Sinn Féin spokesperson on Disability and Carers, Pauline Tully TD, has introduced a Private Members Bill to make it a requirement for the implementation of Individual Education Plans for children who have additional educational needs.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD and TD for Meath West Johnny Guirke are co-sponsors of the Bill.
Teachta Tully said:
“Under the Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act 2004, each child assessed as having an additional educational need should have a personal education plan prepared for them.
“An Individual Education Plan is a written document prepared for a named student which specifies the learning goals that are to be achieved by the student over a set period of time and the teaching strategies, resources and supports necessary to achieve those goals.
“This should be prepared by the school in consultation with the student if possible and with the parents and other stakeholders such as therapists the student may be attending. Individual education plans were an integral part of the EPSEN Act 2004, but this part of the Act has never been implemented in the seventeen years since it was passed.
“The EPSEN Act was meant to ensure that children with additional educational needs could be educated in an inclusive setting, and that all children should have the right to be educated in a mainstream school; unless this would not be in the best interests of the child or the effective provision of education for other children in mainstream education.
“Yet, seventeen years later there is still no date for the implementation of individual education plans.
“In many countries this is underpinned by law.
“I am aware that many teachers prepare Individual Education Plans for their students, but this is not compulsory and is not inspected.
“There are guidelines on how to prepare an individual education plan on the NCSE website which have been there since 2004 when it was expected that the EPSEN Act would have been implemented in full.
“Individual education plans would greatly assist students with additional educational needs on their educational journey by specifying learning goals that are to be achieved by the student over a set period of time and setting out the teaching strategies, resources and supports necessary to achieve these goals.
“This Bill is asking that the part of the EPSEN Bill requiring individual education plans is implemented as soon as possible.
“It also seeks to amend the Education Act 1998 to grant additional functions to the Inspectorate to examine and report to the Minister of Education on the prevalence and standard of individual educational plans for children with additional educational needs on an annual basis; and to provide for related matters.
“I am aware that the Minister has initiated a review of the EPSEN Act, but it is not due for completion until 2023 and I strongly believe that seventeen years on from the Act was passed is too long to wait for implementation and no one should have to wait for another year.
“The government now need to ensure its passage through the remaining legislative stages is not delayed and it is fully enacted without delay.”