Local TD raises Kildare Special Needs Unit delays with Minister

Six children still out of school

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Kildare TD raises Kildare Special Needs Unit delays with Minister

File photo of work at the site of St Conleth's Community College, Newbridge

Kildare South TD, Fiona O’Loughlin yesterday raised her concerns with the Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh over delays in opening St Conlth’s Community College in Newbridge.

“It is absolutely not good enough that there are six children waiting almost nine weeks into the school yet and still there is no start date for these children. I had the opportunity to raise this matter with the Minister in the Dáil yesterday and emphasized my concern for the children’s education. One parent told me last week, 'I feel very let down by the system that is meant to support and nurture our kids'; this parent has also explained how volatile some of the children are at the moment as they know they should be in school," she said.

“Last week the Minister replied to a Parliamentary Question I submitted which stated, 'In the meantime, the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) is continuing to work with the school and the parents to ensure that the appropriate supports are in place, including application for home tuition' — Home tuition is a poor substitute for children used to attending school and many parents have made the decision not to go down that route as they feel it would not benefit their children."

She said all children, including children with special educational needs have a right to an education which is appropriate to their needs.

"Education should be about enabling all children, in line with their abilities, to live full and independent lives so that they can contribute to their communities, cooperate with other people and continue to learn throughout their lives. Education is about supporting children to develop in all aspects of their lives yet, six children in Kildare are yet to start their school year due to delays in the opening of a fantastic new extension in St Conleth’s Community College in Newbrdige," she added.

“It is my understanding that the KWETB this morning lodged an application with Kildare County Council to open part of the ground floor extension however, this can take up to three weeks which leaves us well into November.

“It is completely unacceptable that children are still waiting to start school and that no alternative accommodation was put in place while parents were promised in January 2018 that the children would have alternative accommodation if the building had not opened in time for the 2018/19 school year."

Dep O'Loughlin called on the Minister to introduce alternative avenues to have these children into the classroom to ensure impact on education is minimal.

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