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Cuts to Special Needs School

category dublin | disability issues | opinion/analysis author Friday June 03, 2016 03:15author by Wayne Flanagan Tobin Report this post to the editors

On Thursday evening 2nd June 2016 I attended a meeting in St. Augustine’s school in Blackrock where parents expressed outrage at the withdrawal of the Saint John of God Community Services Supports on a phased basis commencing in September 2016. The school was described as a “centre of excellence” for its vocational programme which has had a very positive impact on the lives of many children with special needs in South Dublin, Wicklow and surrounding areas.

On Thursday evening 2nd June 2016 I attended a meeting in St. Augustine’s school in Blackrock where parents expressed outrage at the withdrawal of the Saint John of God Community Services Supports on a phased basis commencing in September 2016. The school was described as a “centre of excellence” for its vocational programme which has had a very positive impact on the lives of many children with special needs in South Dublin, Wicklow and surrounding areas.

Parents criticized the inappropriate communication method in which the children were told this by a letter going in their school bags rather than being sent in the post. The school Principal came under fire for the way this was handled.

As a qualified Special Needs Assistant and former employee of St. Declan’s Special School in Ballsbridge this issue is extremely close to my heart. I know from my experience the level of support which these children need in order to reach their full potential. Every child has a right to reach their God given potential. It’s up to all of us as responsible adults to ensure we campaign to prevent any cuts to our Special Schools.

According to a Staff Communication Statement issued on the 25th May 2016, a decision has been made to discontinue operating a residential service from June 2017 with no new admissions along with the discontinuation of the Extended Day from September 2016. The hugely successful Vocational Development Department will also be abolished resulting in no Sports Co-ordinator or Music teacher. The Sports Department Staff will apparently be offered “redeployment opportunities”.

It remains unclear why these services are being removed but for me it is attack on the most vulnerable in society. Richard Boyd Barrett TD was in attendance and offered an interesting view: the school has been so successful that it is victim of this very success. When all the boxes have been ticked, it appears that the HSE feel that their job is done. In other words, when something is working perfectly well, the service is withdrawn. This kind of policy makes no sense. How can SNAs be expected to manged to take on extra work when they themselves are also under so much pressure? Ultimately it is the children who will be affected. Other staff who provide supports namely Administrative, Household, Maintenance and Catering will also be removed or “redeployed” as Saint John of God Community Services so eloquently put it.

So what are St. John of God going to do with the empty buildings? Will they lease them to the department of education or lease them for office space? It’s lucrative land in a prime location… Parents echoed suspicion as a site close to the school is now up for sale advertising full planning permission for nine residential housing units, apartments and surface carparks.

Are St. John of God Community Services Limited operating as a business or community service?

Two parents who sit on the board of management told the meeting they were not consulted in relation to this but instead handed a letter at the end of a meeting under AOB. It appears the last people to hear about this were the parents of the children.

If you feel passionate about this issue please help us in our campaign by contacting the Directors in Granada House Stillorgan County Dublin on 01-533 33 00 and voicing your concerns by letter, email or telephone to clarify the exact reasons for removing services for the most vulnerable.

One thing is for sure strong opposition exists to these crazy plans and Granada house has a fight on their hands.

Related Link: https://wayneflanagantobin.wordpress.com/
author by Fergus-Parentpublication date Sat Jun 04, 2016 21:26Report this post to the editors

Many years ago churches sold off their land and it seems St. John of Gods are doing the same. Those with special needs are being treated like second class citizens and there is more to what's going on here.

 
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