide.

The Alliance Against Cutbacks in Education (Ace) urged parents to get ready to march against cuts, being imposed for the third year running.

Chairman Tomas O Dulaing said: "Children with special needs are once again the sacrificed lambs just so we can pay those who were corrupt in Irish society.

"It's clear bias to the developers and bankers of corrupt Ireland and further evidence of stealing off the most vulnerable children in the system.

"If three years ago you had one child with autism having one-to-one support and now to have three children with the one SNA (special needs assistant), that's a cut. Any other description is disingenuous and dishonest."

The so-called "adjustments" were announced by the National Council for Special Education (NCE), which maintained staffing levels have remained the same but that the number of special needs pupils has soared.

Teresa Griffin, chief executive, insisted more than 42,500 students will receive additional teaching support from September, compared with 38,400 pupils last year. It includes 22,000 pupils who will be supported by 10,575 special needs assistants, up from 20,000.

"The (staff) numbers have not been cut from the height of the Celtic Tiger, they have been retained since then," Ms Griffin said.

"It's important that that is appreciated because right across the public service there are actual cuts and people are being asked to do more with less."

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