17 November, 2020 - Minister of State Josepha Madigan announces commitment to proactively provide dedicated special education classrooms in new school builds

Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion, Josepha Madigan TD, has stated that new school building projects currently sanctioned and all new projects from 2021 onwards will include dedicated rooms and facilities for special classes where needed. Minister Madigan made her remarks as she officially opened the National Council for Special Education’s annual Research Conference.

Officially opening the conference, Minister Madigan said:

“Ireland has a proud history of providing education to its young people. The strength of our education system is one of our many advantages as a country. The ongoing work of developing an education system that is accessible for all students sits well within this tradition.

“It is for this reason I welcome that a pro-active approach is being taken to ensure that all new school buildings sanctioned will include dedicated rooms and facilities for special classes where needed.

“The allocated funding for new and improved school buildings in this year’s budget will support that objective as part of the development of new ASD units and other special classes across the country. We are also investing in new posts, better training, and more supports for the special education sector.

“While closure of school buildings was an unfortunate feature of the early days of the pandemic, we cannot deny the difficulties it created for many students with special educational needs. Students need to be in their classroom with their teachers for effective learning. While online teaching and learning can and does work, it does not work for everyone. I am very pleased too with the way that schools have led the way in showcasing how online teaching and learning can work as part of an overall blended approach to supporting students in their learning.

“Government is committed to doing everything possible to keep our schools open as we continue to tackle Covid-19. In my view, this is particularly crucial for the special education sector. This is in recognition of the value of education in a child’s life, no matter what their needs or abilities.

“The dedication of school staff during this period has been tremendous and inspiring. It has not been easy, but it has been achieved.”

The research conference this year, the theme of which is inclusion and online learning for students with special educational needs, is being held online.


 NCSE Research Conference 2020


Tuesday 17th November 2020 – 10am-12.40pm

This year’s conference will be an online event only.

The theme for this year’s conference is inclusion and online learning for students with special educational needs.

James Basham, Professor of Special Education at the University of Kansas examines the evidence base and outcomes for students from online learning.

Mary Rice, from the University of New Mexico, presents on inclusive online pedagogy. 

The Conference will also have a presentation from Mary McGrath, Head of Operations in the NCSE, which looks at the Irish experience and the impact of COVID-19 on NCSE’s service provision.

Roger Slee, from the University of Leeds, offers his perspective on the future for inclusive education in the context of the pandemic.