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Minister Josepha Madigan welcomes a record number of new special class places as schools return

Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion, Josepha Madigan TD, has expressed her best wishes to students returning to school, particularly those with additional needs or facing disadvantage. Minister Madigan has also welcomed the record number of special classes that are opening in Irish schools this September.

As students return to school, a record 2,118 special classes will open their doors. This is an increase of 269 classes from the previous school year and will ensure that approximately 12,700 special class places will be available this year, including 1,600 new special class places. Since 2011, the number of special classes has increased by 386%.

Minister Josepha Madigan said:

“I want to send my best wishes to all the students and their families as they return to school after the summer holidays. I want to particularly acknowledge those children who are starting school for the first time.
“This September there will also be a record number of special class places available in schools across the country. This will be a great support to parents and families of young people with special educational needs who have a professional recommendation for a special class place, and confirms the commitment to ensure that young people have appropriate school places suitable to their needs. I am particularly pleased to see 269 new special classes being established this year to provide an additional 1,600 places across the country. I want to pay tribute to all our schools, particularly the schools who are establishing special classes for the first time.
“In order to support special education in all Irish schools, an additional 990 SNAs are being added this year. All of this is backed by funding of €2 billion which was secured for the special education budget this year. Since 2011, the number of special classes in mainstream schools has increased by almost 386% from 548 to 2,118 for the 2021/2022 school year.
“I want to thank everyone in the National Council for Special Education and all the special educational needs organisers around the country for their work in supporting special education and the establishment of special classes. I also want to thank all the parents and communities who have supported the establishment of special classes. Throughout Ireland, the number of special classes continues to grow year-on-year. This is another step on the road to strengthening support and inclusion in our education system for the benefit of all students, and will ensure that students have the supports needed to reach their full potential.”

The list of special classes can be found here


Notes for Editors Students with special educational needs should, where possible, be educated in mainstream classes along with their peers, with additional supports provided as necessary. Special classes are part of a continuum of educational provision that enables students with more complex special educational needs to be educated, in smaller class groups, within their local mainstream schools. They offer a supportive learning environment to students who are unable to access the curriculum in a mainstream class, even with support, for most or all of their school day. Students enrolled in special classes should be included in mainstream classes to the greatest extent possible, in line with their abilities. Guidelines on opening special classes can be accessed here These guidelines give information and guidance to schools on the setting up and organisation of NCSE-sanctioned special classes in mainstream primary and post-primary schools. They are based on principles of good practice and Boards of Management are requested to take due cognisance of them when setting up, staffing and organising special classes in their schools.


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