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Beyond the Law: Critical Reflections on International Human Rights Law and Policy 2012 Griffith College Cork, 7 th -8 th June 2012 Special Educational.

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Presentation on theme: "Beyond the Law: Critical Reflections on International Human Rights Law and Policy 2012 Griffith College Cork, 7 th -8 th June 2012 Special Educational."— Presentation transcript:

1 Beyond the Law: Critical Reflections on International Human Rights Law and Policy 2012 Griffith College Cork, 7 th -8 th June 2012 Special Educational Needs Provision: Does Ireland Measure up to International Human Rights Standards? Andrea Broderick

2 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Irish Special Education Law Irish Special Education Policy Irish Special Education Practice

3 Role of Education for Disabled People “If every child matters, every child has the right to a good start in life. If every child matters, every child has the right to be included. And that is so important for children with special needs.” ~Cherie Blair~

4 Education as a Pre-Requisite to the Exercise of Other Rights

5 Importance of Early Intervention Every €1 spent on a child’s education before the age of 10 years of age will save the Irish government €7 on future costs. ___________________________________________________ (Dail Debates 2012)

6 Vital Statistic Total number of children in Ireland with a special educational need is estimated to be 190,303, equivalent to almost18% of all children ______________________________________________ (Estimate from the National Council for Special Education Implementation Report 2006)

7 Special Educational Provision in Ireland  Appalling record of the Irish government  History of neglect and exclusion  Notable improvement in the last two decades in the Irish state’s response to special needs as a result of court cases: - O’Donoghue v Minister for Health and Education [1996] 2 I.R. 20 (SC) - Sinnnott v Minister for Education [2001] 2 IR 545 (HC)(SC)  However, barriers still exist in Ireland if we are to live up to international standards

8 Article 24 of the CRPD  Inclusive education system  Lifelong learning  The full development of human potential of each child (a) Persons with disabilities are not excluded from education; (b) Access to inclusive education on an equal basis with others; (c) Reasonable accommodation of the individual's requirements; (d) Effective education; (e) Effective individualized support measures

9 Barriers in Ireland to Inclusive Education

10 Constitutional Right to Education  High level of obligation placed on the Irish state by Constitution  The obligation placed on the state is the same, irrespective of whether a child has a disability or not  Judicial interpretation has diminished the state’s obligation  The right has been interpreted as ceasing at the age of eighteen, regardless of need  Potential of the CRPD to promote reform through lifelong learning

11 Irish Legislative Framework for Special Education  Education Act (1998)  Education for Children with Special Needs Act (2004)  Disability Act (2005)

12 EPSEN ACT (2004)  Positive Features: - Right to Educational Assessment and an Individual Educational Plan  Deficiencies in the EPSEN Act: - Act not yet implemented: CRPD requires a realistic timeframe for implementation - Lack of guidance on what constitutes an appropriate education for disabled children: CRPD focus on the outcomes to be achieved by the education system – potential for curriculum-based assessments Overly dependent on resource considerations: Potential of CRPD to increase allocation to special needs through Optional Protocol

13  Notable improvement in policy approach in Ireland  Inclusive approach to special education, in line with international standards  Introduction of automatic supports Policy Developments in Ireland

14 Irish Special Educational Provision

15 Deficiencies in Irish Special Education  Inadequate Support Framework in Mainstream Schools - National Educational Psychology Service: 5,000 pupils to each psychologist in Ireland as opposed to European average of 3,000 to one and 2 referrals per year per school - HSE: 2,800 children waiting on assessments - Huge delays in the system.  System is input-oriented rather than output-oriented: - CRPD requires states to monitor the right to education in Article 33 CRPD

16 Deficiencies in Irish Special Education  Transition from primary to secondary school - CRPD places emphasis on individualised supports.  Inaccessible curriculum: - CRPD notion of universal design and flexible approach to assessment.  System of categorisation and resource allocation: - CRPD promotes system where child is educated in line with abilities.  Capacity of School: - CRPD can promote whole-school approach and capacity-building.

17 Conclusion  Ireland has made great strides in developing inclusive policies and laws.  Education provision has improved dramatically. HOWEVER  There is still huge room for improvement.  The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities can help in improving the situation for disabled children.

18 “The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities can help to close the gap between the theory of inclusive education and the reality” ~ Inclusion International~

19 “If we are to achieve a richer culture, we must weave one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place” ~ Margaret Mead ~

20 THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION! Contact:


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