Down Syndrome Ireland to seek urgent meeting with teachers union and Department of Education & Skills

Down Syndrome Ireland is to seek an urgent meeting with the Department of Education & Skills and the ASTI following the teachers union instructing its members to stop engaging in vital planning processes for children with additional educational needs.

It comes after the ASTI instructed its members earlier this week to stop implementing Individual Education Plans (IEP) for students with additional needs due to resource issues.   IEPs are considered best practice, but are not a legal requirement due to the failure of successive governments to enact relevant legislation.

The Education for Persons with Special Education Needs Act, 2004 (EPSEN) includes a requirement for schools to provide IEPs for students with additional educational needs. However, this ground-breaking piece of legislation which will put the provision of best practice in education for people with these additional needs on a legal footing has yet to be enacted by the Government almost 15 years later.

In response to the ASTI statement, Down Syndrome Ireland’s Gary Owens said: “We have always recognised that the majority of teachers and schools are doing their absolute best to ensure a positive learning environment for students with additional  educational needs but it is grossly unfair that these students would be used as pawns in a dispute between the Department of Education and Skills and the ASTI to secure additional resources.”

Individualised Education Plans are vital to ensure a positive learning environment for students with Down syndrome.

“Education is vitally important for every student, including students with additional educational  needs. Students with Down syndrome will suffer and will struggle to be successful in education if they don’t have structured education planning in place. The move is essentially condemning students with additional needs to a lifelong path of dependence, which is shameful,” Mr Owens continued.

Down Syndrome Ireland has campaigned for the EPSEN Act to be fully enacted and adequately resourced so that the rights of students with additional educational needs are enshrined in law, rather than depending on the goodwill of schools and teachers. 

We are calling on the ASTI to reconsider its stance and ensure children with additional needs have the support they need to reach their full potential in education.

You can access the ASTI announcement here:

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