Ombudsman for Children welcomes additional allocation of resource teacher support to children with Down Syndrome

The Ombudsman for Children, Dr. Niall Muldoon, has welcomed the recent announcement by Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan that additional resources will be allocated to schools as an interim measure to support children with Down syndrome.

“I am delighted that the Minister for Education has introduced additional resources, as an interim measure, to help alleviate any hardship for children with Down Syndrome.”

The Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO) published an investigation in May 2013 which highlighted the Office’s concern about how the Department of Education & Skills was evaluating the allocation of resources to special needs children in schools.

The investigation found that:

  • The Department of Education and Skills had failed to establish and maintain arrangements to fully inform itself about the progress of children with special educational needs, including children with Down Syndrome, catered for under the General Allocation Model (GAM);
  • The Department of Education and Skills had failed to set and manage time frames for the efficient completion of the review of the GAM. At the time of its establishment in 2005, the Department indicated that a review would happen after 3 years of operation. While the review itself commenced in 2008, it took nearly 3 years to complete.

The OCO recommended, among other things, that the Department should:

  • Immediately establish the adequacy of provision, including the method of delivery, for children with Down Syndrome in mainstream education. The outcome of this should be made public, including any measures related to timescales for implementation.

The Ombudsman for Children’s Office subsequently wrote to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection in January 2014 to highlight the OCO’s concerns.

Following the withdrawal of the new model for allocating resources and learning support, which was due to begin in September 2015, the Ombudsman for Children, Dr. Niall Muldoon, wrote to Minister O’Sullivan. He sought clarification on the rationale for the revised timeframe for implementation of the new model. He also asked what steps were being taken to consider and understand how children with Down Syndrome would be affected in the interim and to determine the Minister’s plans for assisting such children with Down Syndrome in the interim.

The Ombudsman for Children Office full investigation is available on:

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