LEGISLATION AND POLICY IN SPECIAL NEEDS IN IRELAND

LEGISLATION AND POLICY IN SPECIAL NEEDS IN IRELAND

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The people with special needs form a significant population in anycountry. The population is in need of special services in all walksof life due to their inability to exploit the mainstream servicesinstituted for people who have no disability. Many governmentsrecognize the plight of these people and over the year haveestablished systems to look into their needs. There are various formsof disability ranging from mental to physical. People offering fromthese cannot be intergraded into the population of a country on equalterms without giving them supportive structures to give thoseprivileges. The government works with other stakeholders tofacilitate the process of equality by providing them with socializededucation and social services. The constitution of most countriesoutline the need for inclusion and equality for all people, and thisensures that the people with special needs are part of thedevelopment process.

The Republic of Ireland is not averse to the processes that accrue topeople with special needs. The government through its constitutionprovides a conducive environment for the people to future theireducation and development efforts through the enactment of variouslegislations. The government works together with other stakeholdersthe civil societies to provide services and to ensure the enforcementof the rights of special needs group (National Council for Curriculumand Assessment, 1999).The constitution of the Ireland approaches theissue in an integrated manner that creates responsibility for all theparties involved including families, schools, and other socialstructures. It provides an open environment of progression from onestage of life to another. Of importance in the Ireland, acts are theprovisions of education that include the rights of people widthdisabilities. It grants them equal chances with others of in the samelevel (National Council for Special Education, 2013 P 8).

The history of the legislation disabled in Ireland and dated back inthe 19th century when the non-governmental bodies recognized the needto institute systems (Meany, 2011 P 3). That would protect the needsof the special group. The organizations put up schools that did notform part of the integrated education system, and the people referredto the as special schools. The government became an activestakeholder in the 20th century (NCCA, 2007). It included the effortsof the civil societies in it policies and established enforceablelaws through policies that would help the special population advancein education and development (Meany, 2011 P 4). The schools put up bythe government formed part of the integrated education system, andthey linked them to the other mainstream schools.

In 1965, the Commission of Inquiry on Mental and physicallychallenged came up with a report that led to the classification ofdisability in the learning institutions. The rationale behind therecommendation was that children could not have a parallel learningprocess if they have sharp contrasts in their abilities concerningsocial needs. The commission proposed three categories of children.They include the mild, moderate and severe mental disability. Thegovernment responded positively to the proposal and split the classesestablished earlier into three. During registration, children wouldbe assessed for the level of mental capability and grouped as mild,moderate or severe (Meany, 2011 P 4).

In 971, the department of education concluded the development ofcurriculum for children with special needs and presented it foradoption. The children with special needs could not be subject to thesame curriculum adopted by the schools for the other children.However, this curriculum did not extend to post-primary training(Meany, 2011 P 6). Many policy makers saw it as an incompleteprocess of training and proposed the development of post-primarytraining. In 1980, the department of education introduced thecurriculum.

Since 1986, the government has been supporting the special primaryschools and childhood development centers (Meany, 2011 P 6). Therecognition of the need to have a separate program for the specialneeds population has increased equity among the citizens.

The current government legislation concerning people with specialneeds borrows a lot from the previous provisions. The education actof 1998 is a major reference point for all the current policies. Theeducation act defines the special population and places them ingroups that have autonomous needs. The grouping was imperative indesigning policies to ensure consistency with the most impactiveservices for the disabled population.

The government adopted the education welfare act of 2000 that setsthe minimum education requirement for all children. The provisionsof this Act guides the government in putting up mechanisms forensuring that all children access education to the required level(National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, 1999 P I5). The actdoes not define the means applicable to the special needs. It doesnot have a system to institute a friendly mechanism for the specialpopulation and help them attain the minimum requirements.

The education act of 1998 finds support in the equal status Act of2000 that privies a working strategy of 12 years from 2000to 2012. Itaimed at eradicating all forms of discrimination in education in boththe public and private schools (National Council for Curriculum andAssessment, 1999). The disability act of 2005 allows the introductionof visiting teacher program. The teachers assist children withlearning disabilities in their domiciles to assist them in keepingpace with the rest (Meany, 2011 P 137).

The government also adopted the Education for Persons with SpecialNeeds Act of 2009 that proposes conformation with the internationalbest practice when handling people with disabilities. The educationsystem still inclines to the national framework for quality in earlychildhood education as the benchmark for improving learners’ skillsin education. These legislative acts have been instrumental insetting a ground for equality and service delivery for the specialgroups both in school and out of school (National Council forCurriculum and Assessment, 1999 P 6).

The impact of the current legislation in the lives of the childrenwith disabilities has far-reaching effects on their social and latereconomic life. The constitution holds parents accountable for theprimary development of children and it places them as majorstakeholders in the educational and social development of children(Meany, 2011 P 15). It increases the collaboration between them andother supportive staff including teachers and psychologists. Thelegislation has also improved the way the society views children withdisabilities. Up to date, the clarification of their severity ofdisability as outlined by the commission of special needs in 1998results to customization of teaching. The result is an achievement ofthe minimum academic achievement in children (Meany, 2011 P 8).

The Framework for Quality in Early Childhood Education instigates thegovernment to invest in centers for early childhood instruction.There is also a continuous process of training from early childhoodto post-primary education as outlined in the education act of 1988.The strategic plan to achieve equality for 2000-2012 gives thespecial population a platform to enjoy the constitutional rights. Iteliminates non-discrimination in access to services both in thepublic and private arena (The Government of Ireland, 2004 P 8).

There are various cadres of people who see to the needs of peoplewith special needs. Among them are parents, special needs assistantsand childcare workers. Parents have the responsibility of being theprimary caretakers of their children. The Constitution of IrelandArticle 42 recognizes them as the first teachers before handing thechildren to the education system (McCoy, S., Banks, J. &amp WatsonD., 2014 P 21). The special needs assistants and childcare workersare integrated into the education system as support staff. They worktogether with the teachers in ensuring that children with specialneeds do not have unsatisfied requirements to keep pace with theother learners. They fill the gap left by the teacher due to theircommitments with other children. They offer Para educational servicesthat contribute to the overall academic achievement of children.However, when they become too engaging, developmental professionalcriticize their efforts for denying children a chance forsocialization ad exploration (Special Education Support Services.2011).

The education system of Ireland involves the role of professionalswho offer different services to the disadvantaged children. Afterleaving home, the special children fall into the hands of teachers.The subject teachers have the responsibility of ensuring the childrengain skills in their area of teaching and develop a personalrelationship with the slow learners. The class teachers offerpersonal needs to the children while the head teachers oversee theoverall delivery of services (Irish National Teachers Organization,2011 P 9). Another group consists of psychologists, therapists, andnurses. They take part in evaluation and determination of specialneeds severity. The therapist offers services outside the classroomarena. For example, speech therapy and physiotherapy. The nursesprovide customized medical services to children. The professionalswork interdependently to achieve a comprehensive development ofchildren (Banks &amp McCoy 2013 P 6).

The services rendered to special population are consistent with theinternationally acceptable principles. The Education for Persons withSpecial Needs Act of 2009 ensures that the best practices meet theinternational threshold (National Council for Curriculum andAssessment, 1999 P 12). Autonomy plays an important role n helpingthe children develop without curtailing their ability to explore andlearn. The therapeutic sessions and the proceedings of the processshould be confidential and should not fall not the hands of otherpeople apart from those with interests in the child’s development. The main aim of having early supportive services for children is todevelop a sense of independence that enables them to performdifferent tasks on autonomously without overly relying on otherpeople. Parental involvement is also a primary component.

The parents are the primary caretakers for children ad well as thefirst teachers. Involving them in the development of their childrenoutside the family set up acquaints them with viable practices thatthey an institute in the family for the benefit of the child. Continuity of edition services also serves to enforce the quality ofindependence n the special population. The government of Irelandthrough the education act of 1998 contributes to the practice byestablishing the minimum education levels (Irish National TeachersOrganization. 2011 P 11).

In conclusion, Ireland has a supportive environment for the specialneeds population by having enforceable laws that agitate for theirrights. The government ensures a complete development from earlychildhood education to post-primary education. Setting the minimumeducation requirement that applies to all citizens allows thephysically challenged to have similar qualifications like the othercitizens. The adoption of policies that are consistent with theinternationally accepted practices concerning special populationsestablishes a platform of equality and non-discrimination. Theprovisions of the policies integrate the work of differentstakeholders from different professionals to address all the needs ofthe special group.

Summary

The special needs groups require a specialized treatment to put themon par with the rest of the population. Many countries have policiesto protect their needs and establish equality in the society. Irelandis not averse to these practices, and it has a set of acts thatprovide for the needs of the special needs group.

The government of recognized the need to protect the rights of thedisable through acts in the mid 20th century. Following the footstepsif the civil societies that had special schools or the special needchildren, the government invested in education from early childhoodto post-primary. The report of the Commission of Inquiry on mentalphysically challenged benchmarked the way the society views thedabbled. It grouped them into mild, moderate and severe categories.Its findings were instrumental in developing the curriculum of thethree categories.

Currently, the government and other stakeholders deliver services tospecial needs group with the guidelines of various legislative acts.Some of the major policies include the Education for Persons withSpecial needs enacted in2009 that provides for the enjoyment of samerights and benefits for all people. The disabled Act of 2005 providesfor the specialized care of special needs learners by providing themwith visiting teachers. The government acts by the Education WelfareAct of 2000 that outlines the minimum education requirement for allcitizens. The education system ensures that even the physicallychallenged children achieve the required levels.

The service deliverers operate in line with the best practices todevelop autonomy, independence, confidentiality, continuous educationand parental involvement. Conclusively, Ireland has been on the frontline of achieving a society based on equal access o serves and rightsfor all citizens with emphasis on developing supportive systems forthe physically challenged.

References

Banks, J. &ampMcCoy, S. 2013. Education Engagement and Special Education Needs.Dublin: Trinity College.

Irish NationalTeachers Organization. 2011. Supporting Mainstream Education inthe Mainstream School. Dublin: INTO.

McCoy, S., Banks,J. &amp Watson D., 2014. A joint Research Report from theNational Council for Special Education and the Economic and SocialResearch Institute, No. 16. Dublin: National Council for SpecialNeeds.

Meany, M., 2011.Inclusive Education for Children with Special Needs. NationalDisability Authority. (online) available athttp://www.barnardos.ie/assets/files/publications/free/childlinks_body10.pdf(Retrieved on 4th Sept. 2015).

Meany, M., 2011.Policy, Legislation and Practice for Children with Special Needs inIreland. (Online) Available athttp://www.cecde.ie/english/pdf/Questions%20of%20Quality/Meaney.pdf (Retrieved on 4th Sept. 2015).

National Councilfor Curriculum and Assessment. 1999. Special Education Needs:Curriculum Issues Discussion Paper. Dublin: National Council forCurriculum and Assessment.

National Councilfor Special Education. 2013. Supporting Students with SpecialEducational Needs in Schools. NCSE Policy Advice Paper No. 4.(Online) Available athttp://ncse.ie/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Supporting_14_05_13_web.pdf(Retrieved on 4th Sept. 2015).

NCCA. 2007.Special Education Needs. NCCA. (Online) Available athttp://www.ncca.ie/en/Curriculum_and_Assessment/Inclusion/Special_Educational_Needs/(Retrieved on 4th Sept. 2015).

Special EducationSupport Services. 2011. Inclusive Schools: Developing PracticalApproach (Online) Available athttp://www.sess.ie/sites/default/files/SESS%20Insert3_1.pdf(Retrieved on 4th Sept. 2015).

The Government ofIreland. 2004. Education for Persons with Special Needs Act of2004. (Online) Available athttp://www.oireachtas.ie/documents/bills28/acts/2004/A3004.pdf(Retrieved on 4th Sept. 2015).