25 June, 2013 - Former Chief Inspector, Eamon Stack, to chair working group to review special education

Group to report in September with proposals for a fairer system

The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D., has today announced the appointment of Eamon Stack to chair the working group established to develop a new model for allocating resource teachers in schools.

The group is being established by the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) which is chaired by Mr Stack. The group, which will include parents, will begin its work immediately. It will report to Minister Quinn in September on the progress of its work to develop advice on how to reform the way the substantial additional educational resources for pupils with special educational needs are allocated in the school system.

The Minister is asking the NCSE to urgently probe the reasons for the unprecedented 12 per cent rise in applications for resource teacher support this year. This compares with an annual 1.3 per cent increase in the number of students attending school in the current year. 

Minister Quinn is gravely concerned about the scale of the surge in demand for resource teachers this year which, if it were to continue, would make the current system unsustainable.

“There is evidence that the current model used to allocate resources is flawed. This is creating an inequitable distribution of resource teaching hours. It has been found that pupils with special educational needs in some schools in better-off areas get more support than those from disadvantaged areas,” said the Minister.

“The NCSE has recently advised me of the need to develop a new model for how additional teaching resources should be allocated to ensure that students who need the greatest level of support can receive it. Today Eamon Stack has been appointed to chair this group and to report progress on the proposed new model in September.

“Today I am authorising the NCSE to retain the level of resource teachers available to students with special educational needs to the 2012/13 levels.  This is a good day for special education, an area that I have passionately defended since coming into office and have succeeded in protecting the 1.3 billion currently spent in this area.

“Today’s I secured Cabinet agreement to release 500 additional teaching posts to schools in September to cope with the alarming rise in the demand for these resources. These posts were set aside to meet the late demand expected to arise over the remainder of the next school year. This is a once-off measure that will have Budgetary implications which I have alerted my colleagues to today.”

The NCSE will publish revised details of the Resource Teaching allocations for schools, based on existing allocation levels tomorrow and will be advising schools of their revised allocations in the coming days.
 
The Minister said: “Parents can be assured that their children will not be disadvantaged while we are moving towards a new model that will ensure greater fairness and quality of education for children with special educational needs.”

ENDS

Eamon Stack


Eamon was the Chief Inspector in the Department of Education and Skills (DES) from 1997 to 2009. He initiated major structural change, reform and expansion of the Inspectorate; he introduced Whole SchoolEvaluation (WSE), subject inspections and incidental inspections and the publication of inspection reports on schools. He also played the significant role in the establishment of the National Education Psychological Service (NEPS), the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) and the State Examinations Commission (SEC).

Prior to his time in the DES, he was the founding Principal of a large co-educational post-primary school in Limerick (1978-1992). Enrolment in the school increased from 90 students in its first year to over 1,000 students within 10 years. Between 1971 and 1978, he was a post-primary teacher of business studies subjects in a number of post-primary schools. He was also the author of many books and articles on business studies and economics.

Since his retirement from the DES, he does some work as a facilitator, mediator and adviser to schools and organisations. He also makes presentations at conferences/mini conferences and conducts half day and full day sessions with educational leaders and with the entire teaching staffs in some schools. He edits Eurypedia, the European encyclopaedia on national education systems, for Ireland and is a member of the Board of the National Museum of Ireland.