SNAG Concerned By Delays Affecting Teaching And SNLSA Appointments

The Special Needs Action Group says it is concerned by the delays that have affected the teaching and SNLSA appointments at the start of the academic term.

A statement continued: “The Special Needs Action Group notes with great concern what can only be described as total and utter disregard for pupils with Special Educational Needs and their families in regards to start of term preparations, communications and announcements, particularly in relation to St Martins School and Early Birds Nursery. SNAG also notes with great dismay the delays in teaching staff and SNLSA appointments and announcements which have affected pupils with Special Educational Needs and their families across ALL school settings. It is highly distressing to note that very little consideration has been given to the needs of pupils which very often require planning, routine and preparation and that of their families who have to work with the benefit of advance notice to properly prepare their children and the entire family unit for transitions. This has been communicated to the department on numerous occasions, and a concerted effort should have been made to avoid the fiascos that the SEN community continuously experience.

“There is simply no excuse to justify the very large number of concerns that we have been receiving from both affected families and professionals regarding matters relating to education over the course of the summer. There is simply no excuse that can justify the uncertainty of who will be teaching where or acting in their capacity as SNLSA’s until so very close to the start of term, given that a full department has had an entire summer period to organise this – children and families should not suffer the brunt of management and HR issues. What does seem highly unfair is that families have been denied the opportunity to prepare their children adequately with the use of appropriate visual aids and other tools because they have not been given the necessary information and the pupils have had to be subjected to this uncertainty. We strongly urge the Government to adopt a policy of keeping the same SNLSA’s in their assigned posts for the next academic year to offer continuity of care instead of opting to swapping them around once the new posts have been finally filled to avoid causing further havoc and disruption for pupils.

“SNAG finds the unfair treatment of pupils and their families attending St Martins School and Early Birds Nursery deplorable to say the least. We fail to understand why the families of St Martins school have only very recently found out when their children return to school, with the parents of children attending Early Birds Nursery finding out even later. This has not allowed families sufficient time to adequately prepare their children and it seems highly unfair that this school should at any point be left behind. SNAG has been in close consultation with the Parents Association of St Martins School throughout the summer who have stated the following ‘we have raised the matter with the Head Teacher of St Martins School and we must stress that the lack of communication is not helpful or productive for anyone. It is simply unacceptable that we should be seeing these delays which are not conducive to the forward planning needed in a Special Educational Needs School’.

“SNAG also notes that after having spent the best part of this year trying to obtain a clear answer to this, it now seems that a morning class for Pre Pre Schoolers (2/3 year olds) is not being offered in Early Birds Nursery this year. It seems that although we have done our very utmost to press the Government on this matter again this year, both via emails and in meetings, it is clear that unless public petitions and very vocal media interviews are launched, very little is achieved. We take note of the fact that there should be a more productive way of working with any administration. Sadly, SNAG is receiving concerns from the families of new entrants into Early Birds Nursery who would have welcomed the opportunity for their children to attend a morning session and have not been afforded this. We urge the Government to consider the needs of these very young children and their families and to accommodate them in the same way that they did last year. We must treat everyone fairly and offer them the same opportunities.

“The Special Needs Action Group unequivocally states that unless there is a fundamental policy shift that encompasses, amongst other things, the forward planning and preparation required to take into account the needs of all persons with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, there will be no real or effective progress.”