Down Syndrome Ireland gravely concerned by Dept. of Education circular

Statement 12/02/2024

Down Syndrome Ireland, the national charity which supports thousands of Irish people with Down syndrome, is gravely concerned by the content of a circular issued by the Department of Education last week (Circular 0002/ – The Special Education Teacher (SET) allocation model and the calculation of the SET allocation for each school from the 2024/25 school year until further notice).

In the circular, it is proposed that the category of “complex educational needs” be removed as a criterion for allocating Special Education Teacher hours. The proposed change could have a potentially devastating effect on many pupils with Down syndrome and their educational attainment.

Commenting on the proposal, Down Syndrome Ireland CEO Barry Sheridan said: “This proposal has already caused huge disquiet and dismay among our members. The impacts are potentially dire, and we’re struggling to understand the rationale behind the proposal. We need urgent clarification from the Department on this. “

“Everyone now accepts that, where possible and appropriate, pupils with Down syndrome or additional needs should be facilitated to attend mainstream schools. This proposal pulls the rug from under that principle. It effectively takes the option of mainstream schooling off the table for some of our members. Without the appropriate supports from Special Education Teacher hours, pupils who could fare better in mainstream schools might not get that chance”.

Down Syndrome Ireland has contacted Ministers Foley & Madigan, the Department and the NCSE for clarification. A meeting with the NCSE will be scheduled over the coming days.

For further information or comment, please contact Down Syndrome Ireland’s Head of Education Fidelma Brady on

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