NCSE AON EMAIL PROTEST #2
Please copy and forward the following email to highlight your concerns regarding the new Educational Assessment Process for Assessment of Need.
This is intended as a template, please feel free to edit.
Dear NCSE Managers, Minister Foley, Minister Madigan and INTO Leadership,
I am writing to share my concerns regarding the new Educational Assessment Process as part of the AON.
On October 20th, The Department of Education announced that the NCSE would be nominating an 'appropriate person to carry out an assessment of educational needs on behalf of the HSE under the AON process'. Furthermore, a note was issued to schools to inform them of their new 'role and responsibilities' in this process.
This was subsequently challenged by teachers and parents alike. Minister Madigan responded at that time to state that this was "a trialing process" and that the department would "continuously seek feedback from stakeholders".
My concerns remain the same and are yet to be addressed by any of the governing bodies involved.
1) Several schools involved in the "pilot" have advised they were not informed that this process was a "trial". Instead it was labelled as an "emergency response" to the AON crisis. If it was indeed a trial as you have stated, I ask that the data collected is published immediately. If data was not collected, I ask for an explanation as to why it was not considered necessary.
2) Schools have been advised to use the student's SSP as a basis for this assessment. An SSP is not an Assessment of Educational Need. It is a short term plan in which targets/goals are set for the student. The SSP is "best practice". It is not a statutory process nor is it mandatory for schools to produce them. The SSP would now become a legal document despite the failure to enact EPSEN 2004. Previous and current government failed to fully enact EPSEN and vindicate the rights of SEN children, yet unfair attempts are now being made to make an SSP fit the mold.
2) Teachers and Principals are not Educational Psychologists by profession. They do not necessarily have the qualifications to complete the assessment as intended under Disability Act 2005. Their ability to refer children for Educational Assessments were not prioritised due to the failed enactment of EPSEN. This would have resulted in significantly less pressure on the AON system.
SET skills and training vary massively between teachers and schools. I fear this could result in inaccurate and inappropriate diagnosis leading to further legal challenges of AON. In November, I asked "How do NCSE define 'appropriately qualified'?". The Department failed to answer this important question.
3) Schools do not have the Resources to complete the paperwork involved and the Department have confirmed additional resources will not be provided.
SET will be tasked with completing this paperwork which will result in less time in the classroom with children with additional educational needs. This is not a position our children or teachers should be forced into. Reports regarding the time taken to complete forms from schools involved varies. Again, I ask that data is published ASAP.
Furthermore, where does this new process leave children who are not in receipt of additonal supports?
Yet again, children with additional needs rights are relegated to bottom of the pile.
4) The professional judgement of principals and teachers is questioned via Exceptional Review when the need for additional SNA or SET support is identified. These reviews are arduous and often unsuccessful. How can the NCSE justify valuing the professional judgement of staff in one scenario but not another?
I urge you, as a parent/carer or family member of a child with SEN and as an ally to teachers around the country to re-examine this decision immediately and publish all data related to this alleged trial.