Reporting by Mairéad Cleary
Excluding students from class is one of the most serious human rights issues impacting Irish children.
That’s according to the Children’s Rights Alliance Annual Report which is calling on the Department of Education to require schools to notify Tusla when they put children on a reduced time table.
In its annual report, the alliance found a quarter of calls to their helpline were in relation to education with the majority of issues relating to classroom disputes or access to school places.
“Often they’re using them for children and young people that they might find hard to manage – children with behavioural issues” said Policy Manager with the CRA Julie Ahearn.
“But we also know that they’re using them for discipline, but also we have heard of instances where they’re being used in schools that don’t have the supports to deal with children, particularly children with complex needs.
“We’re really concerned that this practice isn’t being monitored by anyone, there aren’t any checks and balances in place.
“And it disproportionally affects children with disabilities and traveller children.”
According to research by Inclusion Ireland, a quarter of children with autism have experienced reduced class time.
Interim CEO Lorrain Dempsey says it has a huge impact on students.
“We have cases where this has gone on for years for some children…
“…so they haven’t really had any opportunity to form friends, form bonds with staff, and be able to adjust to a full school day.”