PARENTS say they have been forced to fundraise to finance the salary of a special needs assistant (SNA) themselves, after a refusal by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to provide an SNA at Scoil Bhríde National School in Ballydehob.
Hannah Vaughan, the mother of a child with autism, told The Southern Star that they are hosting a fundraising event in Ballydehob on March 18th to pay for the SNA support.
‘The NCSA refused the school’s request not once, but twice – which
included what is known as an exceptional appeal – so we have taken it upon ourselves to offset the cost of filling this position,’ she said.
‘It is shocking and unacceptable to live in a first world country and see that investment in our most vulnerable at the bottom of the list of priorities,’ she added. A community group, which includes members of the parents’ association, will be hosting a 42-mile tractor run, organised by Barry O’Brien. ‘We have an amazing school and are doing everything we can to support the six children who have additional needs, but haven’t been given the resources to provide the extra care required,’ said Hannah.
She explained that her 10-year-old daughter, Emily, requires full support from her SNA and that leaves one SNA for five children in two different rooms. ‘This,’ she said, ‘is preposterous, because one person cannot be in two places at once.
‘Scoil Bhríde is only one of numerous schools across the country that has not got the SNA support they need and now in light of the NCSE deciding to close early intervention (EI) units, it begs the question, how will these children be supported through their education?’ Hannah said the fundraising event – which will take place on Ireland’s newest bank holiday – will be an opportunity for families to have a fun day out at the barbecue at the community pitch at 5.30pm.
Tickets will be available at the event and there will also be a raffle of 13 excellent prizes – all donated by local shops – in a bid to meet the initial fundraising target of €5,000.
Meanwhile, following a front page story on The Southern Star two weeks ago, the NCSE reversed a decision to close an EI unit in Kilbrittain.