Down Syndrome Ireland meets teachers’ union on Individual Education Plans decision

Dear Member,

Wishing you a very Happy New Year from all of us here in Down Syndrome Ireland.

As you may be aware, the ASTI teachers union issued an instruction to its members just before Christmas to stop implementing Individual Education Plans (IEP) for students with additional needs due to resource issues.

As a result, Down Syndrome Ireland requested an urgent meeting with the teacher’s union. Following the robust meeting with the ASTI late last week, Down Syndrome Ireland remains concerned about the decision of the teacher’s union to advise members to stop documenting Individual Educational Plans for children with additional needs.

We understand that the ASTI, while supporting the principle of including students with Down syndrome in mainstream schools, is concerned at the lack of training provided to teachers to enable them to meet the needs of students. The ASTI representatives described an increasingly bureaucratic process of documenting support plans which they believe is unmanageable without additional resources and training. The union has advised (but not directed) that ASTI teachers refuse to provide individual student support files until additional training and resources are in place. During the meeting, we were advised that current good practice in planning and differentiating the curriculum will continue for existing students and will be applied to new students in the coming years and that the advice to withdraw from written education plans is necessary until training can be provided.

We are aware that this action is not limited to teachers who are members of the ASTI, as the TUI recently issued similar advice to their members.

While we understand the concerns, we cannot accept any action which discriminates against students who have intellectual disabilities. We believe that students with Down syndrome will suffer and will struggle to be successful in education if they don’t have structured education planning in place. We support the ASTI in their call for training for all mainstream post primary teachers on supporting students with special educational needs, but we are concerned that their current position will lead to discrimination against our members. An inclusive society begins with inclusive education, and any action which undermines the success of this inclusion cannot be accepted.

Students with Down syndrome have the right to be educated in their local mainstream school. It is not unreasonable to expect that any additional training and resources required should be provided. It is shameful that, like other pieces of legislation about the rights of people with disabilities, the Education for Persons with Special Education Needs Act, 2004 (EPSEN) Act has never been fully enacted, as successive governments have been unwilling to provide the necessary resources for its implementation. The EPSEN Act includes a requirement for schools to provide IEPs for students with additional educational needs. 

Down Syndrome Ireland continues to campaign for the EPSEN Act to be fully enacted and adequately resourced so that the rights of students with additional educational needs are enshrined in law, rather than depending on the goodwill of schools and teachers. 

We would like to acknowledge the willingness of the ASTI to engage with DSI to discuss concerns. We have contacted the Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D seeking an urgent meeting on the matter.

We have called on the ASTI to reflect on the impact of their position on our members, and the potential consequences.

We are also due to meet the TUI in the coming days to discuss the issue.

We are calling on the Department of Education and Skills to engage with all stakeholders and respond to the need for a national rollout of training and resources to support the inclusion of students with Down syndrome at all stages of their education.

We will of course keep up updated on our progress.

With very best wishes,

Gary Owens
CEO
Down Syndrome Ireland

Down Syndrome Ireland to seek urgent meeting with Teachers Union and the Department of Education & Skills

Hi everyone,

We hope you are well in the run up to Christmas!

We wanted to let you know that Down Syndrome Ireland is to seek an urgent meeting with the Department of Education & Skills and the ASTI following the teachers union instructing its members to stop engaging in vital planning processes for children with additional educational needs.

It comes after the ASTI instructed its members earlier this week to stop implementing Individual Education Plans (IEP) for students with additional needs due to resource issues.   IEPs are considered best practice, but are not a legal requirement due to the failure of successive governments to enact relevant legislation.

The Education for Persons with Special Education Needs Act, 2004 (EPSEN) includes a requirement for schools to provide IEPs for students with additional educational needs. However, this ground-breaking piece of legislation which will put the provision of best practice in education for people with these additional needs on a legal footing has yet to be enacted by the Government almost 15 years later.

In response to the ASTI statement, Down Syndrome Ireland’s Gary Owens said: “We have always recognised that the majority of teachers and schools are doing their absolute best to ensure a positive learning environment for students with additional educational needs but it is grossly unfair that these students would be used as pawns in a dispute between the Department of Education and Skills and the ASTI to secure additional resources.”

Individualised Education Plans are vital to ensure a positive learning environment for students with Down syndrome.

“Education is vitally important for every student, including students with additional educational  needs. Students with Down syndrome will suffer and will struggle to be successful in education if they don’t have structured education planning in place. The move is essentially condemning students with additional needs to a lifelong path of dependence, which is shameful,” Mr Owens continued.

Down Syndrome Ireland has campaigned for the EPSEN Act to be fully enacted and adequately resourced so that the rights of students with additional educational needs are enshrined in law, rather than depending on the goodwill of schools and teachers.

We are calling on the ASTI to reconsider its stance and ensure children with additional needs have the support they need to reach their full potential in education.

You can access the ASTI announcement here:

https://www.asti.ie/news/latest-news/news-article/article/ieps-advice-to-members/

https://www.asti.ie/news/latest-news/news-article/article/statement-re-asti-advice-on-ieps/

We have included the above piece in our weekly Digest which was issued today to all members we have email addresses for. We will of course keep you updated on any future developments.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

With very best wishes,

Gary

CEO

Down Syndrome Ireland

C H R I S T M A S P A R T I E S

We had 2 fabulous parties on Sunday 9th December 2018 for our members.

The Children’s party was in the Conyngham Arms Hotel Slane Co Meath and the Teenagers and Adults Party was in The Trim Castle Hotel Co Meath. A big Thank you to both venues as they both pulled out all the stops so that we all had a good time.

There was a great atmosphere and everybody had a good time. Santa brought presents to our younger members and everybody was very happy with their presents. There was a Selfie Mirror at the Teen Adult Party for all our Selfie needs.

A big Thank You to our organisers Nicola Nevin (Children’s), Liz Murray (Teens & Adults) and their teams and all the volunteers on the day who did a fabulous job of organising the parties.

 

 

 

 

Branch Website Relaunch

Down Syndrome Ireland Louth Meath Branch has relaunched our Website www.dsilmb.ie.
We launched it in conjunction with PayPal as part of their 3rd annual Charity Opportunity Hack 2018 which took place on Thursday 1st & 2nd November. The event, which took place at the Castleknock Hotel in Dublin, brought together 30 PayPal teammates to create and develop digital resources and systems for Irish charities over a 28-hour period of which Down Syndrome Ireland Louth Meath Branch was one.
The Branch has a fabulous new Website where we will be able to keep our members informed about our services, News, Events as well as allowing us to fundraise for the Branch online as well as being able to take payments on line..
We would like to extend a huge thank you to PayPal for including us in their Hackathon as well as to the four Hackers on the day that came from as far afield as France, The Netherlands, Italy and Spain.
Hackers in the Photo are Andrea Cavallini from Italy, Meias Ahmad from The Netherlands, Francois Panassac from France, and Ubaldo Colmenar from Spain.

L A T C H-O N G R A D U A T I O N

Congratulations to 5 hardworking students who completed a 2 year Latch On programme in Drogheda run by Down Syndrome Ireland Louth/Meath Branch.

Our graduates were:

Conor Byrne
Jason McGivern
Conor O’Dowd
Leonie Sarsfield
Barry Smith

The graduation celebration for the students was held in the Westcourt Hotel in Drogheda on Thursday 22nd November 2018 with families, friends, teachers and invited guests.

The Latch On Certificates were presented to our Graduates on the night by the Mayor of Drogheda Frank Godfrey.

A big Thank You to our Latch On Coordinators Audrey O’Dowd, Monique McGivern, Clare Leonard and Geraldine Regan.

https://downsyndrome.ie/what-we-do/latch-on-programme/

#ShareTheJourney #PersonFirst #AbilityCounts #LatchOn