The children and their parents
After a tough battle, all seven Newbridge children with special needs, who were struggling to find secondary school places for September, have secured a place, it has emerged.
Dep Fiona O'Loughlin announced yesterday; "I have just come from a meeting with the Department of Education where I am happy to confirm that the eight students from Scoil an Naomh Uilg that will be leaving the ASD unit in June now all have a school place in September next.
"We cannot have the same scenario next year where parents have the added stress of not knowing whether their child has a place or not, so soon before leaving."
Last week, it was confirmed that five of the pupils had been assured a place but the future was uncertain for the remainder of the group.
At the time, Newbridge mum, Cecilia Semple said she was ‘over the moon’.
Cecilia, mum to Kelly (12), had been fighting for a place for her daughter and her six class mates from Scoil Na Naomh Uilig to secure a suitable place locally.
They are due to finish primary school in June 2018, and up to last week, none of these children had been able to secure an appropriate or suitable post primary school spot.
Five out of the seven children, including Kelly (12) have ASD — Autistic Spectrum Disorders — leaving them with complex and severe educational needs arising from their diagnosis.
Ms Semple was last week informed that all five who applied to a Newbridge school’s ASD unit have been offered a place.
“All five ASD students got a place in St Conleth’s,” she said.
“I am on cloud nine and over the moon. The relief is great but the fight is still not over as we still have to hear about two of the pupils hoping to go to St Anne’s.”
“We are all so relieved here — it is all pending on the unit itself in St Conleth’s being finished in September but we are hopeful.”
Last week, St Conleth’s Board of Management held a review regarding their enrolment policy towards cognitive ability in pupils attending their ASD unit, to allow the five children to have a place there.
Dep Martin Heydon said more ASD units are required, adding that “this is not a one off event”.
“I am delighted that following continued pressure, a number of children with special needs who are due to leave Scoil na Naomh Uilig in June have now been offered places at St. Conleth’s Community College for September.
“Credit is due to their parents who led a dedicated campaign to keep this issue on top of the agenda, however they should not have had to go through this stressful process. A meeting which had been set up between Department of Education officials and Kildare South TDs to discuss this issue will go ahead this month and I want to raise the issue of similar children with moderate intellectual disabilities, who will be graduating from Scoil na Naomh Uilig, in future years. This is not a one off event.”
Dep Heydon also said further dedicated special needs units are needed at secondary school in the Newbridge area to cater for those pupils presently in special needs units at primary school level.
He added a planned extension for St Anne’s school at the Curragh would also help to alleviate these difficulties.