How can the Minister solve a problem that she doesn’t accept exists?
A crisis in subbing means children with additional education needs are missing out on teaching hours with their special education teachers, according to Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon.
“Since schools returned in September, I have been repeatedly contacted about the huge problem principals are having trying to source substitute teachers.
“Over the course of pandemic, schools were permitted to use special education teachers as substitute teachers when they could not source a substitute elsewhere. The educational hours, which children with additional education needs lost with those teachers, were then “banked” and used later to ensure children did not miss out over the long-term.
“Schools were assured these “banked” hours could be used throughout this year and next year. However, this has now changed. Schools have been told they can no longer bank hours – despite the crisis in subbing persisting.
“Incredibly, Education Minister Norma Foley has denied a problem with subbing exists. In her view, there is no issue. In an interview with Newstalk during the week, she repeatedly refused to accept the reality of what is happening on the ground in our schools.
“The Minister’s refusal to listen to school communities means that children with additional education needs, who were disproportionately disadvantaged during the pandemic, will continue to be denied the educational support they need and deserve.
“How can the Minister solve a problem that she doesn’t accept exists? Schools are not imagining the substitution crisis. Instead of gaslighting teachers and principals, the Minister should be coming up with solutions.
“At the very least, the Minister should permit schools to continue banking hours if they are forced, as a last resort, to use special education teachers as substitute teachers. This is the minimum that must be done until this situation is resolved.”
15 October, 2021