Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education and Skills, Teachta Carol Nolan has expressed shock at the fact that 544 schools do not have access to a NEPS psychologists for the purposes of carrying out assessments. The figures were revealed to Teachta Nolan in a Parliamentary Question response from the Minister for Education Richard Bruton.
Teachta Nolan said: “I have consistently highlighted the need for additional resources for the NEPS service and these figures reveal the extent of the gaps in the current system.
“321 schools have no NEPS psychologist available due to staffing vacancies, while a further 223 schools do not have access to a NEPS psychologist temporarily due to leave arrangements.
“As a former principal, I know only too well the frustration of securing an assessment for a child and the reality is that many principals have to scour through a list of private psychologists in order to secure an assessment under the current system.
“Due to the fact that the number of referrals for assessment are limited per school, many parents are forced to pay privately for the assessment to be carried out.
“The Government failed to provide any additional supports to the NEPS service in the most recent budget and there is a genuine fear among stakeholders that the new resource allocation model for special educational needs is paving the way for the elimination of educational assessments altogether.
“I am delighted that my offer to act as a rapporteur on behalf of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education in relation to a report on the NEPS service was taken up this week and I look forward to engaging with stakeholders on this issue in the coming months.”
Speaking after the schools sector forum on Brexit this morning, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education and Skills teachta Carol Nolan has said that there needs to be a thorough analysis of all threats and opportunities of Brexit so that a detailed plan can be put in place to allow schools to cope.
Teachta Nolan said: “The discussion with stakeholders this morning was very informative and shed light on the many ways in which Brexit may impact on the schools sector.
“Particular issues such as access to schools for those in border areas, interreg and other European Funding for school projects and issues such as the mobility of qualifications are perhaps the most pressing issues for the school sector.
“However, the discussion also highlighted a number of longer term planning needs in light of Brexit to address issues such as the potential growth in diversity as people leave Britain and the resulting impact on school places and accessibility as well as the development of appropriate education in areas such as citizenship and foreign languages.
“Issues such as procurement, customs, differing rates of VAT may have a knock on cost implication for schools and may increase funding pressures.
“The issue was also raised in relation to the storage of data as it is reported that a lot of schools have data stored on British servers.
“It is clear that the impact of Brexit will be wide ranging on Irish society and the education sector is no exception.
“I welcome the ongoing sectoral dialogue on these important issues and I have asked that the Education Committee also conduct hearings with stakeholders on the impact of Brexit.
“It is important that there is a thorough analysis of all of the threats and opportunities of Brexit so that a detailed plan can be put in place to equip the sector to face any changes ahead.”
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education and Skills, Teachta Carol Nolan, has today called on the Minister for Education and Skills to publish updated regulations to accompany the new admissions to schools bill as soon as possible, after the Minister confirmed in a Parliamentary Question response that the regulations will be updated and published in draft form following enactment of the Bill.
Teachta Nolan said:
“The Education (Admissions to Schools) Bill 2016 gives the Minister extensive powers to regulate in the area of admissions policy, particularly in relation to the criteria that must be applied when a school if oversubscribed.
“The Minister has confirmed in a Parliamentary Question response to me that “these regulations will be updated and published in draft form for further consultation with the relevant education stakeholders following enactment of the Bill.”
“In my view, it is essential for these regulations to be published in conjunction with the Bill so that stakeholders will have a clear view of the impact of the legislation in its entirety.
“Various organisations, including the Irish language sector, disability groups and broader human rights based organisations have been in touch with concerns in relation to the proposed legislation and the criteria that may be applied in cases of over subscribed schools.
“I am calling on the Minister for Education and Skills to publish the updated draft regulations as soon as possible to allow stakeholders and legislators to make informed decisions in relation to this legislation.”
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education and Skills, Teachta Carol Nolan, has today detailed legislation prepared by the party, which requires the Minister to outline an educational impact study on the current system of guidance counselling provision and allows schools to apply for a concession from the application of the policy on the basis that it has an adverse impact on the school, staff or students.
Sinn Féin has submitted a draft bill to the Bills Office and intends to move the bill as soon as possible after the Dáil recess.
Teachta Nolan said: “Since 2012, guidance counselling has been provided for within the existing staff schedule, effectively meaning that guidance counselling competes for other resources within the school.
“The effect of this has been an overall cut to service provision by 27.6% and a reduction in one on one counselling by 53.5%.
“A recent ESRI report found that students from disadvantaged backgrounds were particularly affected by the measure as they particularly rely on guidance in terms of higher and further education choices.
“Sinn Féin has committed to the full restoration of Guidance Counselling Provision on the basis of one guidance counsellor per 500 pupils ex quota.
“Sinn Féin will be putting forward proposals in our alternative Budget in line with this commitment.
“In the event that the Government does not make provision for the full restoration of guidance counselling on an ex quota basis in this year’s budget, our party has proposed legislation that requires the educational impact of that decision to be examined.
“The legislation further allows schools to apply for a concession from the policy on the basis that it has an adverse impact on staff, students or the school.”