Earlier this week Meath Live feature the story of five year old, autistic, twins Lucy and George Cannon from Dunshaughlin who are undertaking a daily 86 km round trip to a pre school in Carlanstown and told how their mother Gráinne feared they may have to travel again when they start primary later this year as despite receiving funding last September two schools, Ratoath and Rathbeggan, close to the twins home have yet to complete work required to accommodate autistic children.
Now Sinn Féin TD, Darren O ‘Rourke, has taken up the case and told Meath Live, “Ratoath is a growing town, with a large catchment area, and there is an acute shortage of appropriate accommodation for school children with additional needs. This project is much needed and it is welcome that it is funded, however, it is frustrating that it isn’t progressing more quickly.
“The National Council for Special Education (NCSE) sanctioned a special class at Ratoath Junior National School as far back as November 2021. At that stage there was hope that progress would be made in advance of the current school year. Instead, we had to wait until September 2022 before funding for the reconfiguration project was made available through the additional school accommodation scheme.
“The project brief is to provide a two-classroom special educational needs base through the reconfiguration of three existing mainstream classrooms. The school submitted formal acceptance of the offer for reconfiguration works on 22 August 2022 and an official approval letter, advising the school of the funding allocated to reconfigure the three classrooms to meet the needs, and to provide a two-classroom special education needs base, was issued by the Department of Education on 2 September 2022.
“The delivery of the project is devolved to the school authority (Board of Management) and a design team is appointed and is now preparing a Stage 1 Report for submission to the Department. Once that is submitted and approved by the Department of Education, the project can progress.
“It is very frustrating that the wheels turn so slowly. Five months on from 2 September and we don’t yet have an indicative date for project design. More importantly, we still don’t have an indicative date for when the project will be delivered.
“I will continue to pursue this matter to help ensure whatever barriers there are to delivery are addressed. I have called on the Department to do the same. Those who will benefit from these new facilities need them delivered as quickly as possible”