Senator Aisling Dolan - Strong Voice, New Vision.

Dolan calls for Emergency Accommodation St Teresa’s Special School

April 20, 2021

Dolan calls for Emergency Accommodation St Teresa’s Special School

St Teresa’s Special School in Creagh, Ballinasloe is dedicated to the education of children with moderate, severe and profound special needs and autism.

It is one of only 115 Special Needs Schools in the country.

Principal Anita O’Reilly stated

‘We are in dire need of emergency accommodation for children hoping to enrol in September 2021.

‘Within St Teresa’s school, we have multi-disciplinary teams of specialists to help children with intellectual disabilities with complex needs or physical disabilities. With a holistic approach focussed on the educational and individual needs of the children including life skills, art, music, physical activities. We know how important it was to families when we were able to open our doors to welcome back students, this school and it’s teaching staff give vital life-affirming supports to children.

‘The immediate need for additional accommodation in Sept 2021 is 2 large classrooms, accessible toilet & bathroom areas for a 3-5 year period or we won’t be able to meet the needs of new student enrolments now’

 

Ballinasloe based Fine Gael Senator, Aisling Dolan said

’10 children who wish to enrol in September at St Teresa’s School will have no place. The school has submitted an application and the officials within the Department are reviewing this request however it is nearly April we need to see an urgent decision here as an emergency temporary measure. It is proposed to locate the 2 temporary classrooms in the area opposite the school where it is currently co-located with Ballinasloe Area Community Development (BACD) in the Ballinasloe Enterprise & Technology Park in Parkmore, Creagh. The BACD board and chair Seamus Duffy have confirmed 100% support for the school to use the grounds.

Access to early intervention prior to age 7 for children with special needs/ autism is crucial to ensure better outcomes. Parents and families know the importance of our principals, teachers and SNA especially during school closures when families started home-schooling. This was so much more difficult for families of children with special needs as remote learning was not as successful and the lack of structure and routine impacted on student’s development.

St Teresa’s has a wonderful group of teachers and SNAs who really make a positive impact to children’s development however how can they teach and look after children when there is no safe space.

I’ve made representations and received a positive update that the Department of Education and the Department of Housing are working together with impact of Covid-19 to ensure that emergency additional accommodation such as prefabs can be moved forward without the requirement of full planning. I’ve spoken with Minister of State Josepha Madigan to move this projects forward. And I’ve raised it in the Seanad with the Leader of the House Senator Regina Doherty.

However this again highlights the serious issue of capacity for children with special needs in the Ballinasloe area which includes children from all over Galway, Roscommon, Westmeath, Offaly. This is totally unacceptable for parents and families.

We are fighting for 2 major building projects under review by the Department of Education in addition to emergency accommodation.’

1. Immediate emergency accommodation application submitted for 2 classrooms – St Teresa’s Special School

2. From 13 children in 2011 to 27 children in 2020, an application was submitted for a new site & school building - St Teresa’s Special School

3. 25 years waiting and close to 300 students in the only DEIS Band 1 school in County Galway. It can only currently take 1 class for special needs. Currently at Stage 2B Design for a new school building – Scoil An Chroí Naofa.

 

Minister of State Josepha Madigan, with responsibility for Special Education & Inclusion stated

‘I have met with Senator Aisling Dolan to discuss education for students with additional needs in Ballinasloe and the surrounding areas. I am determined that every child should have an appropriate school place and I am working closely with Senator Dolan to support St Teresa’s Special School and other schools in the area that support students with additional needs. Senator Dolan also recently raised a Commencement Matter in Seanad Eireann on Scoil An Chroí Naofa and supporting students with additional needs in this region. I commend her on her work.’





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