History of Special Needs Provision in Ireland
The history of education for children with special needs in Ireland has been one of neglect and exclusion until there was a change in attitudes and policies. The government had no need for policies regarding education and care of children with additional needs because they were carried out by religious orders. Many children were sent away to hospitals, homes and even asylums. They were hidden away from society. There were three stages in relation to the education and care of children with additional needs. Era of Neglect and Denial
The era of neglect and denial was when the government thought children with special needs didn’t need to be educated and were seen as a medical problem. The Medical Model of Disability thought that children with special needs were abnormal. The problem was seen to be with the person with special needs and this model focuses on the causes of the disability and would look for cures rather than accept the person. “The medical model of disability views disability as a ‘problem’ that belongs to the disabled individual. It is not seen as an issue to concern anyone other than the individual” (www.2.le.ac.uk, Assessed 07 March 2014). Era of Special Schools
The era of special schools was when a number of religious orders set up schools for children with special needs. The care and education was entirely up to the religious orders and the children would often board here rather than stay at home with their families. These schools were later recognised by the state. The government now believed children with special needs needed to be educated but not with “normal” children. They believed that the children would interfere with the education of the other children and therefore could not be educated in the same schools.
Era of Integration and Inclusion
The era of integration and inclusion began when the government introduced policies on education for children with special needs. They introduced these because of the decline in religion and religious orders. The state took over the care and education of children with additional needs. There was a demand for these children to be educated in schools alongside children who did not have special educational needs. This did happen but the children with special needs were taught in separate classrooms away from the other children. They were been educated but still not included. There are over 140 special schools in Ireland to date. These schools are designed for children who cannot be educated in mainstream schools. Some children may go to these schools for a period of time and then move into mainstream schools. Children with special needs are entitled to a free education until they reach eighteen years of age. They are entitled to help and support from resource teachers or special need assistants if the need it and to be educated in the same environment as every other child and to be treated equally. Legislation and Policies
The Education Act 1998
The Education Act 1998 was the first piece of legislation that outlined the rights regarding education. This act is a general one but it provided the first legal definition of disability, the first legal definition of special educational needs and it defined what support services are. It outlines the roles and responsibilities of teachers, Board of Management, the Inspector and the Minister for Education. The Education Act 1998 says that all children including children with special needs are entitled to free education. Parents have the right to send their children to a school of their choice. All schools must respect beliefs, languages and traditions of all children. Schools have to have a plan in place to deal with any obstacles that may affect the education or welfare of a child with additional needs. All children have the right to be treated equally and should be included in all aspects of education despite their ability or disability. “This was the first piece...
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