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07 Aug 2022

Laois special school has safety fears over SNA cuts

Laois special school has safety fears over SNA cuts

The Kolbe special school in Portlaoise

A Laois Special School fears for the safety of vulnerable children and staff, over cuts by the Department of Education to its allocation of Special Needs Assistants.

Kolbe Special School in Portlaoise teaches and cares for some 40 children with profound disabilities.

They are not only last in line to wait for a new school building in the town, but their requests for Special Needs Assistants have not been fulfilled by the department. 

Brother Matthew Hayes is chairperson of the Board of Management for Kolbe Special School.

He told the Leinster Express that it is a huge problem, speaking at an open day for families this week as the school celebrating winning the DCU Changemaker Award for its exceptional staff efforts to bring out the best in the pupils.

"Well done to all the teachers and staff, it is their good work that resulted in this award.

"A huge problem we have at the moment is the need for SNAs. The department has cut our budget. That's a bigger issue.

"Anybody that can move the department to give us extra SNAs, and extra therapies, please do.

"We did a survey and two children we have here need an SNA one-to-one, all the time, to supervise them. It is putting extra strain on the rest of the school. There is a fear of safety, for other children and for staff," he said.

Brother Matthew said that more SNAs were provided in the past, but "not anymore".

Kolbe Special School is awaiting a new building, with the project a priority according to the Minister for Education Norma Foley, in a recent visit to Laois. The school will have 42 pupils enrolled by September, but most of the classrooms are prefabs, with no sensory room or GP room. The new building will have capacity for 48 children. 

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