herald

Monday 20 August 2018

Scandal of 8 children who have no school

THE desperate mum of a Dublin boy left without a school place has blasted the Department of Education for letting him down.

Little Jack Savage (5) and seven of his classmates have been left at home after their specialist school closed.

Jack, who has autism, was thriving at The Achieve ABA school in Donaghmede but is now regressing because there is no school place for him.

The Department of Education and Skills is now funding home tuition for the youngsters for a month while new school places are found for them.



autism

But some of the parents are finding it difficult to source a qualified teacher prepared to work for only four weeks on such short notice.

Mum Nicci McConnell, who lives in Clonshaugh, noticed the improvements in Jack while he was going to Achieve.

"It's very difficult to take him into social situations -- he screams. The school was teaching him how to deal with things like that. At home he is bored. There are only so many things I can do with him," she said.

Having home tuition for just a month "isn't really fair" as at the end of Jack will be forced to change teachers again, she added.

"It's hard for him. He's only going backward now. It's just terrible. I don't know where he's going to end up. We'll try to find the best education we can find for him," she added.

Achieve closed in July after Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, who is attending a Labour Party think-in this week, rejected funding proposals.

The school's ABA (Applied Behavioural Analysis) method of teaching is recognised internationally as the best way to educate children with autism.

The Department of Education said the National Council for Special Education has been working throughout the summer to secure placements for the eight children.

As a number of the placements were not immediately available, the department sanctioned home tuition for a month, it added.

Daniel O'Mahony's nine-year-old son Aidan also attended the Donaghmede school and he has been critical of Mr Quinn.

"They have left the eight kids high and dry. It's just deplorable," Mr O'Mahony said.

comurphy@herald.ie

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